Scouting college football's 2024 recruiting class by position

Dylan Raiola and Julian Sayin ESPN

Evaluating college football recruits is about playing the long game. The process can start when a prospect is just 14 or 15-years-old, but the development and forthcoming evaluation periods as a prospect grows is what it's all about. Ranking prospects, too, is a fluid, very subjective process, and oftentimes there is very little difference between the fifth-ranked player in a class and the 17th-ranked player in a class.

We rank the top 300 prospects in each recruiting cycle, but in evaluating 2,800 prospects in a class, the further down the list you go, the more similar prospects become and the more difficult it is to separate and rank them.

Here, we break down the 2024 recruiting class position by position. We examine the top two players at each position and reveal traits that separate No. 1 from No. 2, break down a three-star prospect who could be a sleeper at the college level, and share information on the top uncommitted prospects and where they might go.

Jump to a position:
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL
DE | DT | LB | CB | S


No. 1 Julian Sayin vs No. 2 Dylan Raiola

Scouting Sayin (ESPN 300 No. 3; Alabama commit): Sayin is a gamer. He has a Baker Mayfield feel to his game. Mistakes don't seem to bother Sayin, who plays with confidence, seemingly without a care in the world. One of his best attributes is his ability to get the ball out of his hand quickly. As a result, it is very difficult to rush him.

Scouting Raiola (ESPN 300 No. 8; Nebraska commit): Raiola is the prototypical classic passer. He's pure in his methods with a smooth and fluid release. He has consistent technique and fundamentals, possesses ideal measurables and has always been advanced physically as a passer, even against upperclassmen.

Why we rank Sayin higher: Improvisation. Sayin can create and easily extend plays with his feet and make off-platform and off-balance throws. He's a slightly better athlete who can be used as a designated runner if needed. Sayin is a little more scheme-versatile as well. We noticed in the Georgia playoffs this season that Raiola -- who recently flipped to Nebraska -- has some mobility challenges.

Three-star sleeper: Dermaricus Davis (Washington commit)

Davis is a tall, toolsy late bloomer and his best football days are ahead of him. He's a smooth passer who displays quality arm strength, an ability to change ball speeds and layer the ball. He possesses sneaky mobility and accuracy on the move. We really like his upside.

Top uncommitted QB: Trever Jackson (four-stars)

Jackson is a dynamic player with a strong arm and smooth release. He has good feet and balance in the pocket to be a consistent passer. Jackson can make all the throws. Jackson's recruitment has heated up as a junior and senior.

Running back

No. 1 Jerrick Gibson vs No. 2 Taylor Tatum

Scouting Gibson (ESPN 300 No. 34; Texas commit): This is one of the most exciting backs in the country. He checks so many boxes teams like to have in a running back. He is so explosive and powerful. Gibson makes people miss and bounces off attempted tackles. He reminds us of a faster version of Texas RB Jonathon Brooks.

Scouting Tatum (ESPN 300 No. 41; Oklahoma commit): Tatum is a true power back. He's a bit of an upright runner who is at his best when attacking the hole downhill. He really presses the hole well and does a nice job seeking daylight and sneaking through tiny creases. Tatum has the upside to be a good short yardage back too.

Why we rank Gibson higher: More dynamic. Gibson has a little more make-you-miss and the ability to create more second-level big plays.

Three-star sleeper: John Price (Kansas State commit)

Always trust K-State when it comes to evaluation. Price, a space player given his build, is an elusive runner with balance to make multiple cuts and displays the acceleration to separate. He's more suited to perform on the perimeter with awareness to avoid defenders in the open field and shows the ball skills required to be an effective receiver.

Top uncommitted RB: J'Marion Burnette (ESPN 300 No. 250)

Burnette is a big, tall, downhill power back that reminds us a bit of Ollie Gordon II at Oklahoma State. He is a physical, straight-lined runner that runs with good forward lean and shows good contact balance. He might not wow you with make-you-miss suddenness, but he's effective and tough to bring down.

Wide receiver

No. 1 Cam Coleman vs No. 2 Jeremiah Smith

Scouting Coleman (ESPN 300 No. 6; Auburn commit): Coleman has some A.J. Green attributes. He's big and agile, but also very flexible considering his 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame. Coleman is one of the best players we have seen when contested and covered. He can elevate and extend above his head and shows good body control and coordination.

Scouting Smith (ESPN 300 No. 7; Ohio State commit): At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Smith has excellent size just like Coleman. He has really good feet and agility given his stature. Smith also has very good straight-line speed and can shift gears to run by people. He pulls away in the open field. Smith also has upside as a jump ball target.

Why we rank Coleman higher: This one is so close, but we feel Coleman is slightly more flexible and agile overall. Coleman makes a ton of eye-popping plays on balls that shouldn't be caught. Smith, however, might actually have slightly better speed.

