First look at college football’s 2024 recruiting cycle: Players, schools and storylines to watch

NCAA Football

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College football’s 2023 recruiting cycle is all but completed after national signing day on Wednesday. Coaches have already moved on to the next cycle and the new prospects to fill their 2024 recruiting classes.

The entire landscape of the next cycle is already starting to take shape with 78 ESPN Junior 300 recruits already committed, including five of the 12 five-star recruits in the class.

We look at the bigger storylines in the 2024 class, starting with the No. 1 prospect overall, quarterback Dylan Raiola.

Jump to:
No. 1 recruit | Top QBs
Position-by-position look
Georgia loading up | ND not a fluke
Three schools that need a big class

What will No. 1 QB Dylan Raiola do?

For the second straight cycle and third time since the 2018 class, a quarterback is the top recruit. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Raiola, who is from Chandler, Arizona, is the son of 14-year NFL veteran offensive lineman Dominic Raiola and the nephew of Nebraska offensive line coach Donovan Raiola.

Dylan had been committed to Ohio State but decommitted from the Buckeyes in December, changing the entire landscape of the 2024 class.

Raiola had visited Nebraska when Scott Frost and the previous staff were in charge, but he has since heard from new coach Matt Rhule, who is putting in extra work to try to land Raiola through communication and trying to get Raiola to campus.

That said, Rhule has a ton of competition, including USC and Georgia, among others. Raiola recently visited USC to meet with coach Lincoln Riley, who has now coached three Heisman-winning quarterbacks, an incredible selling point to any quarterback. Georgia has won back-to-back national titles and helped turn former walk-on Stetson Bennett into a two-time national champion and potential NFL prospect.

Dominic told ESPN recently that Dylan doesn’t plan to decide quickly and wants to take his time with his next commitment. With over 10 months until the next early signing period, there is no rush for Raiola, as he has most of the leverage in the situation given his talent and how coveted he is. He has thrown for 5,776 yards, 54 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over the past two seasons and has completed over 64% of his passes in that span.

Quarterback landscape

Raiola’s decommitment changed the dynamic for a few schools, but not every program was vying for him. Many schools have had to look elsewhere to fill their needs.

The transfer portal has taken some opportunities away from high school prospects, but quarterback recruits from the high school level maintain depth and ensure rosters are always stocked with a competent signal-caller.

The 2024 class has 22 ESPN Junior 300 quarterbacks, which is up from 20 in the 2023 class. Of the 22 prospects, three are ranked as five-stars: Raiola, Michael Van Buren (No. 10 overall), D.J. Lagway (No. 12).

Van Buren is a 6-foot, 190-pound recruit from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. He has visited Oregon and Penn State recently but still has major offers coming in and hasn’t made it clear yet when he plans to decide.

Eight Junior 300 quarterbacks are committed: Lagway (Florida), Julian Sayin (No. 24, Alabama), C.J. Carr (No. 29, Notre Dame), Colin Hurley (No. 64, LSU), Ryan Puglisi (No. 131, Georgia), Demond Williams Jr. (No. 136, Ole Miss), Dante Reno (No. 158, South Carolina) and Mabrey Mettauer (No. 206, Wisconsin).

After Raiola and Van Buren, next in line is dual-threat quarterback Jadyn Davis out of Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s ranked No. 35 overall and has had Michigan, Clemson, Penn State, North Carolina, Florida State and Tennessee among the schools recruiting him.

Jayden Bradford is right behind Davis at No. 37 overall out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Bradford hasn’t released a top list yet, but Penn State and South Carolina are the two schools mentioned the most with his recruitment at this point.

Position breakdowns

Schools looking for wide receivers are in luck with this class, as there are 39 Junior 300 receivers, the most of any position group. Joshisa Trader is the top wide receiver in the class, a 6-2, 180-pound prospect from Hollywood, Florida.

He visited Miami in November and has Ohio State, Florida State and Florida after him, among other teams. Including Trader, there are 27 uncommitted Junior 300 wide receivers available with plenty of time to fill a class with elite prospects.

There is also a good opportunity for schools to find a corner in this class with 36 ranked inside the top 300. The top two corners in the class are both committed with Jaylen Mbakwe (No. 4 overall) committed to Alabama and Ellis Robinson IV (No. 5) committed to Georgia.

Bryce West, a 6-foot, 185-pound cornerback out of Glenville High School in Cleveland, is the highest-ranked uncommitted cornerback. Ranked No. 23 overall, West has recently said he’s open to all schools at this point and has received an offer from Texas A&M. Being from Ohio, the Buckeyes are also in the mix.

