Best plays, highlights by top college football recruits this week

Before they take the field as college football players on Saturdays, some of the top recruits in the 2023 and 2024 ESPN 300 are playing underneath the lights on weeknights.

The highly decorated duo committed to the USC Trojans, quarterback Malachi Nelson (No. 1 overall, No. 1 QB-PP) and wide receiver Makai Lemon (No. 19 overall, No. 2 WR), left with injuries during Los Alamitos High School's (California) 49-14 victory over Corona Del Mar High School (California) on Thursday.

But Nelson did throw this touchdown pass before leaving the game in the third quarter.

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

Aggie ambush

Despite his team's loss Thursday, Paetow High School (Texas) defensive tackle David Hicks Jr. displayed some of the force he'll be bringing to College Station next fall for Texas A&M.

Hicks, the 17th-best prospect in the 2023 class and the third-best defensive tackle in ESPN's rankings, had 26 tackles (eight solo), four sacks and eight TFLs through his first four games for Paetow High School.

A year after finishing atop ESPN's team rankings, Texas A&M's 2023 class is currently ranked 17th.

Baxter breaks free

Running back Cedric Baxter Jr. is one of the offensive crown jewels of Texas' recruiting class for 2023, which sits fourth in ESPN's rankings.

During Edgewater High School's (Florida) 40-0 victory over Timber Creek High School on Thursday, Baxter (No. 58 overall, No. 4 RB) got loose repeatedly.

He has churned out 1,066 yards and 10 touchdowns over five games for Edgewater High School.

Holstein hype

As one of two ESPN 300 quarterbacks in Alabama's top-ranked class, Eli Holstein will be a household name in relatively short order.

The 13th-best prospect and fourth-best pocket passer in the 2023 cycle didn't disappoint Thursday in Zachary High School's (Louisiana) 33-6 victory over Woodlawn High School (Louisiana).

In his four games this season, he has completed 67% of his passes for 697 yards and nine touchdowns.

Hudson hums

Micah Hudson put his elusiveness to proper use on this 69-yard touchdown reception during Lake Belton High School's (Texas) game against Killeen High School (Texas) on Friday.

Hudson (No. 15, No. 3 WR) is a highly coveted 2024 playmaker inside the Lone Star State and has offers from several high level programs -- Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee, among others.

His latest offer came from Auburn on Sept. 5, and he went on a pair of unofficial visits to College Station on July 30 and Sept. 17.

Through his first five games of 2022 for Lake Belton High School, Hudson has 29 receptions for 575 yards and nine touchdowns.

Graham goes off

Mylan Graham of New Haven High School (Indiana) put on the moves in the open field and proved he's unafraid to show off when given the opportunity. The 2024 prospect could be one to watch on the trail after his 51-yard touchdown reception Friday got his team on the board against East Noble High School (Indiana).

He caught seven passes for 148 yards and three scores in the 37-14 victory.

Graham (No. 155 overall, No. 19 WR) holds offers from Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame, among others. Auburn was the latest school to offer him back on Aug. 29.

Through his first seven games, Graham had hauled in 36 catches for 874 yards and eight touchdowns for New Haven High School.

Packed house for Texas A&M-Alabama

It hasn't taken long for Alabama to ascend to the top of ESPN's class rankings for the 2023 cycle.

Four Alabama commits -- 2023 quarterback Dylan Lonergan (No. 23 overall, No. 5 QB-PP), 2023 offensive tackle Miles McVay (No. 135 overall), 2023 tight end Ty Lockwood (No. 136 overall) and 2024 cornerback Jaylen Mbakwe (No. 5 overall, No. 2 CB) highlight a decorated group that will be in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

An ample number of uncommitted prospects from both the 2023 and 2024 classes will be in attendance, as well.

That list includes 2023 defensive end Keon Keeley (No. 24 overall, No. 1 DE), 2023 tight end Duce Robinson (No. 51 overall, No. 1 TE), 2024 athlete K.J. Bolden (No. 6 overall, No. 1 ATH), 2024 cornerback Ellis Robinson IV (No. 7 overall, No. 3 CB), 2024 safety Mike Matthews (No. 10 overall, No. 1 S), 2024 defensive end KingJoseph Edwards (No. 16 overall, No. 3 DE), 2024 tight end Kylan Fox (No. 208 overall) and 2024 offensive tackle Daniel Calhoun (No. 103).

Four-star defensive tackle from 2024 visits Ohio State

Justin Scott visited the Horseshoe for the first time last weekend.

And the 34th-best prospect in the 2024 Junior 300 came away impressed after taking in the Buckeyes' 49-10 win over Rutgers.

"Atmosphere definitely," he told ESPN about what stood out in Columbus. "How packed the stadium was and just the energy."

According to ESPN's rankings, Scott -- from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago -- is the second-ranked defensive tackle in the class.

He will be in Miami this weekend.

Four-star defensive end from 2024 class recaps USC visit

A day after finally taking the field for Los Alamitos High School for the first time following his transfer from Georgia, highly regarded 2024 defensive end T.A. Cunningham took in USC's game against Arizona State.

Accompanied by 2023 defensive Matayo Uiagalelei (No. 62, No. 7 DE), 2025 quarterback Bekkem Kritza, 2026 defensive end Dutch Horisk and his younger brother, defensive end T.K. Cunningham (2027), T.A. said he felt an instant connection with Lincoln Riley and the Trojans.

"I felt like the energy inside the Coliseum was insane," T.A. told ESPN. "I felt really good knowing they're right in my backyard."

T.A. (No. 33, No. 8 DE) recovered a fumble in Los Alamitos' 49-14 victory over Corona Del Mar on Thursday.

Second-ranked dual-threat QB in 2024 goes to Baton Rouge

Quarterback Julian Sayin, No. 35 overall in the 2024 Junior 300, visited LSU the weekend of Sept. 23-25 as the Tigers hosted New Mexico.

"Loved the atmosphere, and the staff is definitely a special group," he told ESPN. "Really love the people there and had a great experience."

Sayin attends Carlsbad High School (California) and is the second-best dual-threat quarterback in the 2024 cycle, according to ESPN's rankings.

Through five games, he has thrown for 1,330 yards with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Four-star defensive end from 2024 eager to see GameDay in Lawrence

With College GameDay in town to see undefeated Kansas host undefeated TCU on Saturday, many eyes will be on the campus of the defending national basketball champions.

But Lance Leipold's Jayhawks have made a statement in the first half of the season on the football field, and prospects want to see it for themselves.

Defensive end Williams Nwaneri, No. 62 overall in the 2024 Junior 300, is among them.

"Really see the change in culture and just get a feel for the place on game day," he told ESPN.

Nwaneri, from Lee's Summit North High School (Missouri), has 16 tackles (11 solo) with five sacks and four tackles for loss through his first five games this season.