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Latino college football

Lots of Latino college football talent in 2022

Washington State's Ron Stone Jr. looks to build on impressive 2021

Our Esquina’s 2021 offensive and and defensive players of the year Matt Corral and Malcolm Rodriguez are in the NFL now. But there is still plenty of Latino college football talent to follow. 

Latinos enjoyed a fantastic 2021 college football season. Corral flirted with a Heisman candidacy at Ole Miss. Rodriguez led Oklahoma State to the 2021 Big 12 championship game. Chris Olave set records at Ohio State. 

We have have high hopes for the returning Latino players in 2022. The West Coast has several highly regarded Latino college football players who will likely play on NFL Sundays after they complete their college careers. 

Colombian cornerback Christian Gonzalez excelled in 2021 at the University of Colorado. After the season, Gonzalez followed his cornerbacks coach and transferred to the University of Oregon. The Athletic recently had Gonzalez as the 11th pick overall in a 2023 mock draft.  

Ron Stone Jr. hopes to improve NFL stock

Another Pac-12 player at a Pacific Northwest school that will generate NFL interest is Washington State’s Ron Stone Jr., a Dominican defensive end/outside linebacker. Stone returned for his final season on the Palouse and looks to improve on an outstanding junior campaign.

Colorado wide receiver Daniel Arias is expected to have a breakout season for the Buffaloes in his fifth season in the program. Arias, who was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is also special teams standout. He was named to the East-West Shrine Game 1,000 Watch List.

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Arizona State right guard Chris Martinez transferred in from San Diego State for his sixth year of eligibility. The late-blooming Martinez started every game for the Aztecs in 2021 and finished as one of the top-rated offensive linemen in the Mountain West Conference.

Chris Rodriguez in limbo

Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez is a preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection, but he was not on the Wildcats’ initial depth chart. Rodriguez, whose paternal grandfather hails from Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty in July to a DUI. He was arrested in May for a DUI.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops wouldn’t say how long Rodriguez will be suspended from the team. He did say, however, that multiple players received multi-game suspensions.

USC defensive lineman Nick Figueroa was an preseason All-Pac 12 honorable mention. Minnesota linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin leads the Gophers on defense and off the field.

Former Nebraska dual-threat quarterback Adrian Martinez heads to Manhattan, Kansas, and is expected to start for the Kansas State Wildcats. Joining him in the backfield is junior college running back transfer Anthony Frias. 

Honduran redshirt freshman RJ Garcia II has stood out during fall camp and is expected to make a major contribution to the Wildcats’ aerial attack.

Gabriel Rubio is a talented defensive lineman at Notre Dame.

Padilla waiting for chance at Iowa

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla enters his junior season as the backup. The Academic All-Big Ten selection started three games in 2021, and the Hawkeyes went 3-0 in those games. 

Mario Cristobal took over the Miami Hurricanes. The cupboard was not left bare. Miami wide receiver Xavier Restrepo, a third-year sophomore, was a significant contributor in 2021, finishing with 24 catches for 373 yards and two touchdowns. 

There are three Latinos on 2022 Preseason All- Mountain West Conference teams. Both first team wide receiver spots are taken by Latino seniors, Fresno State’s Jalen Cropper and Jesse Matthews of San Diego State.

The third member of the team is junior punter Aaron Rodriguez of the University of New Mexico. Both Cropper and David Perales, a senior defensive end at Fresno State, are legit NFL prospects. 

Calzada highlighted Latino college football talent last season

Zach Calzada made the intra-division move from Texas A&M to Auburn. Calzada was a starter a year ago in College Station after Haynes King was hurt. But he will start this season as a backup for the Tigers.

Calzada pulled off the upset of the year in college football when he led the Aggies over then-No. 1 Alabama at Kyle Field.

Fresno State Bulldogs kicker Abe Montano never played high school football. After playing at a junior college, he walked on at Fresno State. Montano played in four games in 2021 for the Bulldogs. He was perfect, going five-for-five on field goals and 14-for-14 on extra points.

UNLV kicker Daniel Gutierrez is listed by draft analyst Mel Kiper of ESPN as the 10th best NFL kicking prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft. 

El Paso proud

UTEP’s Reynaldo Flores, a local El Paso product, returns for a sixth season. He is a versatile threat for the Miners. Flores also takes care of business in the classroom. He has been a member of Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and Academic Medalist the last four years.

UTSA tight end Oscar Cardenas had a breakout season in 2021 for the hometown Roadrunners. He was also a Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll pick the last three years.

Cardenas looks to improve on a season where he had 16 receptions for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He also had the game-winning touchdown reception with three seconds left in a 34-31 victory over UAB. 

Eastern Michigan’s Jose Ramirez, a defensive end/edge rusher, was named a preseason All-MAC selection by nearly every major preseason preview. In 2021, he finished the season with 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. 

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