Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and appreciate the good things we have and have had along the way. Each of the 12 FBS programs have at least one thing to be thankful for in the 2022 season, yes, even Texas A&M fans. Let’s take some time to be grateful before the final week of the regular season.
TCU – Sonny Dykes
Change is necessary and evolution is inevitable. That’s true in life and college football. The Horned Frogs’ football program became stale in the final years of the Gary Patterson era. No one was having fun by the end of 2021. But that all changed when Dykes and his coaching staff arrived in Funky Town.
A freshness engulfed the locker room and new ideas transformed the roster from a .500 club to a potential national championship contending program. Dykes deserves credit, and praise, for how he handled replacing a legend. TCU looks like a program poised to compete for Big 12 championships, and playoff berths, for years to come as the field expands beyond four. Max Duggan is also an acceptable answer.
Texas – Backfield talent
The running back duo of Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson put a smile on the faces of Longhorn fans in 2021 despite a 5-7 record in year one under Steve Sarkisian. The pair continues to be the most fun part of watching the Longhorns in 2022, though an improved defense deserves mention. Robinson is the best running back in college football and would be considered a top-five pick in the next NFL Draft if the league didn’t devalue running backs in the modern era. Johnson is also a future NFL player.
But that the days of great running back play won’t end after 2022 when Robinson and Johnson likely move on from the 40 Acres. Former Mr. Texas Football Jonathon Brooks ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the recent win over Kansas. Add in fellow freshman Jaydon Blue and Texas should continue to run the ball effectively in 2023 and beyond. Nothing says college football like a dominant running back with a Longhorn logo on the helmet.
Baylor – Richard Reese
Speaking of future greats at the running back position, Baylor is home to the best true freshman in the state. Reese, a three-star recruit from Bellville High School, is already making a name for himself in the Big 12. He’ll be on national lists entering his sophomore campaign thanks to his success in 2021.
The 5-9, 175-pound Reese runs bigger than his size, and he’s a decisive player who possesses tremendous vision and balance. Reese has averaged 5.2 yards a carry and scored nine touchdowns on the ground. He’ll eclipse 1,000 yards on the season with a 100-yard performance against Texas. He’ll be the focal part of the Baylor offense for at least two more seasons.
Texas Tech – Tyree Wilson
His final season in Lubbock was cut short due to an injury, but Wilson was special for the Red Raiders in 2022. He’s a potential first-round NFL Draft pick who will help Joey McGuire and the defensive staff recruit because of his production and growth in year one under defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. Wilson, a former Texas A&M Aggie, recorded 61 tackles, seven sacks, and a forced fumble this year.
Texas A&M – Oil money
Making an Aggie smile is currently a difficult task. Texas A&M is 4-7 in year four under Jimbo Fisher and the posts on social media and message boards appear to suggest the sky is falling in College Station. But money is the great equalizer. Sure, the Aggies owe Fisher the GDP of a small country, but the oil money possessed by some of the major donors means they can get out of that contract after next year if Fisher doesn’t turn this ship around between now and then.
Houston – Nathaniel Dell
Houston entered the season with high hopes and expectations following a 12-win 2021. The 2022 season hasn’t gone to plan, but the play of Dell remains must-watch television. The junior from Florida already has 94 catches for 1,193 yards, and 14 touchdowns in 2022. He caught 90 passes for 1,329 yards, and 12 touchdowns last year. The connection between quarterback Clayton Tune and Dell is one of the best in college football.
SMU – Rashee Rice
If there is a quarterback-wide receiver combination that can give Tune and Dell a run for their money it is the duo of Tanner Mordecai and Rashee Rice. The two led a 77-point offensive explosion in a home win over Houston earlier in the season. Rice has continued a strong tradition of excellent receivers to play on the Hilltop. The senior from North Richland Hills has caught 83 passes for 1,208 yards, and nine scores in 2022.
UTSA – Frank Harris
Saint Frank continues to build on his legacy as the best player in the short history of UTSA football with a strong senior season. The Roadrunners are on an eight-game winning streak and will host the Conference USA championship game for the second consecutive season. Not bad for a dude who almost gave up football due to a rash of injuries early in his collegiate career. Harris accounted for four touchdowns in the recent win over Rice. He’s thrown for 24 touchdowns and added eight more on the ground. Harris is closing in on 4,000 yards of total offense on the season.
North Texas – KD Davis
The Ennis product sits at 394 tackles in his career – the second-most in North Texas history – thanks to 105 in 2022. He recorded 121 in 2021. He’s about to become the first player in school history to lead the team in tackles for four years in a row and should leave Denton as the program's leader in career tackles.
UTEP – Jadrian Taylor
The senior from Lufkin has emerged as the best defensive player on a solid Miners defense in 2022. Taylor has a team-high 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss this year, as well as 76 total tackles. He returned a fumble for a touchdown in a road-win over Charlotte early in the season. He’s also broken up five passes and forced two fumbles. He’ll likely be a first-team All-CUSA selection at the end of the year.
Rice – Wide receiver duo Luke McCaffrey, Bradley Rozner
You might think running game or defense when Rice football is first mentioned, but it is the receiver duo of McCaffrey and Rozner that pace the current Owls offense. Rozner leads the team with 806 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s second on the team with 39 catches. McCaffrey, a former quarterback, leads the team with 51 receptions and is second on the squad with 656 yards and six touchdowns. The rest of the receiving core has accounted for four combined touchdowns.
TXST – The defense
The Bobcats will miss out on a bowl invite again in 2022 thanks to seven losses heading into Week 13, but it isn’t because of the defense. The 25 points per game allowed represents the best G5 scoring defense in Texas. The unit has recorded 10 interceptions and nine recovered fumbles so far this season. They’ve also registered 25 sacks. Opposing offenses only convert 34 percent of their third down attempts and have only scored touchdowns on 19 of the 34 trips to the red zone.
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