The Group of Five will soon be reshaped with conference realignment but even before that point, the FBS programs continue to contend with the Power 5 for select recruits and the 2022 cycle proved no difference.
Cincinnati brings in the top class for the third straight cycle while the likes of Houston, UCF and Coastal Carolina made waves, among others, in the process. Many of the individual recruiting victories came against P5 level competition or prove notable otherwise.
Sports Illustrated lays out several who should be noted as the seniors transition from stars on Friday nights to potential early contributors at the FBS level on Saturdays.
DE Mario Eugenio - Cincinnati
The sole SI99 recruit to sign with a Group of Five program this cycle, Eugenio had a breakout underclassmen campaign as a sophomore and followed it up with an even better run as a junior en route to 30 sacks in between the two seasons. As a senior, the edge talent suffered a groin injury he played through and it halted production -- but not the expectation at Cincinnati. Eugenio has first-step quickness, elite short area explosion and has the frame to work inside on occasion with success. As he polishes up counter moves and adds strength at the collegiate level, we expect a considerable impact in Luke Fickell's scheme. Eugenio is still on the front end of his assimilation to the position, too.
QB Luther Richesson - Cincinnati
The Bearcats' great teams have always featured high level quarterback play, of course including the unprecedented playoff run UC just went on, and the depth to replace Desmond Ridder is strong. 2020 signee Evan Prater saw the field as QB2 in 2021 and will likely be handed the keys to the offense this spring, but new addition Luther Richesson could soon factor into the mix thereafter. The Nashville native, who played under former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer in high school, was as efficient as it gets as a senior passer. The big, physical presence completed nearly 80% of his attempts for 2,936 yards and 36 touchdowns against just three interceptions. The surprise of the Elite 11 Finals, Richesson has the total package, including plus arm strength and anticipation combined with functional athleticism. Expect him to factor into the starting gig at UC in due time.
QB Landry Lyddy - Louisiana Tech
Mr. Football and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana has gone to superstars in the sport like Leonard Fournette, Derek Stingley and Joe McKnight, but the reigning winner is not an LSU, another blue blood commitment or even a Power Five recruit. He is on board and soon to enroll with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Sticking with his longtime commitment to the in-state program despite a late push from Boise State and others, Lyddy lit up the competition throughout his varsity career. As a senior, the quick-triggered passer followed up his state title run as a junior with gaudy numbers in 2021 -- completing 232 of 317 passes for 4,247 yards and 53 touchdowns. In just two years as the varsity starter for Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist, Lyddy threw for more than 8,000 yards and 100 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. The consistency on the field is rare as is what we hear of his ability in between the ears in what should be the future of Sony Cumbie's program.
LB Dishawn Misa - Boise State
Arguably the top defensive recruit in the state of Washington, the 6'3", 225-pound prospect was named the Seattle metro defensive MVP as a senior thanks to a strong run at storied Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic. An instinctive linebacker who plays with great quickness and physicality, there is multiple position ability given his frame and overall skill set. We could see him living in the middle as the captain of the defense, used as a timely blitzer and occasional cover man against tight ends and running backs just as much as he may wind up standing up on the edge and polishing up as a primary pass rusher. Misa, who also dabbled on offense in high school, had offers from most of the Pac-12 and contributed to multiple state championship teams as a four-year contributor.
WR De'Andre Coleman - Coastal Carolina
When connecting with folks on the ground in Alabama about the 2022 class, Coleman comes up quickly for two reasons. First, his frame and overall ability as a 6'4" wideout who can make plays down the field as well as after the catch. Next comes the common caveat in his recruitment, almost a bewilderment as to why he was not signing with a Power Five program in December. Of course the Hueytown (Ala.) High star did jump on board with a top 25 program with Coastal Carolina, pairing with Georgia native and quarterback Bryce Archie as clear class headliners headed to 'Ball at the Beach.' Coleman was a superstar as a senior, scoring 23 touchdowns from scrimmage in averaging a whopping 19.4 yards per touch in 2021. Despite a loss in the state championship game, a 46-42 shootout with Clay-Chalkville High, the senior left it all on the field in catching 15 passes for 149 yards and adding running back and return game duty with great success.
