2023 On300: Inside the numbers show it's a banner year for QBs
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2023 On300: Inside the numbers show it's a banner year for elite quarterbacks

Jeremy Crabtree10/20/21
Malachi Nelson
Oklahoma commitment Malachi Nelson headlines an elite crop of quarterbacks in the 2023 On300.

Having been around college football recruiting for nearly three decades, I’ve learned to love numbers. Numbers help you identify small shifts that lead to changing tides and eventual seismic movements in the recruiting world. That’s why it’s important to sift through ranking lists to see what trends are emerging, and that’s what we’re doing here with the first release of the On300 for the Class of 2023.

3

There are three new five-star recruits in the On300, headlined by Notre Dame EDGE commitment Keon Keeley out of Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep.

Keeley, the new No. 5 player in the country, committed to the Fighting Irish in late June over offers from 18 other schools. Landing Keeley early on helps Notre Dame move toward filling one of its biggest needs in the 2023 class – defensive linemen.

Another new five-star is EDGE Nyckoles Harbor of Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll. Harbor – the No. 8 player overall – holds offers from Oklahoma, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M and Wisconsin, among others.

Along with his football accolades, Harbor will be looking hard at the school’s football and track programs. He is one of the best sprinters in the country. He ran a 10.38-second 100-meter time and a 21.36-second 200-meter time as a sophomore.

The other new five-star is safety Caleb Downs, the No. 12 player overall. Downs out of Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek has more than 30 offers but lists Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State as his early top teams.

10

There are 10 quarterbacks in the new On300 for 2023, but it’s an awfully top-heavy class.

It’s obviously headlined by Arch Manning – the nation’s No. 1 prospect that has been the focus of recruiting hype that hasn’t been seen in decades. The first expert predictions – while it’s still early – have Manning leaning toward Texas over Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ole Miss and others.

Right behind Manning at No. 2 in the country is Los Alamitos, Calif. quarterback Malachi Nelson. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound five-star signal-caller was wanted by many of the top programs in the country, but Oklahoma is the school that got the early commitment.

The next highest-ranked quarterback is Downey (Calif.) Warren five-star quarterback Nicholaus Iamaleava at No. 10 overall. Iamaleava has a long list of early schools, but most insiders believe he’ll stay close to home at either USC or UCLA in the end.

Dante Moore is next on the list at No. 20 overall. Moore holds more than two dozen offers and is the prime quarterback target in the 2023 class for the Michigan Wolverines, as well as Michigan State, Penn State, Notre Dame and others.

But after you get past Moore, you have to scroll down the list to find the next quarterback – Pittsburg (Calif) High four-star quarterback Jaden Rashada at No. 68. Christopher Vizzina also ranks in the top at No. 76, but after that, you don’t see another quarterback at No. 141 with Jackson Arnold.

“It’s obviously one of the best classes at quarterback that we’ve seen in quite some time,” one SEC recruiter said. “But it’s safe to say it’s tremendously tilted toward the top. There are program-changing players with Arch and Malachi. Iamaleava out of California also falls into that category, but there is a pretty big drop off after that point.”

16

If you need a pass-rush specialist, then the 2023 class is where you’ll find it. There are 16 players at EDGE that rank in the top 100 overall in the country.

Digging even deeper, you’ll notice there are more five stars that are EDGE rushers than any other position in the On300. That elite group is headlined by Keeley, Lebbeus Overton out of Georgia at No. 7 overall and Harbor.

Samuel M’Pemba (13) of St. Louis (Mo.) IMG Academy, Damon Wilson (23) of Venice (Fla.) High, Jaquavious Russaw (25) of Troy (Ala.) Carver and Chandavian Bradley (37) of Platte City (Mo.) Platte County also rank in the top 40 overall.

“The quarterbacks get the headlines, but I’m in love with this pass-rushing class,” a Big 12 assistant said. “It’s so good from top to bottom. If I’m starting a team, I’m starting it with guys like Lebbeus Overton, Samuel M’Pemba and Chandavian Bradley.”

31

There are already 31 players in the On300 for 2023 that have made oral commitments to top programs.

Of those 31 players, eight have, or 25%, have already committed to SEC schools like Arkansas, Georgia or Texas A&M. That number climbs even more when you add future SEC team Oklahoma to the mix. With OU’s five early commits, that means 41% of the players already committed in the On300 are heading to SEC schools.

46

Just like the senior class, the 2023 recruiting class is insanely deep at wide receiver. There are 46 wideouts in the initial On300 and 16 in the top 100. What also makes the group unique is that it’s not just receivers from the typical talent-producing states of California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

There are plenty of other states represented with quality players, like Shelton Sampson Jr. (10) from Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic, Zachariah Branch (14) from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, Shamar Porter (61) from Nashville Ensworth and even Kyler Kasper (210) from Gilbert (Ariz.) Williams Field.

52

There are 52 players from Texas in the On300 for 2023. Many local observers say it rivals the 2022 class for one of the deepest recruiting in a long, long time.

On3 national analyst and longtime Texas high school football follower Gerry Hamilton takes its step further and calls it the best back-to-back classes he’s ever seen.

“While there might not be a guy like Evan Stewart, Harold Perkins or Denver Harris in the junior class, there is so much depth in 2023,” Hamilton said. “(Defensive lineman) David Hicks out of Allen is the lone five-star from the Lone Star State. But there are a lot of guys that are on the cusp of becoming five stars that could continue to move up with continued strong junior seasons.”

Along with Hicks, the No. 9 player overall, other names in Texas to keep an eye on: cornerback Malik Muhammad (16) of Dallas South Oak Cliff, DL Marcus Deal (28) of Garland Naaman Forest, corner Javien Toviano (31) of Arlington (Texas) Martin and Rueben Owens (47) of El Campo (Texas) High.

261

With only 31 players committed in the On300, it means there are still so many recruiting storylines to be written with the Class of 2023.

Yes, Oklahoma has gotten off to a scoring hot start. Notre Dame fans have to be excited about the early efforts in 2023 that have already produced four top 300 commits.

But with so much talent left on the board, it means it’s still too early to draw too many conclusions. We don’t know yet who will finish with the top overall class and where some of the nation’s best of the best will end up.