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5-star Class of 2023 ATH Joenel Aguero
Courtesy photo

Joenel Aguero: 5-star speed demon junior safety already likes a lot about UGA

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry shares the first cache of information about impressive 5-star 2023 safety Joenel Aguero. He is already a very big target for UGA in the cycle.


Joenel Aguero is fast and physical. Clearly. Aguero plays for the national defending high school champions at IMG Academy in a secondary chock-full of 5-stars.

He had an impactful trip to UGA this summer. That visit expanded on some steady recruiting prior to the opening of college campuses again on June 1.

Aguero already rates as the nation’s No. 2 ATH and the nation’s No. 28 overall prospect for 2023 on the well-established 247Sports Composite ratings. That’s enough to get those that follow Georgia football recruiting fervently intrigued. Yet flip on the tape and watch him work.

He’s from Massachusetts and the way he plays does bring to mind another native from that same state who currently patrols the Georgia secondary in the No. 16 jersey.

To take things a step further, Aguero knows Lewis Cine, too. Cine has provided him a personal source of information on things that a 5-star needs to know about the Bulldogs.

His game does bring to mind what Cine can do very well, too.

“That’s kind of how I got introduced to Lewis,” Aguero said. “Of course, we are from the same state. We don’t live too far away from each other. People would say that I play just like Lewis. At first, I was like ‘Who’s Lewis?’ and ‘I don’t know who that is.’ But then I started looking at him. I saw his film and I am like ‘yeah I definitely do play like Lewis’ because we do have some similarities on the field. For sure. I definitely see it.”

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Joenel Aguero: Got to start with a unique first name

This much is pretty clear by watching what he can do on the grass. Aguero is the best player with the first name “Joenel” that this author has ever seen, scouted or heard of before.

That’s a new one for these eyes and ears.

“I’m like Dominican, right,” Aguero said. “So I guess my Dad kind of named me off of it. It was like the President of the Dominican Republic, I think. Like a couple of years ago. The names are similar so his name starts with an ‘L’ instead of a ‘J’ and that’s kind of how he did it.”

As it turns out, Leonel Fernández was the President of the Dominican Republic from 1996 to 2000 and 2004 to 2012.

Aguero was born just outside of the city of Salem in Massachusetts. Cine transferred from that same state to Texas to play for a high school team that featured NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as an assistant coach. Cine wanted to show recruiters he could excel on the bigger stage of Texas high school football.

That’s a similar method to his move to play for the boarding school powerhouse.

“That’s exactly what I am doing,” Aguero said. “Lewis, that’s my ‘Dawg for sure. That’s my guy there.”

There’s a high sense of state pride behind it.

“Massachusetts can do it,” Aguero said. “We are underrated in football and I kind of want to put them in the spotlight. Have coaches start to take an even longer look at there.”

Why does he play football?

“I’m just going to be honest here,” Aguero said. “Even if I don’t sound really cool. I just have a lot of love and passion for the game. That’s number one and then number two, I’m really aggressive. I like to hit people and I like the brutality of it. Then I guess the third thing I know is there is a lot of money in the football game and I kind of want to be the first millionaire in my family. I do want to buy my mom a house and everything. You know. All that stuff.”

That truth serum answer right there covers all the reasons why about 90 percent of everyone in the SEC wants to play football, too.

What’s his favorite thing about football?

“Taking people’s heads off,” he said. “Killing people. That is my favorite thing. It feels good to hit people.”

There’s another honest answer.

“I have to retire my Mom so she doesn’t have to work no more,” the 6-foot, 197-pound junior said. “Because she works a lot. I’ve got two more brothers that she has got to take care of. They have been helping her sometimes, but that’s why I play. That’s why I wake up every morning with a chip on my shoulder to go out and get every bit of that.”

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5-star Class of 2023 ATH Joenel Aguero actually visited UGA in June, but also back in April. He showed up as a fan in the stands to catch the Bulldogs at G-Day, too.
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation

How has UGA recruited Joenel Aguero up to this point?

Clemson loves Aguero. He got one of their first summer offers for the class of 2023. Ohio State also made an impact on his summer visit tour. There are others on his mind, too.

Aguero said that Cine being in Athens is an asset to the Bulldogs in this recruiting race.

“I feel like it is,” he said. “They’ve got something there I personally know. Someone who is trying to recruit me also. I feel like it helps Georgia out a lot because they’ve got one of my guys trying to recruit me.”

Cine also adds another level to it. He referred to him as “they” in the following comment. The “they” he’s using here is in the context of someone that he can trust completely.

“They’ve told me everything about the school,” he said. They keep it 100 with me. They have told me the real things about the school. Not like some coaches, they may lie to you. They may try to sell you some dreams, but he will tell me the truth. It kind of helps.”

What has been that message?

