Joenel Aguero: The All-American who turned down millions in NIL to get developed by Georgia football

This is the fourth installment of a DawgNation series featuring the “Next Generation” of Georgia football players from the 2023 class. 4-star safety Joenel Aguero wound up rated as the nation’s No. 3 safety and the No. 37 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite. On3 has him as the No. 3 safety and at No. 47 on its Industry Ranking scale.


Let us begin with a game of show and tell. But in the true “Next Generation” style, we will make it tell and show.

The subject? Georgia freshman safety Joenel Aguero.

Aguero carried several impressive works of body art to campus when he arrived back in mid-January as a student-athlete at the University of Georgia.

The first one that will catch every eye is the tiger that serves as a sleeve on his arm. Check it out here.

Georgia freshman safety Joenel Aguero enrolled early this spring and has been practicing with the team. Aguero was an All-American safety in the class of 2023. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

Aguero tells the world he is a tiger with that work of art on his skin. Then he shows it with every snap, including the first play of his senior highlight tape.

He only needs six seconds to validate why he deserves to wear that tat.

He reads a screen. Closes quickly. Like a tiger. Then hammers the back. Separating runner from ball. Havoc times two. His team nets a turnover out of it.

Tell. Show. Get the picture?

First and foremost, we wanted to impress a play like that here. That’s what Aguero is all about. Strip away the rankings. Peel back the fact he made those types of plays on a national stage for juggernaut IMG Academy as a sophomore and a junior.

He’s a safety with the athleticism of a cornerback. That will also make plays in the box like a hybrid nickel or dime linebacker. He can chase down dual-threat QBs. And leave their heads ringing after a collision.

When he’s got the scheme at Georgia down, it will be hard to keep Aguero off the field. That will be vital for an array of defensive standouts to slow down the Alabamas and the Ohio States of the college football jungle.

Georgia sent Chris Smith to the NFL Draft after three seasons of stellar on-field play. Somebody’s got to make those plays in the future with rising sophomore star Malaki Starks. Junior David Daniel is also going to make even more plays there this fall.

Yet Aguero is bound to work his way into the mix. He’s the tiger with a rhino’s horn at the end of his helmet. There have been plays where he’s sacrificed some of the proper tackling technique in order to deliver a tone-setting hit. Think Thomas Davis plus Javon Bullard plus the latest GPS tracking technology.

The next incarnation of that heat-seeking missile.

“I feel like that’s definitely part of my game,” he said. “I like to come down and make a hit.”

Yet he can flip and hips and shadow an elite receiver in coverage, like a cornerback. He’s also gotten to be more than an acquaintance with a former UGA safety who was taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

“But I’m also a great cover safety and I can cover. I can do a lot of things. I’m just so versatile. I’m like a Lewis Cine. You can tell him I said that. I will tell him I said that. He knows I will say that.”

NextJordan Hall: Talented freshman DL will be causing ‘Big Baby’ tears …
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