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On3 2022 True Freshman All-American Team

Charles Power12/06/22
Article written by:On3 imageCharles Power


On3 image

The 2022 college football season’s story can’t be told without including the contribution of true freshmen. Dozens of players from the 2022 recruiting cycle made big impacts across the sport this fall.

With the regular season and conference championship games now behind us, this is a good time to assemble our True Freshman All-America Team. Degree of impact and consistency of contribution were key criteria we considered in selecting the team.

The team features several familiar names – the majority were part of On3’s Midseason True Freshman All-American Team. Several were also touted, blue-chip prospects. With that said, some true freshmen came from off the radar to make notable impacts.

The countdown of selections is below. Here is the On3 2022 True Freshman All-American Team:

Offensive True Freshman of the Year: Quinshon Judkins – Ole Miss

Quinshon Judkins turned in a historic true freshman season at Ole Miss. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder rushed for 1,474 yards and 16 touchdowns on 251 carries and added another 116 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. Judkins finished with the seventh-most rushing yards in the nation. He broke Ole Miss’ single-season records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

The Pike Road, Alabama product is a tough, instinctive runner who turned in big games on a seemingly weekly basis. Judkins’ natural strength and contact balance made tackling him a tough proposition for opposing offenses. The true freshman rushed for 872 yards after contact this fall and forced 74 missed tackles according to Pro Football Focus. He entered the season as the apparent backup to touted transfer Zach Evans, but was the bonafide top back in the Rebels’ backfield by the middle of the fall.

In high school, Judkins rushed for 1,534 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior while leading Pike Road to a state title. He was rated as a three-star prospect according to the On3 Consensus.

QB Conner Weigman – Texas A&M

While no true freshman quarterback had a truly sustained season from beginning to end, we landed on Texas A&M’s Conner Weigman as the choice here. The Houston area native took over for the Aggies’ down the stretch and had some strong moments against tough competition. Weigman finished the season having completed 73 of 132 passes for 896 yards and eight touchdowns against no interceptions. Four of the five games where he saw meaningful snaps occurred in SEC play.

Weigman’s true freshman season highlights included a four touchdown game in a close loss to Ole Miss and leading A&M to a late-season win over then No. 5 LSU. There’s no question 2022 was a tumultuous season in Aggieland, but Weigman and some of his fellow true freshmen from Texas A&M’s touted signing class provided some reasons for hope.

Weigman ranked as a five-star and the No. 29 overall prospect in the 2022 On3 Consensus.

RB Nick Singleton – Penn State

Nick Singleton entered the 2022 season with high expectations. He ranked as as a five-star prospect and No. 1 running back in the 2022 On300 and came into a Nittany Lions offense that was looking to improve its rushing attack in a big way. The Reading (Pa.) Governor Mifflin product lived up to the billing. Singleton already looks like one of the more explosive backs in the Big Ten, if not the nation. The true freshman rushed for 941 ayrds and 10 touchdowns on 149 carries (6.32 yards per carry). He also caught a touchdown and returned a kick 100 yards for a score.

Singleton proved to be a true home-run hitter with the ability to rip off big runs at any time. He and fellow true freshman Kaytron Allen provided a sizable lift to the Penn State run game, helping to increase the unit’s output by over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns from 2021. The 6-foot, 220-pounder was named Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior in high school after rushing for 2,049 yards (12.4 yards per carry) and 41 touchdowns.

WR Barion Brown – Kentucky

Barion Brown looked like one of the more electric pass-catchers in the SEC as a true freshman at Kentucky. He first made a splash as a kick returner with several long returns early on in the season. We saw the 6-foot-1, 166-pounder make steady progress as a receiver as he continued to assimilate to the Kentucky offense. Brown finished the season as the Wildcats’ leading receiver, catching 45 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns.

The Nashville Pearl Cohn product was a track star in high school and transfers that speed over to the football field with ease. His big-play ability and continued improvement in positional skills are highly encouraging and provide a building block for the Kentucky offense moving forward. Brown ranked as the No. 88 overall prospect in the 2022 On3 Consensus as a recruit.

