How 2023 football recruits compare to former college stars

Nico Iamaleava (second from the left) plays in a similar style to former Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker. Meanwhile, Alabama can use Richard Young (second from the right) like it did with Josh Jacobs. Illustration by ESPN

Many top college football prospects from the 2023 ESPN 300 are already on campus and suiting up for spring ball. This class was loaded with talent, and it was quite enjoyable projecting their immediate impact at the college level. Part of our evaluation process is drawing comparisons to past players with similar traits at this same stage.

Whether it's measurables, style, tenacity or simple body movements, there can be a multitude of reasons why one player might compare to another. We often try to make these assessments to give readers an idea of what prospects might look like at the next level with a hint of the early impact.

With that in mind, here's a look at 10 prospects ranked in the 2023 ESPN 300 and a recognizable player from their respective program to whom they compare.

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Alabama | Clemson
Michigan State | Notre Dame
OU | South Carolina | Tennessee

QB Jackson Arnold, Oklahoma

2023 ESPN 300 ranking: 3
High-ceiling player comparison: Baker Mayfield (2015-17)

Mayfield completed a stellar career at Oklahoma after originally walking on at Texas Tech. During his time as a Sooner, he threw for a whopping 12,292 yards and 119 touchdowns, won the 2017 Heisman and averaged a staggering 11.5 yards per pass attempt. He was the very definition of swagger and moxie, and he had the arm to back it up.

Arnold is like Mayfield not only in stature (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), but also in style. He's confident, poised and intellectual. At Denton Guyer High School (Texas), he ran essentially the same offensive system that he will be in at Oklahoma under Jeff Lebby, which has many similarities to Lincoln Riley's scheme when tutoring Mayfield. The 2022-23 Gatorade Player of the Year should face a seamless transition at the next level.