2022 Recruiting Class WRs Who Could Make Xavier Worthy-Level Impact Right Away
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Chuck Burton/Associated Press
Xavier Worthy’s transcendent performance against Oklahoma will carry a massive asterisk, considering his fumble helped the Sooners come back from three touchdowns to beat hated rival Texas in last weekend’s Red River Showdown.
But that shouldn’t ruin the remarkable performance for the superb true freshman.
Without Worthy’s nine catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns, Texas wouldn’t have been in position to win. For the season, the first-year player from Fresno, California, has been electrifying.
He has 25 catches for 531 yards and six touchdowns and has emerged as quarterback Casey Thompson’s biggest weapon. The campaign is halfway over, and everybody knows Worthy’s name.
So, who are the players from the 2022 recruiting class who could make a similar impact next year? Even if they don’t have the same skill set, there are a handful of perimeter wideouts with the chops to become the next big thing.
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Luther Burden could have been catching passes for Oklahoma next year, though the Illinois native decommitted in August.
The nation’s second-ranked wide receiver is expected to commit on October 20 and has narrowed his list to Missouri, Alabama and Georgia, giving one SEC school perhaps the biggest receiving prize in the 2022 class.
The 6’0″, 200-pound pass-catcher is one of several onetime Sooners commits on this list, and he is the total perimeter package. He possesses a college-ready body and the skill set to make an immediate difference.
Though the Bulldogs look like the nation’s best team, they could still use some elite targets for the next phase, and while it hasn’t been a great year for coach Eli Drinkwitz’s 3-3 Tigers, he’s doing a great job recruiting.
Mizzou already has a top-20 haul that would only improve with Burden’s pledge.
Allen Trieu of 247Sports notes the prospect is a standout basketball player who uses long strides to separate from defenders, and film study shows he can make a lot of things happen by high-pointing passes and using that speed to get to the house.
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You might wonder why Caleb Burton is here, considering the success Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has had recruiting receivers over the past few years.
But the 6’0″, 165-pound dynamo is the kind of guy the Buckeyes don’t have, and he could carve a niche right away, especially if Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson become high NFL draft picks as expected.
Burton could slot in nicely next to Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Emeka Egbuka, and any other player Day has stockpiled on the perimeter.
The Big Ten powerhouse continued its onslaught of the Lone Star State by plucking Burton from underneath the Longhorns’ nose in Austin. The nation’s fourth-ranked receiver is at his best in the open field too.
While it hasn’t been exactly the start the Buckeyes wanted this year, there aren’t any worries about the future of the offense.
Quarterback C.J. Stroud’s development has been nice, and he will have a full arsenal of weapons. Burton can stretch the field enough and use yards after the catch to put up Worthy-like numbers right away.
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It’s obvious why many top programs covet Kevin Coleman. What the 5’11”, 170-pound prospect lacks in size, he makes up for with electrifying ability. His list of favorites includes Florida State, Alabama, Arizona State, USC, Oregon and Texas.
He told The Osceola‘s Dane Draper after his official visit to Tallahassee in early September that he plans on taking visits to Texas, Oregon and Arizona State, with his final official visit to Alabama or USC.
“They are going to be one of my very top schools—I know for a fact top three or top two,” Coleman told Draper of Florida State. “I’m not going to say too much, but they left a big mark.”
How much will the 2-4 Seminoles’ on-field struggles affect his opinion? FSU has 100 percent of the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections for Coleman’s signature, but a lot of football and several visits remain before he puts pen to paper.
Like Burton, Coleman is a perfect fit for a spread attack, the kind of receiver who can get in space and do great things.
Among his favorites, Alabama is the only team he’d struggle to make an immediate impact for, as the Crimson Tide have several 5-stars waiting to get on the field. Anywhere else, he’ll get the football a lot in 2022.
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You could assemble an elite group of pass-catchers from the guys who once pledged to Oklahoma but are heading elsewhere.
