College Football's Most Exciting Players for the 2022 Season

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2022

College Football's Most Exciting Players for the 2022 Season

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    Outside of supporting your favorite team, pure entertainment is one of the biggest reasons to watch college football.

    And sometimes, it's all about an individual.

    Not every player highlighted is considered "elite" nationally. However, they all are flat-out entertaining.

    Considering the Football Bowl Subdivision has 131 teams, there are many, many more exciting players to watch. These talents, though, top a personal list of must-watch players.

Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State

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    To say Deuce Vaughn is a hidden gem would be disrespectful, given he landed first-team AP All-American recognition last year. However, he doesn't always land the attention of other top-tier backs because Kansas State isn't as prestigious as, say, Ohio State or Texas.

    But he's certainly earned the spotlight.

    Vaughn registered 1,221 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. He exploded for 1,872 yards—with 49 receptions, a top-five mark at his position—and 22 scores last season.

    Listed at 5'6" and 176 pounds, Vaughn will always be connected to his stature. His production tells a more important story, though.

Micah Bernard, RB, Utah

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    So far, Micah Bernard's appeal has been in efficiency.

    After contributing on special teams for two years, he served as Utah's third-string back in 2021. He rushed for 529 yards on 6.1 per attempt while handling 87 carries to Tavion Thomas' 204 and TJ Pledger's 104. Bernard added 26 receptions for 251 yards and totaled four touchdowns.

    This season, he should have a larger role after Pledger headed to the NFL. The increased volume may give Bernard a chance to have a true breakout year—perhaps even doubling his numbers.

    And still, that would be as a backup. He's an immensely valuable piece for the Utes.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

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    Bijan Robinson was the bright spot in a bad situation.

    Last season, Texas endured a well-covered collapse with six consecutive losses after a 4-1 start. Nevertheless, the second-year back put together a breakout campaign and ranked seventh in the FBS with 142.2 scrimmage yards per outing.

    Robinson—who even missed two games—scampered for 1,127 yards, reeled in 26 passes for 295 yards and totaled 15 touchdowns. He broke 79 tackles along the way, per PFF.

    In all likelihood, 2022 will be the final season Robinson spends in Austin. NFL teams are undoubtedly coveting his explosiveness and versatility.

Johnny Richardson, RB, UCF

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    He didn't have a huge workload in 2021, but Johnny Richardson was impressive in those limited opportunities.

    Among players with at least 100 carries, he paced the FBS at 7.1 yards per run. Richardson scampered for 733 yards and three touchdowns as either the starter in place of Isaiah Bowser or his primary backup.

    For good measure, Richardson nabbed 25 receptions for 226 yards and averaged 20.1 yards on 15 kick returns.

    Richardson, who checks in at 5'7" and 170 pounds, also fits the profile of below-typical stature and it just not mattering.

Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville

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    Malik Cunningham is one of two quarterbacks in FBS history to pass for 300 yards and run for 200 in a game.

    If that doesn't meet the "exciting player" criteria, no worries. We've got plenty more numbers.

    Cunningham was the only QB to surpass 1,000 rushing yards last season, ending the season with 1,034. He ran in 20 touchdowns, trailing only three players in the country.

    Oh, and he threw for 2,941 yards with 19 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Cunningham held a top-20 mark in the country at 8.7 yards per pass attempt, tying big-name players Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral.

    Louisville has much to improve as a team, but Cunningham ensures the offense can be dynamic.

DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB

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    If a running back averages five yards per carry, that would safely be considered a quality year. DeWayne McBride has taken the stat to a different level.

    Since his debut in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus, he's notched 5.2 yards after contact per attempt.

    As at true freshman, McBride rushed for 439 yards and four touchdowns while backing up Spencer Brown. Last year, he registered 1,371 yards—the 13th-most in the FBS—and 13 scores.

    Few running backs are more consistently powerful than McBride.

TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State

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    TreVeyon Henderson headed to Ohio State with major expectations, yet he immediately surpassed them.

    As a true freshman, the 5-star prospect jumped past 2020 starter Master Teague III and earned the featured role. Henderson scored in his first eight games and finished in the top 10 nationally with 19 touchdowns.

    For the season, he rushed for 1,255 yards and caught 27 passes for 312 yards. Henderson forced 50 missed tackles, per Pro Football Focus.

    By the time he leaves Ohio State for the NFL, Henderson will likely have been an All-American selection.

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