National Signing Day: 10 groups of five rookies to watch in 2022

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The Five Eyes will soon be reshaped with the conference realignment, but even before that point FBS programs continue to battle the Power 5 for some rookies and the 2022 cycle has proven no difference.

Cincinnati brings the top class for the third straight cycle while Houston, UCF and Coastal Carolina have made waves, among others, in the process. Many of the individual recruiting wins have come against P5-level competition or have proven otherwise notable.

Sports Illustrated features several that should be noted as the seniors go from Friday night stars to potential FBS-level early contributors on Saturday.

BY Mario Eugenio – Cincinnati

The only SI99 rookie to sign with a Group of Five program this cycle, Eugenio had a breakout campaign for the underclass as a sophomore and followed it with an even better run as a junior en route to 30. bags between the two seasons. As a senior, the top talent suffered a groin injury he sustained and it halted production — but not the wait in Cincinnati. Eugenio has first-step quickness, elite short-area blast and has the frame to work inside on occasion successfully. As he tweaks the counter moves and adds strength at the collegiate level, we expect a big impact in Luke Fickell’s scheme. Eugenio is still at the start of his assimilation into the position as well.

QB Luther Richesson – Cincinnati

The great Bearcats teams have consistently featured top-notch quarterback play, including of course the unprecedented playoff series UC just went through, and the depth to replace Desmond Ridder is strong. 2020 signing Evan Prater saw the field as QB2 in 2021 and will likely be given the keys to the offense this spring, but new addition Luther Richesson could soon be factored into the mix going forward. The Nashville native, who played under former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer in high school, was as effective as a senior passer as he could be. The big physical presence completed nearly 80% of his attempts for 2,936 yards and 36 touchdowns against just three interceptions. The surprise of the Elite 11 Finals, Richesson has the full package, including arm strength and anticipation combined with functional athleticism. Expect it to factor in the starting gig at UC in due course.

QB Landry Lyddy – Louisiana Tech

Mr. Football and Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year went to sports superstars like Leonard Fournette, Derek Stingley and Joe McKnight, but the reigning winner isn’t an LSU, another blue-blooded commitment or even a Power Five rookie. He’s on board and will soon be signing up with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. True to his longstanding commitment to the program in the state despite a late push from Boise State and others, Lyddy has lit up the competition throughout his college career. As a senior, the quick-release passer continued his state title run as a junior with showy numbers in 2021 — completing 232 of 317 passes for 4,247 yards and 53 touchdowns. In just two years as a college starter for Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist, Lyddy threw for over 8,000 yards and 100 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Consistency on the pitch is rare, as is what we hear of his ability between the ears in what should be the future of Sony Cumbie’s programme.

LB Disawn Misa – Boise State

Arguably Washington State’s best defensive rookie, the 6’3″, 225-pound prospect was named Seattle Metro’s Defensive MVP as a senior thanks to a strong run at the legendary Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic. An instinctive linebacker who plays with great speed and physicality, there is multi-position capability given his frame and overall skill set. We could see him living in the middle as a captain of defense, used as a timely blitzer and occasional cover man against tight ends and running backs just as much as he can end up standing on the edge and becoming a lead passer Misa, who has also tried his hand at attack in high school, received offers from most Pac-12s and contributed to several state championship teams as a four-year contributor.

De’Andre Coleman in the Alabama 6A State Championship Game

WR De’Andre Coleman – Coastal Carolina

When connecting with folks on the ground in Alabama about the Class of 2022, Coleman comes back quickly for two reasons. First, his frame and overall ability as a 6’4″ wide who can make plays on the field as well as after the catch. Next is the common caveat in his recruiting, almost bewilderment as to to why he wasn’t signing with a Power Five program in December Of course, the Hueytown (Ala.) High star jumped on board with a top 25 program with Coastal Carolina, paired with the Georgia native and the quarterback Bryce Archie as the clear class headliners headed to “Ball at the Beach” Coleman was a superstar as a senior, scoring 23 scrimmage touchdowns averaging 19.4 yards per touch in 2021. Despite losing in the state championship game, a 46-42 shootout with Clay-Chalkville High, the senior left it all on the field catching 15 passes for 149 yards and adding duty to play in back and forth with great success.

