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St. John’s Prep’s Joenel Aguero chooses to continue his football career at Georgia

Joenel Aguero (center) is joined by his parents, Joel and Angela, along with his two younger brothers, Joel Jr. (right) and 3-year-old Joemani following his commitment ceremony on Saturday at St. John's Prep.Courtesy

DANVERS — One of the top high school football recruits in Massachusetts is bound for Georgia.

With a broad smile spreading across his face, safety Joenel Aguero jammed a Bulldogs hat on his head Saturday afternoon in a commitment announcement broadcast live on CBS Sports from St. John’s Prep.

Aguero is a rising senior from Lynn who is returning to SJP, where he played his freshman year, after spending two years at IMG Academy in Florida. He made his final selection from a foursome that also included Florida, Miami, and Ohio State.

“It was definitely hard because all these schools are great programs,” he said. “There were pros and cons of each program, but it just felt right going to Georgia.”


Aguero said he felt certain in his decision a month ago but still took visits to all four schools in June.

“Going into all those visits, I already had my head kind of made up, but I didn’t want to limit my options,” he said. “I still wanted to explore more and see if I found something in those other schools I didn’t find in Georgia.”

What he found in Athens was a program coming off its first national championship and sporting a spread-optimized defense that led the nation in points allowed per game and yards allowed per play. Aguero, at 6 feet, 200 pounds, expects to play multiple roles under coach Kirby Smart.

“He’s going to use me everywhere,” Aguero said. “I’m versatile. I can do everything. I can play the nickel position, I play safety. They can put me at corner, it doesn’t matter.”

All four major recruiting services had Aguero as one of the Bay State’s top two players in the class of 2023, with ESPN and On3 rating him ahead of Thayer Academy tackle Samson Okunlola. All four ranked Aguero as a top-five safety recruit in the country and two of them (ESPN and 247Sports) had Aguero among the top 30 recruits nationwide.


“His explosiveness and his athleticism just pop off the screen, and in person even more,” said St. John’s Prep coach Brian St. Pierre, a former quarterback at Boston College. “You just don’t see kids at that age level who can do what he does.”

Aguero is part of an impressive class of 2023 from Massachusetts, which includes Okunlola, who has interest from Alabama, Miami, and Florida, among others; Notre Dame commits Boubacar Traore (Catholic Memorial) and Preston Zinter (Central Catholic); Penn State-bound Andrew Rappleyea (Milton Academy); Nebraska commit William Watson III (Springfield Central); and BB&N’s Ronan Hanafin, who has offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, and Clemson.

“They’d better stop sleeping on us because we’re on the come up,” Aguero said. “They used to doubt us all the time and say ‘Massachusetts don’t have no football [players].’ That’s why I’m here. I’m going to put my whole state on the map.”