We already zoned in on the offensive side of the ball looking at the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen. Now it is time to look at the defense, starting with the top 10 defensive linemen in high school football.

This list includes both edge rushers and defensive tackles and is headlined by five-star David Hicks Jr. and recent Clemson pledge Peter Woods. Hicks checks in as the top-rated defensive lineman and No. 1 player in Texas on 247Sports composite rankings. Woods was selected as the best player in Alabama heading into the 2022 season.

Hicks is one of six players featured that is still undecided while Woods (Clemson), Keon Keeley (Notre Dame), Jayden Wayne (Miami) and DJ Samuels (Maryland) are already committed.

Colin Simmons is the only non-senior featured in this group and the five-star edge rusher from Duncanville (Texas) was a first-team selection on the 2021 MaxPreps Sophomore All-America squad.

Florida has the most players featured with three followed by Alabama and Texas with two each. California, District of Columbia and New Jersey all have one.

Graphic: Ryan Escobar
1. David Hicks Jr., Paetow (Katy, Texas)
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 270
Status: Uncommitted | Class: Senior (2023)
Lines up everywhere on the defensive line and posted 96 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 13 sacks during his junior season at Allen.

2. Peter Woods, Thompson (Alabaster, Ala.)
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 270
Status: Committed to Clemson | Class: Senior (2023)
Helped the Warriors win their third consecutive 7A state title in 2021 and was a first-team selection on the MaxPreps Junior All-America squad. Woods had 92 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and a pick-six.

3. Keon Keeley, Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.)
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 245
Status: Committed to Notre Dame | Class: Senior (2023)
The five-star edge rusher racked up 34 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks in 2021.

4. Nyckoles Harbor, Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.)
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 230
Status: Uncommitted | Class: Senior (2023)
Has gone viral this spring because of his sub 10.3 100-meter dash but showed what he can do on the football field during his junior season when he had 31 tackles for loss and 17 sacks.

5. Matayo Uiagalelei, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 260
Status: Uncommitted | Class: Senior (2023)
The five-star edge rusher will be an impact player on both sides of the ball for the No. 1 team in the MaxPreps Top 25 rankings.

6. Colin Simmons, Duncanville (Texas)
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 225
Status: Uncommitted | Class: Junior (2024)
The top-rated edge rusher will be the next great defensive player for the Panthers.

7. James Smith, Carver Montgomery (Montgomery, Ala.)
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 310
Status: Uncommitted | Class: Senior (2023)
After spending last season at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) he’s back at Carver and one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the country.

8. Rueben Bain, Central (Miami)
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 250
Status: Uncommitted | Class: Senior (2023)
Recorded 29 sacks as a junior for one of the premier programs and will look to end his career leading the Rockets to a fourth straight state title.

9. Jayden Wayne, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 245
Status: Committed to Miami | Class: Senior (2023)
Named the best player in Washington before announcing his transfer to IMG and should sharpen his tools even more lining up against the best competition in practice every single day.

10. DJ Samuels, Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.)
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 240
Status: Committed to Maryland | Class: Senior (2023)
Broke Brian Cushing’s school-record for career sacks as a junior and should make an even bigger impact as a senior for the No. 21 team in the MaxPreps Top 25.

Source: MaxPreps (CBS)

By Peter

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