Three-star sleeper: Izaiah Williams (Florida commit)

Williams is a wiry, flexible prospect with adequate height. He's a late-bloomer physically, but can shake down defenders in space and is a good route runner who can create separation. He doesn't have elite speed, but he's certainly quick.

Top uncommitted WR: Gatlin Bair (ESPN 300 No. 77)

He is so intriguing to watch because he does not look near as fast on tape as his verified track times. He also looked much improved this season as a route runner and open field speed player. In each of the last two track seasons he has posted a 10.46 and 10.15 100m times as well as running a blazing 20.47 200m.

Tight end

No. 1 Landen Thomas vs No. 2 Jaden Reddell

Scouting Thomas (ESPN 300 No. 49; Florida State commit): Thomas is a quiet presence away from football, but his game speaks loudly. He's a productive receiver with a wide catch radius and is nimble after the catch. Thomas put forth an MVP-type effort during an in-person evaluation this fall, catching four passes for 72 yards and a TD. He's a willing blocker, although there's room to develop.

Scouting Reddell (ESPN 300 No. 53; Georgia commit): Replacing standout TE Brock Bowers won't be easy, but Reddell has the tools to make big plays. He is a rangy target at 6-foot-5 and has the speed to stretch the field - his max speed is nearly 21 mph. Reddell is agile enough to create separation as a route runner and pick up yards after the catch. The big-bodied receiver needs further blocking development.

Why we rank Thomas higher: This is tight, but Thomas is a bit more well-rounded and more battle-tested considering the high school schedule he played in South Georgia with Colquitt. That said, few in this class possess Reddell's size and speed combination to go along with his big play potential.

Three-star sleeper: Guiseann Mirtil (Tulane commit)

Willie Fritz may be moving on to Houston, but he leaves behind a promising prospect for Tulane's new staff. Mirtil impressed during the offseason camp circuit by posting strong testing numbers. He lacks ideal size at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, but he's a promising two-way player on film who also stands out at edge. He projects to TE in college with good speed, hands and body control.

Top uncommitted TE: Karsen Konkel (three-stars)

Konkel is a great example of remaining talent at the tight end position if you dig deep enough to find it. Konkel was an in-state Illinois commit who recently reopened his commitment. He has a big frame at 6-foot-6, good hands and versatility, also playing OLB and RB in his high school's Wing-T attack. He reportedly has multiple offers and Pitt was in the mix prior to his commitment to the Fighting Illini. At this stage, his recruitment could even widen with another signing period in February still to come.

Offensive line

No. 1 Jordan Seaton vs No. 2 Kam Pringle

Scouting Seaton (ESPN 300 No. 20; Colorado commit): The IMG Academy product reworked his body and surged up our rankings. Seaton is the only five-star in the 2024 OL class. He looks and plays like a different prospect since shedding at least 30 pounds. He has excellent body quickness, mobility and strength despite being leaner. He's tough to shake once he has locked on.

Scouting Pringle (No. 39; South Carolina commit): Pringle is massive at 6-foot-7, 300 pounds but is more than just a big body. Pringle shows good balance and agility. He's not just a 'phone booth' road-grader - he's effective on the move when pulling and climbing to the second level. He needs to get healthy this offseason and improve his flexibility and pad level, but Pringle has the tools to develop into an elite offensive lineman for the Gamecocks.

Why we rank Seaton higher: This isn't a deep offensive line class, but Seaton would rank in a similar range even in the best years. His Colorado commitment created buzz and addressed a key need. He will likely play right away, like five-stars Francis Mauigoa (Miami) and Kadyn Proctor (Alabama). There might be growing pains, but he brings elite physical tools and is a big step in the right direction up front for Colorado.

Three-star sleeper: Jake Guarnera (Michigan commit)

The Wolverines addressed center via the portal in 2023, but Guarnera could be the future. He is a regular competitor on the spring camp circuit and always performed well and posted good numbers. He effortlessly transitioned to center this season and shows the ability to snap and reach defensive linemen, as well as work up to second-level defenders. Michigan has done very well recruiting and developing OLs. Guarnera could be next.

Top uncommitted OL: Rustin Young (ESPN 300 No. 278)

One of the top OLs in the class is available after Jonathan Smith moved from Oregon State to Michigan State. Unsurprisingly, the Spartans are in the mix and in line to get an official visit, but they'll need to battle Arizona State. The Sun Devils have emerged as a contender and received a visit as well.

Defensive end

No. 1 Williams Nwaneri vs No. Colin Simmons

Scouting Nwaneri (ESPN 300 No. 5; Missouri commit): This was a buzzworthy in-state pickup. Nwaneri has a big frame and massive 11-inch hands. He is big, explosive and powerful, moving frighteningly well considering his 6-foot-7, 260-pound size. He can put his hand down and play inside or rush off the edge with good bend. He's a factor in pursuit regardless of where he lines up because of his effort and mobility. Nwaneri can be an impact presence.

