Sports

Quarterback Dylan Raiola is the top-ranked college football recruit in the Class of 2024, but who is the top-ranked high school junior?

We released our ESPN Junior 300 rankings for the Class of 2025 on Tuesday, and there is plenty to digest with the talented list. For one, there is no shortage of quarterback talent, and for the third consecutive year that premium position is at the top of our rankings.

We look at who the top recruit is, the five-star prospects who are competing for that coveted No. 1 ranking and break down the quarterbacks you need to know — including the son of a former first-round NFL draft pick.

Jump to:
Who’s No. 1? | Top QBs | Five-stars
Historic group of OLs | X factors

Meet the No. 1 recruit: Another QB

Bryce Underwood headlines the ESPN Jr. 300, marking back-to-back years (Raiola, 2024) a quarterback holds the top overall spot. Looking even further into the future, QB Julian Lewis is likely to be the No. 1 overall player in the 2026 class, which would make three consecutive years with a signal-caller atop the rankings for the first time since ESPN began ranking recruits in 2006. Obviously, Underwood is talented, but this ranking is more about his style of play than anything else. He oozes poise, maturity and competitiveness.

Underwood has polished fundamentals for a player coming off his sophomore year. He simultaneously carries himself with a unique calmness and sense of urgency. He is extremely savvy, especially when he looks off defenders and steers coverage with his eyes and front shoulder, and he can get rid of the ball amid pressure.

We worked with him as his instructional coach at Sunday’s Under Armour Ohio camp, and at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, he is physically advanced at this stage. He makes difficult throws look effortless, and he is dynamic in how he moves inside the pocket. Perhaps his best quality is that he’s so eager to learn and improve.

For a young player, Underwood plays with the confidence of a senior; at times the game looks slow and easy for him. We’ll get into the other five-star prospects who are nipping at his heels in a little bit, but if Underwood can hold onto this spot until February 2025 — obviously a long way away — he would be the fourth (or fifth) quarterback to finish No. 1 in the ESPN 300, joining Raiola (if he holds onto his spot through February 2024), Malachi Nelson (2023), Justin Fields (2018) and Matt Barkley (2009).


A QB class filled with raw talent (and some lefties)

Of the 23 quarterbacks in the 2025 ESPN Jr. 300, six debut within the top 100. Granted, that’s down from the eight in the 2024 class and 10 in the 2023 class, but make no mistake: This class has potential.

Pocket-passer George MacIntyre lands in the top 25 and is the biggest late bloomer among top-tier players from a physical standpoint. He is tall and rail thin at 6-6, 185 pounds, like how AJ McCarron looked out of high school (though McCarron was 6-4, 190 pounds as a recruit). That said, MacIntyre is a natural thrower out of Brentwood Academy in Tennessee.

Austin Simmons (No. 77) and Deuce Knight (No. 115) are two left-handed passers that are eerily similar to each other in style and stature. Simmons (6-2) and Knight (6-4) both have big arms and have mobility that complements their games well. Often, left-handed passers can have a loop or slight wind-up to their delivery, but these two southpaws can rip it.

The winner of the strongest arm award must go to Antwann Hill (No. 50). Look at the first play of his Hudl clips, for goodness sake. After seeing him in person, it is a marvel to watch him throw. Though a bit raw in talent, Hill is much better in-game than he is in a workout. This is where he can improve his fundamentals and accuracy.

K.J. Lacey (No. 47) is the only one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the class who comes in under 6-1. He reminds us of former Ole Miss quarterback and current Carolina Panther Matt Corral in how he can stroke the ball. Plus, he has the luxury of having the No. 3 overall player in his class, WR Ryan Williams, on his team.

Akili Smith Jr. (No. 100) has many of the same characteristics as his father. The former Cincinnati Bengal was 6-3, 220 pounds, while his son is 6-5, 200. He also has the arm strength to boot. Like Hill, he needs to polish and refine some of his skills, but there is a lot of clay to mold.

Keep a close eye on Kevin Sperry (No. 131), a Rock Hill High School (Texas) quarterback who committed to Oklahoma on March 13. At 6-1, 200 pounds, he is a quick passer, and the ball jumps out of his hand. He would join a Sooners quarterback room that also features 2023 five-star Jackson Arnold and 2024 four-star Michael Hawkins.


The race for No. 1

The 2025 prospect rankings will be updated multiple times between now and February 2025. While Underwood will not be easy to unseat, there is plenty of impressive talent behind him that could make a run for that spot. Early on, here are just a few names to know as challengers for that top spot.

