College Football's Top Longest-Tenured Players for 2022 Season
Every college football fan loves a true freshman who contributes immediately. Once in a while, though, the extreme opposite is a key part of a roster.
Sixth-year seniors—while certainly not widespread—aren't all that rare, especially after the eligibility pause in 2020. But in 2022, the Football Bowl Subdivision will have a dozen seventh-year players and even an eighth-year super-super-super senior.
To put this in perspective, the incoming class of true freshmen were sixth-graders when a majority of these players made their college debuts.
More players fit the criteria, but the following choices are based on career production.
Je'Vionte' Nash, RT, Wake Forest
As if the Demon Deacons don't have enough experience up front, Je'Vionte' Nash bolsters the offensive line further.
Left and right guards Sean Maginn and Loic Ngassam Nya are sixth-year seniors, along with reserve Spencer Clapp. Nash, who missed the 2021 campaign with an injury, is returning for his seventh season.
A 3-star prospect in the 2016 cycle, Nash served as a rotational piece in the first four years of his Wake Forest career. He opened nine games at right tackle in 2020 and should be the starter there in 2022.
Jack Abraham, QB, Missouri
Jack Abraham is a well-traveled college man.
Initially, he signed with Louisiana Tech as part of the 2016 class. He transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College for a year and then headed to Southern Miss and earned the starting nod. He attempted 859 passes, throwing for 7,067 yards and 41 touchdowns over a three-year stretch from 2018 to '20.
A concussion derailed his 2020 season, however, and ultimately sidelined again him in 2021 at Mississippi State.
Abraham is now at Missouri, where he's working to hold off returning backup Brady Cook, third-stringer Tyler Macon and 4-star freshman Sam Horn for the starting job.
Justin Clark, CB, Wisconsin
Wisconsin lost starting cornerbacks Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams to the NFL, and top backup Dean Engram moved to wide receiver. The unit underwent a major overhaul this offseason, adding three transfers to the group.
And one of those contributors will be Justin Clark.
In six seasons at Toledo, he collected 115 tackles, four interceptions and 12 pass breakups. He's now reunited with cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat, who held the same role at Toledo from 2017 to '20.
Alexander Smith is set to start, but Clark will be—at worst—a fixture of the rotation with Cedrick Dort Jr. and Jay Shaw.
Will Honas, LB, Kansas State
After graduating high school, Will Honas followed the junior college route. The linebacker played two seasons at Butler Community College before landing with Nebraska in 2018.
During his first season, an early injury resulted in Hones taking a redshirt. He bounced back in 2019 and 2020, finishing second on the Huskers in tackles both seasons while landing honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition in the latter year.
Unfortunately for Honas, a knee injury in April 2021 ended his campaign before it began. Following the season, he transferred to Kansas State.
Honas will either be a starting outside linebacker or a top reserve for the K-State defense.
Renard Bell, WR, Washington State
UTEP's Walter Dawn Jr. and Syracuse's Devaughn Cooper—who were teammates at UTEP for two seasons—are also seventh-year receivers. Renard Bell has significantly more career production, though.
Bell redshirted in 2016 but quickly made an impact in 2017. He earned a starting role and caught 40 passes for 538 yards and three touchdowns.
Over the next three seasons (27 games), Bell reeled in 107 passes for 1,118 yards and 13 scores. He served as a team captain in 2019, too.
As with everyone on the list, an injury led to a seventh year of eligibility. Bell is expected to start in 2022.
Jaydon Grant, CB, Oregon State
It took Jaydon Grant a long time to contribute at Oregon State, but he's been worth the wait.
Injuries slowed him in both 2016 and 2017, leading to an extra year of eligibility. He was a backup in 2018 but grabbed a starting role in 2019 and effectively hasn't relinquished that spot.
The cornerback totaled 40 tackles in 2019 and secured honorable mention All-Pac-12 recognition in both 2020 and 2021. Throughout this three-season stretch (32 games), he's forced three fumbles, intercepted six passes and broken up 11 more.
Grant will be a core piece of Oregon State's defense in 2022.
Brandon Martin, LB, Ball State
Don't forget about Miami (Ohio) linebacker Ryan McWood, who racked up 99 tackles in 2019. But there's another veteran star at his position in the MAC.
Brandon Martin arrived at Ball State in 2016 as a running back, but first-year coach Mike Neu and his staff soon shifted him to linebacker. And as Martin approaches his seventh season, it's clear Neu and Co. made a smart decision.
Martin redshirted in 2016, flipped to linebacker in the spring of 2017 and notched 55 tackles that season. He followed that with 66 stops in 2018.
Although he basically missed all of 2019 and 2021 with injuries, Martin sandwiched a MAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in between. He paced the conference with 90 tackles in 2020 and helped Ball State win the league title.
Logan Bonner, QB, Utah State
No other player highlighted boasts the mix of production and accomplishments on Logan Bonner's resume.
The quarterback took a redshirt in 2016 at Arkansas State and served as a backup for the next two seasons. He threw for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns (one interception) in four games before a hand injury stalled his 2019 campaign.
Even though he split time with Layne Hatcher in 2020, Bonner still passed for 1,863 yards and 18 scores.
Bonner then followed head coach Blake Anderson to Utah State, which won the Mountain West crown in 2021. Bonner amassed 3,628 yards and 36 touchdowns, setting program records in both categories.
If he throws for 27 scores in 2022, Bonner will become the Aggies' all-time leader.
Kyle Pugh, LB, Northern Illinois
College has been quite the adventure for Kyle Pugh.
In September 2014, the linebacker committed to Northern Illinois. He took a redshirt in 2015 and played as a backup in 2016. Pugh started to have a breakout year in 2017, racking up 35 tackles in four games before an injury ended his season.
Pugh returned to the field in 2018 and earned second-team All-MAC recognition. Although an injury sidelined him for the majority of 2019, Pugh again put together a strong return and landed third-team All-MAC honors in 2020. And then a knee injury cost him the 2021 campaign.
Between a redshirt, medical redshirt and eligibility pause, Pugh is preparing for his eighth year at NIU.