Just a few more days before we have honest-to-goodness college football games and the 2022 season is here.
ESPN’s preseason All-America team includes some familiar names and some new ones. Included are four players who made ESPN’s 2021 postseason All-America team — Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, USC receiver Jordan Addison and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. Of course, the caveat with Addison is that he has changed addresses from Pittsburgh to USC via the transfer portal.
Alabama leads the way with four players on the team, while Clemson and Ohio State each have three. For what it’s worth, those three teams have combined for 17 College Football Playoff appearances.
QB: Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide
The first Alabama quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy, Young returns for his junior season after passing for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns as a sophomore, both single-season records at Alabama. Young is terrific under duress, gets rid of the ball quickly and is adept at making plays down the field even when he appears to be in trouble. He’ll have a new group of receivers to throw to this season.
RB: Bijan Robinson, Texas Longhorns
After dislocating his elbow at the end of last season, Robinson says he couldn’t feel better heading into the 2022 season. He’s up 12 pounds to 222 and just as explosive. He finished with 1,422 yards from scrimmage a year ago and is a talented receiver out of the backfield. Robinson is quickly running his way into Texas running back royalty.
RB: Treveyon Henderson, Ohio State Buckeyes
As a true freshman a year ago, Henderson came in as the No. 1 running back prospect in the country and did not disappoint. He rushed for 1,248 yards and tied for the lead nationally with four rushes of at least 50 yards. The Buckeyes’ offense should be something to watch with CJ Stroud returning at quarterback and Jaxon Smith-Njigba at receiver.
WR: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State’s wide receiver room the last few years has been overflowing with talent, and Smith-Njigba is as gifted as any of the pass-catchers to come out of Columbus recently. He set school records last season with 95 receptions and 1,606 receiving yards on a team that featured first-round NFL draft picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. When last seen, Smith-Njigba was compiling a Rose Bowl-record 347 receiving yards.
WR: Jordan Addison, USC Trojans
He’s traded his Pittsburgh gear for USC gear, and Caleb Williams will be throwing to him this season instead of Kenny Pickett. What hasn’t changed is that Addison is still one of the most dynamic players in college football. He won the Biletnikoff Award last season as the country’s most outstanding receiver. In two seasons at Pitt, Addison caught 160 passes, including 21 touchdowns.
TE: Brock Bowers, Georgia Bulldogs
There’s no shortage of talented tight ends this season, but the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Bowers gets the nod here. He catches everything thrown his way (to the tune of 13 touchdowns) and is a good runner after the catch. He was one of the best true freshmen in the country last year at any position and should be even better as a sophomore. He also has two ultra-talented teammates at tight end in Arik Gilbert and Darnell Washington.
OT: Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State Buckeyes
Good luck in finding a better tackle tandem in the country than the one Ohio State will put on the field this season. The 6-6, 310-pound Johnson spent last season at right guard, but he moves to left tackle in 2022 to protect CJ Stroud’s blind side. The Buckeyes are equally talented on the other side with Dawand Jones back for a second season as the starting right tackle.
OG: Layden Robinson, Texas A&M Aggies
Jimbo Fisher has strengthened both lines of scrimmage at Texas A&M in recent years, and the 6-4, 330-pound Robinson is poised for a breakout season from his right guard position. This is his fourth year in the program, and he made his first career start a year ago. He has everything it takes to blossom into the top interior offensive lineman in college football this season.
C: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota Golden Gophers
There’s nothing like experience on the offensive line, and the 6-4, 320-pound Schmitz has that and then some. He’s back for his sixth season at Minnesota after making 23 starts during his career. Pro Football Focus has Schmitz rated as the highest-graded returning center, and he will again clear the way for star running back Mohamed Ibrahim.
OG: Andrew Voorhees, USC Trojans
One of the most versatile offensive linemen in the country, Vorhees is penciled in at left guard for the Trojans this season. The 6-6, 325-pound redshirt senior has appeared in 44 games during his career. He’s made 25 starts at right guard, eight starts at left guard and four starts at left tackle. He’s a force wherever he lines up for the Men of Troy.
OT: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern Wildcats
The Wildcats are cranking up their own offensive line pipeline. Rashawn Slater was one of the NFL’s top rookies a year ago, and Skoronski is on track to follow him into the NFL with another big year. The 6-4, 315-pound junior has been Northwestern’s starter at left tackle since his first season on campus in 2020 after Slater opted out to prepare for the draft.
AP: Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State Wildcats
Vaughn is as exciting as he is productive, and despite his 5-6, 176-pound frame, he is plenty physical too. Vaughn was the only FBS player last season with more than 1,400 rushing yards (1,404) and more than 400 receiving yards (468). He also finished with 22 touchdowns. There’s not a better all-purpose threat in college football.
