Young Leaders

Freshman running back Lee Mayhall runs in a touchdown in the Tarleton State game Nov. 3.

On Feb. 1, 2012, UNA head football coach recruited one of the Lions’ largest classes of true freshmen from local high schools.

After the players’ arrival on campus, as the 2012 regular season progressed, a few of those freshmen were needed to fill a selection of unexpected spots.

Following the Lions’ fall scrimmage game, the team was forced to cope with a few unexpected injuries. Safety Nick Williams and wide receiver Chris Simpson both sustained ACL tears. Simpson also tore his MCL and meniscus.

Following the fall scrimmage game, the Lions were also faced with injuries inflicted on their center, receivers and quarterback.

“The offensive line had a definite shortage,” said freshman running back Lee Mayhall. “They really had the biggest spots to fill.”

Mayhall said the freshman linemen did an outstanding job at rising to the occasion as early as they had to.

Finishing the season with a total of 62 tackles, freshman Floyd Jones had to step up on defense.

“I really didn’t expect to have to come in so early,” he said. “Although, I feel like the experience will seriously benefit me and the other freshmen in the long run.”

Freshmen quarterback Luke Wingo showed up this season as well. With a total of 241 rushing yards and 845 passing yards this season, Wingo commented on the effectiveness of splitting playing time after the starting quarterback’s thigh injury.

“UNA signed 40 freshmen players this year,” Wingo said. “We seriously had to step up and help out as much as we could.”

Wingo also commented about a few freshmen having to play every game.

“College football and high school football are two different sports,” Jones said. “The other freshmen and I learned that quickly.”

Mayhall and Wingo said there is definitely a difference in the atmosphere, game play, coaches and players all around.

As far as this year went, Wingo, Mayhall and Jones all feel appreciative of the experience this year has brought to them and the other first-year players.

“We’re with such a good group of guys,” Wingo said.