Yes, it is way too early to get a big snapshot of the FBS rankings for 2022. But then again when the editor (read the boss) requests such a piece, then the time is right. We pretty much know which guys are headed for the pros, but are still a bit away from the secondary deadline day for new recruits. But I’ll give it a whirl for you.
- Ohio State This team was very young, and inexperienced last season, but the talent was there and by the end of the 2021 season, starting with C.J. STROUD at QB, this team was ascending. I see no reason to believe they won’t continue to grow and win… a lot, in 2022.
- Notre Dame I have always thought that BRIAN KELLY was a very good football coach. But I truly believe the Notre Dame football program was ready for a change. And Kelly obliged them by taking the huge bucks to head for LSU. The best news is that the powers that be in South Bend chose the right replacement, in DC MARCUS FREEMAN. Most of the coaching staff has stayed with him, including OC TOMMY REES. Though they lose a lot to the pros, they also return a lot of talented players like QB/BUCHNER, TE/MAYER, IOL PATTERSON, DE/ER ISAIAH FOSKEY.
- ALABAMA The SABAN brand continues in Tuscaloosa. As usual, they lose a load of talent, but more 4/5-Star recruits will fight for playing time. The biggest issue in may mind is finding/developing a couple of RB’s that can literally “carry” the load. The passing attack will be intact with Heisman Winner BRYCE YOUNG leading the way. LB/ER WILL ANDERSON will spearhead the Defense, which also returns SS/JORDAN BATTLE, LB/HENRY TO’O TO’O, DL, NG D.J. DALE and more.
- Michigan State Head Coach MEL TUCKER has proven his ability as a recruiting master and a solid game day coach. The only real heavy loss is RB/KENNETH WALKER, but you can bet Mel and his staff will pull in some solid recruits, as well as utilizing the Transfer Portal to stock his roster. They may not be flashy, but they should be better overall than last season.
- CLEMSON DABO SWINNEY has built a “program” for himself in this sleepy little college town, with elite athletic facilities. Even in a down year, this team wins 10 games. The biggest loss here may be that of BRENT VENABLES moving on to a head coaching job at Oklahoma. But the pieces are in place for continued success for the Tigers.
- GEORGIA The national champs are not going away. KIRBY SMART will begin his 7th season running the Bulldogs program and has plenty of talent to work with. But conversely, he loses lot of talent to the NFL. I think the biggest question mark will be at QB, where Southern Cal transfer J.T. DANIELS has unquestioned talent, but cannot stay healthy. He was slated to take the reins last season, but BENNETT, a former walk-on, took the job & ran with it. BENNETT has one more season of eligibility, and Daniels may be headed for the transfer portal… again. SMART and his staff recruit like conquering hordes, but they have lost an awful lot of talent to the upcoming NFL Draft, especially on Defense.
- BAYLOR I won’t get fooled again by this program under HC DAVE ARANDA. They came out of nowhere last season to win the Big 12 Conference title, and a Top 10 ranking. They lose a lot of key pieces, but look like the cream of the crop in the Big 12, especially with OKLAHOMA reeling from the departure of Lincoln Riley. I was sleeping on this team last season, but I won’t be caught napping this season. ARANDA is the real deal folks.
- TEXAS A&M JIMBO FISHER got caught last season by a lack of a healthy prime-time-ready QB when injuries struck hard. He will have that worked out by Fall, and will have a bunch of highly recruited players around. I doubt he moves past UGA or ‘Bama, but being 3rd best in the SEC is still a pretty strong statement to make.
- Michigan Despite rumors of Harbaugh to the NFL I think he stays in Ann Arbor this year. Going to be some tough roster losses like HUTCHINSON, ODABO, HASKINS, HILL but the cupboard is far from bare.
- Wisconsin The Badgers struggled out of the gate last season, but got things settled by mid-season. Most of their guys return, and I expect more playing time from last year’s highly regarded recruiting class. If they progress as I expect, this will make 4 Big Ten teams in my top 10. The top of that conference looks quite strong.
- Southern Cal
- Arizona State
That’s all for now folks. By the time all the recruiting dust and transfers settle in, some of this may change tremendously. So let’s just say my next projection in August might be a bit more accurate.