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College Football's Top 20 Impact True Freshmen for 2022

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M Aggies football

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher could see a number of true freshmen from his loaded recruiting class emerge as key contributors this fall

College football’s 2022 National Signing Day is officially in the books. Texas A&M inked the No. 1 overall class, which is also the best signing haul in modern recruiting history, with Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas, and Penn State rounding out the top tier.

Related: National Signing Day 2022 Winners and Losers

Every FBS program inked recruits to a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday or in the early period in December, which means coaching staffs should have a good snapshot of how their program looks for the upcoming season. And if teams didn't fill their needs on the recruiting trail, a trip to the transfer portal could be in order.

With spring practice just around the corner for all 130 teams, the focus around the nation now shifts to the upcoming season and how incoming freshmen or junior college recruits fit into the depth chart.

There will be several impact performers from the 2022 class this season, and it’s impossible to narrow the names down to just 20. However, now that signing day is complete, let’s take a look at 20 (early) names to watch in '22 and how they could impact their team in on-field action.

College Football's Top 20 Impact True Freshmen for 2022

Aaron Anderson, WR, Alabama
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 34 Overall; No. 4 WR

Finding weapons at receiver to deploy around quarterback Bryce Young is one of the top priorities this spring for Alabama. The arrival of Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton fills one spot, but Anderson – a five-star prospect – made noise at the Under Armour All-America Game and is poised to become a factor for snaps in a crowded receiving corps.

Kelvin Banks/Devon Campbell, OL, Texas
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 32 Overall and No. 9, respectively

Improving the play in the trenches is crucial if Texas wants to push for a winning record in coach Steve Sarkisian’s second year. Banks and fellow top prospect Campbell certainly fill a major need for the Longhorns. How fast can the true freshman develop and work their way onto the field?

Luther Burden, WR, Missouri
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 3 Overall; No. 1 WR

Keeping Burden – a product of East St. Louis, Ill. – was a big win for coach Eli Drinkwitz. The five-star prospect adds much-needed big-play ability in the receiving corps for an offense that tied for 12th in completions of 20-plus yards in 2021.

Will Campbell, OL, LSU
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 35 Overall, No. 4 OL

The line is arguably the biggest concern for new coach Brian Kelly going into the 2022 season. The Tigers added two players through the portal, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Campbell received significant playing time this fall. The Monroe native ranked as a four-star prospect and should slide into the mix at tackle at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds.

Dani Dennis-Sutton, DL, Penn State
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 28 Overall; No. 6 DL

The loss of Arnold Ebiketie, Jesse Luketa and Derrick Tangelo leaves a few major voids for new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to replace in the trenches. There should be plenty of playing time available for Dennis-Sutton – a five-star prospect from Maryland – in his first season on campus.

Georgia’s Five-Star Defensive Prospects
Georgia’s elite defense loses a ton of key cogs, but this unit is likely to quickly reload, especially with the amount of talent coming to Athens in the ’22 signing class. Three prospects – lineman Mykel Williams and defensive backs Malaki Starks and Daylen Everette – ranked as five-star recruits by the 247Sports Composite and should be able to find a path to playing time this fall.

Kiyaunta Goodwin, OL, Kentucky
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 37 Overall; No. 6 OL

Kentucky has churned out some of the SEC’s top offensive lines in recent years, but with Dare Rosenthal and Darian Kinnard departing Lexington, offensive coordinator Liam Coen has a few gaps to address up front. Goodwin – a five-star prospect – might be needed right away.

Cade Klubnik, QB, Clemson
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 6 Overall; No. 1 QB

Clemson’s offense was in a slump throughout 2021, averaging only 24.5 points a game in ACC contests, with quarterbacks on the team combining for just 12 touchdown passes. DJ Uiagalelei will get a chance to shake off an uneven ’21 season, but Klubnik is also going to get every opportunity to push for the starting nod.

