For most athletes, it would be easy to get caught up in the attention that comes with being a highly recruited football player.
For the past two years, Traveon Freshwater navigated social media attention that comes with being wanted by Division I football programs.
The listed 6-foot-3, 210 pound defensive end and linebacker appears to have remained grounded.
In a season that was filled with highs and lows, Freshwater was able to help the Northeastern football team reach a state championship game in his senior campaign.
Freshwater’s production on defense and offense were the factors that led to his selection as The Daily Advance’s Area Player of the Year for the 2018 football season.
Freshwater earns the acknowledgment for the second consecutive season.
He ended his senior season with 120 tackles with 20 sacks to go with 1,327 rushing yards and eight touchdowns as a running back.
Freshwater was named a Northeastern Coastal Conference all-conference performer this fall.
The accolades for Freshwater began in July as he was named to the 2018 Butkus Award high school watch list.
The award, which is named after Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, is given to the nation’s top high school linebacker.
His prep career includes being named a two-time Associated Press all-state team selection, an invitation to play in the 2018 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas game and a participant in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American game combine in Texas.
After earning scholarship offers from several Football Bowl Subdivision programs like Michigan State, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Duke and others, Freshwater committed to East Carolina in August and signed with the Pirates Dec. 19.
Freshwater told the Daily Advance prior to the 2A state championship game that it meant a lot for him to be recognized as the area’s top football player.
Since midway in his freshman season at Northeastern, Freshwater was the team’s ironman.
Freshwater has appeared in more than 30 games in his varsity career.
He missed three consecutive games this season due to an undisclosed ailment.
“It was real difficult, but at the same time, it opened my eyes up to see what I need to work on with the team,” Freshwater said.
Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore acknowledged that Freshwater’s willingness to be a team player was what impressed the coach about Freshwater’s season.
“He encourages everyone,” Moore said. “Even when he didn’t play those three games, he was like a coach on the sideline.”
Freshwater returned for Northeastern’s game at Bertie on Oct. 19 and did not miss a game for the remainder of the season.
With a 2A East Regional championship and a berth to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championship game on the line, Freshwater had one of his best games statistically against Southwest Onslow in the regional championship Dec. 7.
He finished with 12 tackles with a pair of sacks to go with more than 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns to help Northeastern win its first regional title since the 2010 season with a 47-36 win against Onslow at NHS.
In the NCHSAA 2A state championship game at North Carolina State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, Freshwater had nine total tackles with a sack and a pass break up.
At running back, he posted 64 rushing yards with a touchdown in Northeastern’s 31-28 loss to Reidsville.
Freshwater’s biggest impact from the state championship game occurred away from the field.
According to a post on the Reidsville football Facebook page, Freshwater reached out to console a Reidsville player whose father recently passed away along with wanting to congratulate the Rams’ quarterback on winning the game.
A section of the post noted:
“For a opposing player who lost the state championship and who was arguably the best athlete on the field to want to contact an opposing player who lost his father speaks volumes to the young man and the quality young men Northeastern High School is producing.”
Freshwater’s giving spirit also occurred in the community as he hosted a football clinic in June at Sheep-Harney Elementary’s athletic field.
He noted to The Daily Advance Dec. 19 that the camp was a way to give back to the community and to show local youth that there are better options than being on the streets.
“He’s a spiritual guy,” Moore said. “He believes in God. He believes that God is his savior. He’s a humble, Christian athlete.”