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Rivals Rankings Week: Breaking down the 2024 defensive linemen

Williams Nwaneri
Williams Nwaneri (

With the updated 2024 Rivals250 being unveiled Tuesday, it's time to look at the updated position rankings. The offensive position rankings were released Wednesday and today the defensive position rankings are in the spotlight. Up first is the defensive line.

UPDATED 2024 RANKINGS: Pro-Style QB | Dual-Threat QB | All-Purpose Back | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Defensive Tackle | Strongside Defensive End | Weakside Defensive End | Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety



Sunday: Who should be No. 1?

Monday: Five-star countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: Rivals 250 released | Ten prospects on the verge of five-star status | Gorney's thoughts

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | QB rankings spotlight | RB rankings spotlight | WR/TE rankings spotlight | OL rankings spotlight

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released | DL rankings spotlight | LB rankings spotlight | DB rankings spotlight

Friday: State rankings released | Who will finish as top RB?

Saturday: Rankings Roundtable



NO. 1 AT THE POSITION: Williams Nwaneri

Nwaneri dethroned Colin Simmons as the top-ranked defensive lineman in the latest Rivals250 but this race is far from decided. Nwaneri is more of a prototypical defensive end with ideal size (6-foot-6, 265-pounds) and length (wingspan measuring in close to 7-feet).

He doesn't face many high-caliber prospects in the fall but he dominates the competition like a top-five prospect should and can consistently overwhelm the opposition. Nwaneri's quickness at the snap is exceptional and, more often than not, that's enough to beat the lineman in front of him.

He shows decisive and aggressive hand techniques and continues to show development in this area. Nwaneri's skill set is certainly better suited for defensive end right now but he could see some time on the interior of the defensive line, depending on how his frame and technical understanding develop.

As for his recruitment, Nwaneri doesn't seem to be in a rush. He is taking his visits and doing his due diligence. Georgia and Oklahoma have hosted him for official visits over the last two weekends and he'll be in Knoxville for his Tennessee official visit this weekend. Missouri is scheduled to get an official visit next weekend.

Even though Nwaneri wants to be committed before his senior season begins, there is talk of a potential official visit to Oregon during the season. As his commitment gets closer, keep an eye on the Sooners, Bulldogs and Volunteers.


TWO PROGRAMS TO WATCH: Miami and Ohio State

Dylan Stewart
Dylan Stewart (

Miami is squarely in the mix with five-star defensive linemen Colin Simmons, Justin Scott, David Stone, Kamarion Franklin and Dylan Stewart. Simmons and Franklin may be a little bit of a longshot, but Miami is supposed to host each of them for an official visit. Scott seems to be leaning toward Georgia or Michigan at this point.

Stone has already taken his official visit to Miami but it still has work to do to keep him away from Oklahoma and Michigan State. Stewart just recently visited Miami for his official visit and it seems like the Canes have a chance to pick up momentum with him in the coming weeks and months.

Marquise Lightfoot, Aydin Breland, Jericho Johnson, TJ Lindsey and Jayden Jackson are also priority targets for the Hurricanes, and each of them are expected to take or have already taken official visits to the Coral Gables campus.

Ohio State is in a really good spot with five-star defensive lineman Eddrick Houston. It is battling Georgia, Clemson, Alabama and USC for his commitment but it seems like it has the lead at this point. Five-stars Scott and Stewart are also very high on the Buckeyes, but it seems Stewart has a better chance of ending up in Columbus than Scott.

Jayden Jackson, Booker Pickett and Darien Mayo seem like they could either have Ohio State as their leader or very near the top of their list. Nigel Smith, Marquise Lightfoot and Dominick McKinley are a few other Rivals250 defensive linemen Ohio State fans should keep a close eye on.





Rudolph was in Ann Arbor over the weekend and the Wolverines received glowing reviews from the Florida pass rusher. FutureCast predictions for Michigan have been flowing in since then but it doesn't seem like a commitment is right around the corner. Official visits to Miami and Ohio State are forthcoming and Rudolph has left the door open for more official visits before shutting down his recruitment. Michigan is in a great spot with Rudolph but the Wolverines can't take their foot off the gas if they hope to reel in his commitment.

Smith has been taking his time in his recruitment, unlike his twin brother Jerrod, but it seems like the two will still end up at the same school. Jerrod committed to Michigan a few weeks ago and Jacob, who has taken official visits to Kentucky and Michigan and will be at Nebraska for an official visit this weekend, seems like he’s trending toward the Wolverines as well. No commitment date is locked in at this point but it seems like it’s only a matter of time.

Jonah-Ajonye is the biggest riser among defensive linemen in the latest update to the Rivals250 and his rise as a national prospect on the recruiting trail seems to have coincided with his rise in the rankings. Oklahoma has been on him for a while and so have Georgia Tech and Texas Tech but it seems like Georgia could have momentum. Jonah-Ajonye is due to be back in Athens for an official visit later this month and the Dawgs jump out to a big lead with a commitment expected before the season starts.