Before they take the field as college football players on Saturdays, some of the top recruits in the 2023 ESPN 300 are playing underneath the lights on weeknights.
For the second straight week, Notre Dame-bound wide receiver/tight end Jaden Greathouse (No. 87) returned a punt for a touchdown for Westlake High School (Texas).
Greathouse’s punt return helped Westlake improve to 3-0 with a 56-6 victory over Akins High School (Texas) on Thursday.
Notre Dame managed just 22 return yards in its Week 1 loss at Ohio State and if that becomes a troublesome trend, he may be able to provide an immediate spark on special teams next year.
Elsewhere, quarterback Arch Manning, No. 2 in the 2023 ESPN 300 and committed to Texas since June 23, threw four touchdown passes for Isidore Newman School (Louisiana) and added another one on the ground in a 42-20 win.
While Manning, the second-ranked pocket passer, was on point for a second consecutive week, the class’ top running back, Richard Young — headed to Alabama — also had a notable night.
Young (No. 14) rushed for 285 yards and two touchdowns as Lehigh Acres High School (Florida) beat Lake Gibson High School (Florida).
Here’s how some other of the nation’s top recruits looked this week.
Future Sooner slinging
Jackson Arnold, the top dual-threat quarterback in the 2023 class, showed on Thursday night why Brent Venables and Oklahoma have placed so much confidence in him.
So, yeah. Same play. Same results. @_JacksonArnold_ 2 @sistovall13 = TD. pic.twitter.com/fP5GTw9BHy
— Greg Powers (@GPowersScout) September 9, 2022
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Arnold, No. 15 in the 2023 ESPN 300, led John Guyer High School (Texas) to a 50-27 victory over Lancaster High School (Texas).
Arnold threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score in the Wildcats’ victory.
QB Jackson Arnold keeps for the score
14-7 Guyer over Lancaster in the 2nd Q@DentonGuyer_FB | @_JacksonArnold_ #txhsfb pic.twitter.com/OczbfuWOqQ
— Jason Howell (@Jason_Howell) September 9, 2022
As the Wildcats have gotten off to a 3-0 start, he has 832 passing yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with 133 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Braylon James is the highest-ranked offensive player in Marcus Freeman’s first full recruiting class at Notre Dame. James, No. 54 in the 2023 class, continued to show his explosive, playmaking ability in Stony Point High School’s (Texas) 55-7 victory over Pflugerville High School (Texas) on Thursday.
Following a 28-yd catch & a six-yard touchdown in the 1st Q, #NotreDame WR commit Braylon James snapped off a 67-yard catch & run early in the 2nd Q. @braylon_james14 @ChansiStuckey @13Cjcarr pic.twitter.com/CR9kdhGIGn
— Kevin Sinclair (@KevinSinclair_) September 9, 2022
The 6-2, 175-pound James is one of 15 ESPN 300 commits for the Fighting Irish in this cycle, which is tied with Alabama for first in the country.
Dante Moore surprised some by committing to Oregon back on July 8. Ducks’ coach Dan Lanning and his offensive coordinator, Kenny Dillingham, will look to utilize the massive skill set that Moore, No. 3 in the 2023 ESPN 300 and the third-best pocket passer in the class, possesses.
Dante Moore with a long TD pass to @vonnmatthews7! 14-0 King @dantemoore05 pic.twitter.com/HE3U3MIsX1
— Michigan exposure (@MIexposure) September 8, 2022
The 6-3, 200-pound Moore helped lead Martin Luther King High School (Michigan) to a 68-0 shutout of Mumford High School (Michigan) on Thursday.
Clemson quarterback recruit Christopher Vizzina dazzled in Briarwood Christian School’s (Alabama) 35-34 loss to Pelham High School (Alabama) on Thursday.
TD Lions!! @BCS_Lions 27, Pelham 7 | Halftime
With 8 seconds left in the opening half, @vizzina2 gets his 3rd passing touchdown of the half and 4th overall on this 14-yard touchdown pass to Sawyer Smith. Briarwood scored 20 unanswered to end the half. pic.twitter.com/GT4PY8YmQF
— Alec Etheredge SCR (@AlecEtheredgeSC) September 9, 2022
He threw for 277 yards and three scores in the Lions’ loss to the Panthers. The 6-3, 205-pound Vizzina, No. 40 in the 2023 ESPN 300 and the seventh-ranked pocket passer in this cycle, will be the third ESPN 300 quarterback to commit to Dabo Swinney’s program since 2020.