WR Tetairoa McMillan – Arizona

Tetairoa McMillan led all true freshmen wide receivers with 702 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The one-time Oregon commit was a historic recruit for both Arizona and head coach Jedd Fisch. McMillan made good on the hype as a true freshman, proving to be a big downfield target with a sizable catch radius. The ball skills have been considered elite dating back to his time as a two-way standout at Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. It’s safe to say that remains the case at the college level.

McMillan ranked as the No. 41 overall prospect and No. 5 wide receiver in the 2022 On3 Consensus.

WR Antonio Williams – Clemson

Antonio Williams made an instant impact for No. 7 Clemson, finishing as the Tigers’ leading receiver as a true freshman. The Irmo (S.C.) Dutch Fork product caught 53 passes for 563 yards and four touchdowns. Even more impressively, Williams did so despite not enrolling early and being much younger than many of his fellow true freshmen. He’s “very skilled, highly advanced freshman” acccording to Dabo Swinney. Williams’ ability to separate with route-running was as good as we saw in person over the 2022 cycle. Those skills certainly translated and played a big role in his early impact for the ACC champions.

Williams ranked as the No. 75 overall prospect in the 2022 On3 Consensus.

TE Colston Loveland – Michigan

Tight end can be one of the tougher positions for true freshmen as it’s a developmental spot that calls for a variety of skills, both as a pass catcher and blocker. While a few true freshman tight ends made impacts over the course of the season, we chose Michigan’s Colston Loveland here, in part due to his big performances down the stretch. Loveland has come on for the Wolverines over the last month of the season and caught two big touchdowns in the No. 2 Wolverines’ win at Ohio State and the Big Ten Championship Game. The touchdown on Saturday night was a big-time contested grab. If the last month is any indication, Loveland appears to be a key cog in Jim Harbaugh’s offensive attack moving forward.

Loveland ranked as the No. 268 overall prospect in the 2022 On3 Consensus. He was an accomplished multi-sport athlete in Idaho as a standout in football and basketball. Loveland finished his senior season with over 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns while also playing defense.

OL Kelvin Banks – Texas

Kelvin Banks was the game one starter at left tackle for Texas and looked the part of the 2022 recruiting cycle’s No. 1 tackle for the entirety of the season. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder got off to a fast start with a strong showing against Alabama’s vaunted pass rushers and continued his strong play throughout the fall. Banks surrendered just two sacks and 12 pressures on 405 pass plays according to Pro Football Focus. He gave up zero pressures over the final month of the season. He was joined by fellow true freshman Cole Hutson as a starter on the Longhorn offensive line.

The Humble (Texas) Summer Creek product is an advanced mover with length and play strength. Banks, who ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect and No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2022 On300, looks like one of the top young talents along the line of scrimmage in college football.

OL Will Campbell – LSU

Like Kelvin Banks, Will Campbell locked down the starting left tackle spot at LSU as a true freshman and played exceptionally well over the course of the season. The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder gave up just two sacks on 476 passing plays according to Pro Football Focus. One of those sacks came against potential first-rounder Jared Verse in LSU’s season opener against Florida State. Campbell also had some strong moments as a run blocker – an area that’s traditionally tougher for true freshmen offensive linemen.

Brian Kelly came to LSU with the task of rebuilding a gutted offensive line. That task was made much easier by Campbell, who looks like a multi-year star as a bookend tackle for the Tigers. The Monroe (La.) Neville product ranked as the No. 40 overall prospect according to the 2022 On3 Consensus.

OL Blake Miller – Clemson

Blake Miller made history as the third true freshman to start a season opener at Clemson since 1944. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder held down the right tackle spot for the Clemson for the length of the season and was a shot in the arm for the Tigers’ unit. Miller held up well in pass protection, giving up just two sacks on the season according to Pro Football Focus. He also gave up zero sacks in Clemson’s final nine games. The Strongsville (Ohio) High product also showed tone-setting physicality as a run blocker.

Miller was a riser in On3’s rankings as a senior and looks to be an ascending player if his true freshman season is any indication. He finished as the No. 104 overall prospect and No. 8 offensive tackle in the 2022 On300.

