We continue our conference-by-conference look by evaluating some key aspects of ACC football’s recruiting class.
Best Class: Florida State Seminoles
Depending on who you ask, Clemson has an argument for the top recruiting class in the ACC, but because the classes were so neck-and-neck, we’ll give the nod to the top-heavy Florida State Seminoles.
Thank the pick-up of five-star defensive back Jalen Ramsey for that one. A corner that de-committed from USC in the waning moments of the 2013 recruiting season, Ramsey brings a ton of talent down south and could prove to be a difference-maker.
That’s not the only other five-star recruit that the ‘Noles inked on Signing Day. Add Matthew Thomas, too, a five-star outside linebacker from Miami, FL, and you have quite the formidable defensive recruiting class, bolstered by the pick-up of four-star defensive tackles Keith Bryant and Demarcus Walker, both of which were also Florida natives. All while, of course, adding two more top-tier linebackers in E.J. Levenberry and Tyrell Lyons, leading a 12-man defensive recruiting class for the ‘Noles.
This, of course, is all thanks to the brilliance of elite recruiters Odell Haggins and Jeremy Pruitt, both of which combine to create one hell of a one-two punch on the recruiting trail. The commitments of Walker, Levenberry, Ramsey and Bryant saw these two as the primary recruiters and having them aboard a staff that recently saw quite a bit of turnover is pretty damn impressive.
Worst Class: Boston College Eagles
This is your uncontested, unequivocal worst class in the ACC. While Syracuse had a real stinker of a class this year, there shouldn’t be a doubt in your mind that these Eagles blew it on the recruiting trail.
There’s a few reasons for that, but let’s focus our attention on the fact that this was a new staff that B.C. was working under, and they inherited one hell of a mess from Frank Spazziani, a coach that took the Eagles from respectable ACC squad to perennial punching bag. All this, of course, is compounded by a tumultuous 2-10 season, all under the watchful eyes of new athletic director Brad Bates.
And while new head honcho Steve Addazio inherited what essentially has become a, erm, “dumpster fire,” the recruiting class he brought in saw fans quickly lose their hope for a regime change that would re-energize the fan-base.
That’s because Addazio’s staff brought in 15 commits, of which none — not one — was a four-star recruit and only four registered three stars on Scout.com. Their highest-rated recruit was the 44th-ranked defensive tackle in the nation in Tevin Montgomery, and while we’re sure Montgomery could be a gem, just like any other two-star recruit has the potential to be, it’s disappointing that higher-rated recruits weren’t signed.
This is as bad as it gets in terms of recruiting. Addazio desperately needed to rally an increasingly-disinterested fan-base via a nice recruiting class, but instead, the head coach brought in one of the nation’s worst classes, falling to No. 90 on Scout.com.
Most Surprising Class: Duke Blue Devils
Why Duke? Why the hell not?
OK, so finishing No. 11 in your conference of 14 isn’t the sexiest relative ranking you can obtain, but according to Scout, it is the best recruiting year they’ve had relative to their conference foes since 2006, and in case you’ve forgotten, we live in 2013. That’s seven years that Duke hasn’t emerged from the bottom three in recruiting rankings.
And lest you forget, they added a good chunk of three-star talent, grabbing the commitments of three-star cornerback Deondre Singleton in late January which was preceded by the commitment of three-star safety Chris Holmes out of Virginia. They were added on to a class that already comprises of three-star quarterback Parker Boehme out of Florida and the No. 23 center in the nation Austin Davis out of Texas.
Mind you, this wasn’t a mind-blowingly better class than years past, but this is a nice class coming off a spirited, bowl-eligible season which was capped off with a heart-breaking loss to 10-win Cincinnati (which is a good thing, because Duke). David Cutcliffe and his staff are positioning themselves for more momentum heading into 2013, and it’ll be a lot of fun.
Most Disappointing Class: Clemson Tigers
Perhaps this is a bit of a contrarian view-point, especially considering Clemson obtained a noteworthy recruiting class and nearly over-took the spot of “best class” on this list.
But the potential for this class? So, so much higher.
Because this class could have landed big fish like Robert Nkemdiche, and while we know being out-recruited by Ole Miss seems to be a common theme in the context of the 2013 recruiting season, losing Nkemdiche kind of hurt. Without him, Clemson doesn’t have the top class in the ACC and the group just isn’t as good as it could have been.
Indeed, this class once had the commitment of Nkemdiche, along with four-star wide-out Demarcus Robinson, while it also lost out on Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams late in the game. They didn’t earn the catches of the day and thus, had a disappointing Signing Day.
That said, this class is still one of the top-20 recruiting classes in the nation, and they do still have 10 four-star recruits in this class.
So nothing is bad, but considering the potential this class was capable of, it’s pretty disappointing.
Top Prospect: Jalen Ramsey
It really isn’t even a contest — one of the more well-known USC de-commits, Ramsey is easily one of the top-three cornerbacks in the nation and is an elite athlete that is still cerebral in coverage. The ‘Noles were able to steal Ramsey late in the process, and to go along with their ACC-best recruiting class, possibly earned a future shutdown corner.
Names To Know
1. Florida State. Jalen Ramsey, Keith Bryant, Matthew Thomas
2. Clemson. Tyrone Crowder, Tyshon Dye, Scott Pagano
3. Pittsburgh. Dorian Johnson, TraVon Chapman, Scott Orndoff
4. Miami. Kevin Olsen, Stacy Coley, Alquadin Muhammad
5. North Carolina. Mitch Trubisky, Desmond Lawrence, Greg Webb
6. Virginia Tech. Kendall Fuller, Holland Fisher, Bucky Hodges
7. Virginia. Taquan Mizzell, Tim Harris, Corwin Cutler
8. Maryland. Derwin Gray, Shane Cockerille, Taivon Jacobs
9. N.C. State. Cole Blankenship, Tylar Reagan, Matthew Dayes
10. Wake Forest. Wendell Dunn, Lance Virgile, Ali Lamot
11. Duke. Austin Davis, Parker Boehme, Joseph Ajeigbe
12. Georgia Tech. Shamire DeVine, Travis Custis, Donovan Wilson
13. Syracuse. Kendall Moore, Chauncy Scissum, Wayne Williams
14. Boston College. James Walsh, Myles Willis, Tevin Montgomery