The second of three such guys on this list is SMU commitment Jordan Hudson, who will stay home in Texas and play for the budding Group of Five power. Head coach Sonny Dykes’ squad is 6-0, and with Oklahoma transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai at the helm, the offense is clicking.
He leads the nation with 26 touchdown tosses, and the Mustangs are showing receivers everywhere they will allow you to earn your way into a dynamic rotation of pass-catchers that features five guys with at least three scoring grabs.
Hudson could be the next star.
The nation’s No. 21 receiver is a 6’1″, 180-pound target who followed in the footsteps of 2021 4-star quarterback Preston Stone, who shrugged off Power Five offers to stay home. Though Mordecai beat Stone for this year’s job, he’s still considered the QB of the future.
Hudson is destined to become a primary target. He is tall, athletic and powerful enough to shed tacklers and get the tough yards.
He will join teammate and fellow 4-star Chace Biddle (a safety recruit) in Dallas. Expect him to step into that rotation and shine.
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The biggest losers in the Worthy sweepstakes a year ago were the Michigan Wolverines.
After a whirlwind recruitment in which the longtime Wolverines pledge nearly flipped to Alabama, signed with Michigan in December and then endured admissions issues before looking elsewhere, he wound up in Texas.
It’s a stain on the program, and even amid a 6-0 start, the Wolverines are having to watch Woods show out in Austin.
Receiver Tyler Morris, the nation’s No. 14-ranked pass-catcher, could help ease the pain. The Illinois native is a 6’0″, 175-pound playmaker, and the Wolverines need some game-changers like him in the struggling passing offense.
Though Morris has a slight build and would benefit from some time in a college weight program, he is too dynamic with the ball in his hands to keep off the field on a Michigan team that’s close to competing in the Big Ten every year again.
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Staying with players who aren’t tall, hulking pass-catchers, uncommitted Shazz Preston is 6’0″, 190 pounds and is the type of prospect the LSU Tigers rarely allow to leave state borders. Sure enough, the Bayou Bengals have received 100 percent of the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections for the Louisiana prospect.
Unfortunately for LSU, it’s been another major on-field struggle for the Tigers following last year’s .500 record on the heels of the 2019 national championship. With a brutal slate upcoming, including Florida, Ole Miss and Alabama, head coach Ed Orgeron could go from the hot seat to the unemployment line.
Maybe that’s why Preston, the nation’s fifth-ranked receiver, hasn’t pulled the trigger for the home-state Tigers yet.
Texas, Alabama and Georgia are among the programs waiting around in his recruitment, and Preston seems to have an open mind. His brother, Shawn, plays for Mississippi State, but it doesn’t appear the Bulldogs are in the picture. Still, there is a lot still up in the air in his recruitment.
“We’ve got a lot of (unofficial) visits in already this summer,” Preston’s father, Shawn Sr., told The Courier‘s Chris Singleton. “Hurricane Ida came into play. There are some COVID-19 situations with travel across the country. Now that things are starting to get back into order, we’ll make some visits before the season is over.”
Whoever gets Preston will nab one of the best all-around pass-catchers in the country.
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Life after Trevor Lawrence hasn’t been easy for the Clemson passing game, and the team is missing guys like the rock-solid Amari Rodgers on the outside as well. The receivers haven’t been able to get untracked, and sophomore quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has been mediocre.
They’ll try to get the aerial attack going this year, but some players coming in the 2022 class will help too. Perhaps the best example is 4-star receiver Adam Randall. The 6’3″, 215-pound prospect from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has a huge offer list and is heading to play for head coach Dabo Swinney.
Randall has a college-ready frame and is strong enough to go up and get the ball, shed tacklers and has good enough speed to get separation. While he isn’t the fastest receiver in the class, he makes up for it with the full arsenal, including great route running.
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott needs some difference-makers in the passing game, and Randall can be an instant-impact guy.
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Once Jahan Dotson heads to the NFL next year, the Penn State wide receiving corps should be in good hands with Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith, but it will need quality depth.
Kaden Saunders can provide a lift.
