In the ever-changing world of college football, it’s become tougher and tougher to lock in elite football talent. Still, the nation’s top programs continue to produce and in the 2024 cycle, Georgia had several assistant coaches help reel in the nation’s top-ranked class. Despite some staff turnover under Kirby Smart, the top class was retained and it starts with a special group up front on defense led by Tray Scott.
Georgia ran away with the recruiting national championship for the 2024 cycle, the first recruiting crown for the Bulldogs since their three-peat from 2018-20, and the way they got it done was on defense. The program signed four five-star recruits, all on that side of the football, and the defensive line group in particular boasts quality and quantity, which is why Scott was tabbed Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.
Joseph Jonah-Ajonye, a Texas native, was evaluated and prioritized early by Scott and company, which allowed for Georgia to secure an early verbal commitment. At the time, Scott was ranked just inside the Rivals250. But a dominant senior campaign and a monster run at the Under Armour All-America Game led to Jonah-Ajonye receiving his fifth star in January. Scott’s early evaluation there paid off, and it wouldn’t be the only time he flexed beyond the state of Georgia for a defensive lineman.
In the Bulldogs’ six-man haul up front, Nnamdi Ogbuko could be the sleeper of the group. The massive interior talent from North Carolina drew comparisons to fellow Tar Heel State native and Georgia great Jordan Davis even before he committed to Georgia. The program’s strong recent history at the position, thanks in large part to Scott’s development, helped to win the battle for one of the biggest defensive line recruits nationally.
Closer to home, Scott led the Bulldogs to multiple wins up front in 2024, none bigger than the flip of Nasir Johnson from rival Florida. The Dublin (Ga.) High School standout, who can push the pocket from the inside or flexed out at times, was committed to the Gators from the summer into close to the holiday season before Scott and company pulled off the flip of the nation’s No. 7 defensive tackle talent in mid-November. The longtime coach also helped the program reel in another Rivals250 prospect up front in Justin Greene, among others.
SEC Honorable Mention: Fran Brown, Georgia secondary (now head coach at Syracuse); Marcus Davis, Auburn wide receivers; Travaris Robinson, Alabama secondary (now at Georgia); Frank Wilson, LSU associate head coach; Freddie Roach, Alabama defensive line; Jeremy Garrett, Auburn defensive line (now in the NFL); Vince Marrow, Kentucky associate head coach; Pete Golding, Ole Miss defensive coordinator; Glenn Schumann, Georgia linebackers; Mike Peterson, Florida outside linebackers
– John Garcia Jr., Rivals Southeast Analyst
BIG TEN: Sherrone Moore, Michigan
Before Moore was elevated to Michigan’s head coach he was the team’s offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Michigan won the Joe Moore Award in 2021 and 2022 for the best offensive line in the country. It’s rare to win that in back-to-back seasons so Moore parlayed that into success on the recruiting trail.
Texas native Blake Frazier is the headliner of Moore’s 2024 haul. The Wolverines signed four four-star offensive linemen, with two of them hailing from Ohio, which has to sting rival Ohio State. The fifth lineman in the class is a three-star who projects as a center. The Wolverines’ identity is winning in the trenches and the class Moore helped land will continue that tradition.
Honorable mentions: Brian Harline (Ohio State), Phil Trautwein (Penn State), Larry Johnson (Ohio State), Evan Cooper (Nebraska), Devon Spalding (Wisconsin), Henry Baker (Maryland), Kelvin Bell (Iowa)
– Greg Smith, RIvals Midwest Analyst
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ACC: Jason Taylor, Miami
Winning ACC Recruiter of the Year may not rank high on the list of awards Taylor has earned throughout his career in football but the Hall of Fame defensive end is certainly worthy of this accolade. The former Miami Dolphin is turning the Hurricanes’ defensive line into a force to be reckoned with.
Taylor is responsible for the signings of five-stars Justin Scott, Armondo Blount and Marquise Lightfoot along with Rivals250 defensive end Booker Pickett and four-star defensive end Elias Rudolph. Signing three five-stars in a single class is an incredible accomplishment for Taylor, whose reputation and experience with the recruiting process (his two sons Isaiah and Mason both play college football) have been extremely valuable.
Honorable mentions: Kevin Beard (Miami), Randy Shannon (Florida State), Joker Phillips (NC State), Charlton Warren (North Carolina), Lonnie Galloway (North Carolina), Wes Goodwin (Clemson), Joe Salave’a (Miami), Tyler Grisham (Clemson), Jahmile Addae (Miami), Fontel Mines (Virginia Tech)
– Adam Friedman, Rivals East Coast Analyst
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BIG 12: Tashard Choice, Texas
Texas had the best recruiting class in the Big 12 and the third-best nationally behind only Georgia and Alabama, and Choice did a phenomenal job landing two elite running backs to add to an already-loaded running back room.
A lot of Choice’s work was done by late June when four-stars Christian Clark and Jerrick Gibson committed to the Longhorns. Clark never even gave a hint that he was looking at others and while Gibson was being heavily pursued by others especially in the state of Florida, the Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy standout stuck with the Longhorns as the Texas RB room should be incredibly stacked for years to come.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Banks (Texas). Todd Bates (Oklahoma), Jay Valai (Oklahoma), Justin Johnson (Texas Tech), Addison Williams (UCF)
– Adam Gorney, Rivals Recruiting Director
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PAC-12: Junior Adams, Oregon
Oregon had a respectable wide receiver class in the weeks leading up to the Early Signing Period even before this week but over that time period, the Ducks added two superstars to arguably put together the best receiver class nationally.
High four-star Jeremiah McClellan flipped to Oregon from Ohio State and then the Ducks closed things out when fellow four-star Gatlin Bair picked the Ducks over Michigan, which had been considered his previous front-runner after decommitting from Boise State. Four-stars Ryan Pellum and Dillon Gresham are stars in the making as well and then Jack Ressler played at arguably the best program in the country at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.
Honorable mention: Tosh Lupoi (Oregon), D’Anton Lynn (USC), Ross Kolodziej (Stanford), JaMarcus Shephard (Washington), Morgan Scalley (Utah)
– Adam Gorney, Rivals Recruiting Director
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