Nevada Football: 2022 Team Preview Of The Wolf Pack
A rebuilding effort with a new head coach and new players is underway in Reno as we preview the 2022 edition of the Nevada Wolf Pack.
A Preview Of The New Look Nevada Wolf Pack For The 2022 Season
The Nevada Wolf Pack are in a state of rebuilding as they head into the 2022 football season.
That is the best way to describe Wolf Pack football at its current state of affairs. Nevada welcomes a new head coach in longtime assistant Ken Wilson. But Wilson is not the only new face for Nevada in 2022 as several new players in key positions on the field will be making their Wolf Pack debut this season.
The talent that propelled the Nevada Wolf Pack to the level of championship contention in the Mountain West the last two seasons is no longer there in Reno. That talent has either gone to the NFL, (Carson Strong, Romeo Doubs, and Cole Turner) left Nevada via the transfer portal and are at another school (Elijah Cooks, Daniel Greziak, Daiyan Henley, Lamin Touray and Justin Lockhart) or joined former Nevada head coach Jay Norvell to Colorado State (Tory Horton, Jacob Gardner, and Clay Millen to name just a few)
The Wolf Pack do have some returning players to help ease the transition from Coach Norvell Air Raid system to Coach Wilson’s run-oriented balanced system. With uncertainty at quarterback, wide receiver, offensive and defensive line, linebacker and punter, expect plenty of bumps along the road for Nevada in 2022. The question we all should be asking about Nevada is can they overcome the uncertainties and be a competitive football team in 2022?
Here is the Nevada team preview heading into the 2022 season.
Cox has the most experience playing for the Wolf Pack as he has played in several games and started in the Quick Lane Bowl for Nevada against Western Michigan last season. However, Cox did get arrested in June for a DUI charge and could face suspension however Coach Wilson has yet to say anything about Cox’s punishment.
Should Cox have to sit for a game, Illingsworth does have playing experience as he went 3-0 as a starting QB for Oklahoma State. The battle for the starting job at quarterback will more than likely come down to the final days of training camp before the Wolf Pack’s season opener on August 27th.
Unlike the quarterback position, the running back position for Nevada is a source of returning production. Toa Taua and Devontae Lee are back for the Wolf Pack in 2022 and expect both Taua and Lee to carry the ball a lot in Coach Wilson’s new run-oriented offense.
Joining Taua and Lee in the running back room are former Oregon running back (and son of Big Boi who is one half of the legendary Southern Hip-Hop duo OutKast) Cross Patton. Patton will provide a change of pace for the Nevada running game as he provides quickness and speed and will look to be a complement to Taua and Lee’s power ground game.
While the running back room seems to be solidified, that cannot be said for the wide receivers and tight ends for Nevada. Between Doubs and Turner leaving for the NFL and Elijah Cooks Justin Lockhart, and Tory Horton leaving via the transfer portal, that leaves just one wide receiver from last year’s team returning this season….that is a big, big problem for Nevada.
That one returning receiver for Nevada in 2022 is Jamaal Bell who caught a total of 14 passes last season. Expect the Wolf Pack offense to rely heavily on Bell in the passing game. The Wolf Pack did look to the transfer portal to bolster the wide receiver position and found players like BJ Casteel from Arizona, Spencer Curtis from Oregon and Dalevon Campbell from Illinois but in the beginning of the season, expect Bell to be the top wide receiver for Nevada.
Also, keep an eye on Victor Snow at the WR position. Snow had a very strong Spring game so he could be another target for the Wolf Pack passing attack. As for the tight ends for Nevada, Coach Wilson will have options in Carlton Brown III, Oregon transfer Cooper Shults and JuCo options such as Jacob Munro, Edwin Lacrosse and Dyson Frank. Expect the tight ends for Nevada under Wilson and new offensive coordinator Derek Sage to use the tight ends even more than what Coach Norvell did during his time in Reno.
Like the wide receiver unit, the offensive line for Nevada is another group full of uncertainty. The lone returning offensive line for Nevada, Aaron Frost, suffered a serious injury during Fall camp and could miss significant time.
Should Frost not start for Nevada when the season begins, it will deal a serious blow to an offensive line unit that is lacking significant playing experience. The Wolf Pack did hit the transfer portal and landed some offensive lineman such as Joey Capra (San Diego State), Kai Arenson (Oregon), and Cole Feinauer (Colorado State) to bolster their depth on the offensive line. Those transfer players along with returning sophomore Grant Starck will be needed even more to step up due to Aaron Frost’s injury.
The Wolf Pack lost several key figures on the defense line last year either to graduation or to the transfer portal. The key players on last year’s defensive line (Sam Hammond, Tristan Nichols Kam Toomer, Jack Powers, Zak Mahannah and Daniel Grzeiak) contributed a total of 27.5 sacks.
That production is all gone and the lone returning defensive lineman for Nevada is Dom Peterson. Peterson, who was named to the Bednarik Award Preseason Watch list and just named to Pro Football Network’s All-American third team, will be the driving force for this unit that will be looking for someone to step up and contribute alongside Peterson.
Like the wide receiver and offensive line groups, Nevada hit the transfer portal to find players to contribute right away. Players like William Green (Liberty University), James Hansen (Utah State) and Louie Cresto (Oregon) could provide the Wolf Pack defense with immediate production.
Also, keep an eye out for returner defensive tackle Christopher Love to make an impact for this unit. Love is six-foot-three and weighs 268 pounds and did record 23 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks in limited playing time for Nevada last season. Love could provide some much needed depth for the Wolf Pack defensive line.
The Wolf Pack will need Wilson’s coaching skills at that position to pay off quickly as like a huge chunk of the Wolf Pack roster, the linebacker group is another unit that needs to be rebuilt. The Wolf Pack lost linebackers Lawson Hall to graduation and Dayian Henley transferred to Washington State along with teammate Jordan Lee. Lamin Touray also left Nevada via the transfer portal and ended up at Eastern Washington.
With these defections Nevada has at the linebacker position, the remaining linebackers only have a combined total of 27 tackles. This is a unit that needs to be built up fast and in a quick hurry. Look for players like returning senior Josiah Bradley and former USC Trojan Eli’Jah Winston to see a whole lot of playing time at linebacker.
It is not all doom and gloom when it comes to returning production for Nevada, the Wolf Pack do return players at the safety position (Yay!). Players like Jaden Dedman and Isaiah Essissima do return to provide Nevada with talented experience at safety. However, cornerback is an issue as BenDale Robins (graduation) and AJ King (transfer to Colorado State) are gone (Drats!).
he Wolf Pack do have some talent coming in at cornerback via the transfer portal as Darion Green-Warren comes to Reno via Michigan and can contribute right away. Green-Wilson’s role will more than likely be expanded as the Wolf Pack lost veteran JoJuan Claiborne to a major injury during camp that could force him to miss time during the season.
With all the uncertainty and injuries on the Nevada roster, it is nice to see that this team does have a strength in place kicking. Kicker Brandon Talton is back for Nevada and his return is sorely needed as Talton has won games with his leg in his career and that will be much needed for this year’s team.
Punting is less settled for Nevada (What a surprise, a position that is a question mark for Nevada in 2022) as the Wolf Pack didn’t list a punter during Spring practices . Look for kicker Matt Freem or highly recruited Australian punter Harry Webster to battle it out to decide who will replace the departed record setting punter Julian Diaz at punter for Nevada this season.