“He’s just telling me Georgia is a great school all-around education-wise and it is a great school and all that,” Aguero said. “But then you know Kirby Smart is a defensive guy and he played safety so he kind of just loves his safeties and prioritizes them. It is kind of really good for me.”

He’s rated as an athlete, but that freshman year highlight reel up above shows him making a lot of plays with that blistering speed as a receiver. He didn’t get a sophomore season last fall in Massachusetts because of the pandemic.

“Schools see me as a safety but I am so versatile and I can kind of do everything,” Aguero said. “But my main position is safety. I can come down in the box and make big hits. Cover the slot. I can kind of do everything on the defense.”

He was initially slated to be one of those rare players at IMG to play both ways, but there has been a coaching staff change. It means he will likely spend almost all of his time at safety this fall. He’ll be a part of a secondary which will unquestionably be the best in the country.

5-star safety (and major UGA target) Kamari Wilson is there. Keon Sabb, a recent Clemson commit, is another 5-star who will play all over the field. Daylen Everette, another 4-star CB, is also there and he also just committed to Clemson.

Will offenses attack him in that scheme? He is the youngest of those 5-star and All-American level players.

“That’s why I came to IMG,” he said. “I want all of that kind of smoke. It is a brotherhood over here. We are all working. But I know I am the youngest personally, but I’m a dog. I’m like that.”

This will be his first season with IMG. He moved down to Florida in January.

The scouting assessment is relatively simple with Aguero. He’s fast and physical, but he also chases the ball well and tracks it well in the air. He can close ground very effectively and would be labeled as an explosive player on any field.

Even on a field with an assortment of All-American players, too.

Big hitter. Elite speed. Coverage ability and range. Aguero is the sort of player that would get defensive minds like Dan Lanning, Jahimile Addae, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart jumping off the high dive every day to sign.

“The biggest thing I like about Georgia is the vibe I get from them,” Aguero said. “When I went down there, I only got that vibe from like a couple of schools. Like three really. When I was there, I was comfortable being there. It felt good being there. It kind of felt like I was meant to be there if you know what I am saying.”

5-star Joenel Aguero will remind folks of Lewis Cine on film. He is a fast and physical playmaker. Really fast. He will play his first season with defending national champion IMG Academy this fall.
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation

The recruiting approach for Jonel Aguero

He’s thinking about the academics and the framework for a healthy career outside of football. Aquero knows that will be set up by the right college degree.

“The second thing is just having a good head coach who is willing to spend time with their players and trying to build a relationship with them and then early playing time, to be honest,” he said. “That’s really a big factor to me.”

That was another truth serum answer. Cine will likely be gone to the NFL after this season. Much less the 2023 cycle when Aguero will be playing college football somewhere.

Aguero went to see Georgia in June like most 5-stars in the 2022 and 2023 classes. But he was also there prior to that.

“I went to see Georgia first for the spring game,” Aguero said. “Back in April, I believe. We couldn’t do much besides go to the stadium. That was all I was able to do. Just watch the game. Not really visit. That was the first time and then it was June 16th or June 17th was when I took the first real visit to Georgia.”

That was like two days before the IMG seniors all took their official visits to UGA. There were six Ascenders in Athens on officials that weekend.

What sticks out to him about his trip a few days prior?

“Right when I walked in Kirby Smart was like just waiting there,” he said. “Right when I walked into the facility. Coach [Jahmile] Addae was there. All of the coaches. Coach [Will] Muschamp was there. They were all just waiting for me to come in. The hospitality there was just unreal.”

The Bulldogs clearly have a shot.

“They are high up there in my recruiting,” he said. “They are really high up there. Yeah. They really do have a good shot.”

He checked out Alabama, Boston College, Florida, FSU, Miami and Ohio State in June, too.

“I’ve got like four schools in my head right now that are really high up there,” he said. “On those visits, it kind of helped me see everything. Like with COVID, I really couldn’t see anything but now I have gotten the chance to see all of those schools. This is kind of making the recruiting process a little easier but now at the same time a couple of the schools are up there a lot stronger in my recruitment.”

Georgia is one of those four, he did share that.

He’s already established a top 12 this summer. The Bulldogs were also in that lot, too.

Aguero wants to major in business. He’s got his eye on owning his own real estate business with the proceeds from his professional career.

He comes across as a pretty serious young person. Aguero also doesn’t even like to play video games.

“I’m also a Christian,” he said. “Very religious and put a lot of faith in God. I make sure I pray and keep a good connection with God. Every morning. Before my games. That’s my routine.”

He said it feels like Alabama, Boston College, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Miami and Ohio State have been recruiting him the hardest of late. LSU is also starting to really get in the mix.

Joenel Aguero, who hails from Massachusetts, wants to own a real estate company one day.
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation


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