With the 2024 recruiting cycle more than halfway over, a lot of attention will be paid to 2025 and 2026 standouts this fall as programs begin to shift their focus to the underclassmen.
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney examines five underclassmen in the West that will be under the microscope this season.
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The No. 1 running back in the 2025 class, Davison rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his sophomore season at powerhouse Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, but there could be some changes heading into his junior year.
Davison should still be the featured back, but with Georgia commit Nate Frazier also in the backfield there could be more of a dual-role situation for them. Last season, Davison got the bulk of the carries while Frazier was used more situationally as he’s a little more dynamic with the ball in his hands. Davison is the steady, tough runner between the tackles.
Still, Davison should be more than fine in Mater Dei’s offense, which features a ton of elite talent at quarterback, in the backfield, at receiver and on the offensive line. The Monarchs should be the nation’s top team, so even if Davison’s numbers dip slightly this season it shouldn’t be held against him.
Rated as the second-best dual-threat quarterback and a Rivals250 member, Iamaleava does not have much varsity experience yet since he sat behind his five-star brother, Nico, at Downey (Calif.) Warren last season. But Iamaleava has very much come into his own this offseason and projects as one of the best quarterbacks in the 2025 class.
Iamaleava has shown tremendous leadership abilities with his team over the last few months. He has pinpoint precision on many tough throws, he’s got a very live arm and he can run around and make plays that way as well. Really, all Iamaleava needs is a chance to shine and he’s completely embraced stepping out of his brother’s considerable shadow to take on this role.
Washington has stood out very much early in Iamaleava’s recruitment but many other programs will probably get involved after a few games in his junior season.
Smigiel really emerged as one of the best quarterbacks nationally – not only in the 2026 class – after a freshman season during which he completed 66% of his passes for 3,479 yards with 46 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’s backed up those numbers numerous times this offseason as the Newbury Park, Calif., QB who plays for his dad has impressed at events and has shown off a big-time arm.
But can he continue to post such huge numbers? Smigiel is more of a traditional pro-style quarterback and to be considered in the five-star range and among the top quarterbacks in the class, statistics are one consideration but so is first-round NFL Draft potential. There’s no doubt Smigiel has elite qualities, but backing up his incredible freshman season will be important.
It feels like Michigan has the early edge in his recruitment because he has a great relationship with position coach Kirk Campbell, who gives him honest feedback. Florida State, Arizona, Oregon and some SEC schools are in the mix as well.
Las Vegas Bishop Gorman has arguably the best offensive line in the country, with Utu leading the way, but four-stars SJ Alofaituli and Alai Kalaniuvalu are not far behind as those two have had fantastic off-seasons as well. Utu is the big dog, though, and after seeing him at least five times over the last year, I’m not sure he’s lost a single rep at any event, whether it was the Rivals Camp in Los Angeles or the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge in Atlanta or elsewhere.
Utu does not have the length of No. 1 offensive tackle David Sanders Jr. but he’s like a brick wall that cannot be moved once he sets himself. He’s got underrated power, he’s technically perfect and the whole time he doesn’t say a word or chirp back at defensive linemen trying to beat him.
In his sophomore season, Wyatt was incredibly productive in Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei’s defense and he fits the mold of exactly what high-level college and NFL teams are looking for – someone who is both an outside linebacker but can also come rushing off the edge when needed.
The questions now are whether Wyatt is the best outside linebacker in this class (he only trails Zayden Walker from Ellaville (Ga.) Schley County) and whether Wyatt should get more five-star consideration. A big junior season – especially against elite talent in Mater Dei’s league – should answer a lot of those questions.