Scouting Simmons (ESPN 300 No. 11; Texas commit): Simmons might be the most natural edge rusher in the class and notched a school record 22.5 sacks last year. He possesses elite first-step quickness and excellent bend to shave the edge. He also flashes some power. Listed as a DE, he is a versatile player that could also line up at outside lineback and has experience playing both with his hand down and off the ball.

Why we rank Williams higher: These are two very different prospects who are elite in their own way. Edge rushers like Simmons are always at a premium, but Nwaneri gets the edge because you can't teach his blend of size and mobility.

Three-star sleeper: Zion Taylor (Houston commit)

At 6-foot, 240 pounds, Taylor has a 'tweener build without a ton of physical upside projection remaining on his frame. Look past the measurables, though, and he's a good football player. Taylor was a willing competitor as a camp circuit regular. He stood out as a top performer and has a coachable mindset. He plays with a good motor, leverage and has some power.

Top uncommitted DE: Ernest Willor (ESPN 300 No. 68)

Willor has good length and a sturdy build. He can exploit matchups as an interior pass rusher. There are very few defenders with his level of physical tools and versatility still uncommitted. He's expected to commit during the early signing period and said several teams are in the mix, but in-state Maryland appears to be a leader and should receive a visit. The four-star recently took an official visit to Wisconsin as well.

Defensive tackle

No. 1 David Stone vs No. 2 Joseph Jonah-Ajonye

Scouting Stone (ESPN 300 No. 4; Oklahoma commit): Stone is a disruptive force. There's room to further develop his 6-foot-4, 280-pound frame and he blends his size with excellent movement skills. He is explosive off the ball, gets quick penetration and has good power. Stone can continue to refine pad level and hand usage but has shown improvement in technique as he blends the little things with outstanding physical tools.

Scouting Jonah-Ajonye (ESPN 300 No. 23; Georgia commit): A physically impressive prospect, Jonah-Ajonye is muscular with room to add more to his frame. He jumped on our radar at the UC Elite Houston camp this spring. He went through drills with the natural ability to redirect and bend. The Nigeria native has a soccer background and is still growing as a football player. He has quickly made strides and takes to coaching well. The scary part? He looks like he will keep improving and become even more menacing as a defender.

Why we rank Stone higher: Jonah-Ajonye is a fast riser, but Stone has been on the recruiting radar for years and has only improved since impressing at an early stage. He consistently faces the top competition in practices and games at IMG Academy. If Stone stays focused on the little things, he has the tools to quickly become a factor for Oklahoma.

Three-Star Sleeper DT: Emmett Laws (Virginia Tech commit)

The 6-foot, 270-pound Laws lacks ideal size. But it becomes easier to look past the size deficiency the more you watch him. He has good initial quickness, wins leverage battles by using his compact frame and has active hands. He was impactful during an in-person evaluation this fall, notching five tackles (three for loss) and two sacks.

Top cncommitted DT: Jericho Johnson (ESPN 300 No. 189)

Johnson is a stout, physical presence. He's thickly built, powerful and can eat up double teams to help those around him. Jackson is drawing plenty of interest out west and is expected to commit during the early signing period. USC would love to keep him in-state, but Washington, Utah and Oregon look to have an edge in this race.


No. 1 Sammy Brown vs No. 2 Justin Williams

Scouting Brown (ESPN No. 12; Clemson commit): Brown seems to excel at everything as a multi-sport star. He's a track standout at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and it translates to football, where he reached a max speed of 21 mph on film. He's a two-time state champion wrestler and a five-star, two-way producer on the gridiron. Brown rushed for more than 2,000 yards and made over 150 tackles on defense.

Scouting Williams (ESPN No. 14; Georgia commit): Ball carriers try to run away from Williams, but they can't hide. He's a competitive player and elite runner, measuring at nearly 22 mph in game play. He clocked one of the best 40 times (4.44) of any player, regardless of position, at the Houston UC Elite camp this past offseason. Williams is a fluid, lengthy player that needs to continue to fill out, but can make plays as a pass rusher, in coverage and be a sideline-to-sideline presence.

Why we rank Brown higher: Picking one seems cruel considering only two spots separate these players. Brown gets the slight edge because he's more filled out and ready physically. Both are versatile. Brown fits more as an inside linebacker and Williams is more of an edge player, so from that perspective, they both rank at the top of their respective positions.

