USA TODAY high school sportsFriday Night Notes is weekly high school football recruiting roundup that looks at the latest news from around the country – from the class of 2023 through ’24 and beyond.
He breathes calmly. The 2022 high school football season has finally arrived!
In our first edition of Friday Night Notes for the new campaign, we’ll touch on college a program that is growing rapidly up the recruiting rankings. Next, we’ll take a look at some of the best defenders from the class of 2023 and ask who, if any of them, could be the next big star to arrive nationally. Next, we’ll take a look at the best of the projected schools when the season begins. Finally, we’ll wrap up with other recruiting notes from around the web.
First up: Another big commitment for the Texas backfield
The week’s brightest recruit came in Orlando, where the nation is second place in the ranking made a formal commitment. Edgewater (Fla.) RB Cedric Baxter Jr. announced he will play for Steve Sarkisian at Texas. Other schools that entered the race included Texas A&M, Miami, Florida and late-rising UCF. Baxter is coming off a breakout 2021 season after averaging over eight yards per carry and scoring 22 touchdowns.
Baxter’s commitment is the latest good news for the Longhorns, who passed over both Ohio State and Georgia in securing his services. It’s Texas now ranked No. 3 nationally on the strength of its 2023 recruiting class, trailing only Alabama and Notre Dame.
Is there a next big thing in defense?
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At the heart of Texas’ strong 2023 class is Isidore Newman (LA) quarterback Arch Manning, who is currently ranked as the top recruit in the country. While it doesn’t hurt to have a household name — especially when your uncles have won a total of four Super Bowls between them — there are some who believe he’s not actually the best QB in the nation.
One critic who believes Manning doesn’t live up to the hype is Mike Farrell, former national recruiting director at Rivals.com. Farrell told Crain & Company that if Manning had another name, he would be a three-star recruit.
“If his name was Arch Smith, I think he’d probably be a three-star quarterback…He’s playing at a very low level of competition. He is not advanced. He had a really good freshman season. I wouldn’t say regression, but he hasn’t progressed.”
Progress is the key word here, especially given the age and experience level of the quarterbacks who have yet to see the inside of their dorm room. The hard truth is that determining which QBs will become national sensations and which ones won’t last might be the hardest thing in the business. We know this because even NFL teams get these decisions wrong every year.
Even after a quarterback reaches the sport’s highest level, he’s not done developing. In his first two years in the league, Josh Allen was bordering on the bottom five. Today, he’s right up there with Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers the top of his position.
This is another way of saying no one really knows which QBs could be the next big thing – especially at this age.
However, we know there are several quarterbacks ranked lower than Manning who are true five-star recruits.
Some of the biggest QB names to watch in this 2023 class include Malachi Nelson of Los Alamitos (Calif.), who is committed to USCDante Moore of King, Michigan, en route to Oregon and Nikolaus Yamaleva of Warren, California, who is dedicated to Tennessee.
Which schools are expected to be on top at the start of the season?
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Individual recruits — especially quarterbacks — can be a bit hit or miss in nature at this point in their football careers. However, it is much easier to predict which high school programs will be among the best in the nation.
We’re about to release our first one Super 25 Power Rankings 2022 season roster near the end of the month. For now, let’s get to know which schools are expected to be among the elite.
Here are the top 10 high school football teams in the nation, according to MaxPreps.
1. St. John Bosco (California)
2. Mater Dei (California)
3. St. Frances Academy (Maryland)
4. IMG Academy (Florida)
5. St. Thomas Aquinas (FLa.)
6. Bishop Gorman (Nev.)
7. Westlake (Texas)
8. Chandler (Arizona)
9. Centennial (California)
10. North Shore (Texas)
And now here it is High School Football America top 10 list.
1. Mater Dei (California)
2. St. John Bosco (California)
3. Buford (Georgia)
4. St. Frances Academy (Maryland)
5. Bergen Catholic (NJ)
6. St. John’s College HS (Washington, DC)
7. IMG Academy (Florida)
8. North Shore (Texas)
9. St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida)
10. Duncanville (Texas)
Mater Dei was national champion for three of the last five years and posted a perfect 12-0 record last season. They begin their 2022 schedule at home against West (UT) on Friday, August 19. Meanwhile, Saint John Bosco begins the year on the road against Allen (Texas) next week.
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