Three-Point Stance: Midwest freshmen, Northwestern, rising prospects
Rivals national recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove identifies five Midwest freshmen that could make an immediate impact this season, explained why Northwestern could surprise in the Big Ten and lists three Midwest prospects that may rise in the rankings in today’s Three-Point Stance.
MORE THREE-POINT STANCE: No. 1 class, first-year coaches, recent commits
1. FIVE MIDWEST FRESHMEN WHO COULD IMPACT IMMEDIATELY
Xavier Nwankpa, Iowa - When Nwankpa steps on the field this fall he will be the highest-ranked recruit to ever play for the Hawkeyes. Iowa lost three starters from last year's secondary unit, but there is still talent on the roster and Nwankpa will have to battle for playing time early on. Even if Nwankpa starts the season in a reserve role on defense, he is sure to make an impact on special teams, and at some point his talent will be too much to keep him off the field.
Luther Burden, Missouri - The No. 1 overall receiver in the 2022 class made national headlines when he chose the Tigers over now defending national champions Georgia. Burden was an early enrollee and made an immediate impact during spring football which was capped off with an 81-yard 1-touchdown performance during Missouri's spring game. Look for "Touchdown Luther" to make an immediate impact out of the gate.
Dasan McCullough, Indiana - The one-time Ohio State commit arrived to Bloomington as one of the most celebrated recruits in Indiana history. The Bloomington (Ind.) South star is receiving rave reviews and already debuted in the two-deep when the Hoosier coaching staff released its first fall depth chart. McCullough combines his elite size with a high level of athleticism and will compete for a starting job right away.
Barion Brown, Kentucky - The ability to hit the home run is the fastest way for a freshman to get on the field regardless of their college readiness and that is exactly what Brown brings to the table. The former 100-, 200- and 400-meter Tennessee state track champion can stretch the field like few in his class and is already receiving first-team reps in fall camp. Even if Brown doesn't begin the season as one of Kentucky's starting receivers, the Kentucky staff is sure to find ways to get the ball in his hands early and often.
Ernest Hausmann, Nebraska - Hausman didn't arrive on campus as Nebraska's highest-ranked recruit in the 2022 class, but word out of Lincoln is that he has made as much or more of an impact during fall camp as any other true freshman. The Nebraska staff is hoping to rotate their linebackers a lot more this season, so look for Hausman to see the field and make an impact early on.
2. BIG TEN SURPRISE?
Northwestern had a season to forget in 2021 and as a result the Wildcats enter the 2022 season predicted to finish last in their division. Northwestern also enters the season with Las Vegas sportsbooks setting the team's win total at four. There are questions at quarterback, the offense and defense were both horrible last season and one of the program's best defensive players in Brandon Joseph left for Notre Dame.
So why should there be hope in Evanston? It all starts with Pat Fitzgerald. In Fitzgerald's 16 seasons as Northwestern's head coach, only once have the Wildcats had back-to-back losing seasons. The last time Northwestern finished the season at 3-9, like they did in 2021, Fitzgerald and Co. followed the season with a top-10 team that went 7-2 and won the Big Ten West. There is a culture of winning established in Evanston, the Wildcats have a talented offensive line anchored by future high round draft-pick Peter Skoronski coming back and have added some talented newcomers in the program. I am not saying that this year's Northwestern team will challenge for a national or Big Ten title, but I am willing to bet the 2022 Wildcats exceed expectations and will certainly not finish at the bottom of the Big Ten barrel in 2022.
3. THREE MIDWEST RISERS
The next Rivals250 rankings update is right around the corner. There will be plenty of movement after a summer full of camps, 7-on-7 tournaments and recent fall practice evaluations. Here are three candidates to move up in the Midwest:
1. Arvell Reese - The recent Ohio State commit is just too good to stay as a 5.6 three-star. Reese has the size and skill to be a difference maker at the next level and the more you watch him the more you like his game and upside. He is long, athletic, can play in space, rush the passer and explodes through ball carriers on contact. Look for Reese to be in the four-star conversation and, even if he doesn't get his extra star during this rankings release, I would be surprised if he does not finish the 2023 recruiting cycle as a four-star prospect.
2. Chris Terek - There were a lot of questions as to how elite Terek could be when we entered this off-season and needless to say those questions have been answered. Terek has trimmed down, is extremely athletic and plays a nasty brand of football. He had an impressive spring and his recruitment blew up as a result. The current Wisconsin commit will have every opportunity to develop into an NFL player in the Badgers' offense and he is another player that will be in the four-star conversation.
3. Ben Minich - There is just too much to like about his game for him to not get a rankings bump. Minich has always been a special and extremely instinctual football player and while there were never questions about his ability to play quality football, there were questions on whether he had an elite trait that would make him a standout at the major college football. That question was answered when he ran a sub-10.5 100-meter time this track season and with that type of speed Minich will have a chance to be a big-time college football player.