Rogers recommits and impresses
Cornerback Bravion Rogers, who’s ranked No. 61 in the 2023 ESPN 300, recommitted to Texas A&M earlier this week.
He had previously reopened his recruitment nearly a month ago — on Aug. 8 — but chose on Tuesday to reaffirm his intention to sign with Jimbo Fisher’s program. On Friday night, the 5-11, 185-pound Rogers flashed during La Grange High School’s (Texas) 37-27 win over La Vernia High School (Texas).
🟣 Touchdown @LaGrangeFB 🟣
BRAVION ROGERS. Whatever is thrown up, he will come down with. It’s effortless. Big time score by the A&M commit to put La Grange back up 10.@Bravion1 | 37-27 La Grange
5:07 3Q | #txhsfb pic.twitter.com/SugzyBbPe9
— Walker Lott (@walker_lott) September 10, 2022
Rogers’ decision to come back into the fold, coupled with offensive lineman T.J. Shanahan‘s (No. 115) commitment one day later, gives the Aggies’ 2023 class six ESPN 300 prospects.
2024 four-star in-state defensive tackle taking in Alabama-Texas
Nigel Smith II, a defensive tackle from Melissa High School (Texas), is attending Alabama’s game against Texas in Austin on Saturday on an unofficial visit.
The 6-5, 255-pound Smith is ranked No. 64 on the 2024 ESPN Junior 300 and is the fourth-ranked defensive tackle in the 2024 cycle, according to ESPN’s rankings.
“I’m really just looking forward to a good football game and getting to catch up with Coach Sark and (defensive line) Coach (Bo) Davis,” Smith told ESPN.
Texas’ staff, especially Davis, has stayed in frequent contact with Smith.
Through his first two games this season for Melissa, he has 15 tackles with two TFLs, one sack and eight QB hits.
Smith has 30 offers, including Alabama, Ohio State, Miami, USC, Texas A&M and Michigan State.
Top dual-threat QB in 2024 visiting Gainesville for third time
DJ Lagway, the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2024 class, will take an unofficial visit to Florida on Saturday when the Gators face Kentucky.
The 6-3, 225-pound Lagway previously visited Billy Napier’s program twice and is coming off an unofficial visit to Texas A&M earlier this month.
“I’m excited to feel the atmosphere and just see myself playing in that type of environment one day,” Lagway told ESPN.
“The staff has done an amazing job recruiting me and I’m so excited to get back up there. I’m so excited to be at their SEC opener. I just know the crowd is going to be electric.”
Lagway plans to play both football and baseball in college. He holds offers from Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Michigan State, USC and Texas A&M.
Lagway, who plays for Willis High School (Texas), is No. 21 in the 2024 ESPN Junior 300, and has thrown for 458 yards with six touchdowns while rushing for 190 yards and two scores through his first two games.
2024 four-star defensive end recaps Ohio State visit
KingJoseph Edwards, the third-ranked defensive end in the 2024 ESPN Junior 300, took in Ohio State’s 21-10 victory over Notre Dame last week.
“They are like a family,” Edwards told ESPN. “Very close and it works well for them because they see each other as brothers not just teammates. They are an aggressive, physical team…I like it.”
The 6-5, 250-pound Edwards, ranked No. 16 overall, owns offers from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, LSU, Miami, Florida and Florida State, among others.
He plans on attending Texas A&M-Alabama on Oct. 8, Florida-LSU on Oct. 15, Michigan State-Michigan on Oct. 29, Oklahoma State-Oklahoma on Nov. 19 and Notre Dame-USC on Nov. 26.
Edwards wasn’t the only highly touted recruit to visit Columbus last weekend. Keon Keeley (No. 24, 2023) and safety Peyton Woodyard (No. 48, 2024) were among several recruits in attendance.
“(I) can definitely see myself there (at Ohio State),” said Woodyard, who owns offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Oregon.