Meet the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards All-USA TODAY Defensive Football Team


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The nominees for National Defensive Football Player of the Year highlight just how great—and competitive— the 2023 high school season was, with the 25 players listed below each creating headlines every Friday night, Saturday afternoon, or any time the team stepped onto the gridiron.

A literal Super 25, the list comprises of big-name talents who have moved on to top college programs, plus a few from future graduating classes to keep an eye on this season.

From this team of top performers across the country, the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards will choose one Player of the Year in August — a perfect pregame celebration ahead of the anticipated 2024 season.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the 2023-24 HSSA ALL-USA TODAY Defensive Football Team.

Oak Grove High School’s PJ Woodland (11) runs the ball during the 7A tournament game against Brandon High School in the 2023 high school football championships on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2023 in Brandon, Miss.

Keylan Abrams, EDGE, DeSoto High School (Texas) — JR

Tyler Atkinson, LB, Grayson High School (Georgia) — SO

Armondo Blount, DL, Miami Central High School (Florida) — SR

KJ Bolden, S, Buford High School (Georgia) — SR

Sammy Brown, LB, Jefferson High School (Georgia) — SR

Zabien Brown, DB, Mater Dei High School (California) — SR

Kedrick Burley, EDGE, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Florida) — SR

Anquon Fegans, S, Thompson High School (Alabama) — JR

Elijah Griffin, DL, Savannah Christian Preparatory School (Georgia) — JR

LJ McCray, DL, Mainland High School (Florida) — SR

TayQuon McKinney, EDGE, Louisville High School (Mississippi) — JR

Koi Perich, S, Esko High School (Minnesota) — SR

Brayden Platt, LB, Yelm High School (Washington) — SR

Dorian Pringle, LB, Washington High School (Ohio) — SR

Ronnie Royal III, DB, Gulf Shores High School (Alabama) — SR

Devin Sanchez, DB, North Shore High School (Texas) — JR

Justin Scott, DL, St. Ignatius College Prep (Illinois) — SR

Aaron Scott Jr., DB, Springfield High School (Ohio) — SR

Colin Simmons, EDGE, Duncanville High School (Texas) — SR

Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, LB, St. John Bosco High School (California) — SR

Deshawn Warner, EDGE, Desert Edge High School (Arizona) — SR

Ari Watford, EDGE, Maury High School (Virginia) — JR

Justin Williams, LB, Oak Ridge High School (Texas) — SR

Marcelles Williams, DB, St. John Bosco High School (California) — SR

PJ Woodland, DB, Oak Grove High School (Mississippi) — SR

From the HSSA

Nominees for both the regional and national programs are posted as they are selected. Regional nominees represent the best in their respective areas, while national nominees are  recognized as the top high school athletes nationwide.

Sign up for email updates for your region or nationally to keep up with nominee selections, the awards programs and special announcements.

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