@getabagkai Is No Lemon – He’s A Top Recruit in the Class of ’23

Makai Lemon isn’t the only big-time recruit playing at Los Alamitos HS in California. With quarterback Malachi Nelson claiming much of the attention at Los Alamitos, Lemon is stealing some of the spotlight from his five-star quarterback teammate.

It’s well deserved too. Lemon, who burst onto the scene with an outstanding freshman campaign in 2019, displayed the kind of ability that results in multiple Power 5 offers in 2020. Despite the coronavirus-shortened season, Lemon put himself on a level playing field with his teammate Nelson as far as recruiting goes.

The Offers

After his freshman season and into the offseason, Lemon’s recruitment started to pick up. At 6-feet and 180 pounds, the athletic Lemon picked up an offer from local USC.

Makai Lemon was offered by USC in March 2020.

Just as Lemon’s recruitment got hot, COVID-19 came onto the scene. With Lemon’s sophomore season moved to the spring of 2021, more offers rolled in from the likes of Florida State, Tennessee, Penn State, and more.

Lemon really began to pick up steam after a sophomore season in which he caught 43 passes for 756 yards and nine touchdowns. Those would be solid numbers in a 10- or 12-game season. Lemon did it in just six. He also found some time to play cornerback on defense and tallied 15 tackles and four interceptions. Lemon returned one of his picks for a touchdown and added a punt return score as well.

Offers from the major programs in the country – LSU, Oklahoma, and Michigan to name a few – began rolling in. Just as quickly as the offers have come in, Lemon has whittled down the field to his top seven.

Lemon named his final seven schools already.

Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and USC are among the final seven schools in the race to nab Lemon, who has been rated the No. 1 athlete in the Class of 2023.

Lemon is considered the No. 1 athlete in the Class of 2023.

Where Lemon ends up though could depend a lot on his quarterback. The bond between Nelson and Lemon runs deep.

Nelson-to-Lemon Connection

It’s not just that Lemon and Nelson are high school teammates. Sure, Nelson completed 43 passes to Lemon this spring, but the two have been playing together since they were seven years old. They play together on 7-on-7 teams and played together in youth leagues.

Now, they will play two more seasons at Los Alamitos. Nelson, who also received a multitude of offers from most every major college football program in the nation, has already committed to Oklahoma.

Los Alamitos QB Malachi Nelson commits to Oklahoma.

Because of the bond between Nelson and Lemon, Oklahoma may have the inside track on landing the Los Alamitos wide receiver/corner/kick returner. Where Lemon goes isn’t the only question that will need to be resolved before he plays at the next level. What position he plays will also need to be ironed out.

Offense or Defense?

Lemon is most likely a wide receiver at the next level, but he does have the skills necessary to play corner. As stated, he has good size at 6-0 and 180 pounds. He also has some growth potential. Lemon is a physical player, even on offense, and can play press coverage with the best of them. He can cover down the field and he is very good in run support.

Lemon didn’t play as much defense in the 2020 season (played in 2021) and it is unclear if he will play more defense this coming season. Regardless, he has the skill set to do so.

More than likely, Lemon will find himself as a Power 5 wide receiver in the fall of 2024. He is more a natural receiver than defender. His hands are outstanding and he has the kind of speed that turns heads. Lemon has been timed in the 40-yard dash as fast as 4.39 already. That number will continue to improve as Lemon matures.

After the catch, Lemon has the ability to beat any defender with his speed and quickness. He’s the type of athlete that can make a defender miss in a closet. Lemon changes direction with such ease and he’s got the ability to play inside as well as the size to play outside.

For now though, Lemon will continue to prepare for the upcoming 2021 season with his long-time teammate Nelson. Maybe by this time next year, Lemon will have chosen his future destination. Whichever school gets him, they will get a great one.

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