Final 2024 ESPN 300 rankings: A new top QB, race for No. 1 receiver (2024)

Jan 30, 2024, 08:07 AM ET

With national signing day on Feb. 7, college football's 2024 recruiting cycle is nearing its end. Following the high school season and all-star games, we have updated our 2024 ESPN 300 player rankings for the final time this cycle.

Here's what you need to know about the rankings, including a new No. 1 quarterback, the new five-star prospects and more:

Final 2024 ESPN 300 rankings: A new top QB, race for No. 1 receiver (3)

Battle for the No. 1 WR

There hasn't been this fierce of a debate for the No. 1 receiver spot in the class in 15 years, dating back to the 2008 class when five-stars Julio Jones and A.J. Green each had a compelling case for the top spot. This year is similar, with Ryan Williams, Jeremiah Smith and Cameron Coleman all vying for the top position. Ultimately, Williams seized the pole position.

When Williams, an Alabama commit, reclassified, it boosted an already strong receiver class. He clearly arrived at the Under Armour All-America Game looking to prove a point. Despite one fewer season of high school football experience, Williams' résumé is hard to ignore, and he seems to excel at every challenge. On the track, he's blazed some of the top times in the country per MileSplit (10.49 100-meter and 21.2 200-m). He posted equally impressive scores in camp testing, including a blazing 4.41 40-yard dash. On the field, he accounted for 77 touchdowns over his career. He is the best route runner of the three candidates and is reminiscent of former Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in high school. In three years, Williams tallied nearly 200 receptions for over 3,200 yards with 42 touchdowns at receiver and was the first sophom*ore in the storied history of Alabama high school football to be named Mr. Football.

While it's hard to ignore Williams' production, the gap isn't very big. Smith and Coleman are also impressive talents. Coleman, who signed with Auburn in December, is the tallest (6-foot-4, 185 pounds) and most acrobatic, which he consistently displayed during the Under Armour practices. Coleman's combination of size, speed and strength led his high school coach at Phenix City (Alabama) Central, Patrick Nix, to compare him to Calvin Johnson, whom he worked with as a coach at Georgia Tech. The comparison and Coleman's overall style of play have earned him the nickname "mini Megatron."

Smith, who signed with Ohio State, is the least flashy of the three but has an elite blend of size (6-3, 200) and explosiveness. He has excellent body control and is also a sharp route runner and tough matchup with his size. His teammates and head coach at Chaminade-Madonna High School (Hollywood, Florida) complimented his work ethic and felt he was ready for college.

These three sit atop an overall excellent crop of receivers in the 2024 class.

D.J. Lagway becomes No. 1 QB

This move is more about Lagway's phenomenal senior season than his postseason all-star performance. He starred at practice all week, earning the starting spot in the Under Armour game and made some really nice plays before getting injured. Lagway also produced eye-popping senior season numbers. He threw for 4,604 yards in 13 games while completing 72% of his passes for a staggering 58 touchdowns and 16 yards per attempt. He also rushed for 957 yards on only 99 carries and added an additional 16 rushing touchdowns. We hoped to make more of an in-person comparative analysis between Lagway and Julian Sayin at the Under Armour game in Orlando, but Sayin was a late scratch because of his participation in Alabama's Rose Bowl preparation, so it was Lagway's week to shine. Sayin eventually transferred to Ohio State.

New five-stars

DE L.J. McCray

ESPN 300 rank: No. 10 | Florida signee

McCray has steadily climbed the rankings throughout the process. At 6-foot-7 with a wingspan over 80 inches, he possesses a long frame that can continue to fill out. Quick off the ball, he displays a supreme blend of power and agility. That combination allowed him to dominate as a senior, posting 13 sacks and nearly 40 tackles for loss. Getting McCray across the finish line during the early signing period was a major win for Florida as it continues to rebuild. He should quickly contribute for the Gators.

CB Kobe Black

ESPN 300 rank: No. 15 | Texas commit

Black had a dominant performance in Orlando at the Under Armour game. He is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and showed remarkable competitiveness, playing every practice rep like he had something to prove, and that carried over into the game. A two-way player in high school, Black projects as a corner or nickel/safety. Due to his size and physicality, he might fit best at boundary corner. We love guys that play every rep like they are trying to prove themselves with a chip on their shoulder.

