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Breaking down the five best 2024 linebacker classes

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The 2024 recruiting class is all wrapped up so it’s time to see which teams won each position. Today we continue our position-by-position look at the top classes with the linebackers.

NOTE: College transfers are not included in this list but transfers from within the 2024 class – a situation created by the late coaching changes – will be factored into this series.

1. GEORGIA

Justin Williams

Justin Williams (Karyna Aguilar/Rivals.com)

Based on how many defensive players Georgia has put into the NFL it might be surprising that the program had not signed a five-star linebacker since Nolan Smith in the 2019 class. That streak ended this cycle with five-star Justin Williams.

The Texas native is a one-man wrecking crew on the football field. His speed makes it so that he’s able to be involved in almost every play. Williams has a non-stop motor that makes him the perfect fit in Athens. He’s as good of a linebacker prospect as you’ll find in any year.

Williams will give Georgia a true sideline-to-sideline off-ball linebacker, while four-star Kristopher Jones is a downhill thumper. There is always a place for a linebacker that is aggressive in coming to the box to make tackles. That’s what Jones will give Georgia. He’s a sure tackler in a phone booth but also shows the ability to rush the quarterback off the edge.

Virginia native Chris Cole is the type of linebacker that can fill up a stat sheet. He does everything well but his combination of speed and length makes him special. Long-term he might have as much upside as anyone in the class. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a situational player early in his career but once he’s in the strength program for at least a year watch out for him.

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2. AUBURN

Demarcus Riddick

Demarcus Riddick (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Auburn signed four four-star linebacker prospects in 2024, a feat only three other programs have matched in the last four cycles. Demarcus Riddick leads the way and could be a special player for the Tigers if he lives up to his massive potential.

Jamonta Waller, who ranks No. 70 in the 2024 Rivals250, flipped from Florida in November. The hard-hitting linebacker is a bit of a tweener but plays with an explosive first step and consistently created havoc in the backfield during high school.

Joseph Phillips‘ commitment to Auburn in June was a statement victory for Hugh Freeze as the Tigers beat out Georgia for the four-star’s pledge.

D’Angelo Barber was extremely productive in high school and may be somewhat under-ranked as a prospect that just missed the Rivals250 cut.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH AUBURN FANS AT AUBURNSPORTS.COM

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3. ALABAMA

Sterling Dixon

Sterling Dixon (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Four-star Sterling Dixon, ranked No. 168 in the 2024 Rivals250, headlines Alabama‘s linebacker class. He was one of the Crimson Tide’s first commitments for the class and not only remained steadfast in his pledge throughout the cycle but also helped recruit other in-state prospects to Tuscaloosa.

Cayden Jones, the other four-star linebacker in Alabama’s class, impressed at the Under Armour All-American Game in January. The North Carolina product boasts an intriguing versatility that, coupled with his at 6-foot-4 frame, could lead to him eventually playing defensive end for the Tide.

German native Justin Okoronkwo flipped his commitment from Maryland to Alabama last summer. The three-star prospect will face a significant jump in competition as he transitions from Europe to the SEC but few programs deserve more benefit of the doubt when it comes to defensive evaluations than Alabama.

Three-star Quinton Reese is another in-state get for the Crimson Tide and projects as strong inside linebacker prospect that should impact the program after a couple years of development.

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4. FLORIDA

Myles Graham

Myles Graham

What Florida’s linebacker class may lack in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Myles Graham, who committed to the Gators nearly 18 months ago, is one of just three five-star linebackers in the 2024 cycle. The Florida legacy projects as a chase-and-tackle, sideline-to-sideline linebacker that should make an early impact in Gainesville.

Four-star Aaron Chiles, the top-ranked prospect in Maryland, was one of the best-looking defenders at the Under Armour All-American Game and his athleticism should make him an excellent complement to Graham.

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5. OREGON

Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams (Matt Moreno/Rivals.com)

Oregon will head into its first season in the Big Ten with one of the best group of freshmen linebackers in the conference. Four-star Dylan Williams is the headliner and backed up his lofty ranking with a strong performance at the Polynesian Bowl in January.

Brayden Platt is an elite dual-sport athlete that plans to compete in football and track and field in Eugene. The four-star prospect, who has Olympic aspirations in the javelin and shot put, is super physical but has the athleticism to fly sideline-to-sideline on the field.

Four-star Kamar Mothudi should be an incredible fit in the Ducks’ defense thanks to his intelligence and willingness to be coached. He chose Oregon over offers from Michigan, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Three-star Kingston Lopa played safety in high school but could grow into a standout outside linebacker in Eugene. He flipped to the Ducks in April following a three-month commitment to Arizona.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OREGON FANS AT DUCKSPORTSAUTHORITY.COM

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