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Penn football's defense has had its fair share of ups and downs this season, but freshman Mason Williams has stood out in the secondary

Credit: Ilana Wurman , Ilana Wurman, Ilana Wurman

In a roundtable last week, we discussed who was the MVP of Penn Athletics thus far. Unsurprisingly, no freshmen came up in the conversation. However, when the end of year awards roll around for just about every athletic league, MVP and Rookie of the Year are mentioned in close to the same breath.

With that said, it’s the perfect time for us to address the question, “Who is Penn Athletics’ Rookie of the Year thus far for the fall season?”

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: I’m gonna have to go with Penn volleyball’s Courtney Quinn.

I know that Quinn may be flying under a lot of people’s radars playing for one of the Red and Blue’s more low-profile programs, but that was certainly not the case throughout her high school career. In her final two years, her team finished an astounding 86-3, and she was recognized personally as Lonestar Prep Volleyball Texas Player of the Year as a senior.

Of course, it will take a while for her collegiate resume to stack up to her prior accomplishments, but she has certainly gotten off to a strong start. With her smart play, she has won over coach Kerry Carr and has accordingly played in each of the Quakers’ 70 sets this season. As a freshman, Quinn ranks fifth in kills and fourth in digs.

Quietly, she has built her reputation as one of the most promising Ivy League players in her class, all within a senior-laden Red and Blue system. However, her time playing a supporting role should be limited, especially given Penn’s total lack of a junior class. That’s right — next year, the Quakers will have no seniors.

But they’ll be in good hands nonetheless.

Associate Sports Editor Thomas Munson: Mason Williams may not be the flashiest freshman athlete on campus this fall, but he has surely been the best. But, the Pasadena, Calif., native may get overlooked because honestly lockdown defensive backs can be easy to forget.

When he does his job and blankets receivers, the ball doesn’t come his way as often and so his opportunities to make plays on the ball decrease. That being said, his ability to take away part of the field has helped enable the Red and Blue defense to force 10 turnovers thus far — on pace for significantly more than last season’s total of 14.

Throw in a sack and 20 total tackles to his name, and the rookie has put together quite an impressive resume.

In fact, those 20 tackles are seventh on the team, second among defensive backs, more than all but one defensive lineman and better than any other freshman defender at any position.

Williams has talent and has quietly been proving so one game at a time.

Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: I’ve got to go with Sasha Stephens on this one. While Penn women’s soccer has had a rather inconsistent season, starting 4-1-1 before going on a five-game scoreless streak, Stephens has been one of the Quakers’ top offensive weapons.

The freshman introduced herself to collegiate women’s soccer with a bang in the team’s opener against Seton Hall with a pair of goals, earning Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors. More recently, Stephens earned that very same honor for the second time this season after scoring another two goals in a win over American. It remains to be seen if the La Mesa, Calif., native can find the back of the net consistently, but the results have been encouraging so far.

Overall, Stephens has been the team’s leading scorer to this point in the season with 4 goals and ranks 10th in the Ivy League in points. The Quakers are still a team where goals come from a variety of places — 11 different players have scored in 2015 — but Stephens is beginning to look like a dynamic young scorer who can lead the team in the future.

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