DE: Andre Carter II, Army Black Knights
There will be edge rushers this season with bigger names, but few with bigger games than the 6-7, 260-pound Carter, whose quickness and speed are impressive. He finished with 15.5 sacks in 13 games last season (leading all FBS players in sacks per game) and forced four fumbles. Carter had started only two games prior to last season, but has played his way into being a potential first-round NFL draft pick.
DT: Bryan Bresee, Clemson Tigers
When healthy, Bresee is as good as any defensive lineman in the country. He tore his ACL in Week 4 a year ago and missed spring practice after undergoing surgery on his shoulder. But the feeling on Clemson’s staff heading into the 2022 season is that the 6-5, 305-pound redshirt sophomore is back to his dominant form and ready to collapse his share of opposing pockets.
DT: Jalen Carter, Georgia Bulldogs
It doesn’t do justice to Georgia’s defense a year ago to say that it was one of the most talented ones in decades. Three of the Dawgs’ defensive linemen went in the first 28 picks of the NFL draft, and that simply doesn’t happen. All you need to know about the 6-3, 300-pound Carter is that he might have been the most talented of the bunch, and he’s back for his junior season.
DE: Myles Murphy, Clemson Tigers
Yes, Clemson’s defensive line will be loaded this season — the entire front seven, for that matter. The 6-5, 275-pound Murphy combines the kind of explosiveness, power and size that the great edge rushers possess. He has led the Tigers in tackles for loss each of the last two seasons, including seven sacks a year ago, and has forced five fumbles his first two years on campus.
LB: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama Crimson Tide
Not only is Anderson the best defender in the country, but he’s the best player in college football and likely to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Nick Saban has already said that the 6-4, 243-pound Anderson has a chance to be the best defensive player he has ever coached. Anderson does everything well. He plays with smarts, toughness and is virtually unblockable.
LB: Trenton Simpson, Clemson Tigers
New Clemson defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin wants Simpson closer to the line of scrimmage because of his athleticism and penchant for making big plays, which is why the 6-3, 240-pound junior is moving from the nickel/strongside linebacker position to weakside linebacker. Simpson can do it all — blitz, drop into coverage and tackle — no matter where he is on the field.
LB: Dallas Turner, Alabama Crimson Tide
Having to block one disruptor the caliber of Will Anderson Jr. is daunting enough for an opposing offense, but Alabama has two. Turner, a true sophomore, is following Anderson’s same path and will be an every-down starter in 2022. Turner started just three games a year ago and still racked up 10 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks.
CB: Riley Moss, Iowa Hawkeyes
One of the big recruiting coups for the Hawkeyes this offseason was getting Moss back for another season, especially after he initially accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. Moss was the Big Ten’s defensive back of the year last season and finished with four interceptions despite missing three games with a knee injury.
CB: Cam Smith, South Carolina Gamecocks
Don’t mention to Smith that he’s one of the nation’s best cornerbacks heading into the 2022 season. He’s intent on being the best corner and has the skills to back up that claim. The 6-foot, 188-pound redshirt junior allowed multiple catches in just two of 11 games played last season. He played nickel this spring for the Gamecocks and takes away a lot of what offenses are trying to do in the passing game.
Q: Jordan Battle, Alabama Crimson Tide
The veteran of the Alabama secondary, Battle elected to return for his senior season. The 6-1, 210-pound Battle was one of Mel Kiper’s top 10 safety prospects a year ago, so getting a player back with his experience and talent is huge for a Crimson Tide defense that shouldn’t have many weaknesses. Battle had 85 tackles and three interceptions last season.
Q: Jalen Catalon, Arkansas Razorbacks
After a big redshirt freshman season, Catalon missed the second half of last season with a shoulder injury. He’d already been playing with a broken hand. The Hogs’ defense suffered once he exited the lineup. Catalon is a sure tackler who is always around the football. He’s also one of those players who cleans up mistakes in the secondary.
PK: Harrison Mavis, Missouri Tigers
There’s no security in a tight game like having a place-kicker who is automatic from just about any distance, and all Mevis has done in his last two seasons is make 88.6% of his field goal attempts. He was 23-of-25 a year ago and made all three of his attempts from 50-plus yards, including one from 56. Mevis has never missed an extra point attempt.
P: Kyle Ostendorp, Arizona Wildcats
As a sophomore, Ostendorp led the Pac-12 and set a school record in yards per punt (49.2), while 28 of his 58 punts traveled 50-plus yards. It was a big bounce-back season for Ostendorp, who missed the shortened 2020 season after injuring his ankle. Not only is he able to flip the field with his booming punts, but he had 17 punts downed inside the 20 a year ago.
KR: Brian Battie, South Florida Bulls
What a sophomore season Battie had as USF’s do-it-all guy. The 5-8, 165-pound running back became the second player in NCAA history with two kickoff returns for a touchdown in the same game when he did it against Houston. Battie had a third 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Tulsa. He led the Bulls with 1,035 all-purpose yards a year ago.