Three-Point Stance: Arizona, impact freshmen, Sept. 1 graphics
Rivals national recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove has thoughts on Arizona's rise under second-year coach Jedd Fisch, impact freshmen and some of the graphics that programs sent out to recruiting targets on Sept. 1.
ARIZONA POISED TO MAKE MOVES UNDER JEDD FISCH
Coming off a 1-11 season, Arizona entered 2022 with tempered expectations and a projected win total of three games.
While it may only be one game, Jedd Fisch's success on the recruiting trail along with an influx of impact transfers translated into a Week 1 win for the Wildcats over a talented San Diego State team.
In just a short time, Fisch and his staff have managed to change the culture, develop a swagger and seriously improve the talent within the program. Washington State transfer and reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jayden De Laura came out dropping dimes by going 22 of 35 for 299 yards and four touchdowns. Among the recipients of those passes were UTEP transfer Jacob Cowing, who had eight receptions for 152 yards and three touchdowns, and freshman phenom Tetairoa McMillan with three receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. Leading rusher DJ Williams was also a transfer portal addition and turned 14 carries into 88 yards and a touchdown.
The sample size is small and Arizona's Week 2 matchup against Mississippi State will tell us a lot more about how far Arizona has come in year two under Fisch, but looking at the early product and analyzing the rest of Arizona's schedule, I see no reason why the Wildcats cannot be competitive in every game this season and go bowling.
CHECKING IN ON IMPACT FRESHMEN
Last month I identified five impact true freshmen from the Midwest. Let's take a look at how they have performed after the first big weekend of the college football season.
1. Xavier Nwankpa, Iowa - Nwankpa became the highest-ranked recruit to step on the field for Iowa when the Hawkeyes played South Dakota State over the weekend. Similar to what I predicted, the five-star did indeed make his debut but his role came as a special teams contributor during the season opener. There is a no shortage of talent in the secondary at Iowa and it may take some time before Nwankpa becomes a contributor on defense, but I like the direction he is going.
2. Luther Burden, Missouri - Burden did what Burden does during his Week 1 debut for Missouri by scoring two touchdowns. The former East St. Louis star and No. 1 overall receiver recruit in the 2022 class passed his first test with flying colors by catching three balls for 17 yards and a touchdown. Touchdown Luther also ran the ball three times for 26 yards and another touchdown. Burden's debut performance is just a small glimpse of what is to come and look for him to be in the running for SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
3. Dasan McCullough, Indiana - Like Burden, McCullough was an immediate impact player during the Hoosiers' Week 1 win over Illinois. The freshman linebacker from Indiana lived up to his preseason hype by recording six tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. McCullough looks as though he could be a star in the making for the Hoosiers.
4. Barion Brown, Kentucky - Brown was named a starter and made some serious noise during his college football debut. The former four-star receiver had a respectable debut at receiver while tallying three receptions for 45 yards, but it was on special teams where he made his presence felt. Brown returned the second half's opening kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown making him the first such player to accomplish the feat for Kentucky during the Mike Stoops era.
5. Ernest Hausman, Nebraska - Hausman may have not been considered the crown jewel of Nebraska's 2022 signing class but he made enough noise during preseason camp for me to put him on this list. Things seem to be trending in the right direction for Hausman as he has carved out a role as the backup MLB and has a total of nine tackles through two games. While I may have gone out on a limb with this one, it appears as though Hasuman has a chance to do big things during his freshman season.
GRAPHICS FLOWED ON SEPT. 1
Sept. 1 was the first day that college coaches could technically initiate contact with 2024 prospects and most programs wasted little time by reaching out to their top targets once the clock struck midnight. One thing that really stood out in terms of the approach programs took to kick off September's contact period was their use of personalized graphics.
In my opinion the teams choosing this approach made a slam dunk in doing so and the way graphics were personalized gave some memorable flair to the recruits on the receiving end. The graphics were a perfect way to let prospective recruits know that they were a priority for a team without invading their space at midnight when many of these prospects were likely already sleeping.
Here are a couple of examples that recruits sent to me after receiving them at the strike of midnight on Sept. 1.