QB Bryce Archie - Coastal Carolina
Another Chanticleer to pair with Coleman, literally, is Archie out of Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern. A three-sport standout with promise on the baseball diamond as well, it will be interesting to see how he navigates the college level. But as far as ceiling goes, this is an intriguing quarterback prospect with plenty of raw tools as he learns under Grayson McCall in 2022. Archie, who worked with one of the key trainers who also tutored Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, accounted for 33 touchdowns (26 passing) as a senior thanks to great athleticism and a tangibly-strong arm. As a baseball pitcher, he has topped out in the 90s with his fastball, which will make the baseball staff at Coastal push to keep him on the diamond once in town for good.
QB Bert Emmanuel, Jr. - Central Michigan
If you recognize the name, yes we are all getting older and yes, the Central Michigan signee is extremely athletic regardless of the projected position. The son of the former NFL wide receiver (who stands much taller than dad at 6'3") with the same name, junior also played quarterback in high school and should get a shot to stay at the position in college. Regardless, the Texan was dominant at the prep level but took it to another level as a senior with 46 offensive touchdowns (31 passing) to his name in 13 games. Emmanuel completed 60% of his passes and did not toss an interception in 261 attempts along the way. The gaudy numbers, which include 1,030 yards on the ground as a long-striding runner, has to fire the Chippewa fans up in contemplating the future of Jim McElwain's program.
OL Tellek Lockette - Louisiana-Monroe
All this four-year varsity starter did in high school was compete at an extremely high level in the most talented metro area in the country with consistent success along the way. Playing at storied programs like Miami (Fla.) Northwestern and finishing up his career in helping Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas to another state championship in 2021, Lockette works multiple positions along the offensive line with great leverage and pop at the point of contact. Whether projecting as a guard or center, there is a high floor recruit who shouldn't sit long at ULM. The reigning Broward County Lineman of the Year drew high praise from his new head coach, Terry Bowden, after making the collegiate decision official.
"He's an aggressive player, who likes to finish his blocks down the field, which will add value to the mentality of our meeting room," Bowden said.
DE Jamaal Johnson - UCF
When a high school game features more than a dozen Power Five recruits and the prospect who flashes the most does not ink in the same collegiate range it is noteworthy. Johnson was a menace mid-season in 2021 for state champion Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna High School against Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep, registering three sacks as part of a dominant defensive effort. The motor, speed off the edge and impact at the contact point was tangible all night long for the inside-out pass rusher. It wasn't just that Friday night, but throughout his prep career that Johnson would create conversation. The UCF signee had 28 sacks in his career before hitting a higher level as a senior, registering 21 in the latest state championship run. Adding the one-time Miami commitment was a big early win for Gus Malzahn and the Knights held on thereafter.
RB Terrance Gibbs - Georgia Southern
One of the feel good signings on Wednesday was that of Gibbs with Georgia Southern. Following breakout two-way ability as a young prospect in the Orlando area, every top program in the country wanted to bring him in as a running back or potentially defensive back at the highest level. The pandemic, combined with a severe knee injury that would cost him time on the field as an upperclassman, though Florida took his commitment under Dan Mullen in the summer. As Billy Napier's staff took over in December, the tone changed and Gibbs held off on signing early. Enter GSU for the high-profile signing in hopes Gibbs gets back to full strength after gaudy numbers as an underclassman with quite the chip on his shoulder.
More G5 signees of note:
Huston WR Matthew Golden
UAB WR Iverson Hooks
South Florida DE Eddie Kelly
Memphis QB Tevin Carter
SMU TE RJ Maryland
Cincinnati CB JQ Hardaway
Toledo CB Nasir Bowers
Georgia State RB KZ Adams
UCF QB Thomas Castellanos
South Alabama DL R.J. Moss