Yardbarker 2022 preseason college football All-American team


The 2022 college football season is right around the corner. It’s the right time to highlight some of the nation’s best players and the perfect time to unveil the 2022 RustWire college football All-American team. (Statistics are from the 2021 season unless otherwise noted.)


Quarterback: Bryce Young, Alabama, Junior

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Young will try to become the first player since Ohio State’s Archie Griffin to win the Heisman Trophy twice in back-to-back seasons (1974, ’75). Young, who finished second in the nation last season with 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns, while completing 67 percent of his passes, certainly has the talent to pull off that impressive feat. However, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud (4,435 passing yards, 44 touchdown passes, 71.9 completion percentage) might have something to say about the matter.


Running Back: Bijan Robinson, Texas, Junior

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Nobody knows what to expect from the Longhorns this season, but it’s safe to think that Robinson will be the team’s 2022 bright spot. Texas underachieved during a 5-7 campaign in 2021, but Robinson rushed for 1,127 yards with 11 touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for four scores. Now, Texas’ quarterback situation might be the X-factor in ’22, but Robinson seems like a sure bet for even more success than last year.


Running Back: TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State, Sophomore

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Let’s not disregard the talent of Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn (1,404 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns), but all signs point to a break-out second season for Henderson in 2022. There was plenty of hype surrounding his arrival in Columbus, and Henderson delivered with 1,248 yards (6.8 per carry) and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes for 312 yards. This could very well be Henderson’s final collegiate season, especially if the Buckeyes return to the College Football Playoff.


Wide Receiver: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State, Junior

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Talk about breaking out. Nobody did so nationally more last season than Smith-Njibga. Even with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson still the Buckeyes’ receiving corps stars, Smith-Njiba led the team with 95 receptions and 1,606 yards in 2021. He ranked second in the country, averaging 123.5 yards per catch, and scored nine touchdowns. With the aforementioned Stroud and Henderson working alongside Smith-Njigba, it’s a wonder the Buckeyes are again thinking big in 2022.


Wide Receiver: Jordan Addison, USC, Junior

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The controversy surrounding Addison’s move to USC from Pittsburgh aside, the Trojans are certainly a team to watch in 2022 because of the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner. Addison, who joins former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams and ex-Oregon running back Travis Dye as the new transfers in town, ranked among the national leaders with 100 catches and 1,593 yards. He tied for tops in the country with 17 touchdowns. Williams is not the pure pro-style quarterback like former Panther Kenny Pickett, but Addison appears talented enough to adapt. 


Tight End: Brock Bowers, Georgia, Sophomore


Bowers made the transition from prep ball to the college game look easy in 2021. As a freshman, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Bowers led all tight ends with 13 receiving touchdowns. Meanwhile, his 882 receiving yards on 56 receptions ranked third in the country at the position en route to being honored as the SEC Newcomer/Freshman of the Year. All those numbers were also team highs among Georgia pass catchers.


Center: Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame, Senior

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Patterson is arguably the best center in the country, but the buzz is that he could see time at left guard in 2022. Either way, Patterson is the heart and soul of the Irish’s offensive line. The three-year starting center has never been responsible for allowing a sack during his career. Patterson was recruited as a tackle, so his versatility remains a strength should first-year coach Marcus Freeman tinker with an offensive line that needs to be in top form if the Irish are to compete for a College Football Playoff berth.


Offensive Tackle: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern, Junior

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Perhaps it’s not the best sign when your team’s best overall talent can be found on the offensive line. Well, there’s a serious case to be made that the 6-foot-4, 294-point Skoronski is just that for the Wildcats. Now, he was a big reason Evan Hull enjoyed a 1,000-yard rushing season in 2021, even though Northwestern won just three games. Skoronski also yielded just two sacks from his position a year ago and is poised to build on his two stellar seasons in Evanston.


Offensive Guard: Caleb Chandler, Louisville, Senior

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The Cardinals couldn’t have been happier when Chandler announced at the start of the new year that he would return for an expected final season before embarking on an NFL career. The 6-foot-4, 297-pound Chandler began his college career in 2017 and has started all 24 games Louisville has played over the past two seasons. He was named All-ACC First Team a season ago and is a big reason the Cardinals averaged 212.9 rushing yards in 2021.


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Offensive Guard: Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama, Senior

Offensive Guard: Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama, Senior

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Ekiyor has started 29 games during his collegiate career. Perhaps that’s why he has been lauded for his ability to succeed as a run and pass blocker for arguably the best offensive program in the country. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 307-pound Ekiyor made a name for himself while consistently providing solid play and allowing just 1.5 sacks. It will be interesting to see if Ekiyor can be even more dominant in 2022.


Offensive Tackle: Andrew Vorhees, USC, Senior

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Those aforementioned Trojans’ offensive skill additions and coach Lincoln Riley get a lot of press, yet it can be argued that USC’s most established talent on that side of the ball is Vorhees. A fifth-year starter, Vorhees has started 44 career games for the Trojans. However, the 6-foot-6, 325-pounder’s biggest value has always been his versatility. During his collegiate career, Vorhees has started games at guard spots and left tackle. 


Defensive End: Will McDonald IV, Iowa State, Senior

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Entering his redshirt senior season, McDonald already owns the school record with 28 career sacks. A two-time All-Big 12 First Team performer, McDonald has also posted 34.5 tackles for loss and nine fumbles forced. It will be fun to see if McDonald can be even more dominant this season for a Cyclones defense that could be on the field more often than in the past, considering the team’s new pieces on offense. Regardless, he might be the best defensive lineman in the country.