Also in the secondary are 21 Junior 300 safeties with five-star Mike Matthews (No. 8 overall) the highest ranked of 14 who have yet to decide. Being from Georgia, Matthews has been linked to the Bulldogs but is also being pursued by Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee, Florida State and LSU.

There are a few other position groups with the top option still uncommitted, including running back Jerrick Gibson, offensive guard Deandre Carter, defensive tackle David Stone, defensive end Colin Simmons, inside linebacker Sammy Brown and athlete K.J. Bolden.

Georgia isn’t slowing down

The fact that it is only February for the 2024 class means that no school should panic, but it doesn’t help matters for other coaches when they look at what Georgia is continuing to do on the recruiting trail.

The Dawgs finished at No. 1 overall in the 2018 cycle, second in 2019, second in 2020, third in 2021, third in 2022 and second in 2023. Now, Georgia is off to the best start of any other program with nine ESPN Jr. 300 commitments, the most of any program; each recruit is ranked in the top eight of their respective positions.

Notre Dame is the closest program with seven, followed by LSU with six and Alabama with five. The Dawgs have five commitments ranked inside the top 50 overall, led by Ellis Robinson IV (No. 5). He is followed by wide receiver Ny Carr (No. 26) out of Moultrie, Georgia, and linebacker Demarcus Riddick (No. 38) from Clanton, Alabama.

On top of the players they already have committed, Georgia is still after Raiola, defensive end King Joseph Edwards (No. 19) and running back Jerrick Gibson (No. 2) among plenty of others in the top 100. This class is already off to an excellent start and should keep Georgia in the hunt for its eighth consecutive class ranked in the top three of the class rankings.

Notre Dame’s success isn’t an anomaly

The Fighting Irish didn’t finish the 2023 class the way they had hoped, losing commitments from five-star safety Peyton Bowen (who flipped to Oklahoma) and running backs Dylan Edwards and Jayden Limar in December.

Marcus Freeman and his staff still finished with the No. 7 class overall and a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail. Recruits and their families have described Freeman as a great recruiter, a young, energetic coach who relates well to prospects, so it’s no surprise that Freeman has done well on the recruiting trail, and that has already translated over into the 2024 class.

The Irish start the debut 2024 class rankings at No. 2 thanks to seven top-300 commits, two of which are in the top 75. Notre Dame was able to get Saline, Michigan, quarterback C.J. Carr, the grandson of former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, to commit, along with receiver Cam Williams, a top-10 receiver in the class.

The staff is still after Matthews, defensive lineman Justin Scott and plenty of other recruits who could help keep this as one of the best 2024 classes and carry the momentum through from 2023.

Three schools that need a big class

Auburn: New Auburn coach Hugh Freeze was able to add several prospects in his 2023 class late in December to help the Tigers go from outside the top 40 to inside the top 25. As impressive as that is, the Tigers need a statement class in 2024 to continue adding to the roster.

The staff is using the transfer portal to help with immediate needs, but as of now, they have just one ESPN Jr. 300 commit in the class (CB A’Mon Lane, No. 272). Auburn isn’t in panic mode, but Freeze needs to build off the momentum he had from the end of the 2023 class and convince prospects that he can turn things around at Auburn.

Colorado: New coach Deion Sanders also made quite a few moves in the 2023 class, most notably getting five-star cornerback Cormani McClain to flip from Miami. Sanders also used the transfer portal heavily, but expectations are high for him and the level of prospect he will be able to bring in.

The Buffaloes went from outside the top 50 before the early signing period to inside the top 25. All eyes are on Sanders to see if he can turn Colorado around both on the field and on the recruiting trail.

Nebraska: Nebraska is another team with a new coach that needs a reset and a fresh start in 2024. Rhule finished the 2023 class with four ESPN 300 recruits and some momentum for the next cycle.

Coming from the Carolina Panthers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rhule and staff don’t yet have any commitments in the 2024 class. But he has quite a few needs to fill and will need to work quickly to tap into the relationships he had when he was at Baylor.

He made a smart hire with Bob Wager, who had been the head coach at Arlington Martin High School in Texas for 17 years. Wager has a ton of connections and good will built up in the state of Texas, a state that boasts 50 Junior 300 recruits.

All signs so far point to Rhule having success on the recruiting trail at Nebraska, but he’s going to have to work quickly and start reaping some rewards soon.

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