A rising senior at St. John’s Prep, Lynn’s Joenel Aguero already owns a flair for the dramatic that he hopes will be a hallmark of his college football career beginning next year in the Southeastern Conference. In a ceremony on Saturday at the Prep’s Mahoney Wellness Center, Aguero’s hand hovered briefly above a University of Miami baseball cap on a table in front of him, then slowed as it passed over an Ohio State University hat before darting to pick up a lid bearing the iconic, black-on-white “G” denoting the University of Georgia.
The consensus No. 1 football prospect in the state, Aguero announced his verbal commitment to play in Athens next fall, which means two things: first, the Bulldogs’ already smothering national championship defense seems poised to get even better, and secondly, Catholic Conference receivers will need to outmaneuver a national Top 25 recruit to get open this fall.
“This has been a dream of mine my whole life,” said Aguero. “You prepare for it. You work for it. You pray to God it comes true. It was a family decision to pick Georgia. The SEC is the hardest conference in college football, so the goal is to make it to the NFL. [After two years at Florida’s IMG Academy], I wanted to come back home and play my final season where it all started and in front of my family. I want to help this team win a state championship.”
Now a Lynnfield resident, Aguero is currently rated a consensus four-star prospect and is also the consensus No. 1 recruit in the state. The 6-foot, 205-pounder is ranked No. 21 overall nationally by ESPN and No. 20 by 247Sports. Rivals.com, 247Sports and ESPN are unanimous in rating him as a national Top 5 recruit at his position, which is safety.
“He’s the most-recruited kid ever to come out of this football program, that’s for sure,” said 8th year head coach Brian St. Pierre ’98, himself a national top five quarterback prospect in high school who played in the NFL after a decorated career at Boston College. “He’s a unique player. What he can do on the field is a little different. He’s especially athletic and explosive at the position. What he does just pops on film, which is why so many outstanding college football programs wanted him to come to their school.”
Aguero last played for the Eagles in his freshman season of 2019 when he helped St. John’s win a second straight MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl title. He was part of a talented corps of defensive backs that grounded a high-scoring Catholic Memorial offense (36.1 points per game) in a 14-7 victory. The teen transferred to IMG Academy, a preparatory boarding school and sports training destination in Bradenton, Florida, midway through his sophomore year and not long after the Massachusetts’ scholastic football season was shuttered due to COVID-19.
“It’s been a long road and it hasn’t always been easy, but we’re blessed to celebrate a day like today,” said Angela Aguero, the teen’s mother.
Media present at the announcement noted that Aguero is one of two Top 25 national recruits who will play in Massachusetts this fall (the other is Thayer Academy offensive tackle Samson Okunlola), an unusual circumstance both in the Commonwealth and the Northeast in general. In its five previous seasons of prospect rankings (2018-22), Rivals.com did not have a single Massachusetts recruit ranked in its Top 50.
“People better stop sleeping on Massachusetts football because we’re on the come-up,” said Aguero. “People used to doubt (the talent level in the state) and that’s why I’m here. I want to help put my state on the map and show we have ballers too, just like everybody else.”
The Prep’s opening football practice is scheduled for August 19.