Joenel Aguero-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
5-star safety Joenel Aguero is the nation's No. 2 safety prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. (Courtesy photo)
Courtesy photo

Joenel Aguero: 5-star safety is in the final stretch of his recruiting at UGA this weekend

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 5-star safety Joenel Aguero. He ranks as the nation’s No. 2 safety and the No. 34 overall prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.

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Joenel Aguero is at UGA this weekend. For a pivotal official visit that will likely decide whether or not he is going to be a Bulldog.

There’s a lot to cover, but also a responsibility to share what Aguero has been up to. The nation’s No. 2 safety prospect is a big hitter but hopes he’s already made his biggest hit of 2022.

That happened as he shared his message to local Massachusetts youth about the need to prioritize their futures. Aguero, who moved back to Massachusetts for his senior year, recently hosted a “Stop the Violence” football camp in his community.

For starters, there are not a lot of players in Massachusetts. The state has averaged a trio of 4-star prospects every cycle since 2020. To put that in perspective, this isn’t a boom year for the state of Georgia. There are still 32 prospects with a 4-star ranking in this cycle.

“I love my city so I am always going to represent my city,” he said. “So I tapped in with one of the mayors of the city and we have a lot of violence going on. A couple of friends and guys I grew up with went to jail for murder. A couple of my other friends ended up being killed. It has been a thing with a few bad weeks here so we just made a thing to make it a ‘Stop the Violence’ camp so we could spread awareness and tell these kids it is not the streets they can choose. They can choose the sports route. The school route. So we just had to give them that message.”

He shared a personal story he hoped hit those young players hard.

“I gave them a speech about one of my friends I grew up playing with,” Aguero said. “I gave them a speech about him. You know it is kind of a little personal speech but he went to jail for murdering somebody. I kind of hit them with that a lot. They are younger so they don’t really see what is going on in the city so they just think ‘it can’t be me’ or that stuff won’t happen to them or their friends. You know how kids think. I feel like that kind of hit them and then I just told them to work hard. I mean if I did it, then they can also do it in football, too. All it takes is hard work.”

He told them about the guys he grew up around in the community that chose the wrong path.

“I told them when everybody else was out and partying and doing this and this out I was on the field working at 8 a.m. in the morning on Saturday mornings,” Aguero said. “Just working. With my Dad. Doing my drills. Putting me to work. I feel like that definitely hit them seeing somebody on a path now trying to make it. I feel like it gave them a lot of motivation.”

He spent two seasons at IMG Academy but wanted to come back home for his last ride.

“I got away from my family for a little bit but I feel like it is great coming back home for the last year of high school where I can just be with my family for the last year, the last full year pretty much,” he said. “It has been great, to be honest. I love it back home, but now I know it is time to get ready to go away from home for good now. For real.”

There’s a lot of recruiting stuff with Aguero, but a reporter’s role is to share the most meaningful things in an interview.

That stuff up above will tell folks a lot more than his jackhammer-hitting ability to play in the box and his blistering high 4.3 and low 4.4 times in the 40.

5-star safety Joenel Aguero is the nation's No. 2 safety prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. (Courtesy photo)
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation

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Joenel Aguero: He’s leaning a little bit toward one school

These visits will be fun. He’s earned them and dreamed about them for a long time.

What is he looking for? What will it all come down to?

“Aw, man,” he started off. “I’m not really too worried about who’s at the schools. I don’t think it is going to come down to the commits they get. I think I’m the top safety in my class regardless of what anybody has to say. I feel like it is going to come down to prayers and God giving me the green light. Saying that this is the school right here.”

“You know, I’m like okay, I am already kind of getting that way, I don’t know how to say it, I am already getting that way of kind of leaning toward it a little bit with that one school.”

Could these visits just be in place to prove that feeling to be right or wrong?

“I feel like that is pretty much it,” he said. “There is definitely one school that is a couple of little inches or a step ahead here.”

Georgia and Ohio State have been among his favorites for quite some time.

Florida is in the mix for a lot of reasons. His very good friend Kamari Wilson is there and those two are close. Wilson was a 5-star safety in the last cycle. He leaned toward UGA for a long time but ultimately chose the Gators. It was a decision his family really didn’t know about until the 11th hour.

Former Georgia defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae got to know Aguero well over the last year. That was when he kept taking very meaningful trips to Athens. When Addae made the move to Miami, their strong relationship was a natural bridge to Coral Gables.

Why was he ready to drop a final four and a commitment date in one swoop?

“I dropped my four because I feel like those were my best four,” Aguero said. “That was kind of like my favorites and I feel like those four schools are where I can make an early impact right away if I do what I have got to do.”

“With the commitment date, I wanted to be locked in on a school before the season. I want to focus on a school. I want to know my plan for going to that school. So whenever I get into the school I can have my mindset ready right away. To lock-in. I’m trying to be a starter from Day 1 so I have got to lock in early. I’m also trying to be a recruiter. Try to recruit for my class. I want my team to have the No. 1 recruiting class so I have got to get on top of that.”

He never wanted to rush his decision. Never wanted to de-commit. Waiting it out proved to be the savvy move back in December and January.

“Just looking at all those coaching changes then,” he said. “That shocked me. All these coaches going everywhere. I’m kind of glad I waited also. I got to see how things can switch up quickly. That’s pretty much why I waited.”

