The 12 big football stars of 2022 you haven’t heard of

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Every football season, a handful of previously unknown players rise to star status. While it’s impossible to predict who these players will be, it’s certainly possible to make an educated guess.

We all know of proven running backs like Bijan Robinson and Deuce Vaughn, and we’ve all heard of big transfers like Quinn Ewers and Dillon Gabriel, but there are players waiting in the wings for their chance to steal the star, and you may not have heard much, if anything, about them. Here’s a look at a potential star from each team.

RB TAYE MCWILLIAMS, BAYLOR

McWilliams, a redshirt freshman in 2021, only appeared in three games last season as the Bears relied almost exclusively on Abram Smith, Trestan Ebner and Gerry Bohanon in the running game. With Smith and Ebner gone, McWilliams could well become a star guard for the Bears next season after averaging 10.6 yards per carry in 2021, including an average of 6.59 yards after contact. He also had at least one rush of 14 or more yards in each of his appearances in 2021.

QB HUNTER DEKKERS, IOWA STATE

ISU fans know Dekkers, but the average Big 12 fan probably couldn’t name him as a replacement for Brock Purdy. National pundits are going to be down on the ISU this offseason because all they’ll see is a gaping hole where Purdy, Breece Hall and Charlie Kolar were, but Dekkers has the potential to have people in Ames asking Brock Who? Dekkers, a redshirt freshman in 2021, played well in relief of a restless Purdy in last season’s loss to Iowa, completing 69% of his passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. He was a four-star freshman out of high school and ranked the 7th-top dual-threat prospect in the nation by 247Sports.

CB KALON GERVIN, KANSAS

Gervin is a four-star transfer from Michigan State who will immediately upgrade KU’s secondary. As a redshirt sophomore in 2021, his talents have languished on the sidelines for much of his career at Michigan State. He’s not going to stop the best receivers in the league, but he’s good at making open-field tackles and is capable of putting pressure on blitz forfeits.

WR RJ GARCIA II, KANSAS STATE

I’m going on a bit of a limb with this one, as K-State has a lot of receivers that would seem to be ahead of it in the pecking order, but Garcia, a true freshman in 2021, has the potential to enter the 2022 season on both depth and skill to become a weapon for new K-State offensive coordinator Collin Klein. A former basketball star, he’s a lot like many outstanding K-State players of the past: He was under-recruited but generated an immediate buzz in K-State circles when the 2021 Spring Ball began.

CB/S TREY MORRISON, OKLAHOMA

Morrison is a super-senior transfer from North Carolina. He’s a versatile player who is likely to find a role in defending Brent Venables as he has a nose for the football in passing and running games, and he can explode in blitz situations. Oklahoma’s defense could produce several new stars in 2022, but with Morrison’s experience and versatility, he’ll likely be able to make big plays all season.

RB OLLIE GORDON or RB CJ BROWN, OKLAHOMA STATE

Dominic Richardson could be the heir apparent to succeed Jalen Warren in backfield at Oklahoma State, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one (or both) of these four-star rookies made it into a big role. for the Cowboys in 2022. But I’m speculating on true four-star freshmen, I might as well mention WR Taylon Shettron. However, backtracking is a concern for Oklahoma State (again) heading into this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a newcomer made their way into the starting role like Warren did the last season. Gordon has the size to play right away, but that will depend on how quickly he adapts to college play.

RB TRELON SMITH, TCU

Smith is a transfer from Arkansas and a redshirt senior. He’ll likely share reps with Emani Bailey, a four-star transfer from Louisiana, but I think Smith’s experience with the Razorbacks will translate well to Sonny Dykes’ offense. Smith has rushed for 1,308 yards and 10 touchdowns the past two seasons averaging just over five yards per carry.

WR ISAIAH NEYOR TEXAS

You’ve heard of Quinn Ewers, Ohio State‘s transfer QB, but you may have missed that Texas won another big gate recruiting battle by grabbing Neyor, a phenomenal transfer from Wyoming. With Xavier Worthy giving the opposing secondaries something to worry about, Neyor should have a big season in Austin. Neyor averaged 20 yards per reception last season, his redshirt freshman campaign, en route to 878 yards and two games with 100+ yards.

WR LOÏC FOUONJI, TEXAS TECH

Originally, Joshua Moore was listed here as the starting WR for Tech, but a reader kindly pointed out that Moore moved from Tech to SMU. Fouonji was my second choice, and with Moore out of the picture, he’s likely set for a big season and a starting role. Fouonji, a redshirt sophomore, wasn’t used much in his first two seasons at Tech, but he showed the home run ability to become a star last season, especially with a 69-yard touchdown against Texas when he put a move on the cornerback and safety that was so good that both defenders completely missed it and collided.

QB GARRET GREENE, WEST VIRGINIA

WVU hired former Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell to take over as offensive coordinator in January, and that should be great news for whoever wins the starting quarterback job at WVU for 2022. Although Greene has a strong competition for the job, I believe he will prevail, and with the ability to run to go with a cannon for an arm, he might be ready to make a name for himself in Morgantown.

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