DT Dominick McKinley

ESPN 300 rank: No. 17 | LSU commit

McKinley wasn't on the camp circuit and his low-key approach made him a bit tough to gauge as he entered Under Armour All-America week. By the end of the event, though, the soft-spoken big man's play had said enough and helped him jump up in the rankings. He possesses a big, lengthy frame (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) and carries his weight well with room to grow. He demonstrated excellent lower body flexibility and consistently played with good pad level while being active with his hands. He also showed good power and posted one of the viral highlights of the week when he flattened an offensive lineman in drills. A one-time Texas A&M commit, he flipped his commitment to LSU and is a key in-state win for the Tigers.

SHEESH 😤 #UANext

Dominick McKinley is unfair @DominickMcKinl4 pic.twitter.com/Ti9wEf1DhA

— The Underclassman Report (@TheUCReport) January 1, 2024

ATH Terry Bussey

ESPN 300 rank: No. 18 | Texas A&M commit

He plays a lot like former Aggies receiver Christian Kirk. Like Kirk, Bussey is a slot receiver/return specialist/jack-of-all-trades playmaker who moves like a wideout but looks like a running back. He's a 10.66 100-meter runner. What he lacks in size (5-foot11, 185 pounds), he makes up for with versatility and the ability to be dangerous in space. He earned his fifth star and top-20 ranking after passing for 24 touchdowns and rushing for an additional 17 touchdowns with 1,165 yards on just 92 carries -- an astounding 12.66 average per carry.

LB Chris Cole

ESPN 300 rank: No. 20 | Georgia signee

Cole is an active and disruptive defender who further boosted his stock after an MVP performance at the Under Armour Baltimore camp last May. On the field, he can quickly cover ground with his length and speed and is a physical presence. He started out in the secondary and is very comfortable in coverage. Cole has the skills to make a play when he's around the ball and that flashed at Under Armour All-America week when he made an interception in his first practice. Entering a loaded Georgia linebacker room, Cole could be challenged to find significant playing time. But he has room to grow, and his time will come. His ability in coverage could help him see the field and contribute early in his career.

Big risers

LB Justin Williams

ESPN 300 rank: No. 7 (previously No. 14) | Georgia signee

A five-star through many editions of the ESPN 300, Williams now makes his move into the top 10 and finishes as the top-ranked linebacker. A prospect with elite physical tools, he started to truly separate himself with outstanding testing numbers which included a 4.44 40-yard dash last March. As a sideline-to-sideline presence for Oak Ridge High (Conroe Texas), he won back-to-back defensive MVPs in his district. He looks to be a perfect fit for Georgia. In speed, physicality and versatility, he shares strong similarities to current Bulldogs inside linebackers Smael Mondon and Raylen Wilson -- who were both five-stars as well. Williams' addition gives Georgia arguably the most stacked and fastest linebacker room in all of college football.

DB Zay Mincey

ESPN 300 rank: 46 (previously No. 84) | Alabama signee

Mincey arrived in San Antonio for the All-America Bowl and shined throughout the week. At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Mincey might not remain at corner due to his size and length, but a move inside at safety or to the boundary situationally could be the right fit. He's so long and lanky that unless he's at the line of scrimmage, he's better off as a hash or high-point safety.

LB Booker Pickett Jr.

ESPN 300 rank: No. 48 (previously No. 162) | Miami signee

Pickett's ability to chase down quarterbacks helped him make a leap in the final rankings. He notched 46 sacks over his final two high school seasons, so his pass-rushing ability shouldn't have been shocking, but his performance among the nation's elite during Under Armour All-America week was impressive. An edge defender with an explosive first step, he was disruptive and tough to contain throughout the Under Armour All-America Game, where he consistently created pressure and also forced a fumble. Pickett is a big in-state signing for the Hurricanes and has the tools to provide them with a dangerous pass-rushing threat.

