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Five thoughts on the 2023 defensive tackle class

Jason Moore
Jason Moore (

High school seasons are halfway done or more, so this is a good time to take a look at some things happening across the country. Today, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney gives five thoughts on the 2023 defensive tackles.

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This defensive tackle class does not have a locked-in, surefire No. 1 player at the position and that debate will probably last through the all-star games and into the final rankings call.

Ohio State commit Jason Moore is currently No. 1 at the position but he’s a different style defensive tackle than Georgia pledge Jamaal Jarrett, who weighs 70 pounds more than Moore, or even uncommitted four-star James Smith, who is 310 pounds (40 more than Moore).

It might come down to this: Do we want someone who can add 20-30 pounds with the Buckeyes and keep his athletic ability to make plays in the backfield or do we want a massive, space-eater like Jarrett, or even Smith, to plug holes up the middle but might not have that highest level of athletic ability?

An answer might not come for a while.



I wouldn’t be completely stunned to see James Smith end up as the top defensive tackle in this class. The early-season stuff has been impressive. He not only deals with double teams but he’s very active for being that big and in a class without a clear No. 1, the Montgomery (Ala.) Carver prospect is as good a pick as anyone.

Alabama, Auburn and Georgia are all battling it out for Smith, who has reshaped his body a little bit heading into the season and it’s definitely made him quicker and more active. Moore is very talented and unique, and Jarrett was phenomenal at the Rivals Camp Series in Charlotte over the offseason. But Smith is one to watch.



Jordan Hall told me last week that he doesn’t feel like he’s getting the respect he deserves and that’s one big reason why he’s so looking forward to the All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

The Jacksonville (Fla.) Westside prospect feels like he’s gotten overlooked on the national stage because he doesn’t play elite competition each week and that he should be considered one of the top defensive tackles in the class. Right now, he’s No. 13.

At 6-foot-5 and 306 pounds, Hall is a bull of a pass rusher who plays with ferocity and toughness. Will it translate against some of the best offensive linemen in the country? In a couple months, we will find out.



Kayden McDonald recently released a top five of Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida and Clemson but this could be a three-way race with the Gators, Tigers and Wolverines looking best heading into a decision at the end of this month.

Does Florida lead? The Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett continues to visit Gainesville and he really likes the new coaching staff and the vision for the program. That could be big. But he also likes Michigan and Clemson a whole lot as well.

Either way, one school is going to get a really talented playmaker who is the only defensive tackle in the top nine not committed.



At the top of the position rankings, it doesn’t look like any significant flips are imminent but two names to watch would be UCF pledge John Walker and Florida State commit Keith Sampson.

Florida and the other in-state programs are making a serious run at Walker, from Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola, and if the Gators really go all-in then it could be something to watch.

When it comes to Sampson, he’s been committed to the Seminoles since March and has reaffirmed his pledge but NC State is the team to watch here along with the other Carolina programs. The Wolfpack sent coaches to Sampson’s game recently. He’s definitely interested in the program and is at least taking a close look at some others.