Three-star sleeper: Montreze Smith (Duke commit)

Smith's lack of size and ideal measurables at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds likely led to muted interest. But former Duke coach Mike Elko, who has a defensive background, simply viewed Smith as a good football player, regardless of interest from other Power 5 programs. Smith turned in an MVP-level performance at a loaded Under Armour Atlanta camp and is an explosive player whose high school coaches say is among the fastest players on the team.

Top uncommitted: Bradley Shaw (ESPN 300 No. 188)

The Alabama native is one of the few remaining uncommitted four-star linebackers and it doesn't look like he'll leave the southeast. A track-and-field standout -- he has a 55-foot shot put -- Shaw has good power, moves well and has the instincts and knack for getting around the football. He took an official visit to Notre Dame, but in-state Alabama and Auburn are in the mix. Clemson is a factor as well and could be the team to the beat.


No. 1 Ellis Robinson IV vs No. 2 Jaylen Mbakwe

Scouting Robinson (ESPN 300 No. 1; Georgia commit): A complete defensive back, Robinson is every bit as effective in run support as in coverage. He posted a staggering 22-mph max speed. The top-ranked overall player on our board is about as well-rounded of a college ready player you will ever find.

Scouting Mbakwe (ESPN 300 No. 2; Alabama commit): Mbakwe is a physically gifted recruit. He could play every skill position on the field and even played QB in high school. Mbakwe also posted impressive track times in the 100-meter (10.46) and 200-meter (21.57).

Why we rank Robinson higher: Robinson and Mbakwe are the two top players in the class regardless of position. Robinson has spent more time developing at cornerback, which puts him slightly ahead of the curve compared to Mbakwe.

Three-star sleeper: Ashton Hampton (Texas Tech commit)

Hampton splits his time between safety and corner and ran a 22.1-second 200-meter dash this past swing. He's also very productive in run support and has upside to be a really good return man at the next level.

Top uncommitted CB: Trajen Greco (ESPN 300 No. 219)

Greco, a big riser this season, projects to cornerback and uses his 6-foot-1 frame well, showing good length, agility, and aggressive play style on run support. Scheme versatile on defense and has the ball skills to garner a look on offense and special teams at the next level. His head coach at Mill Creek High School noted that Greco is their most talented player, deploying him at times in the Wildcat and at receiver where he can utilize his outstanding ball skills. Not surprising, he is also an outstanding basketball player. A one time Georgia tech commit, Greco recently received a USC offer but Missouri looks like the front runner.


No. 1 K.J. Bolden vs No. 2 Xavier Filsaime

Scouting Bolden (ESPN 300 No. 16; Florida State commit): Bolden is one of the most versatile players in this class. He makes plays in all three phases of the game and has the upside to be a difference maker as a return man. Bolden could project at safety, cornerback and nickel. He reminds us of Terrion Arnold at Alabama.

Scouting Filsaime (ESPN 300 No. 42; Florida commit): Filsaime is a legitimate offensive player in terms of skill with the ball in his hands but projects on defense due to his range, ball skills and toughness. He's a coverage safety that can run and posted a 10.5 100-meter in track.

Why we rank Bolden higher: Bolden is slightly more versatile. They're very similar in many ways, but we love Bolden's ability as a return man.

Three-star sleeper: Davis Andrews (Utah commit)

There's no doubt the Utes know what they're doing on defense. Andrews is a tough, rugged and physical player in run defense. He also has the aggressive mentality to be a core special teams player.

Top uncommitted S: Zay Mincey (ESPN 300 No. 84)

Mincey is a late bloomer physically with great length and range that is still growing into his body. He has played cornerback, but we feel he needs to move inside to safety and develop his game in the middle of the field. Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Miami are among those interested.


No. 1 Terry Bussey vs No. 2 Dwight Phillips

Scouting Bussey (ESPN 300 No. 27; Texas A&M commit): Bussey is a dynamic player who can change the game. What he lacks in ideal height at 5-foot-11, he makes up for with pure talent. He's a safety or nickel type on defense and a scatback or slot type on offense with game-changing ability as a return man.

Scouting Phillips (ESPN 300 No. 66; Georgia commit): Phillips is an absolute jet. He has posted a verified 10.24 100-meter and is one of the fastest players in the entire 2024 class. He'll likely project on offense and as a return man. Like Bussey, he is slightly undersized for CB.

Why we rank Bussey higher: Based on speed alone, Phillips might have more upside. But Bussey has played more positions and is a little bit more ahead of the curve early on.

Three-star sleeper: Malcolm Simmons (Auburn commit)

Simmons is a long, rail-thin prospect who has the upside to develop size and strength over time. He is smooth and can consistently get over the top vertically.

Top uncommitted athlete: Daniel Hill (ESPN 300 No. 134)

Hill has battled multiple leg injuries which have hindered his development. He has really good size and could become an H-back with wide receiver skills. He is really talented and has a high ceiling if he can stay healthy.