OL Tyler Booker – Alabama

While Tyler Booker was not a starter for Alabama, he saw extended time at both guard spots, regularly rotating in throughout the season. The IMG Academy product played well, particularly in pass protection. Booker allowed zero sacks and just two pressures on 188 pass plays, per Pro Football Focus. The Connecticut native came to Tuscaloosa with extensive experience as a pass blocker. His tackle skills showed up on the interior while playing for the Tide this fall.

Booker figures to a starter for Alabama’s front moving forward. He finished as the No. 14 overall prospect and No. 2 offensive tackle in the 2022 On300.

OL Emery Jones – LSU

While Emery Jones had more ups and downs as a pass blocker than the other four offensive linemen on this team, the true freshman largely acquitted himself well. Jones manned the right tackle spot for LSU, pairing with Will Campbell to give the Tigers a pair of promising true freshman tackles. The 6-foot-5, 335-pounder is a big-framed lineman with the ability to develop into a people mover in time.

Jones ranked as the No. 100 prospect in the 2022 cycle according to the On3 Consensus.

Defensive True Freshman of the Year: Harold Perkins – LSU

You’d be hard-pressed to find another true freshman who single-handedly turned potential losses into wins more than Harold Perkins. The former five-star took off around midseason and proved to be one of the nation’s most disruptive defenders. Perkins made a ton of high-level plays as a pass rusher, blitzer and in pursuit. He tallied 7.5 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He excelled as a pass rusher, accounting for 36 pressures according to Pro Football Focus. The high level bend was evident on a number of occasions. While the raw stats are impressive, Perkins’ sheer impact supersedes the numbers. Perkins was deployed as a multi-faceted defensive weapon by LSU defensive coordinator Matt House. We saw Perkins consistently flash as a quarterback spy, using his elite play speed as a defensive eraser.

The New Orleans native entered college with the reputation as one of the most athletic prospects in the 2022 cycle, having run an electronically-timed 4.49 second 40-yard dash and averaging 17.8 yards per carry as a senior. Perkins ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect and No. 1 linebacker in the 2022 On3 Consensus.

DL Deone Walker – Kentucky

Deone Walker was among a handful of true freshmen to make an impact for Kentucky. The 6-foot-6, 330-pounder started the year off strong, flashing early in the season against Florida and later turned in a big showing in the season finale against Louisville. Walker finished the season with 39 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two forced fumbles, along with 20 quarterback hurries, per PFF. Walker’s combination of girth, length and initial quickness make for a tough proposition for interior offensive linemen.

The Detroit native was rated as a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 264 overall prospect in the 2022 On3 Consensus.

DL Mason Graham – Michigan

You don’t typically see true freshmen play early along Michigan’s defensive front. That wasn’t the case this year, as Mason Graham made a sizable impact for the No. 2 Wolverines. Graham saw signifiant playing time throughout the fall, registering 286 snaps, while tallying 25 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He continues to play well, proving to be disruptive in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night. The former high-level wrestler plays with an innate understanding of leverage and high levels of effort and physicality.

Graharm ranked as the No. 298 overall in the 2022 On3 Consensus. He joins his former Anaheim (Calif.) Servite teammate Tetairoa McMillan as an On3 True Freshman All-American..

EDGE Mykel Williams – Georgia

Mykel Williams looks to be next in line at Georgia. The former five-star prospect has come along for the Bulldogs towards the end of the season and looks to be one of, if not the top true freshman EDGE. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has continued to flash the traits and skills that made him On3’s No. 2 overall prospect in the 2022 On300. He’s a long, explosive pass rusher with advanced coordination.

Williams has registered 21 tackles and 2.5 sacks with 28 total pressures, according to PFF. He turned in several big games down the stretch including strong performances against Tennessee, Mississippi State and Georgia Tech. The Columbus (Ga.) Hardaway product was one of the younger top prospects in the 2022 cycle and should only continue to improve with more seasoning and time in the Georgia program.

EDGE Gabe Jacas – Illinois

Gabe Jacas was a revelation for an Illinois defense that turned out to be one of the top units nationally. The Florida native earned extensive snaps as a true freshman and flashed speed-to-power off the edge with the ability to disrupt as a power rusher. He accounted for 31 tackles, 4 sacks and 34 pressures. Jacas also showed some proficiency as a run defender at 6-foot-3, 265 pounds.

