Best plays, highlights by top college football recruits this week

ByBlake Baumgartner ESPN logo
Saturday, October 1, 2022

Before they take the field as college football players on Saturdays, some of the top recruits in the 2023 ESPN 300 are playing underneath the lights on weeknights.

Arch Manning added to the Manning family record book on Friday during Isidore Newman School's (Louisiana) 52-22 victory over Pearl River High School. The Texas-bound Manning tossed three touchdown passes in the first quarter -- breaking a tie with uncle Peyton for career touchdown passes -- while eclipsing his other uncle, Eli, for the school's career passing mark.

Meanwhile, second-ranked Alabama heads out on the road Saturday to face No. 20 Arkansas in its first SEC road game before welcoming Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M to Tuscaloosa next week. One of the two ESPN 300 quarterbacks committed to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide for 2023 -- Dylan Lonergan -- had a strong night Thursday for Brookwood High School (Georgia).

Lonergan tossed a pair of touchdowns while running for another one as Brookwood won its second straight game, getting back to the .500 mark following a 24-11 victory over Archer High School (Georgia).

He entered Thursday night's game with 873 passing yards and seven touchdown passes.

Here's how some other of the nation's top recruits from the 2023 class looked this week.

McClain train

Cormani McClain is the highest ranked uncommitted player in the 2023 class.

McClain, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound cornerback, is No. 4 in the 2023 ESPN 300 and holds offers from Alabama, Florida and Miami. In Lakeland High School's (Florida) 47-14 victory over Lake Gibson High School (Florida) on Monday -- a game that was moved up from Thursday because of Hurricane Ian -- McClain showed he isn't afraid of contact.

McClain was in attendance on an unofficial visit for Florida's season opener against Utah on Sept. 3. He took an official visit to Miami back in June and has plans to be in Tuscaloosa on an official visit for Alabama's game against Texas A&M on Oct. 8.

Electrifying Edwards

Dylan Edwards went off for Derby High School (Kansas) in a 70-13 victory over Haysville Campus High School (Kansas) on Friday. The 5-8, 155-pound Edwards had three touchdowns in the first quarter and scored five times during the first half in the win.

Edwards (No. 234, No. 14 RB) is one of two ESPN 300 running backs (Jayden Limar; No. 254, No. 18 RB) who are part of a Notre Dame class that ranks second in the country, according to ESPN's rankings.

Sooner special

Jackson Arnold, who's headed to Oklahoma, threw a pair of touchdown passes during John Guyer High School's (Texas) 56-7 victory over Boyd High School (Texas) on Friday.

The 6-1, 195-pound Arnold, No. 15 overall in the 2023 ESPN 300 and the top dual-threat quarterback in the class, came into Friday with 1,075 passing yards and 13 touchdown passes with just one interception.

Oklahoma's class is fifth in ESPN's latest class rankings.

Vizzina velocity

Christopher Vizzina, the top offensive player in Dabo Swinney's Clemson class for 2023, dropped an absolute dime with this touchdown pass.

The 6-3, 205-pound Vizzina (No. 40) is the seventh-best pocket passer in his class, according to ESPN, and had two touchdown passes in Briarwood Christian School's (Alabama) game against Helena High School (Alabama) on Friday.

He came into Friday's action with 939 passing yards and eight touchdown passes while completing 65% of his throws.

Clemson's class ranks 11th in ESPN's class rankings.

Sampson special

Brian Kelly doesn't figure to take too long in creating the LSU offense in his image.

And to that end, Catholic High School's (Louisiana) Shelton Sampson Jr. (No. 36) -- one of two ESPN 300 wide receivers (Jalen Brown) to commit to Kelly and the Tigers -- could provide an immediate jolt.

Sampson Jr. and Catholic High School beat stout 2023 ESPN 300 defenders Jaquavious Russaw (No. 8, No. 2 LB) andJames Smith (No. 11, No. 2 DT), and Carver High School (Alabama), 42-36.

The 6-4, 185-pound Sampson, the sixth-best receiver in the 2023 class, headlines the offensive portion of LSU's class, which is in the top 10 (No. 7) of ESPN's class rankings.

Atmosphere at Tennessee impresses

Tennessee's hot start under Josh Heupel has things rocking and rolling in Knoxville.

And numerous highly regarded prospects got a close look during the Volunteers' 38-33 victory over Florida last week.

Athlete KJ Bolden (No. 6; 2023), linebacker Sammy Brown (No. 20; 2024), wide receiver Ryan Wingo (No. 23; 2024) and cornerback Travaris Banks (No. 78; 2024) were among those who attended.

"Just an electric atmosphere -- fans, coaches, players," Brown told ESPN. "Everyone was excited about the game and passionate about what they're doing. It was a great game and a great win for Tennessee."

Four-star defensive end from 2024 visiting USC

T.A. Cunningham finally made his debut for Los Alamitos on Friday nightafter fighting eligibility issues in light of his family's move from Georgia to California. The 6-7, 280-pound Cunningham is No. 33 on the 2024 ESPN Junior 300 and is the eighth-best defensive end in the class, according to ESPN.

He'll be visiting USC this weekend to see the undefeated Trojans host Arizona State.

"I'm hoping to find out if it's a place I could envision myself at in a couple years," Cunningham told ESPN.

Cunningham came out with his top 13 back on Aug. 15.

Four-star linebacker from 2024 class cuts list to eight

Linebacker Adarius Hayes, ranked 67th overall in the 2024 ESPN Junior 300, trimmed his list down a bit Thursday.

Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida and UCF are in Hayes' final eight.

The 6-4, 210-pound Hayes, who is the fifth-ranked linebacker in the 2024 cycle, attends Largo High School in Largo, Florida. Through four games, Hayes has 42 tackles (18 solo) with four TFLs.

Four-star cornerback from 2024 class commits to Michigan State

Jamari Howard committed to Mel Tucker and Michigan State on Monday.

Howard is No. 90 on the 2024 Junior 300 and is the 11th-ranked cornerback in the class.

The 6-3, 180-pound Howard attends Westland Hialeah High School (Florida) and chose the Spartans over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Miami and Texas A&M.

He's the second member of Michigan State's 2024 class, joining four-star wide receiver Nick Marsh (No. 174).