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2022: Five Under The Radar Players


As the 2022 season approaches, we look at five players who are under the radar now that will make an impact on 2022 and get on every college football fan's radar.

Brian Branch - Safety: Alabama

It is hard to get noticed when you are part of a secondary with arguably the nation’s top cornerback in Eli Ricks and top safety in Jordan Battle.

He shares this role with Malachi Moore, and you begin to see why most outside Tuscaloosa and even the SEC might not have Branch on the top of many fans' radars.

Branch last season contributed 55 tackles, five tackles for loss, nine passes defended, and a sack, and enters his third season in Tuscaloosa.

During his first two seasons, he has only missed one tackle on 82 attempts for a defensive back, which is unheard of.

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Justin Flowe - Linebacker: Oregon

Injuries have deterred Flowe from realizing his five-star potential coming out of high school in 2020.

In his career, he has played a total of 67 snaps.

Of those 67, 65 came against Fresno State, where Flowe flashed what made him so highly regarded: 14 tackles, one tackle for loss, and a forced fumble.

Flowe teams up with the nation’s top inside linebacker in Noah Sewell, and new Oregon Head Coach Dan Lanning, a defensive mastermind, will look to mold Flowe like he coached Nolan Smith last season at Georgia.

The biggest question with Flowe is health.

Mitchell Tinsley - Wide Receiver: Penn State

In the last decade, Penn State has seemingly churned out an early round or high-end wide receivers to the NFL: Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, K.J. Hamler, and Jahan Dotson, to name a few.

Penn State coach James Franklin landed arguably one of the portal's top transfers in Western Kentucky’s Mitchell Tinsley, who is seeking pro aspirations.

Tinsley last season was 8th in the nation in receiving yards with 1,402, opposite the nation’s leading receiver in that category in Jerreth Sterns.

Tinsley caught 13 of 26 on contested opportunities, breaking 17 tackles on 79 receptions, and dropped 2.5% of catchable targets.

Tinsley against Mel Tucker’s Michigan State Spartans went seven receptions and 127 yards.

He will play opposite of All-Big Ten wide receiver Parker Washington.

Tyrique Stevenson - Cornerback: Miami

After transferring from the eventual National Champion Georgia Bulldogs in the 2021 season, Stevenson returned home to Miami, where he made an impact on the field as a shutdown corner, which will be a key ingredient for new Miami head coach Mario Cristobal.

His coverage skills are excellent; he takes away half the field, making it easier for his Hurricane teammates.

He received a 76.1 coverage grade by Pro Football Focus and allowed 0.68 yards per coverage snap in 2021.

E.J. Smith - Running Back: Stanford

It is hard to imagine the son of football royalty would be under the radar.

At Stanford, Emmitt Smith’s son E.J. might not be flying on most people’s radar.

E.J. has waited his time as Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat are gone. In his limited reps in the 2021 season, he totaled 14 broken tackles, five explosive runs of 10-plus yards, and 4.62 yards after contact per attempt receiving an 81.2 rushing grade from PFF.
Smith demonstrates excellent vision, patience, and elusiveness as a runner; Stanford Head Coach David Shaw said don’t be surprised if he is the nation’s best runner.

Having coached Christian McCaffrey, another legacy star, Shaw might be on to something.