The nation’s seventh-rated wideout heads a loaded list of Nittany Lions pass-catching prospects that includes Mehki Flowers and Anthony Ivey, giving head coach James Franklin a trio of potential star receivers.
When you combine those guys with a duo of promising signal-callers in the nation’s second-ranked class, there are lots of reasons to be excited about the future in Happy Valley. Franklin has never had difficulty luring players to State College, but this year’s group shines brighter.
Saunders especially looks like a budding star. The 5’10”, 172-pound Westerville, Ohio, native had a ton of high-end offers among his 25 options, but the home-state Ohio State Buckeyes weren’t one of them.
Perhaps that will give him a chip on his shoulder. Saunders is one of the fastest, shiftiest offensive skill-position players in the class, and he could be a star right away while filling Dotson’s big cleats.
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Talyn Shettron is our final former Oklahoma Sooners pledge who flipped his destination (if the non-binding verbal commitment holds), and he might be the one who haunts his former favorite program the most.
While he isn’t quite the can’t-miss prospect Burden is, the Sooners will have to see Shettron up close for the next three or four years. That’s because he elected to head to rival Oklahoma State.
The 6’3″, 185-pound Edmund, Oklahoma, native had to look at the long list of star Cowboys pass-catchers, including recent standouts Tylan Wallace and James Washington, and realize receivers can shine in head coach Mike Gundy’s offense.
Shettron is the No. 10-ranked receiver and the 77th-rated player overall. He’s a big-bodied prospect who is already terrific at blocking and can stretch the field and high-point balls with the best of them.
He’ll suit up with his brother, Tabry, a tight end who is also heading to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ offer to his brother was a big reason the star receiver flipped, according to his Twitter post following his commitment.
While the 12th-ranked Cowboys are having a strong season, their only real receiving threat is transfer Tay Martin, which means there’s going to be ample opportunity for Shettron. He’s got the total package to take advantage.
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Evan Stewart is a 5-star recruit and the nation’s top-rated receiver. The 6’0″, 175-pound target is the third-rated player overall and is one of the biggest remaining prizes in the 2022 class.
The home-state Texas Longhorns appear to be in excellent position to land the dynamic athlete, but plenty of other programs refuse to go quietly. Florida head coach Dan Mullen has done a great job recruiting him, and the Gators are right in it.
Alabama and LSU are in the thick of it, too, but you’ve got to wonder just how long the Bayou Bengals can hang on if their season continues to spiral. Stewart recently made news when he decided to forgo his senior season of high school football to prepare for the next level, according to Vype’s Shana Willeford.
Who better to play the Worthy angle, than the Longhorns and head coach Steve Sarkisian, who is laying out the blueprint and the recruiting pitch with every huge game Worthy has? Stewart was in attendance at last weekend’s Red River Rivalry while Worthy showed out.
“I still believe they’re the front-runner for him,” Horns247’s Mike Roach said before that game. “If you look at what Texas is doing with Xavier Worthy right now, that is the model for Evan Stewart.”
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This was never supposed to be an easy season for Notre Dame, which had to replace longtime starting quarterback Ian Book.
Things haven’t been perfect for the 5-1 Fighting Irish, but they’ve only got one blemish on the record and are working hard to find offensive playmakers for Tyler Buchner, Drew Pyne or whoever lines up under center in the future.
California prospect C.J. Williams will be there to help sort out the QB mess.
The 6’2″, 193-pound Mater Dei High School prospect is making the cross-country trip to Indiana to play his college ball, and he may just crack the rotation early. He’s the 12th-rated receiver and boasted 49 offers.
Greg Biggins of 247Sports is high on Williams, noting he can do it all, including blocking and high-pointing 50-50 balls. He also has a terrific work ethic. When you combine those attributes with his pedigree at a powerhouse in Mater Dei, it looks like Williams is the complete package.
It isn’t every year coach Brian Kelly starts youngsters at skill positions, but he’s done so at running back the past couple of seasons, and it’s worked out. Williams could be next.
Follow Brad Shepard on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard.
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