His trips will go to Georgia, Ohio State, Florida and finally to Miami. Aguero rolled through why each school earned a spot in his final group:

“Of course, my guy Kamari [Wilson] is there,” he said. “You know that’s my ‘Dawg. I love Kamari. Then also you know [safeties] coach [Patrick Toney] and then his co-defensive coordinator Corey Raymond is there. Everybody knows what he did in the past years at LSU and then ‘PT’ is a guy I watch the film with. He cuts up practice film and my film and he breaks it down with me. I like that a lot about him. He knows his game. Understands coverages. He’s just a football wiz.”

“To be honest, it really started with Coach Addae,” he said. “That’s how I feel like Miami got in the boot. Pretty much. I’m not going to lie. Coach Addae was my guy back at Georgia. So we pretty much kind of had that great relationship. So he made the move to Miami and then I was like I am going to mess with Miami now.”

“Then [Mario] Cristobal has tried to hop on board with me and my family. They all got tapped in with each other. From there, we have been building the relationship up.”

“Ohio State has always been one of my favorite schools,” he said. “I think since they offered me early in the summer of my freshman year. They have been on me since that time. Then [head coach] Ryan Day is a Northeastern guy. I’m from the Northeast so he has got to make sure he gets me. He’s been on me for a while now just building that relationship. Then also [safeties] Coach [Perry] Eilano. He just hopped on board with them in January but we’ve been building a real relationship and he’s a person you can really talk to. Like a mentor. He’s like a real coach like that. We’ve been building that relationship ever since.”

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5-star safety Joenel Aguero is the nation's No. 2 safety prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. (Courtesy photo)
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation

What’s on the table for Joenel Aguero this weekend in Athens?

What does he like best about the national champions?

“I feel like it is the people at Georgia,” he said heading into the visit. “To be honest, you know they have great people. Great recruiting people. All the people from the recruiting people recruit to the head coach. Even the academic people. They all have great people at Georgia there who all want to see you succeed. That’s something I like about them and my family really likes about them also.”

“They take care of their players. They develop their players and help them. I feel like that’s the one big thing I really like about UGA.”

His last UGA visit, prior to this weekend, was back on January 22.

The white uniforms caught his eye. Aguero tried them on and posed all over the Georgia locker room with the other elite defensive recruits in town last night.

“Those are hard,” he said before the visit. “I am definitely putting those on this weekend for sure. I’ve got to.”

If one paid too much attention to his social media, it seemed like he was drifting from Athens. Florida has gotten big. The same for Miami. There was a lot of love shown toward LSU, too.

Why did Georgia remain one of his favorites? That had a lot to do with head coach Kirby Smart and co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Will Muschamp.

“Georgia has always been one of my top favorite schools since the beginning of the process for me,” Aguero said. “Kind of once they offered me they have been on board with me right away. Kirby [Smart] and I have a great relationship. [Coach] Muschamp and I have a great relationship. Coach Addae left, but now that coach Fran [Brown] is there he and I have been building up that relationship. I would say it is pretty good.”

“I love the people at Georgia. I feel I still have got love for Georgia. For sure. I don’t think anything has changed.”

Aguero said Muschamp is his best relationship in Athens.

“Even with my family, they have a good relationship with coach Muschamp,” he said. “It is not just me. It is me and my family.”

His parents are with him this weekend. Both of his brothers were going. His grandparents also planned to be at UGA for his official visit.

Did he have any questions about Georgia? Or is it just trying that school on one last time?

“I think that is pretty much it,” Aguero said. “Trying that shoe on one last time. I have kind of seen everything. I have now been here plenty of times. Now I’m just going to keep connecting with the coaches in person. Really vibing with them. Just seeing everything. It is just hanging out pretty much and having fun.”

Joenel Aguero is a 5-star prospect at safety in the 2023 recruiting class. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
Joenel Aguero is a 5-star prospect at safety in the 2023 recruiting class. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

Joenel Aguero: The Lewis Cine connection with Georgia football

Cine, a pillar for the 2021 national championship season, also grew up in Massachusetts. His home is only about 15 minutes from where Aguero grew up.

That’s why Cine has been a player host for Aguero on numerous unofficial visits to Georgia. He has long held the hope that Aguero might also find Georgia is the best place for him to thrive, too.

When Cine and the ‘Dawgs beat Alabama, Aguero paid attention.

“It kind of motivated me, to be honest, to see what all he accomplished,” Aguero said. ‘We are almost from the same area so just seeing him doing good and coming from here and going to UGA and doing what he did winning and then winning the Defensive MVP in the national championship game. It kind of motivated me. I went straight to work the next day. I saw him do all that and felt that could definitely be me one day. Lewis definitely motivated me a lot.”

When Cine slayed at the combine, he took notice. The former Bulldog great then went in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft to the Vikings.

“Yes, sir that was big,” Aguero said. “I had to call him after that one. I just said ‘Congrats’ and that I was proud of him and he just, you know him being Lewis, he was just giving me the words of encouragement and to be wise and just giving me motivational stuff.”

That’s what Cine does. If there was one word to describe him better than any other, it would be wise.

“Facts,” Aguero said.

5-star safety Joenel Aguero is the nation's No. 2 safety prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. (Courtesy photo)
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation

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