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Rivals Rankings Week: Storylines to follow with top 2026 defensive linemen

Jahkeem Stewart
Jahkeem Stewart (

The first Rivals250 for the 2026 class has been released and now it’s time to break down each position. We continue with the defensive linemen by looking at four big storylines moving forward.


NEW 2026 POSITION RANKINGS: Pro-Style QB | Dual-Threat QB | Running Back | All-Purpose Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Offensive Tackle | Offensive Guard | Center | Defensive Tackle | Strongside Defensive End | Weakside Defensive End



Sunday: Who could unseat Jahkeem Stewart in the 2026 class?

Monday: Five-Star Countdown | Meet the new five-stars

Tuesday: Rivals250 released | Ten highest debuts | Position-by-position

Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | Quarterback rankings breakdown | Running back breakdown | Wide receiver & tight end breakdown | Offensive line breakdown

Thursday: Defensive position rankings released | Rivals Rankings Podcast | Defensive line breakdown | Linebacker breakdown | Defensive back breakdown | Athlete breakdown

Friday: State rankings released | Who's No. 1 in each state?

Saturday: Roundtable on the 2026 rankings


FINAL 2023 TEAM RANKINGS: Comprehensive (overall) ranking | High school/JUCO ranking | Transfer portal ranking

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

TRANSFER PORTAL: Latest news | Transfer portal player ranking | Transfer portal team ranking | Transfer Tracker | Message board



Jahkeem Stewart is the top-ranked strongside defensive end and No. 1 prospect in the Rivals250. He is already such a developed prospect that it would be hard to see anybody jumping him in the rankings. Still, there are a few defensive linemen to keep an eye on as the evaluation cycle progresses.

Jordan Carter, a strongside defensive end from Georgia, just made a big jump up the rankings to No. 10 overall. The No. 2 strongside defensive end in the nation brings an aggressive playing staff, explosiveness and a big frame to the field.

Joining Carter in the top 20 of the Rivals250 are defensive tackles Lamar Brown and James Carrington. Each of them is fairly lean for a defensive tackle but can overwhelm offensive linemen with a combination of strength and quickness. Their violent hands give them the edge over nearly any offensive lineman who lines up across from them.

Defensive tackle Deuce Geralds, strongside defensive end Jareylan McCoy and defensive tackle Bryce Perry-Wright also rank inside the top 25 of the Rivals250. They’re within shouting distance of Stewart at the top of the rankings but it’s unlikely that any defensive lineman overtakes Stewart.



Jareylan McCoy
Jareylan McCoy (Nick Lucero/

Just because Stewart is the favorite to remain atop the rankings doesn’t mean there can’t be any other five-star defensive linemen. Carter is in position to eventually get bumped up to a five-star if he continues to develop. The same can be said of McCoy. He possesses a fairly rare combination of size and athleticism. His 6-foot-7, 245-pound frame can make it difficult for any offensive lineman to slow him down.

There aren’t any potential five-stars at weakside defensive end that have emerged just yet but there are few at defensive tackle. Lamar Brown, James Carrington, Daverin Geralds and Bryce Perry-Wright all have very similar physical traits – around 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds. Leaner, quicker and still powerful defensive tackles have proven to be more consistently disruptive than the massive defensive tackles we’re used to seeing. That being said, No. 54 overall Danny Beale has been dominant this spring and will be worth keeping a close eye on.



Luke Wafle
Luke Wafle (Adam Friedman/

Without any real standout at weakside defensive end, it’s anybody’s race for the top spot. Luke Wafle sits at No. 1 right now and No. 59 in the Rivals250. He is still scratching the surface of his potential and at 6-foot-3 and 240-pounds, he could end up moving to strongside defensive end before all is said and done.

Hezekiah Harris, Colton Yarbrough and Xavier Griffin are the only other weakside defensive ends in the top 100 of the Rivals250. Each of them has the height, length and quickness to make life difficult for offensive linemen but they’ll need to show additional development before receiving a big boost up the rankings.

Then there are the prospects we need to learn more about before they get moved up any higher. McHale Blade, Zion Elee, Jamarion Carlton, Rodney Dunham, Carter Meadows and Zavion Griffin-Haynes are all very intriguing prospects with a ton of upside.



Lamar Brown
Lamar Brown (Nick Lucero/

It seems like prospects will be jockeying for the No. 1 ranking at defensive tackle until the end of the rankings cycle because there isn’t one player who is head-and-shoulders better than the rest.

Lamar Brown and James Carrington are the top two at the position but they’re going to be pushed by Daverin Geralds and Bryce Perry-Wright. Danny Beale will be an interesting prospect to track as he continues to develop.

The same can be said of Preston Carey, who is entering his first year at IMG Academy. Tony Cumberland, Vodney Cleveland and Tiki Hola landed in the top 100 of the first Rivals250 for the class and they’ll need to keep improving if they hope to make a move up the rankings.