USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Friday Night Notes is a weekly high school recruiting recap that looks at the latest news from around the country—from the Class of 2024 to ’25 and beyond.
The king stays the king. And right now, the kings of college football are the Georgia Bulldogs, who are dominating the competition both on the field and in the recruiting game. Georgia is coming off their second consecutive national championship as well as putting together the No. 2 ranked recruiting class of 2023. Neither is an accident, especially since they spent about 50% more on recruiting than any other Power 5 program in 2022.
While it’s no guarantee of success, outspending your opponents by a wide margin is a strategy that tends to work more often than it fails. This morning Georgia added another significant asset to their future plans – a piece that can fit in various ways.
Here’s how Swainsboro (Ga.) four-star athlete Demello Jones announced his commitment to the Bulldogs.
— 1 † (@TheMelloJones) March 17, 2023
Jones (6-foot-1, 176 pounds) was a popular recruit, getting offers from 27 different programs. According to On3, his top 10 schools were Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Kirby Smart is getting an extremely versatile two-way playmaker in Jones. Last season he ran for 1,279 yards and scored 20 touchdowns on the ground. As a receiver, he totaled 384 yards and seven more scores. He also threw one touchdown pass. Meanwhile, on defense, he posted a sack, two tackles for a loss, a fumble recovery and six pass breakups.
Going by the composite rankings, Jones is the 18th-best athlete in his class and is No. 28 overall in the state. He makes for 10 hard commits in Georgia’s class of 2024, which ranks No. 1 in the nation.
Just as Georgia reigns in the college football kingdom, the team to beat in recent years in high school football has been the Mater Dei Monarchs out of Santa Ana, California.
One of Mater Dei’s best defenders is narrowing down his list of potential colleges. Four-star cornerback Zabien Brown recently listed his top four schools: Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, and USC.
— Zabien Brown (@zabien_brown) March 12, 2023
He recently spoke with Sports Illustrated about his list and broke down all four. Brown mentioned he has a good connection with USC’s coaching staff. He also likes how Oregon develops its players, the strong Alabama tradition and the Ohio State culture.
If nothing else, he has the length (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) and the ball skills to make it at the next level. Brown has posted six interceptions and 14 pass breakups so far. Going by the composite rankings, he is No. 8 among cornerbacks, No. 10 in California and No. 73 overall in the class of 2024.
Nobody has done a better job of recruiting highly-ranked cornerbacks than Deion Sanders has since he took over at Colorado in early December.
Sanders and the Buffaloes finished the 2023 recruiting cycle on a tear, flipping the No. 2 overall prospect and top cornerback Cormani McClain to pair him with 2021’s No. 1 recruit – cornerback Travis Hunter, who’s followed Sanders from Jackson State.
Coach Prime’s next big recruiting push will come in the spring, which is set to be a busy season in Boulder. Last week, four-star running back Stacy Gage announced that he will be visiting for Colorado’s spring game, which will be on ESPN on April 22. Gage will be only one of several high school football stars on-hand, though.
At the top of the list are three five-star defensive line recruits. First, there’s Friendship Leadership Academy (DC) EDGE Dylan Stewart, who will be visiting on April 21. The next day Lee Summit North (Mo.) DL Williams Nwaneri and Duncanville (Texas) EDGE Colin Simmons will visit.
Pinson Valley (Ala.) three-star athlete Tevis Metcalf and Raymore-Peculiar (Mo.) four-star tight end Jaden Redell are also scheduled to be on-hand for the spring game.
Two other prospects expected to visit Colorado but don’t have official dates set yet are Dougherty (Ga.) four-star running back Kam Davis and Sultana (Calif.) four-star athlete LaMason Waller.