David Sanders, OT
ESPN Jr. 300 ranking: 2

The offensive line is looking to be a little stronger in 2025 than the current cycle, and that group of rising junior big men is led by David Sanders Jr. He is a prime example of why a book should not be judged by its cover, as he possesses a lean build at 6-6, 250 pounds. Though he has a big smile, Sanders is an aggressive, dominating blocker who punishes his opponents during the whistle. He has excellent strength and plays with a tenacious demeanor. He also possesses excellent flexibility, balance and range. Though he needs to add more mass, he will likely remain in the discussion for the No. 1 overall ranking throughout the cycle.

Ryan Williams, WR
ESPN Jr. 300 ranking: 3

Williams is a blend of Calvin Ridley and Xavier Worthy in that he is a vertical threat who also possesses such elite quickness that defenders have a tough time tracking him. The five-star posted the fastest 40-yard dash on the Under Armour Next Camp Series (4.41 seconds) and produced similar blazing metrics on the track with a 10.6 100-meter time, per Milesplit.com. He’s not just straight-line fast, as his 4.14 shuttle is top three on the camp circuit and would have been third among all wideouts at this year’s NFL combine. Williams is also a big-play producer on the field with excellent ball skills, body control and the ability to make tough or contested catches. As a sophomore, he accounted for more than 2,100 total yards and 39 TDs on offense. With his résumé, Williams is making the case that he will be Alabama’s next great wide receiver.

Armondo Blount, DE
ESPN Jr. 300 ranking: 4

A few D-linemen are in the mix for the top spot, led by Blount. Blount is a highly competitive prospect who not only excelled at this spring’s Miami camp, but was also a consistent front-of-the-line player who works at his craft. That approach translates to his play, as he is not only a big man with good explosiveness and body control at 6-4, 250, but also plays with sound technique.

Elijah Griffin, DL
ESPN Jr. 300 ranking: 5

It is no surprise to see Griffin near the top of this initial ranking, as he has been drawing attention since his freshman season. With an explosive burst, heavy hands and the ability to bend at 6-4, 270, he has the physical tools to be a dominant force in the trenches.


A historic trio of O-linemen

There is a healthy representation of offensive linemen in the top 100, and contributing to that is a talented trio out of Bishop Gorman (Nev.). The Gaels went 14-1 last season and fielded arguably the most dominant offensive line unit in the nation. Three key playmakers from that group are heading into their junior season.

As sophomores, OT Douglas Utu (No. 17) and OG S.J. Alofaituli (No. 20) established themselves as top OL prospects in the 2025 class. At 6-6, 285 pounds, Utu is a wide body with excellent quickness and a powerful lower half that allows him to aggressively drive defenders off the ball.

Bishop Gorman’s coaches have raved about Alofaituli since his freshman season. He is not a physically imposing presence and has an unassuming build (6-3, 285), but he is an excellent football player who possesses a nice blend of flexibility, agility, power and tenaciousness.

The third and newest member of Bishop Gorman’s talented 2025 OL group is Alai Kalaniuvalu (No. 90), who is projected to move to center. The biggest of the group at 6-3, 300 pounds, he moves well for his size with the ability to deliver a pop on contact and control defenders with strength. At a spring workout, Kalaniuvalu created a buzz on social media by bench pressing 225 pounds for 31 reps, a feat that would have been tied for the fifth-most among all draft prospects at this year’s NFL combine.


Three future X factors

Davon Mitchell, TE
ESPN Jr. 300 ranking: 15

Having previously attended Allen High School in Texas, Mitchell made the move west to California to play at Los Alamitos this season, the home of 2023 No. 1 player Malachi Nelson. The 6-5, 235-pound Mitchell possesses good speed and quickness and has an aggressive style, landing him entry to the Jr. 300, but he may not finish with this group. That would not be because of a lack of talent, but because Mitchell could be on the move again, potentially reclassifying to 2024.

Ryan Montgomery, QB
ESPN Jr. 300 ranking: 138

Montgomery was one of the top performers at this past weekend’s Under Armour Ohio camp. He was a smooth passer with good accuracy on film, but he performed so well in person that he climbed roughly 40 spots from where he would have been had he not come out. The younger brother of 2023 ESPN 300 OT and Ohio State signee Luke, Ryan is establishing himself among the top QBs in this class. Competing alongside No. 1 recruit Underwood, Montgomery often stepped up during the camp and made impressive throws of his own, showcasing his talented skill set.

Nicco Maggio, DT
ESPN Jr. 300 ranking: 293

The three-star Maggio was a prospect on the cusp of the top 300 but landed inside with a boost from his MVP performance at the Carolina camp. He performed well in drills and was a handful in one-on-ones with a good blend of initial quickness, leverage and power.

Articles You May Like

‘Gut-wrenching’ video appears to show rapper Diddy assaulting singer Cassie in 2016
Donald Trump trial judge scolds defence witness for giving him ‘side-eye’
Microsoft set to unveil its vision for AI PCs at Build developer conference
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he favors ‘no tariffs’ on Chinese EVs
Ex-model accuses Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs of sexually assaulting her in at his studio in 2003