College Football Pick’em
Buy or Sell
Talking the business of sports
Following the release of CBS Sports’ , 247Sports dropped its Preseason True Freshman All-America Team featuring college football‘s most touted newcomers. Finally, the names that have been heavily monitored since early high school are set to make the transition from recruit to college football player this fall.
Picking a Preseason All-America team usually involves weighing returning production with growth and opportunity. For freshmen, however, this is their first taste of the next level. Talent and evaluations stand as important factors, but some of this exercise is pure projection.
For reference, the 2021 True Freshman All-America Team featured names like Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson (183 carries, 1,248 yards, 15 TDs) and Texas receiver Xavier Worthy (62 catches, 981 yards, 12 TDs). Which players could earn the title of standout freshmen in 2022? Here are six predictions.
Burden is a no-brainer for this list after receiving Preseason Freshman of the Year honors. As one of the two highest-rated recruits to ever sign with Missouri, Burden is a game-changer at wide receiver. The product of East St. Louis, Illinois, received a lofty comparison in his scouting report to former Alabama standout Amari Cooper from 247Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu.
Burden caught 71 passes for 1,174 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior at East St. Louis while leading his squad to within one point of a state championship game win. He was a special teams star, too, with eight punt returns for touchdowns.
Now, Burden’s dynamic athleticism and playmaking ability makes him an instant-impact player for a Missouri squad desperately looking for offensive playmakers. Star running back Tyler Badie is off to the NFL and incumbent starting QB Connor Bazelak transferred to Indiana. Top receiver Tauskie Dove is back, but he’s the only returner with more than 250 returning yards receiving.
Burden will have every opportunity in the passing and return game to put up outstanding numbers.
If Kyle Whittingham identifies a front-seven recruit as a must-get player, listen closely. With stars Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell off to the NFL, there’s a chance for Lander Barton — the No. 41 player and No. 4 linebacker in the Top247 rankings, and a top-five recruit in Utah history — to enter the fray.
Barton, the brother of ex-Utes and NFL players Cody and Jackson Barton, played both ways for Brighton High School in Salt Lake City and earned rave reviews for his athleticism at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. He posted more than 100 tackles in each of his three final high school seasons and has already made waves during his first fall camp.
If Barton is able to earn a starting job on a potential College Football Playoff team, it should be regarded as one of the most impressive freshman debuts in the country.
The offensive skill commits get all the attention, but Banks ranks as perhaps the most important commitment coach Steve Sarkisian earned in his first full recruiting class at Texas. Banks ranked as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the Top247 rankings and was a consensus five-star recruit out of the Houston area.
Though Banks had offers from virtually every top program in America, he chose the Longhorns over massive interest from Texas A&M’s No. 1 recruiting class. His commitment was the final nail in what quickly became an elite offensive line recruiting class.
Texas struggled mightily along the offensive line in Sarkisian’s first season, and there are no clear answers at either tackle spot or guard with Junior Angilau out for the season. Banks could be thrust into action early and often in a critical season at Texas.
Penn State hasn’t produced a 1,000-yard rusher since 2018. Not coincidentally, the Nittany Lions have gone a combined 11-11 over the past two seasons with consecutive finishes outside the final AP Top 25.
Luckily, Singleton, the No. 1 running back and No. 19 overall recruit from the Class of 2022, is the perfect player to help. Singleton rushed for 2,049 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior at Governor Mifflin High School in Reading, Pennsylvania, and earned a comparison to Nick Chubb from 247Sports midlands recruiting analyst Gabe Brooks. Not bad.
With a 6-foot and 210-pound frame, a laser-timed 4.59 and national Gatorade Player of the Year honors under his belt, Singleton has a chance to take Penn State back to the days of Saquon Barkley in the running game. If he’s able to hit early and give quarterback Sean Clifford some early help, Penn State could become a surprise contender in the Big Ten.
The No. 1 player in the Top247 won’t play many national television games at FCS program Jackson State. Still, teaming the impressive defensive back with Tigers coach Deion Sanders — one of the best defensive backs ever — should immediately produce sensational results.
Hunter was called a “generational type of talent” by 247Sports recruiting analyst Andrew Ivins and compared to Charles freaking Woodson. At Jackson State, he has a shot to play both ways for a team that is an early favorite for the Celebration Bowl. His debut at the Orange Blossom Classic against Florida A&M will be must-watch television.
Klubnik will sit behind former No. 1 quarterback recruit DJ Uiagalelei to start the season, but the consensus five-star from the 2021 class out of Austin (Texas) Westlake has the talent and mojo to push for the starting job later in the year.
The Texan won back-to-back state championships with a perfect 30-0 record for one of the state’s most historic programs and leaves as one of the greatest passers in Texas high school football history. He was lauded for both his arm talent and athletic ability, throwing both in the pocket and on the run as an off-schedule playmaker as he earned Elite 11 MVP.
Clemson has plenty of question marks outside of quarterback, but Klubnik is a special quarterback recruit. No freshman can have as big of an impact on the playoff race as Klubnik.
© 2004-2022 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc.
Images by Getty Images and US Presswire