Top 10 Under-the-Radar SEC Recruits

    With early National Signing Day around the corner, College Football Network looks at 10 under-the-radar SEC recruits.

    National Signing Day is just around the corner, and teams are scrambling to put the finishing touches on their 2024 recruiting classes. Class rankings can tell fans a lot, but a coach’s worth in recruiting is often tied to finding hidden gems—the guys that don’t have five stars next to their names but will turn into strong, early contributors.

    Those players can take a strong class to the next level and these are the top under-the-radar SEC recruits for the class of 2024.

    Under-the-Radar SEC Recruits

    Here, College Football Network takes a look at 10 SEC recruits that could outplay their recruiting rankings. For these purposes, we’ll use On3’s industry rankings as our baseline while taking a look at players that could outperform that consensus ranking.

    I’m placing emphasis on players with the potential to contribute early.

    Jaylen Brown, Edge, James Clemens (AL), Missouri Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 1039 nationally
    Best trait: First step

    Jaylen Brown is a huge edge rusher from Madison, Alabama with elite acceleration and an excellent first step. Brown was a late bloomer who just now seems to be putting it all together. Playing against elite competition, Brown has seven sacks and 62 tackles on the year while lining up all along the defensive line, mostly as a 3-4 defensive end.

    He’s a perfect schematic fit for Blake Baker’s defense as he sets the edge well and uses a great mix of size, speed, and get-off to get after the quarterback. He has the athletic ability to contribute immediately on passing downs next season.

    Matthew Fuller, RB, Wayne County (GA), South Carolina Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 484 Nationally
    Best Trait: Patience

    Matthew Fuller isn’t the flashiest runner, which is perhaps why he’s not highly regarded by any of the major recruiting services outside of On3. When this was first written, even On3 had him outside of the top 250.

    However, in his latest rankings update, Charles Power bumped Fuller all the way to No. 140. Still, since the rest of the services still have him ranked extremely low (or unranked in Rivals’ case), I’ve included him on this list.

    He’s a one-cut runner who gets north and south quickly once he finds a hole. He’s extremely patient, and his vision shows even as his school relies heavily on gap schemes.

    Fuller isn’t a burner, and that may limit his ceiling in college. However, he shows great contact balance and flashes the ability to make people miss in the open field, even at 6’0, 215 pounds. South Carolina currently has just three scholarship running backs on the roster for next season and Fuller could crack the rotation early.

    PJ Woodland, Cornerback, Oak Grove (MS), LSU Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 558 nationally
    Best trait: Ball tracking

    Out of the four major players in the recruiting industry, only Rivals has PJ Woodland nationally ranked. Woodland is a two-way player out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but projects as a corner at the next level. Despite his slight stature (5’11”, 155 pounds) Woodland has a frame built to carry more weight and extremely long arms.

    Woodland is best with the ball in the air and acceleration that will translate to the next level. He may need a year in a college weight program, but his technique looks like it will translate to the next level.

    Jadan Baugh, RB, Columbia (GA), Arkansas Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 480 Nationally
    Best Trait: Burst

    Jadan Baugh does everything for Columbia and has taken snaps at running back, receiver, quarterback, linebacker, and safety this season. He’s not a small back, listed at 6’1″, 215 pounds, but he displays excellent burst and can get downhill in a hurry.

    He’s a long-strider with the acceleration to get to the edge and long speed to outrun opposing defenses. Despite his middling ranking, he’s been a highly-desired commodity among the Southeastern Conference, as the Razorback commit has visited South Carolina and Tennessee and has an official visit scheduled for Florida.

    He has the size to compete for early reps, though Arkansas has depth at the position.

    Nnamdi Ogboko, NT, South Garner (NC), Georgia Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 929 Nationally
    Best Trait: Athleticism

    In my experience covering recruiting in the Carolinas, I’ve learned that the Bulldogs rarely recruit the North Carolina area, but when they do, you should always pay attention. Defensive line coach Tray Scott has ties to the Tar Heel State and has hit on multiple under-the-radar recruits from the state, including Jordan Davis.

    Nnamdi Ogboko is freakishly athletic at 6’5″, 325-plus, and only has one year of experience. A former AAU basketball player, Ogboko found immediate success on the gridiron, with 25 tackles for loss in his first year.

    Notre Dame is making a late push here, but if Ogboko makes it to Athens, he’s an immediate puzzle piece for Will Muschamp.

    John Wayne Oliver, IOL, Christ Presbyterian Academy (TN), Ole Miss Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 664 Nationally
    Best Trait: Athleticism

    Ole Miss has had success recruiting the Nashville area in recent years and went in to grab Oliver this season. CPA plays on the private school circuit in middle Tennessee, which is a strong division with plenty of defensive line talent, so John Wayne Oliver sees talent weekly.

    He plays as a tackle for CPA but could probably slide inside if asked to do so at the next level. He’ll need to put on some more weight to be effective in the SEC, but he has the football IQ to cross-train along the line and potentially back up multiple positions for the Rebels.

    Carson Gentle, Edge, McCallie School (TN), Tennessee Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 835 Nationally
    Best Trait: Closing Speed

    At 6’4″, 250 pounds, Carson Gentle is probably an edge rusher and while he sometimes plays there for McCallie, it’s hard to ignore his ability as a middle linebacker. In fact, an offensive coordinator who faced him this season called Gentle “the best middle linebacker I’ve ever seen at the high school level.”

    That’s high praise from a veteran coach.

    Gentle’s reactions and acceleration are impressive and manifest themselves differently at his two positions. As an edge rusher, he’s extremely quick off the line. As a Mike linebacker, when he diagnoses a play, he can change direction and cover a ton of ground quickly. He’s a huge hitter, and I’m not sure how Tennessee keeps him off the field for long.

    Maybe the recruiting industry will catch on eventually, but either way, Tennessee is getting a steal.

    Jaylan Hornsby, WR, Winslow Township (NJ), Texas A&M Commit

    Industry Ranking: 3-star, No. 482 Nationally
    Best Trait: Contested Catch Ability

    Jaylan Hornsby is a big-bodied receiver with solid route-running ability and excellent hands. He almost always catches the ball with his hands far from his body and high-points it well. He’s not a burner, but he’s almost always open due to his ability to catch the ball over smaller corners.

    It remains to be seen if he stays with his commitment to Texas A&M through a coaching change, but wherever he plays, he should see the field early. His basketball background is evident when he’s thrown a jump ball down the field. That typically translates well to the next level.

    Cayden Jones, OLB, Christ School (NC), Alabama Commit

    Industry Ranking: 4-star, No. 315
    Best Trait: Versatility

    At 6’4, 225, Cayden Jones plays all over the defense. He’s flashed at safety, middle linebacker, edge, and as a “big nickel” in the slot. He’s best as an outside linebacker but has athleticism that will transfer to the next level.

    In Jones, Kevin Steele has a Swiss Army Knife that he can strategically deploy. Jones is best in the run game but has the speed and hips to stay with tight ends and even receivers in coverage. On3 and ESPN are the only services to have Jones nationally ranked, though when I used to help rank for a North Carolina site, we had Jones in the top 10 in the state.

    If Jones can find a niche as a freshman, he’ll see the field early.

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