QB Bryce Archie – Coastal Carolina

Another Chanticleer to associate with Coleman, quite literally, is Archie of Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern. A three-sport standout with promise on the baseball field as well, it will be interesting to see how he navigates at the college level. But when it comes to the cap, he’s an intriguing quarterback prospect with plenty of raw tools as he learns under Grayson McCall in 2022. Archie, who worked with one of the key coaches who also taught Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, accounted for 33 touchdowns. (26 assists) as a senior thanks to great athleticism and a noticeably strong arm. As a baseball pitcher, he reached the pinnacle in the 90s with his fastball, which would inspire the Coastal baseball staff to keep him in the field once in town for good.

QB Bert Emmanuel, Jr. – Central Michigan

If you recognize the name, yes we all age and yes the Central Michigan signee is extremely athletic regardless of projected position. The former NFL wide receiver’s son (who stands much taller than dad at 6’3″) with the same name, junior also played quarterback in high school and should have a chance to stay at the job at Regardless, the Texan was dominant at the prep level but took it to another level as a senior with 46 offensive touchdowns (31 assists) to his name in 13 games.Emmanuel completed 60 % of his passes and hasn’t thrown an interception in 261 attempts along the way.The showy numbers, which include 1,030 rushing yards as a long-stride rusher, should have Chippewa fans considering the future of Jim McElwain’s program.

OL Tellek Lockette – Louisiana-Monroe

Everything this four-year-old college freshman did in high school competed at an extremely high level in the nation’s most talented metro area with consistent success along the way. Playing in legendary programs like Miami (Florida) Northwestern and ending his career helping Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas to another state championship in 2021, Lockette works in multiple positions along the offensive line with great leverage and pop at the point of contact. Whether she’s projecting herself as a guard or center, there’s a high-level rookie who isn’t expected to stay long at ULM. The reigning Broward County lineman of the year received praise from his new head coach, Terry Bowden, after formalizing the collegiate decision.

“He’s an aggressive player, likes to finish his blocks on the court, which will add value to our boardroom mentality,” Bowden said.

OF Jamaal Johnson – UCF

When a high school game features more than a dozen Power Five recruits and the most flashy prospect doesn’t ink in the same collegiate lineup, it’s remarkable. Johnson was a midseason threat in 2021 for Hollywood (Florida) state champion Chaminade-Madonna High School against Miami (Florida) Gulliver Prep, recording three sacks as part of a dominating defensive effort. The drive, speed on the edge and impact at the point of contact were tangible all night for the inside-out pass thrower. It wasn’t just that Friday night, but throughout his prep career that Johnson would create conversation. The UCF signee had 28 sacks in his career before taking it to the next level as a senior, recording 21 in the last state championship run. The addition of Miami’s sole commitment was a big early win for Gus Malzahn and the Knights held on afterward.

RB Terrance Gibbs – South Georgia

One of Wednesday’s strong signings was Gibbs with Georgia Southern. After a two-way breakout ability as a young prospect in the Orlando area, every top program in the country wanted to bring him in as a running back or potentially defensive back at the highest level. The pandemic, combined with a serious knee injury that would cost him time on the court as a member of the upper class, although Florida made his commitment under Dan Mullen this summer. When Billy Napier’s staff took over in December, the tone changed and Gibbs delayed signing early. Enter GSU for the top-tier signing in hopes that Gibbs will regain his full strength after screaming numbers as an underclass student with a good chip on his shoulder.

More G5 signatories to note:

Huston WR Matthew Golden

UAB WR Iverson hooks

South Florida DE Eddie Kelly

Memphis QB Tevin Carter

SMU TE RJ Maryland

Cincinnati CBJQ Hardaway

Toledo CB Nasir Bowers

Georgia State RB KZ Adams

UCF QB Thomas Castellanos

Southern Alabama DL RJ Moss

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