This week we’re wrapping up our ranking of the 2024 recruiting class. The number of edge rushers, run stoppers, and players who can wreak havoc in backfields in this group is unmatched by any other position group. So let’s skip past the preliminaries and get right into some of the finest defenders on defense.
#15.Cameron Clay (24) | 6-3, 220 | DL | Brewer
Clay might be Brewer’s next recruit, displaying a high motor getting to the backfield and racking up TFLs have long arms and are very powerful off the LOS.
#14.Boone Morris(24) | 6-2, 205 | Edge | Mount Vernon
Boone is a terrific athlete who can defend the run or pass equally well, and he has the speed to pursue down the quarterback. Boone is an FBS-tier prospect.
#13.Ashton Coker (24) | 6-3, 270 | DL | Taylor
Interior defenders with excellent speed and power can put pressure on the QB. His athletic ability to get to the QB and fill up the gaps on that defensive line was remarkable. He plays hard and creates chances in the trenches. Coker is a Division I-level special talent.
#12.Loghan Thomas (24) | 6-4, 210 | Edge | Paetow
Last season, Logan Paetow’s defense used him as an edge rusher. He helped them win gold by providing a dynamic pass-rusher on the edge. Thomas is a gifted athlete with tremendous size who is capable of playing several defensive line positions and has the potential to be a dominant force getting after the quarterback.
#11.Alex January (24) | 6-4, 315 | DL | Duncanville
Alex is a huge body that can plug up the interior of the defensive line and is a strong run-stopper. He has an excellent run-stopping ability, with tremendous strength, speed, and agility for a big guy. Holds 7 Division I scholarships from schools including Arizona, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, and SMU to name a few.
#10.Legend Journey (24) | 6-2, 250 | DL | Mansfield Summit
One prospect to know is Legend, a long frame with long arms and the potential to play numerous defensive line positions. He waits for plays to develop before attacking, but he also has great chase after the ball carrier and a devastating swim move, which he uses to crush blockers consistently. There’s plenty of speed and power here; we like this recruit a lot this season.
#9.Jermy Jackson Jr. (24) | 6-3, 195 | Edge | Waxahachie
Jermey was 11-6A Newcomer of the Year in his sophomore year, with 57 total tackles, 16 TFL and 8 sacks. One of the quickest to the QB on this list has insane speed off the edge; keeps a good low pad level, is explosive of the LOS, and can beat blockers with an arsenal of moves. FBS prospect with a lot of upside and potential.
#8.Brock Jackson (24) | 6-3, 225 | Edge | Lumberton
Brock is an elite edge or outside linebacker prospect with a huge height and frame length, very thin athletic-looking, and the ability to stand up or put his hand on the ground and dominate. He’s lethal off the edge, has good speed and outstanding power disengaging from blockers, and we believe will raise his stock not just on our rankings but also on many others. Holds 7 Division I offers from many schools including Arkansas, Baylor and Texas Tech.
#7.Edward Smith (24) | 6-6, 220 | DL | Dawson
Edward, who could be next up, is one that has a good chance of exploding onto the scene and becoming one of the top-rated and recruited defensive ends in his class; why do you ask? His 6’6 stature makes him an elite defensive end prospect with huge height and build length, but he’s not only that; his capacity to disrupt the play in the backfield is superb.
#6.Xadavien Sims (24) | 6-3, 250 | DL | Sherman
Sims is a tight end and defensive lineman who plays both ways for the Sims football team. With good size, intangibles, equine instincts, and a desire to get to the ball carrier, he has all of the makings of a great player. Otherwise, he’s an outstanding FBS-level prospect that is very athletic for his size.
#5.Dealyn Evans (24) | 6-4, 260 | DL | Pine Tree
In his sophomore season, Evans had 55 tackles, 15 TFLs, and 5 sacks, Very versatile player who plays both ways at a tight end and off the edge. Strength and athleticism bear out on the defensive side of the ball. He could project to be a dominant interior player who plays well against the run and pass. Holds 5 Division I offers.
#4.Zion Taylor (24) | 6’2, 225 | Edge | Shadow Creek
Zion has 23 early offers, including ones from schools like Michigan State, Pitt, Texas Tech, and Purdue. Zion displays strong lethal hand moves and speeds off the edge, effortlessly displacing blockers on his path to the quarterback. Off the LOS, he is extremely powerful and athletic looking with the potential to grow even more strength and bulk to his build. No stars or rankings yet but Zion is one recruit who deserves to be mentioned among the elite in his class.
#3.Caleb Mitchell Irving (24) | 6-2, 255 | DL | Parish Episcopal
Caleb is a fantastic defensive end who can easily get into the backfield. He can also utilize his hand in the ground or stand up and wreak havoc in the backfield. With a big build and long arms, he uses bull rush to crush his opponents with power and speed. He has 20 total divisions I offers on the table.
#2.Nigel Smith Jr (24) | 6-4, 245 | DL | Melissa
On the defensive side of the ball, Nigel is a very flexible player who can play a variety of techniques and seal all possible holes. He has excellent size, height, and length along with great strength and speed off the edge. He holds 16 division I scholarships to schools like Baylor, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, and others.
#1. Zina Umeozulu (24) | 6-4, 210 | Edge | Allen
Zina is a playmaker who can get the signal-caller in an instant and make you wince with a hit on the quarterback. He’s one of the most sought-after edge rushers in the nation in 2024, with excellent size, speed, and potential to sneak into backfields. Holds 24 division I scholarships from schools Alabam, Flordia, and Georgia.
Calvin Kalu-Alexander (24) | 6’1 , 215 | Edge | Ridge Point
Abdon Mata (24) | 6-2, 210 | Edge | Steele
Jussiah Ali (24) | 6-2, 285 | DL | Roosevelt
Jaedon Langley (24) | 6’3, 230 | DL | Boswell
Zhaiylen Scott (24) | 6-2, 215 | Edge, LB | Cedar Hill
As the 2024 defensive line class begins to take shape, we will keep a close eye and keep you updated, however, there are a few clear-cut elite prospects emerging in this class.
Among them are names like Zina Umeozulu, Caleb Mitchell Irving, and Zion Taylor. All three players have the size, speed, and power to take over a game from their defensive end position.