Most Important Freshmen In 2022
There are a lot of freshmen who are generating considerable levels of excitement in the college football world, especially on their respective campuses, heading into the 2022 regular season. Which ones are the most important? One can interpret “importance” in different ways. We could simply view importance as something which is connected to the national championship chase, but that means the freshmen involved would come from a select handful of schools and not the full country. Our use of the term “importance” refers to various schools at various stages of development and prominence. There is one national championship contender on this list, but the other schools are in very different positions which represent the diversity of identity which exists in college football. One school is aiming not for the national championship, but for the Group of Five championship. One school is trying to move from the realm of mediocre to good. One school is trying to escape from misery and become a credible program. These freshmen are all tasked with making their school, in their own unique situation, make the jump from one level to the next.
Luther Burden III, Wide Receiver, Missouri
Luther Burden III is only the third five-star recruit in the history of Missouri football since the star-ranking system began to be used in recruiting. You can readily imagine that Burden has given the Missouri fan base a huge injection of excitement and optimism. Can Burden become a dominant, game-changing receiver who enables Missouri to be competitive with defending national champion Georgia in the SEC East Division? If he can’t do that, can he at least lift Missouri to second place, above other national programs such as Florida and Tennessee? If Missouri could finish in second place in the East, that would be a very impressive achievement, and it would stamp Burden as a legitimate superstar in college football.
Cade Klubnik, Quarterback, Clemson
The Clemson Tigers hope that quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei bounces back from a terrible 2021 season and thrives in 2022. If that happens, Clemson should have a very good team with a national championship ceiling. However, if Uiagalelei stumbles and continues to play poorly – as he did in 2021 – the Tigers will need to turn to Cade Klubnik as their backup quarterback. If he needs to rescue this team, Klubnik will become the single most scrutinized quarterback in the sport. Nowhere else will the spotlight be as bright or as intense if that scenario emerges this season.
Tetaroia McMillan, Wide Receiver, Arizona
The Arizona Wildcats were awful last season, and they are expected to be very bad this season, with their ceiling being viewed as three wins. However, head coach Jedd Fisch has recruited really well. He flipped Tetaroia McMillan from the Oregon Ducks to the Arizona Wildcats. That was a stunning move which caught a lot of Pac-12 observers by surprise. If McMillan can help Arizona win four or five games this season, it would show that the Wildcats are headed in the right direction and will be a real problem for the Pac-12 in 2023 and beyond. McMillan has a chance to be a transformative figure in the history of Arizona football. That’s pretty important.
Matthew Golden, Wide Receiver, Houston
The Houston Cougars are trying to win the Group of Five championship and advance to a New Year’s Six bowl game in 2022. If they are going to pull off that feat, they need something extra, something special, something eye-popping from a new piece in their roster. Matthew Golden at wide receiver is the ideal candidate for that role. If he can help quarterback Clayton Tune produce a huge season, Golden could be a difference-making freshman on a national scale, not just in Houston.