A three-star prospect according to the On3 Consensus, Jacas took official visits to Illinois and Tennessee before landing in Champaign.

LB Abdul Carter – Penn State

Were it not for Harold Perkins, we might be talking about Abdul Carter as the Defensive True Freshman of the Year. Carter was a regular in On3’s weekly True Freshman standouts piece, and with good reason. The 6-foot-3, 233-pounder already looks like the next defensive star at Penn State. Carter’s size and high-end play speed make for a highly disruptive linebacker. He turned in a a number of big games over the course of Big Ten play and appears to be improving on a weekly basis. The Pennsylvania native has recorded 55 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He leads Penn State in both sacks and tackles for loss. Carter is already drawing comparisons to former Nittany Lion and current NFL star Micah Parsons.

An On3 Outlier, Carter ranked as the No. 129 overall prospect in the 2022 On300.

LB Jaishawn Barham – Maryland

Jaishawn Barham was a big recruiting win down the stretch for Mike Locksley. That win paid instant dividends in 2022 as Barham proved to be an impact true freshman. The Baltimore St. Frances Academy product recorded 53 tackles for 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He showed the ability to be a physical run defender and pass rusher at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds.

Barham ranked as the No. 146 overall prospect and No. 11 linebacker in the 2022 cycle in the On3 Consensus. He was also the highest-rated prospect in Maryland’s 2022 signing class.

CB Will Johnson – Michigan

Will Johnson ranked as a five-star and as the top prospect in Michigan in the 2022 recruiting cycle. Fast forward less than a year later and Johnson is making huge plays down the stretch for his home state Wolverines. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has had back-to-back strong showings in two huge games. He fared well against Ohio State’s loaded wide receiver group in Michigan’s win over the Buckeyes. Johnson built on that performance by coming down with two interceptions in the Big 10 Championship Game on Saturday night. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder pairs that high-end size with a natural feel in coverage – a skill that he showed in the national all-star setting as a high school prospect.

Johnson, who has the look of a budding star for Michigan, rated as a five-star in the 2022 On3 Consensus, finishing as the No. 16 overall prospect.

CB Benjamin Morrison – Notre Dame

Benjamin Morrison exploded midway through Notre Dame’s season. The 6-foot-0.25, 179-pounder saw his snaps increase and took advantage of the opportunity. Morrison had two huge games in wins against Clemson and Boston College in the second half of the season. He came down with two picks including a pick-six in the upset over the Tigers and three more interceptions against the Eagles. Morrison isn’t just a ballhawk, though. He surrendered 19 catches on 47 (40.4%) for 277 yards and one touchdown, against the five interceptions.

The Phoenix Brophy College product was a four-star prospect in the 2023 On3 Consensus.

S Malaki Starks – Georgia

Malaki Starks got the nation’s attention early on, turning in a breakout debut in Georgia’s blowout win over Oregon in week one. The true freshman went on to be a stalwart on the back end of No. 1 Georgia’s defense. Starks has logged 732 snaps for the Bulldogs, while tallying 63 tackles and two interceptions. He looks like a multi-year starter and early round draft pick, if the freshman season is any indication.

Starks came to Georgia as a touted athlete prospect with a sterling athletic profile. He took little time to transition to defense after spending much of his high school career as an option quarterback. The Jefferson (Ga.) High product ranked as the No. 10 overall prospect and No. 1 safety in the 2022 On3 Consensus.

S Nick Emmanwori – South Carolina

Similar to Malaki Starks for Georgia, Nick Emmanwori was an iron man for South Carolina’s defense. The true freshman logged 762 snaps this fall, according to PFF. He led the Gamecock defense with 59 solo tackles and turned in double-digit tackle outings in his first two SEC games against Georgia and Arkansas. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder is an athletic, physical defender who plays with a high effort level.

Emmanwori earned an offer from South Carolina after a strong performance at the Gamecocks’ summer camp. The Irmo (S.C.) standout steadily rose in On3’s rankings on the heels of a huge senior season and ultimately finished as the No. 121 overall prospect in the On300 and South Carolina’s top-ranked signee.