Another National Signing Day is in the books following Wednesday and for many of the schools in the ACC, it was a very productive day. Defending national champion, Florida State, had its usual strong finish, but Miami, Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State and even Virginia all had very strong classes as well.
Florida State finished with a top 5 class according to most publications and according to Rivals, the Seminoles have notched a top 10 class in each of the five seasons under head coach Jimbo Fisher. The Seminoles were able to replace players at key skill positions including wide receiver as five-star prospect Ermon Lane signed on Wednesday.
The Seminoles were also able to land a five-star back in Miami product, Dalvin Cook. Cook is a complete tailback and could compete for the second spot in the rotation behind projected starter, Karlos Williams. Cook is also one of Lane’s closer friends which may have played a role in bringing the star wide-out to Tallahassee.
The second best class in the ACC went to FSU’s rivals to the south, Miami. Despite what will be his fourth season upcoming at Miami, Wednesday’s class was dubbed the beginning of the Al Golden era as it was Golden’s first class with no NCAA sanctions looming over the program.
Miami didn’t have to go far to get its top talent as the class was headlined by Booker T. Washington standout defensive end, Chad Thomas. The Hurricanes were also able to land a speed back in Joseph Yearby, who will bring the ‘Canes some much-needed depth at the position behind Duke Johnson.
Also notching a stellar class out of the ACC was Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers. Perhaps the prize of Clemson’s class was Gainesville, Georgia native, Deshaun Watson. A 6’3″ dual-threat quarterback, it will be interesting to see if Watson is the guy to immediately fill the void left behind at the position by the ACC’s all-time touchdown pass leader, Tajh Boyd.
Larry Fedora and North Carolina filled a glaring need at tailback by bringing in five-star running back Elijah Hood from Charlotte. Hood could make an immediate impact as the Tar Heels ranked just 84th nationally in rushing and just 11th in the ACC in 2013.
Virginia Tech had what some considered a top 25 class, but the Hokies suffered a big blow midway through National Signing Day as four-star receiver Ja’Von Harrison from Lakeland, Florida decomitted from Virginia Tech and signed with the national champion Seminoles. Nevertheless, the Hokies still managed to land five players at the position including four-star prospect, Cameron Phillips.
Among the two biggest surprises of the 2014 recruiting class were a pair of schools that failed to win a single game in conference play a season ago — Virginia and N.C. State.
Mike London’s Cavaliers landed just 17 total recruits, but two of those 17 were five-star prospects and both were homegrown defensive players. Five-star defensive back Quin Blanding and defensive tackle Andrew Brown each chose Virginia over the rival Hokies as well as many other national powers. To illustrate how remarkable London’s class was, Virginia had more five-star players sign than Ohio State, Stanford, South Carolina, UCLA, Texas and Penn State combined.
Dave Doeren’s second recruiting class was unanimously dubbed a top 40 class. Despite being known for his spread offensive attack, Doeren was able to land three four-star defensive recruits including defensive ends Justin Jones and Kentavius Street.
Paul Chryst and the Pittsburgh Panthers put together what was unanimously considered to be a top 45 class. Pittsburgh signed four four-star offensive players including wide receiver Adonis Jennings, who could see significant playing time opposite sophomore-to-be, Tyler Boyd.
Steve Addazio and Boston College inked three four-star players and one that could serve as the successor to graduated All-American Andre Williams. Jersey City native Jonathan Hillman could battle Myles Willis for the bulk of the carries at running back next season.
Georgia Tech and Syracuse each inked just one four-star player. Jacksonville defensive back Step Durham headlines Paul Johnson’s recruiting class while K.J. Williams, a wide receiver from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania did likewise for the Orange at what was a very weak position for Scott Shafer’s team in 2013.
In his return to Louisville, Bobby Petrino signed only 20 kids with 16 being of the three-star variety. Defending Coastal division champion Duke brought in only 18 kids, but 16 were three-star players.
First-year Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson signed 27 players with his first recruiting class. Only 12 however, were three-star recruits.
Overall, the day belonged to the state of Florida as the Seminoles and Hurricanes were able to capture much of the nation’s top talent. Clemson however, was not far behind while several other teams from the conference had solid classes. Virginia and N.C. State were certainly pleasant surprises while North Carolina and Virginia Tech brought in key pieces to help compete in the Coastal next season. All in all, National Signing Day should leave a number of ACC fans optimistic about the conference’s football future.