With early signing day just around the corner and the college football world being thrown into flux with all the high-profile coaching changes, this recruiting class and process figures to be one to watch.
So far Oklahoma and Oregon have already lost major recruits after Lincoln Riley and Mario Cristobal left Norman and Eugene for USC and Miami, respectively. Many of the Sooners’ former commits have followed Riley to USC, though the same hasn’t happened yet for Cristobal.
But for as big as the names of the coaches are who have been on the move, there are some recruits out there with pretty big names — either as the result of on-field-production, who they’re related to, or both.
Sporting News takes a look at some of the famous father-son duos present in the Class of 2022.
1. Cristian Driver, defensive back
Like father like son, the Drivers were both impact players in the open field. Donald spent his entire 13-year career with the Packers, notching over 10,000 career receiving yards while going to four Pro Bowls. Cristian, meanwhile, has played both sides of the ball at a high level at Argyle Liberty Christian in Texas.
He earned all-district honors in high school and has an added versatility that could prove to be an asset down the line, though he projects to be a safety off the bat for the Nittany Lions.
Driver is part of a Penn State class that 247 currently lists as No. 5 for 2022.
2. Antonio Gates Jr., wide receiver
The younger Gates seems to be every bit the prolific pass catcher his father was. Currently a wide receiver at Dearborn Fordson High School, Gates Jr. is staying in state and playing for Mel Tucker’s squad on the heels of one of the best Spartan seasons in recent history.
Gates Sr. is one of the best tight ends in the sport’s history. He’s third all-time in receiving yards among tight ends, made eight straight Pro Bowls from 2004-11 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
3. Eden James, running back
The younger James could make a massive splash and have a big ripple effect by choosing Howard. The HBCU has struggled recently, but has five Black national championships in program history. He burst on to the scene this year rushing for 2,021 yards and 28 touchdowns in 12 games.
His father, one of the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played collegiately at Miami before going on to lead the NFL in rushing twice and earning four Pro-Bowl nods.
Eden chose Howard over FBS schools like Air Force, Army, Indiana and his father’s school, Miami.
4. Mason Taylor, tight end
Another son of a Hall of Famer, Taylor committed to LSU under previous coach Ed Orgeron. He missed most of his junior season with an injury, but could become a key part of new coach Brian Kelly’s success as the offense gets a re-tooling with quarterback Max Johnson in the transfer portal. Johnson’s brother, Jake, also a highly sought-after tight end, was committed to LSU but decommitted following his brother entering the portal.
That move could pave the way for Taylor to carve out a bigger role in the offense early on. LSU has also seen success producing skill position players who go on to have success in the NFL, including at the tight end position.
5. Christian Harrison, defensive back
Harrison was previously committed to Hugh Freeze and Liberty but then flipped to Tennessee earlier this month. A three-star from Florida, Harrison’s father Rodney was a Pro-Bowl and All-Pro defensive back for the Chargers and Patriots during the course of his NFL career.
The younger Harrison enjoyed success as a senior in Florida playing on both sides of the ball is committed to the Vols as a defensive back. He had three picks and two passes defended in 11 games this season as a cornerback and could be a welcome addition to a Volunteers defense that ranked 103rd in passing yards allowed.
6. Cole Pennington, quarterback
One of the few players who’s following in their dad’s footsteps by going to the same school, Penningtons have long excelled at Marshall. Cole’s father, Chad, was a Heisman Trophy finalist for the Thundering Herd in 1999 and went on to become a first-round pick and two-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He also finished runner-up in MVP voting in 2008 and retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in completion percentage.
Cole, meanwhile is one of the best players from Kentucky and is coached by his dad. He threw for 1,624 yards with 17 touchdowns in nine games as a senior and could have a good chance to learn behind current Marshall QB Grant Wells who was one of Conference-USA’s top passers this year.
7. Owen McCown, quarterback
McCown put up impressive numbers as a senior this season, completing 262 of 388 passes (67.5 percent) to go along with 3,362 yards and 36 touchdowns to just four touchdowns in just 12 games. It was a career year for the younger McCown, whose dad Josh, was journeyman NFL quarterback who suited up for 12 teams as both a backup and spot starter over his career.
Owen put up prolific numbers in one of the best high school football states in the nation, which could bode well as he helps try and revamp a Colorado offense that struggled last season under Karl Dorrell.
8. RJ Maryland, tight end
Maryland hails from a Texas powerhouse in Southlake Carroll Senior High School. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same high school as Texas transfer and No. 1 overall commit from 2021 quarterback Quinn Ewers.
He’s a vertical threat in the passing game as a tight end as he hauled in 1,103 yards and 14 touchdowns in 15 games as a senior. With BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec slated to return fully healthy, he could emerge as a big weapon down the line.
Maryland’s father, Russell, was the first overall pick out of Miami (FL) in 1991, where he was an All-American and two-time national champion. He went on to win three Super Bowls with the Cowboys as a defensive tackle and made the Pro Bowl in 1993.
9. AJ Vinatieri, kicker
The son of one of the top kickers in NFL history, Vinatieri has several offers from Power 5 schools but has yet to commit anywhere. He was named All-State in Indiana for his performance this season as one of the state’s best special teams players.
His father, Adam, attended FCS South Dakota State and went on to set several NFL records as a kicker, winning four Super Bowls and being named an All-Pro three times in the process.
10. Rex Haynes, wide receiver
Yet another son of a Hall of Famer, Haynes is a big-play threat at wide receiver. His senior year at Cathedral Catholic, he had 24 catches for 548 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games. He averaged 22.8 yards per catch as a senior and has averaged 25.5 yards per reception for his high school career.
His father, Mike Haynes, is a Pro and College Football Hall of Famer, who played for the Patriots and Raiders. He made nine Pro Bowls and was the 1976 Defensive Rookie of the Year as a defensive back out of Arizona State.
11. Elijah Warner, quarterback
Though Warner comes into signing day not highly ranked, he put up impressive numbers this year as a senior in Texas. In 12 games, Warner completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,742 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Warner’s dad, Kurt, is arguably one of the best undrafted free agents in NFL history, carving out a Hall of Fame career after winning two MVPs, a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP Award.
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