Defensive Tackle: Jalen Carter, Georgia, Junior

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Carter might have something to say about who is the best defensive lineman in America. After a strong first season at Georgia in 2020, 6-foot-3, 310-pound Carter recorded 8.5 tackles for loss and the first three sacks of his career while totaling 51 tackles for the 2021 national champion Bulldogs. It was good enough to earn second-team All-SEC honors and get his name on the watch lists for the Outland Trophy (nation’s top interior lineman) and Nagurski Trophy (nation’s top defender).


Defensive Tackle: Bryan Bresee, Clemson, Sophomore


Clemson continues churning out elite defensive lineman, and Bresee appears to be in line to follow that trend. However, the big factor surrounding Bresee this season is staying healthy. After being named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020, an ACL injury limited him to four games last season. Yet, he appears ready to go for 2022. In 16 career games across two seasons, Bresee has totaled 35 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 9.5 tackles for loss.


Defensive End: Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame, Junior

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Perhaps we’re going out on a bit of limb here. Then again, Foskey ranked among the national leaders with 11 sacks last season. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Foskey recorded six of Notre Dame’s 13 forced fumbles and a team-leading 12.5 tackles for loss in 2021. In his three seasons with the Irish, Foskey has recorded 15.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles in 29 games. He’s gotten better every season in South Bend, so that this year could be pretty special for Notre Dame’s top defender.


Linebacker: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama, Junior

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Many analysts believe Alabama’s star edge rusher will be the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. We’ll wait to see if that’s the case, but at least thus far, Anderson hasn’t done anything to hinder his chances. The AP All-American is the reigning Nagurski Trophy winner after he led the nation with 17.5 sacks and a ridiculous 34.5 tackles for loss. Anderson has recorded 154 total tackles and 24.5 sacks in two seasons at Alabama while solidifying himself as the nation’s best defensive player.


Linebacker: Jack Campbell, Iowa, Senior

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Campbell is a bloodhound when it comes to having a nose for the ball. A year ago, he ranked second in the Big Ten with a team-high 143 total tackles. Campbell had five games with at least 10 tackles in 2021 and recorded a whopping 14 during the Hawkeyes’ 20-17 loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. Last season, the first-team All-Big Ten performer posted two of his three career interceptions, plus two recovered fumbles.


Linebacker: Noah Sewell, Oregon, Sophomore

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After leading the Ducks in tackles (45) during an abbreviated 2020 campaign as a true freshman, Sewell proved his worth further with his stellar overall performance last season. In 2021, Sewell recorded a team-leading 114 total tackles, including 53 solos, 8.5 for loss, and four sacks. He also broke up five passes and posted an interception for the Ducks. Sewell was the first Oregon defender to be named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker.


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Cornerback: Eli Ricks, Alabama, Junior

Cornerback: Eli Ricks, Alabama, Junior


Ricks comes over from LSU with plenty of promise but also some off-field baggage. However, his marijuana charge was dropped, and now he can focus on making an already stout defense even better. There’s no denying Ricks’ talent. In 14 games spanning two seasons at LSU, Ricks had five career interceptions — two returned for touchdowns. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Ricks can play physically. He will gamble, but that might not always be a problem considering the Alabama talent in front of him at linebacker and on the defensive line this season.


Cornerback: Riley Moss, Iowa, Senior

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Jack Campbell isn’t the only star returning from a Hawkeyes’ defense that allowed just one 2021 opponent to score more than 27 points. In four seasons at Iowa, Moss has recorded 10 interceptions and ranks second in program history with 239 interception-return yards. He’s returned three of those picks for touchdowns, with two coming in 2021. Moss has also been credited with 25 passes defended and 111 tackles (4 1.2 for loss) over 41 career contests.


Safety: Jordan Battle, Alabama, Senior

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It’s safe to say that the Crimson Tide has the best secondary in the country. Ricks aside, that might have been the case knowing Battle was coming back from his senior season. A third-team All-American from The Associated Press in 2021, Battle tied for the team lead with three interceptions — two returned for touchdowns. He also ranked fourth on the squad with a career-high 84 tackles, including 50 solo stops. 


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Safety: Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M, Junior

Safety: Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M, Junior

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Johnson’s breakout season from 2021 has placed him among the elite defensive backs in the nation, and he’s poised for a stronger junior campaign. As a sophomore, Johnson ranked second on the Aggies’ squad with 79 tackles (15 coming against Mississippi State on Oct. 2) and tied for second with an impressive 8.5 tackles for loss. Johnson broke up five passes last year, proving he can also get the job done in coverage. 


Kicker: Jake Moody, Michigan, Senior

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Moody is the first Michigan kicker to win the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top place-kicker. He did so last season while going 23-of-25 on field-goal attempts and converting all 56 extra-point tries. Twice in 2021, Moody went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts in a game and was a perfect 19-for-19 on tries of 39 yards or fewer. Not too long ago, place-kicking was a major issue for the Wolverines, but Moody has righted the ship in that department.


Punter: Adam Korsak, Rutgers, Senior

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From Australia to New Jersey, Korsak is heading into his fifth season at Rutgers. In 2021, Korsak was an All-American Second-Team selection by The Associated Press. His 43.9 career average ranks 19th in the nation since the start of the 2018 season, and his 274 punts are the most during that span. While the latter might be somewhat of a dubious statistic, at the least, the Scarlet Knights have one of the best in the business when it comes to flipping the field.


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Return Specialist: Brian Battie, South Florida, Sophomore

Return Specialist: Brian Battie, South Florida, Sophomore

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South Florida has won three games over the last two seasons, but the Bulls have one of the most exciting players in the country. In 2021, the 5-foot-8 Battie led the nation with three kickoff returns for touchdowns and ranked fourth overall with an average of 32.5 yards per return. Battie also averaged 5.6 rushing yards on 34 carries while proving he’s more than just a talented return man. It will be interesting to see if Battie’s role expands further in 2022.

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.