It looks like a strong year along the defensive line so the national analyst team took a closer look at the position. It’s likely there will be another defensive lineman to join Colin Simmons as a five-star so each analyst gave their take on who will be the next five-star defensive lineman.
COSGROVE’S VIEW: Justin Scott
I’m going to step outside of the box and choose a DT as the next five-star defensive lineman and my pick is Justin Scott from St. Ignatius, Ill. I say this often, but my choice comes down to his upside rather than where he is now, and that says a lot considering that Scott is already a special and dominant player.
At 6-foot-5 and at least 310 pounds, Scott is twitched up, has elite speed for the position and is a physically gifted freak of an athlete overall. The craziest thing about Scott is that he is relatively new to football and has only played one year of varsity ball.
Defensive line is a technical position and for him to be this dominant while still being relatively raw is truly a sight to see. Scott should end up having his choice of schools in the end, but Illinois and Iowa are two programs to keep an eye on early in his recruitment.
FRIEDMAN’S VIEW: Alex Cunningham
This is a tough call because the defensive ends are a pretty deep position group in this cycle. Alex Cunningham has the most upside because of how huge he is but it will be interesting to see how he’s developed from a technical perspective.
At 6-foot-6 and 268 pounds, Cunningham is a lot for an offensive lineman to handle and it will be good to watch Cunningham this offseason to see what he’s been able to improve on.
GORNEY’S VIEW: Alex Cunningham
There are a lot of special defensive linemen in the 2024 class and that makes this question very interesting but Cunningham is set apart because of his incredible length and dominance at defensive end. He does not just run by people to the edge or overpower them with brute force, the Johns Creek, Ga., standout has an outstanding mixture of both power and speed and often just pushes the offensive linemen back to collapse the pocket.
Cunningham also plays with violent hands, his length allows him to knock down passes regularly like he’s playing volleyball and at 6-foot-6 and 268 pounds, it’s surprising to see him run so well to the sideline to make a tackle. All those attributes make me think he will absolutely end up as a five-star prospect.
WRIGHT’S VIEW: Hevin Brown-Shuler
This is a tough call in the defensive trenches on the next five-star with so many great talents in the mix. After seeing Brown in Atlanta, it is hard to not seriously consider the Pace Academy prospect. Brown got after it for the Knights in 2021 mixing it up between a zero-tech and three; he also did it slightly undersized.
The offseason workouts have added close to 30 pounds of muscle to his frame. The athleticism, get off, use of hands and power help make him one of the elite players in the 2024 class.