WR T.J. Moore

ESPN 300 rank: 50 (previously No. 92) | Clemson signee

Moore impressed in San Antonio as well and showcased the type of speed Clemson needs at wide receiver. Moore posted a straight-line 21.4 mph MaxSpeed, which is very impressive given his size (6-foot-3, 190 pounds). While he hasn't posted great testing times, he clearly plays fast. He's an acrobatic pass-catcher with a wide catch radius. As a senior, he caught 50 passes for 17 touchdowns and a whopping 25 yards per catch.

TE Luke Reynolds

ESPN 300 rank: No. 70 (previously No. 154) | Penn State signee

Reynolds was a quarterback in high school before transitioning to tight end. He blossomed following a full season focused on his new role and established himself as a top-100 prospect. He possesses the tools to contribute at multiple positions and is an excellent overall athlete who posted impressive testing numbers. His nice blend of length and speed creates matchup issues on the field, and he displays excellent ball skills. He has very good body control and consistently attacks and high points the ball. He can win 50/50 balls and be a red zone playmaker. With his background at quarterback, he also shows some savvy in his route running. Penn State has done a nice job developing tight ends, and Reynolds looks poised to be the Nittany Lions' next talent at the position.

Notable new entries

OG Eugene Brooks

ESPN 300 rank: No. 145 | Oklahoma signee

Brooks never shies away from the opportunity to compete, and he consistently improved throughout his high school career. Brooks' progression really came into focus during the Under Armour All-America week. He was among the most consistent performers in the offensive trenches. He displayed good lower body flexibility and hand placement to gain leverage. Brooks was a tough battle for a talented defensive line group whether in pass protection or the run game.

DE Noah Carter

ESPN 300 rank: No. 153 | Alabama commit

A versatile player for Centennial High School (Peoria, Arizona), Carter projects as a defensive player in college but was also a very productive playmaker at wide receiver in high school while displaying very good ball skills. He runs well, possesses very good body control and demonstrates the tools to develop into a well-rounded edge defender who can get after the quarterback and make plays in space. Carter initially signed with Washington but will follow Kalen DeBoer to Alabama. The Crimson Tide have suffered some defections since Nick Saban's retirement, but Carter is a player with physical tools who fans should get accustomed to seeing in Tuscaloosa.

DT Nasir Johnson

ESPN 300 rank: No. 189 | Georgia signee

He's a big body, and while we don't have an official measurement, we feel comfortable saying he's larger than his listed 6-foot-5, 300 pounds. Johnson is more than a space-eater. He moves well for his size, and has good initial quickness, good feet and can be a handful between the tackles. He isn't quite as massive yet as former Georgia interior defensive line standout Jordan Davis, but it feels as though Johnson could develop into a similar type of player.

WR Bryce Cain

ESPN 300 rank: No. 278 | Auburn signee

Cain is a three-sport athlete who ran a 10.8 100-meter in track and is an excellent baseball prospect. He can play both inside and outside as a pass-catcher. He's at his best in space, where he can make people miss and win footraces, which is a big need for the Auburn receiving corps. He can also contribute as a returner. He caught 16 touchdowns this past fall and averaged 22 yards per catch.

CB P.J. Woodland

ESPN 300 rank: No. 294 | LSU signee

Woodland needs to develop more bulk and physical strength, but he has great length and can run. While he is listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, Woodland is very explosive and plays big and physical in run support.

DT Emmett Laws

ESPN 300 rank: No. 300 | Virginia Tech signee

Laws lacks ideal measurables at 6-foot and roughly 270 pounds, but his play and effort have always impressed. Two in-person evaluations late in the process cemented his spot on the list. Laws notched five tackles and two sacks, creating havoc in a win over rival St. John's College on the ESPN High School Football Showcase. That performance earned him an invite to the Under Armour All-America Game, where he proved he belonged. Quick off the ball, he uses his compact frame to win the leverage battle and has good, active hands. Laws gained the attention and respect of his fellow lineman during the week with his blue collar and productive approach. He is an excellent fit for Virginia Tech's defensive line.

Final 2024 ESPN 300 rankings: A new top QB, race for No. 1 receiver (2024)

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