Nevada Football: 2022 Breakout Candidates
The Wolf Pack might have plenty of unfamiliar names headed in 2022, but these players are solid bets to lead the way into the new era.
Who could be the Pack’s new leaders?
Heading into the 2022 college football season, the Nevada Wolf Pack are definitely turning over a new leaf or three under new head coach Ken Wilson.
Even if nearly all of the major contributors from the last few seasons have moved on, though, that just means, to borrow a phrase from Ted Lasso, the remade roster smells like potential. With new contributors aiming to step up in numerous spots on both sides of the ball, who could be in line for the team’s biggest breakouts?
Grant Starck, OL
Aaron Frost figures to have one spot on The Union locked up and Starck might be in the best position to provide a much-needed bookend. Though he appeared in ten games last fall, Starck got most of his reps in the last few weeks of the season before being thrust into the starting lineup for the Quick Lane Bowl, but the early returns showed a lot of promise: He received a 70.7 overall graded from Pro Football Focus, which bested both Frost and Jacob Gardner, who was the starter at left tackle in 2021.
Josiah Bradley, LB
Patience is a virtue: After spending the last four years as an understudy to the likes of Lawson Hall, Laman Touray, and Daiyan Henley, the Wolf Pack’s number-one recruit from 2018 is likely to get his shot as a starter. Though he has just 20 career tackles to his name in four seasons at Nevada, he hasn’t looked out of place when he’s seen the field and will be counted upon to anchor the new-look defense.
Jamaal Bell, WR
The top recruit from Nevada’s 2019 class, Bell had to wait a little while for his time to shine but didn’t waste it when defections put him into a big role at the Quick Lane Bowl. It wasn’t the easiest situation to step into, but Bell acquitted himself well with seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Western Michigan.
Headed into 2022, he isn’t the only pass catcher in the locker room with lots of in-game experience, but he also played well as the team’s primary kick returner, as well (23.6 yards per return) and should remain potent if the Wolf Pack can resolve their quarterback competition without too much drop-off from Carson Strong.
Jamaal Bell's 34-yard touchdown from Jake Barlage ties this one up!
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) April 24, 2022
Christopher Love, DT
What’s better than one disruptive interior lineman? If you guessed “two interior linemen”, then you have an idea of why Nevada fans could feel pretty good about the tandem of Dom Peterson and Love.
In part-time duty last year, Love had 23 tackles, three tackles for loss, and two sacks, but he’ll have more on his plate in 2022 with the departures of Amir Johnson and Zak Mahannah. Given that he’s had plenty of opportunities to learn from one of the best at the position, though, Love will surely be ready to eat.