Fact or Fiction: DL is the strongest position group in 2023 class
Rivals national recruiting analysts Ryan Wright, Clint Cosgrove and Sean Williams, along with UGASports.com recruiting writer Jed May, address statements surrounding current topics to determine whether they think they are fact or fiction..
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1. Defensive line is the strongest position group in the 2023 class.
Wright’s take. FICTION. The 2023 class is loaded on defense, and the big nasties up front are amazing, but the guys in the secondary are a much deeper group. Just looking at the current top 40 Rivals corners. All of them have a chance to be day one starters at their respective schools. The back end of the group – Robert Stafford, Ja’Keem Jackson and Braeden Marshall – are special talents. The top corners, Cormani McClain, Desmond Ricks, Javien Toviano and AJ Harris, ave all the tools to be high NFL Draft picks.
Add the safeties into the conversation, and the debate is over. Caleb Downs and Tony Mitchell, who will be paired at Alabama, will give opposing SEC receivers nightmares. Peyton Bowen, Derek Williams, Sylvester Smith and Joenel Aguero are difference makers. The D-linemen in this group are great, but so are the D-backs and they are a much deeper group.
Cosgrove’s take: FACT. There are a number of exceptionally strong positions like quarterback, defensive back and offensive line in the 2023 class but none is as strong as the defensive line when looking at the group from top to bottom. There are currently five, five-star players on the defensive front in David Hicks Jr., Keon Keeley, Samuel M’Pemba, Damon Wilson and Matayo Uiagalelei and each is a special talent with high NFL upside.
The talent at the position doesn’t stop there, and after strong performances by a number of additional defensive linemen at the recent all-star events chances are that we aren’t finished with five-star players at the position. Current four-stars Jordan Hall, Peter Woods, Adepoju Adebawore and Yhonzae Pierre are just a few of the players who proved worthy of an extra star after recent evaluations, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two of them crack the list. Whether it be the large group of four- and five-star players at the position or three-stars with tremendous upside, I see the defensive linemen taking the cake as the strongest position in the 2023 class.
2. Georgia signed the best linebacker group in the 2023 class.
Wright’s take: FICTION. Right behind Georgia in the 2023 Rivals’ team rankings was Texas. Like the Bulldogs, the Longhorns had an outstanding class all the way around, but a big piece of the haul was the five linebackers signed. Texas signed four four-stars and one five-star, Anthony Hill.
Texas got the top-rated inside backer in the country in Hill, and he will be paired with S’Maje Burrell. The outside backers are also nasty, with the sixth- and seventh-rated prospects in Tausili Akana and Derion Gullette. Not to be overlooked, Liona Lefau out of Hawaii is a four-star ready to make some noise in Austin.
May’s take: FACT: The inside linebackers are the heart and soul of Georgia’s defense. The Bulldogs attacked that group and added a trio of Rivals250 players at the position in the 2023 class. In fact, Troy Bowles, Raylen Wilson and CJ Allen all currently rank within the top 200 players in the country. No other school signed more than one inside linebacker in the Rivals250. It’s an easy argument to say Georgia signed the best group at that position in the 2023 cycle.
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3. Auburn has had the most success in the Southeast so far when combining the transfer portal and the 2023 recruiting class into account.
Wright’s take: FICTION. All credit is due to what Auburn accomplished with the 2023 class and in the portal, but Florida State is quietly putting something special. The Seminoles’ 2023 class, ranked No. 28 after the Early Signing Period, addresses needs at receiver with five-star Hykeem Williams, four-stars Vandrevius Jacobs and Edwin Joseph and three-star Darren Lawrence. FSU has also added tight ends Jaheim Bell out of the portal (South Carolina), Kyle Morlock (Shorter) and running back Caziah Holmes (Penn State).
On the defensive side of the ball, FSU has 2023 four-star linemen Lamont Green and Keith Sampson on the way to be mixed in with portal additions Gilber Edmond (South Carolina), Braden Fiske (Western Michigan) and Darrell Jackson (Miami). Another player who could impact the roster early is Virginia DB transfer Fentrell Cypress.
Williams’ take: FACT. New Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze has been doing work since being hired in late November. In the 2023 class, he flipped Rivals250 talents Sylvester Smith, Keldric Faulk and Kayin Lee to round out an impressive December signing period that has the Tigers sitting at 16th overall in team rankings. Auburn has also addressed big needs via the transfer portal, most notably along the offensive and defensive lines. So far, they’ve landed Dillon Wade (Tulsa), Gunner Britton (Western Kentucky) and Avery Jones (East Carolina). Expect all three of those players to compete for starting spots along the offensive line. Same can be said along the defensive line, with the additions of Mosiah Nasil-Kite (Maryland), Lawrence Johnson (Purdue) and Justin Rogers (Kentucky). The Tigers are loading up, adding depth and attempting to Freeze-out the SEC competition.