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Tuesdays with Gorney: Thoughts on the 2024 watchlist

Julian Sayin,
Julian Sayin, (Dakota Lyn)

In his weekly series, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape. Today, the focus is on the release of our 2024 watchlist.

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DAVIS TAKES INTERESTING TRIPS

There is a decent chance Jadyn Davis is the top quarterback in the 2024 class and while there are still lots of twists and turns ahead, it looks like Georgia definitely has captured his interest. The Fort Mill (S.C.) Catawba Ridge standout attended Georgia’s season opener over Clemson and was in Athens this past weekend for the Bulldogs’ blowout win over South Carolina.

Davis was supposed to attend the Penn State Whiteout against Auburn but after Friday night’s game the drive to State College was just not going to happen. The Nittany Lions have done a great job recruiting him and Davis has also been to Ohio State early this season. Lots of schools will be involved with him but Georgia could have a slight edge.

There is an interesting debate going on among people who know the state of South Carolina well: Is Davis or Chapin’s Jayden Bradford going to end up being the best 2024 quarterback in the state?

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ANOTHER POTENTIAL FIVE-STAR QB

Maybe the most polished quarterback so far in the 2024 class is Carlsbad, Calif., standout Julian Sayin, who has 11 touchdown passes in five games this season and had a fantastic offseason as well. Notre Dame might have the early edge in his recruitment with USC and Texas also interesting to him early on. He will be in Austin this weekend to see the Longhorns take on Texas Tech.

Over the last year, Sayin has developed physically and he can zip the ball all over the field with great accuracy. He is a great leader, mature beyond his years and takes to coaching in-season and during the offseason as well. Sayin just has the look and feel of someone really special at the quarterback spot.

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GAGE COULD BE NO. 1 RUNNING BACK

Rivals is not ranking 2024 prospects just yet – we want to see them through their entire sophomore seasons – but Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy’s Stacy Gage is making a strong argument to be the No. 1 running back in the class.

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound prospect is just as talented as Penn State commit Kaytron Allen in many ways. He’s physical and fast, tough to tackle and has great vision in a crowd. For a sophomore to hold his own like Gage has in IMG’s offense has been really impressive to see.

This is a loaded 2024 group of running backs in the Southeast but Gage looks best early on. Alabama just offered with the Florida schools, Georgia, Ohio State and many others involved, too.

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MADISON HAD IMPRESSIVE SUMMER

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas is so loaded across the board but especially among pass catchers that James Madison has not taken off at the high school level yet. But the 6-foot-4, 203-pound receiver was so good this summer at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge that I’m confident he could emerge as one of the best receivers in this class.

A few things impressed me about Madison this summer in Atlanta: He has the physical tools of a college-ready receiver. During the gauntlet drill, a quarterback fired a ball “low” that hit Madison squarely. Instead of sitting out, he toughed it out and battled right back into the drills. Later, during one-on-ones, cornerbacks were trying to be physical with Madison, tried to hold and hung all over him, yet he showed off really strong hands to catch balls all over the field. He also was super competitive and wanted to line up against anybody. The St. Thomas Aquinas standout has all the makings of a special receiver.

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DEFENSIVE LINE STANDOUTS

Alex Cunningham is a big-time name and player with nearly 30 offers already in his sophomore season and David Stone established himself as a major defensive lineman in this class. Defensive ends and tackles are well-represented in the 2024 watchlist as some very well-known names have backed up their reputations and others are emerging. One name who should see his recruitment take off is Kavion Henderson from Leeds, Ala.

So far, Henderson has been offered by Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and UCF but his film shows a defensive end with quick-twitch athletic ability, toughness, a non-stop motor and someone who attacks at all times. The word is Florida State, Auburn and Alabama are starting to get more involved with him and it’s no surprise at all because he could be one of the top 2024 defensive ends nationally.

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DEFENSIVE BACK IS LOADED

Desmond Ricks
Desmond Ricks (Rivals.com)

Seventeen of the top 100 on the watchlist are defensive backs and that’s a big statement as to the talent and depth of the cornerbacks and safeties early in the 2024 class.

Desmond Ricks could be the best one in the group but Jordan Johnson-Rubell, Omillio Agard, Asaad Brown, Khristian Dunbar-Hawkins, Charles Lester III and others could push for that top slot. Fort Lauderdale Dillard’s Antione Jackson has been an interception machine to start the season and Marcelles Williams from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco has lined up against the best receiver from Miami (Fla.) Central, East St. Louis, Ill., and Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith to start the season.