College football is finally upon us! After a long offseason, it’s finally returned, so naturally we’re looking towards the 2022 NFL Draft. At 1 PM tomorrow, Nebraska takes on Iowa in what’s bound to be a hard-fought game. Then, Fresno State hosts UConn at 2 for the teams first ever matchup. At 3:30, Hawaii heads to UCLA to finish up the afternoon games. At 9:30, we get to the Battle of I-10, as UTEP takes on New Mexico State. Finally, the night wraps up with the Southern Utah Thunderbirds going to San Jose State at 10.
Of course, with this new season, comes the newest prospects. Let’s dive into who’s playing in Week 0 that could have their name called in the 2022 NFL Draft. In this series I’ll touch on several players on each side of the ball who you should keep your eyes on that week. It’ll be at least one at every position (this week is an exception due to only having a few games). I’ll do my best to include new players every week, and highlight some that have big games coming up. Here are Week 0’s prospects!
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB-UCLA
Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) is one of the more interesting prospects in all of college football. He’s a dual-threat quarterback with talent, but has yet to show sustained success. He has 40 touchdowns through the air, and 20 interceptions. He’s also rushed for seven touchdowns. After being named second-team All-Pac 12, he’s looking to improve on that, and give UCLA the best season in the Chip Kelly era.
Calvin Turner, RB-Hawaii
Listing turner at just running back is slightly an insult. He lined up at receiver, running back, quarterback, and returner. He spent the first two years of his college career at Jacksonville University, until the football program folded. In his first year at Hawaii, he had 60 rushing attempts for 331 yards and four touchdowns, 33 receptions for 546 yards and six touchdowns. He also had 12 kick returns for 324 yards and a touchdown, and even two pass attempts. He defines swiss army knife, and will continue to build his impressive resume this season in preparation for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Vederian Lowe, OT-Illinois
Vederian Lowe may just be the most mature NFL prospect in history. He’s a married man and a father of two at 22. With 41 games (34 straight) under his belt, he has a lot of experience, mainly at left tackle. Overall, he’s been one the most reliable blockers in the conference, and anchored a line that was third in rushing in the Big Ten.
Sean Rhyan, OT-UCLA
Rhyan, who stands at 6’5″, 320 lbs, started all 7 games at left tackle for a UCLA team who was second in rushing the Pac-12, and twelfth nationally. Now a junior, he looks to build on a streak of starting every game (19 so far), and continue UCLA’s great blocking.
Greg Dulcich, TE-UCLA
DTR’s favorite target, Dulcich led the Bruins in receptions, yards, and touchdowns by a considerable amount. In 2020, he had 26 receptions, 517 yards, and 5 touchdowns in 7 games. He’s 6’4”, 245lbs, and has the athleticism to go along with his size. Another second-team All-Pac 12, he’s a threat whenever the ball comes his way, and will develop nicely with another year paired with DTR.
Travis Jones, DL-Connecticut
After Connecticut announced they were going independent, they weren’t able to play in 2020 due to issues with COVID-19. Despite having no season, Jones still has high hopes to be selected next year. Through his first two years, he has 86 total tackles, 11.5 TFL’s, and 4 sacks. Tomorrow’s game is his first since November 2019, so we’ll see if he can return to the play he had two years ago.
Cade Hall, Edge-San Jose State
Hall was part of a stout front seven for San Jose State that saw three players, including himself, awarded first-team All-Mountain West. He was also named to the 2020 All-America team by Sporting News. In 7 games, he had 26 total tackles, 10 sacks, and won the conference championship. With an opportunity to play a full season he’ll hope to show his talents in 2021 and possibly make the All-America team once again, while also being selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
JoJo Domann, LB-Nebraska
Domann is a versatile defender who can play on the edge or off-ball. He has impressive play recognition and is a good athlete. JoJo, aside from getting points with a great name, led the team in total tackles, pass breakups, TFL’s and forced fumbles. After being highly productive in 2020, he looks to build on that, as he’s on the Nagurski Trophy Watch List this year.
JoJo Domann (LB, Nebraska), aside from an awesome name, showcases a nice ability to burst in the backfield with some quick recognition in this play. One of the guys to watch this Saturday. pic.twitter.com/OWnp5jEJYY
— Pat Pryor (@PryorNFL) August 27, 2021
Jake Hansen, LB-Illinois
Hansen is another highly productive linebacker who could be one of the best in the Big Ten. He led Illinois in tackles in 2018 and 2020. He has 243 total tackles, 7 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. He’s a smart player who can be found all around the field, and if he can add some power, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
Cam Taylor-Britt, CB-Nebraska
Taylor-Britt is a skilled cornerback who was named second-team All-Big Ten last year. He had 4 passes defended, two interceptions, and 28 total tackles. He also returned 7 punts for 79 yards. He’s a productive cornerback with nice instincts that you can’t teach. Now that he has elected to return, he comes back with a chance to solidify himself as one of the best corners in the Big 10, and that could start tomorrow.
Connor Kulp, K-Nebraska
Culp won Big Ten Kicker of the Year and was first-team All-Big 10. On 15 field goal attempts he hit 13, and hit 20 out of 20 extra points. Now the graduate transfer is on the Groza award watch list and could be on his way to being a top kicker in college football. He’ll have to keep up with a heavier workload after the crazy 2020 season, but if he can he will be a solid guy to be calling as an NFL team in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Blake Hayes-P, Illinois
Hayes has been a dominant punter thus far in his career. In 2020, punted 42 times for 1,838 yards, averaged over 43 yards per boot. He’s the Fighting Illini’s all time leader in punts and punt yards, and was All-Big Ten third team. He was ranked by Mel Kiper as the best punter prior to last season. Now, he’s on the Ray Guy award watch list and one of the top punter prospects.