True freshman quarterback John Matocha is a perfect 4-0 for Colorado School of Mines, leading the charge for the No. 11 team in DII football. He’s just one of many freshmen making an immediate impact on his team’s NCAA DII tournament chances in the 2019 season.
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Flashback to 2018. Notre Dame (OH) running back Jaleel McLaughlin took the DII football world by storm right from Game 1, rushing for 302 yards and setting the record for most yards in a freshman debut performance. He never slowed down — setting the freshman single-season rushing record with 2,421 yards — but it was much more than that. McLaughlin was a key cog in leading his Falcons to a 13-0 run to the national semifinals.
So, which freshmen are poised to be “that guy” for their team in 2019? Here are seven already accomplishing big things just five weeks into their debut season.
John Matocha, QB, Colorado School of Mines: Matocha, a true freshman, did not open the season under center. He took over in Week 2 with a dominating performance in which he went 20-for-22 in pass attempts throwing for 249 yards and three touchdowns while tacking on 50 more yards and another touchdown with his legs. He’s now 4-0 as a starter, and the Mines offense has scored 184 points over that span. Matocha is completing an absurd 73 percent of his passes while racking up 1,164 total yards and 14 touchdowns in his four starts.
Austin Reed, QB, West Florida: Reed is a redshirt-freshman who transferred in from Southern Illinois this season. He had a bit of a down game in his debut on the road against a tough Carson-Newman defense. Since then, he’s led the Argos on a 4-0 run, completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,096 yards and a 13-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, also rushing it in three times. West Florida is back in the rankings for the first time since last season, and Reed is a big reason why.
Mak Sexton, QB, Pittsburg State: Sexton won’t be setting records as part of a three-QB system, but he has the Gorillas out to a 5-0 start and No. 13 in the nation. The redshirt-freshman is highly-efficient completing 74.3 percent of his passes for 752 yards and six touchdowns in split time.
Gei’vonni Washington, RB, Ashland: Washington, another true freshman on the list, was held in check in his debut against Indianapolis. But to be fair, so was everyone on Ashland against that Greyhounds defense. Though the Eagles already have two losses, both are to top-10 teams, and Washington wasn’t the running back then as he’s quickly becoming now. He’s rushed for 294 yards the past two weeks to go along with four touchdowns, including a 44-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to give Ashland its first lead over then No. 10 Grand Valley State in its come-from-behind upset.
Kor’Davion Washington, RB, Southern Arkansas: This Washington is in a timeshare in the Mulerider backfield, sharing the rock with senior SirCharles Perkins. Perhaps that’s what makes his stats more impressive. The redshirt-freshman already has amassed 460 yards (92.0 per game in split time) with four touchdowns. Southern Arkansas is 4-1 and clumped at the top of a stacked Great American Conference.
Chauncey Williams, RB, West Georgia: The Wolves definitely hit a rough patch this season, dropping from the top 25 with back-to-back losses, but that doesn’t mean their season is done. Especially with the touchdown scoring redshirt-freshman toting the rock alongside quarterback Willie Candler. Williams is second in the Gulf South Conference in rushing yards with 480 and already has a 200-yard game under his belt. He’s tied for the lead with eight rushing touchdowns and averages 8.0 yards per carry. If West Georgia wants to get back in the hunt, Williams will lead the way.
Daevon Anderson, WR, Grand Valley State: Anderson has been up and down this season, but his two big games have shown what he can do. The redshirt-freshman caught an explosive 74-yard touchdown — the first of his career — in the second game of the season on the way to his first 100-yard game. He had his second 100-yard game just one week later, hauling in two touchdowns. There are a few mouths to feed on the Lakers offense, so Anderson doesn’t have to be the guy some of the others on this list are. But it sure is nice to see that he can be if GVSU needs him to be.
Others to watch:
- Devon Holmes, WR, Missouri Western: Leads all freshmen receivers with 350 yards and two touchdowns.
- David Marbury, DL, Findlay: Leads all freshmen with four sacks in 2019.
- Jake Novak, WR, Kutztown: Proving a reliable target for the Golden Bears Collin DiGlabo with 245 yards and three touchdowns so far.
- Nolan Reeve, LB, Colorado School of Mines: Already has three sacks this season.
Ali Mohamed, RB, Minot State: The Beavers are 2-3, so their tournament status may be out of the question. Mohamed, a true freshman, has certainly made an impact on the field, leading Minot State with 426 yards and two touchdowns. But he’s on the list for the block that he made in this insane kickoff return for a touchdown, which may be the best block of 2019.