Domani Jackson, CB, USC
247Sports Composite:
No. 5 Overall; No. 2 DB

USC dipped into the portal for help at cornerback with the arrival of Colorado transfer Mekhi Blackmon and former Oklahoma defensive back Latrell McCutchin, but more help in the secondary is needed after Chris Steele and Isaac Taylor-Stuart departed to the NFL.

Shemar James, LB, Florida
247Sports Composite:
No. 66 Overall; No. 5 LB

The return of Ventrell Miller is a big boost for Florida’s linebacker unit. However, this group suffered some attrition and heads into spring practice as a concern for new coach Billy Napier.

Dasan McCullough, LB, Indiana
247Sports Composite:
No. 74 Overall: No. 9 LB

According to 247Sports, McCullough is the highest-rated player to ever sign with Indiana. The Indiana native was named the 2020 MaxPreps High School Player of the Year for his standout play and recorded 55 tackles and three sacks as a high school senior in ’21. McCullough will be tough for coach Tom Allen to keep on the sidelines.

Tetairoa McMillan, WR, Arizona
247Sports Composite:
No. 50 Overall; No. 5 WR

Arizona’s recruiting class (ranked No. 24 overall) was one of the biggest surprises of the ’22 signing haul. McMillan was a key cog in that group for coach Jedd Fisch, and the California native should be able to push for snaps right away, especially with ’21 top target Stanley Berryhill III off to the NFL.

Tobias Merriweather, WR, Notre Dame
247Sports Composite:
No. 121 Overall; No. 18 WR

Notre Dame lost Kevin Austin to the NFL, and there’s a need for overall depth behind Avery Davis, Braden Lenzy and Lorenzo Styles at receiver.

Derrick Moore, DL, Michigan
247Sports Composite:
No. 48 Overall; No. 7 DL

Michigan’s defensive front is in need of new difference-makers after Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo departed for the NFL. Moore – a 6-foot-4, 250-pound end prospect – should factor in the mix for snaps right away.

Xavier Nwankpa, S, Iowa
247Sports Composite:
No. 52 Overall; No. 5 S

It was a mixed bag of news for Iowa’s secondary this offseason. Cornerback Matt Hankins finished his eligibility, and safety Jack Koerner opted for the NFL. However, coach Kirk Ferentz received good news when safety Kaevon Merriweather and cornerback Riley Moss opted to return. Nwankpa will have to fight off some upperclassmen for playing time, but the four-star prospect is too talented to spend ’22 on the bench.

Zach Rice, OL, North Carolina
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 13 Overall; No. 1 OL

It’s never easy to be a true freshman and expected to start along the offensive line. However, Rice – a five-star prospect – is needed right away. The Tar Heels allowed 49 sacks last year and the bulk of that line is headed to the NFL. Rice fills an immediate need for coach Mack Brown.

Gavin Sawchuk, RB, Oklahoma
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 97 Overall; No. 7 RB

Kennedy Brooks is off to the NFL after rushing for 1,253 yards last season. Eric Gray and Marcus Major are back, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sawchuk – a four-star prospect from Colorado – fight his way into the rotation for new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

Talyn Shettron, WR, Oklahoma State
247Sports Composite:
No. 124 Overall; No. 19 WR

The bulk of Oklahoma State’s receiving corps is set to return, but this unit is going to miss Tay Martin (80 catches for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns). Shettron might be too good to keep on the sideline next season and could surpass some of the more experienced options for playing time.

Nicholas Singleton, RB, Penn State
247Sports Composite Rating:
No. 30 Overall; No. 1 RB

Penn State’s offensive line struggled mightily in 2021, which certainly played a role in the ground game averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and finishing near the bottom of the Big Ten in production (108.0 a game). Singleton tallied 6,326 rushing yards in high school and should get a chance to push for carries right away.

Texas A&M’s Defensive Line Class
Let’s cheat a little and list a couple of players here. Texas A&M’s standout defense needs to be restocked up front, with Walter Nolan (No. 2 overall prospect), Shemar Stewart (No. 10), Enai White (No. 46), Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy (No. 16), and Anthony Lucas (No. 58) set to enroll in time for ’22. Any of these players could make an impact right away for the Aggies.