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Best plays by top college football recruits: Elite 2023 QBs star, Oklahoma commit makes stellar catch


Before they take the field as college football players on Saturdays, some of the top recruits in the 2023 ESPN 300 are playing underneath the lights on weeknights.

Dylan Lonergan will be battling fellow ESPN 300 quarterback Eli Holstein for playing time under center at Alabama beginning next fall. But Lonergan made things difficult for Newton High School (Georgia) during Brookwood High School’s (Georgia) win on Friday night.

Lonergan (No. 25 overall in 2023, No. 5 QB-PP) threw a pair of touchdown passes while running for another as Brookwood won its third straight game.

Meanwhile, another future member of the Crimson Tide — running back Justice Haynes (No. 20 overall in 2023, No. 2 RB) had a big night for Buford High School (Georgia) on Friday.

Haynes ran for 216 yards, two touchdowns and became only the seventh running back in Georgia state history to eclipse the 7,000-yard mark for a prep career.

Here’s how some of the other top recruits performed this week.


Pettaway all the way

Oklahoma-bound wide receiver Jaquaize Pettaway hauled in a key touchdown during Langham Creek High School’s (Texas) 32-31 victory on Thursday over Cypress Springs High School (Texas).

Pettaway (No. 42 overall in 2023, No. 8 WR) chose Oklahoma over Texas in July and is Oklahoma’s second-highest ranked recruit behind quarterback Jackson Arnold.

The Sooners’ class, which features 13 ESPN 300 prospects, is fourth in ESPN’s rankings.


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The future is bright in L.A.

Quarterback Malachi Nelson (No. 1 overall in 2023, No. 1 QB-PP) and wide receiver Makai Lemon (No. 13 overall in 2023, No. 2 WR) continue to wreak havoc against the opposition. That should have Lincoln Riley and the rest of his USC staff smiling broadly.

The two future Trojans were at it again on Thursday as Los Alamitos High School (California) overwhelmed Edison High School (California) 52-27.

Riley’s first full class with the Trojans currently sits at 12th in ESPN’s rankings.


Wolverines weapon

Cole Cabana would love to follow in the footsteps of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum at Michigan.

But before he sets foot on campus in Ann Arbor, Cabana (No. 115 overall in 2023, No. 6 RB) is doing his thing for Dexter High School (Michigan).

Cabana is the highest-ranked recruit in Michigan’s class, which has five ESPN 300 members and is ranked 27th by ESPN.


Divine Dante

Dante Moore is the crown jewel of Dan Lanning’s first full recruiting class at Oregon. The future Duck showed off his arm during Martin Luther King High School’s (Michigan) game against Cass Tech High School (Michigan) on Friday.

Moore (No. 3 overall in 2023, No. 3 QB-PP) is the highest ranked member of Oregon’s class, which sits 13th in ESPN’s latest rankings.


Saban’s safety

Alabama fans should be very excited to add Caleb Downs to its defensive backfield. Downs (No. 12 overall in 2023) is the top-ranked safety in the class and he displayed his unique skill set for Mill Creek High School (Georgia) against Buford High School (Georgia) on Friday.

Alabama leads the nation with 18 ESPN 300 recruits and it currently owns the top-ranked class in ESPN’s newest team rankings.


All eyes on Knoxville this weekend for top-10 clash between Tide and Vols

For the first time since 1989, Alabama and Tennessee will meet on Saturday with both teams holding unblemished records.

The list of 2023 and 2024 prospects who will be there is quite prominent.

Defensive end Samuel M’Pemba (No. 28 overall in 2023, No. 2 DE), running back Jerrick Gibson (No. 4 overall in 2024, No. 1 RB), athlete Jonathan Paylor (No. 47 overall in 2024, No. 4 ATH), linebacker Cayden Jones (No. 75 overall in 2024, No. 6 LB), defensive tackle Hevin Brown-Shuler (No. 77 overall in 2024, No. 6 DT), athlete Jadan Baugh (No. 152 overall in 2024), offensive guard Donovan Harbour (No. 40 in 2024, No. 1 OG) and wide receiver Mylan Graham (No. 155 overall in 2024) are among a long list expected.

“The atmosphere, for sure,” Jones told ESPN about what he’s anticipating. “It’s GameDay weekend, so it’ll be a lot of fun.”

Five-star teammates schedule official visits to Florida

Linebacker Jaquavious Russaw (No. 7 overall) and defensive tackle James Smith (No. 11 overall) give Carver High School (Alabama) a terrifying duo for opposing offenses to account for.

Russaw told ESPN in August that he and Smith intend to go to the same school together, which will only build on their chemistry. Russaw’s father, Todd Dowell, confirmed to ESPN that Russaw and Smith will be visiting Florida this weekend as the Gators welcome LSU to Gainesville.

Russaw is the top-ranked linebacker and Smith is the second-best defensive tackle prospect, according to ESPN’s rankings.

They plan on committing during the early signing period in December.

Top juniors attending LSU-Florida

KingJoseph Edwards (No. 16 overall, No. 3 DE) is one of several key 2024 prospects who will be attending Florida’s game with LSU on Saturday. Wide receivers Joshisa Trader (No. 3 overall, No. 1 WR), Jeremiah Smith (No. 12 overall, No. 2 WR), defensive end Elijah Rushing (No. 19 overall, No. 5 DE), quarterback D.J. Lagway (No. 21 overall, No. 1 QB-DT), safety Jaylen Heyward (No. 45 overall in 2024, No. 3 S), cornerback Jordon Johnson-Rubell (No. 59 overall in 2024) and defensive end Ernest Willor, Jr. (No. 65 overall in 2024) will also be there. Lagway previously visited for the Gators’ win over Utah on Sept. 3.

Edwards visited Alabama for the Texas A&M game last weekend and has plans to go to Michigan State-Michigan on Oct. 29 and MiamiFlorida State on Nov. 5.

“How personable the coaches are,” Edwards told ESPN about the visit last week to Tuscaloosa. “I was confiding in [Alabama DL] Coach [Freddie] Roach about dealing with my injury and mentally being frustrated. He spoke to me like I was his younger brother, told me to be strong, stay resilient and trust the process.”





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