September 9, 2008

Freeman Ready for Next Step

Last Saturday against BYU the Husky's running game again struggling to find it's legs. True freshman Chris Polk only managed 14 yards on six carries before leaving the game with a dislocated shoulder. That was when another true freshman, got his chance to shine. On his first play from scrimmage Freeman was lined up wide as a receiver and [db]Jake Locker called his number. Freeman caught the pass, eluded a tackler and gained eight yards - his career had truly begun. Freeman went on to carry to the rock six times for 30 yards, showing coaches, teammates and fans he belongs.

"I was surprised he threw it to me - honestly," said Freeman about his first college reception. "I didn't know the ball was coming my way. The quarterback has the choice of where he wants to throw it, and he picked me. It helped me because I wasn't expecting it, so I wasn't that nervous. So when I knew I was getting the ball next time it was easier because I had already done it."

Freeman gave the ground game life, showing toughness running up the middle and the ability to make defenders miss. His five yards per-carry average was the best effort thus far by a Husky running back and it has earned him the start this Saturday against the No. 3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

"I'm going to be excited more than nervous," explained Freeman about his first start. "Just to go out there and show the crowd what I can do. I already know, but I need to show everybody else. I was underrated coming into college but I think I earned some playing time. What matters most is what happens in practice. I'll just try to perform my best and the coaches will make the decision to better the team. If that means me starting or going second-string it doesn't matter to me. As long as the team wins - it's all about the win."

Plenty of young backs come into Division-I football with the ability to run the football, but blocking is another story. It takes time to pick up the schemes and develop the physical tools needed to take on 235-pound linebackers. Freeman is the exception and coaches are amazed by his initial effort at blocking.

"We were very pleased with David's effort. He ran the ball very well, took it inside and broke a couple of tackles," explained running back coach Steve Gervais. "What might have been even more impressive was his blocking. There were a number of situation where he made the right reads and really made the protection stick."

Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano agrees.

"After watching the film I told you guys that David Freeman did pretty good. Well, he did a heck of a job blocking. He made some great blocks in the BYU game that allowed Jake [Locker] to make some plays. He's physical for a smaller guy."

Freeman has confidence in his abilities and came to Montlake with a world of expectations. But he also understood his role and knew the only thing he could control was how hard he worked to get better.

"I came in with high hopes," explained Freeman. "I wasn't too concerned with playing, just learning the game more, doing what I'm capable of and working hard. Whatever happens after that wasn't up to me. That would be up to the coaches and God."

The hard work paid off and Freeman believes he's getting close to being an every down back. He understands more work needs to be done - like getting bigger and working on making people miss so he doesn't wear down. But Freeman is willing to put the work in and prove everyone wrong who underrated him coming out of Inglewood High School in California where he was coached by two former Huskies, Charles Mincy and Donald Jones.

"Even back home I felt like I was underrated. I didn't get any publicity really," said Freeman. "You guys probably never even heard of me? I felt like I was better than the guys that were getting the publicity. I actually played on teams with them and I felt like I was better. I just needed a chance to prove it."

He's going to get that chance this Saturday on national television against one of the best programs in the country. Don't expect Freeman to change his approach since it's that approach that got him here in the first place.

"I just try not to be scared, and not let the pressure get to me. I just went out there and played football. I ran hard, saw the holes, hit the holes and that's basically what football is about for a running back - not to play scared."

He understands he couldn't do it alone and gives a ton of credit to the other running backs who have helped him, especial Chris Polk.

"Chris Polk is a wonderful running back. He's a special guy. I've seen him do some amazing things that I don't know how he pulled that off. We just help each other - honestly. We give each other tips; help each other out, so that works to our favor."

Freeman will take all of the tips he can get before making his first college start against Oklahoma this Saturday.

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