ACC: Football Recruiting

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A flurry of commitments and decommitments has led to considerable movement in the latest class rankings update. Several top-10 programs added ESPN 300 prospects, including Tennessee, which picked up top-10 ILB Darrin Kirkland Jr. The Vols already have a class that features a talented group of defensive linemen, and have now added a big, powerful inside linebacker that can develop into a tough downhill run-stopper. Butch Jones now has Tennessee in contention for a second-straight top-five finish.

Outside the top 10, USC landed a verbal from in-state tight end Tyler Petite, a tall, lengthy prospect with the size, speed and leaping ability to potentially create mismatches as a receiving target at the position. After landing the former Duke commit, USC's class features eight ESPN 300 prospects.

Ole Miss also saw a move up in the rankings with a pair of additions. The Rebels landed ESPN Junior College 50 QB Chad Kelly, a player who is physically gifted enough to be a strong candidate to replace QB Bo Wallace, a one-time junior college transfer himself. Ole Miss, who not sits at No. 17, also landed ESPN 300 OT Michael Howard. He is a lean OL prospect that needs to fill out, but is an athletic and tenacious player and with development could end up being a real strong pick-up out of Florida for the Rebels.

Inside the rankings

Coach Art Briles has had two very distinct luxuries when it comes to recruiting in today's complicated landscape -- recruiting in the shadows and recruiting without pressure. Both are actually in many ways, one in the same. As Briles has built this program, he's been able to do it his way without public pressure or booster interference because early on, nobody thought it could be done and nobody cared.

This staff was able to go after who they wanted, on their own timetable and without much scrutiny. In today's recruiting world, that's a huge luxury. Players like Levi Norwood, Antwan Goodley or Tevin Reese, who was a late qualifier, were all bypassed by other Power 5 programs, but nobody even noticed Baylor signed them or griped, "who are these guys" on signing day.

As a result, prospects like these were brought along at a normal pace and developed properly by the coaching staff. Redshirting the bulk of the classes for the first few years has also been huge for the Bears. The challenge going forward will be dealing with increased program exposure and expectation level which almost always brings with it increased recruiting scrutiny from boosters and fans alike. But the Bears don??t need to change a thing.



To see the full class rankings, click here.

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 16, 2014
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The dead period is upon college football with last weekend the last chance to have in-person contact until January 5th. As expected, there were some key visits in the ACC, but a pair of decommitments and a huge commitment for Clemson took center stage.

On The Trail Show (noon ET)

December, 16, 2014
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Join RecruitingNation's panel of experts to break down a week of huge commits and what's ahead for visits and all-star games.

Top sleeper commits: ACC 

December, 15, 2014
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than a hundred FBS programs competing for talent, it takes more than just those top-rated prospects and rosters are built with mainly prospects that enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key to a program’s success. Every year we see prospects who flew under the radar, but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations we come across many players who show promise and based of their upside for development or scheme fit are great additions.

Here are five unheralded commitments in the ACC worth keeping an eye on.

OG Wyatt Knopfke, Boston College
While Knopfke is an ESPN 300 player, he’s not as well-known as other interior linemen in the rankings. The big man out of Florida is a physical, strong player with the tools to be a good well-rounded player. And while listed at guard, he could be a candidate to develop at center as well. With an Eagles line that was loaded with seniors this season, head Coach Steve Addazio, an O-line coach himself, has a player who can develop into a key contributor in Knopfke.

DE LaSamuel Davis, Clemson
Four-star prospects like OT Zach Giella and athlete Van Smith are talented prospects and still rated highly, but they could be overlooked in a Tigers’ class that features double-digit ESPN 300 prospects. Another prospect in that group is Davis who notched over 100 tackles and 16 sacks this season. A rangy defender with wiry strength, he can use his hands well, flashes a good first-step and displays the tools to at least develop into a productive edge rusher. He needs to work to fill out his frame and be more consistent with his motor, but among this great collection of talent, Davis could emerge in time as a productive defensive contributor.


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Best of the visits: ACC

December, 14, 2014
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This weekend brought several big-time targets to ACC schools for official visits. At the top of the list was Louisville, which played host to five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle.

Settle snaps picture with Bobby Petrino

While some might think the official visit to Louisville over the weekend was an afterthought for ESPN 300 No. 17 Settle, the Cardinals are solidly in the mix.

Settle is scheduled to announce his commitment at the Under Armour All-America Game Jan. 2 on ESPN2 with Virginia Tech, USC, Louisville and Washington State all in the mix.

Georgia Tech hosts several commits

Three-star defensive tackle Kyle Henderson out of Florida power Tampa Plant was among several of the Yellow Jackets' pledges who visited. Henderson took to Twitter to show what he received upon arrival at his hotel.

Fellow commitment Harland Howell II took to Twitter as well.

Miami hosts top targets

The weekend at Miami was a weekend of defensive backs with ESPN 300 pledge Jaquan Johnson, four-star Tim Irvin, and three-star and Ohio State commit Carlton Davis both making the short trips.

Davis tweeted out where dinner was taking place for the recruits Saturday night.

Also on campus over the weekend was versatile three-star Javarius Davis out of Jacksonville.

One key target and commitment on campus Saturday who is not a defensive back was ESPN 300 running back Dexter Williams, who tweeted out a picture from his hotel in Miami.

Meanwhile in Blacksburg, Virginia, the Virginia Tech Hokies hosted a tackle whom offensive line coach Stacy Searels has been targeting since last spring. Senior riser Kenny Thomas Jr. took to Twitter and Instagram to post a picture on his official visit.

A second official visitor in Blacksburg over the weekend would give the Hokies' offense a much-needed shot in the arm: ESPN 300 No. 150 Nyheim Hines.

Hines is considering NC State, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia Tech and others.

ACC season recruiting superlatives 

December, 12, 2014
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While the recruiting season is heating up with seven weeks until national signing day, we are done with the regular season. As expected, the season in the ACC brought a number of surprises on the recruiting front, while defending national champion Florida State and Clemson currently having top 5 classes with the final stretch run just a month away.


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Three reasons why Miami disappointed 

December, 12, 2014
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On the recruiting trail, Miami overcame lingering uncertainty of NCAA sanctions and the loss of some scholarships to sign four top-15 classes over the past five cycles. Yet even with Duke Johnson, one of the nation’s most electric playmakers, Miami finished 6-6 and behind programs like Georgia Tech and Duke in the ACC Coastal Division. While head coach Al Golden deserves credit for navigating the Canes through rough seas, the Canes and their fan base are still hungry for a return to the glory days of The U.


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Class rankings: Dec. 10 update

December, 10, 2014
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Alabama, which has already signed three consecutive No. 1 classes, has occupied the top spot in the 2015 rankings since its release. Knocking the Crimson Tide's class, which features 17 ESPN 300 prospects, from the top spot might not be impossible, but it remains a tough task. Despite recently losing a commitment from ESPN 300 WR Daylon Charlot, Bama quickly rebounded, adding a verbal from No. 5 OLB Adonis Thomas. The four-star is reminiscent of 2014 Crimson Tide signee Christian Miller, and possesses excellent size and speed measurables in a hybrid OLB/DE skillset and the versatile defender should fit very well in their base 3-4 defense.

The team that could eventually push Alabama for the top class is Florida State after five-star Josh Sweat picked the Seminoles. FSU, which has had some success recruiting defensive linemen in Virginia with Derrick Nnadi in 2014 and Darvin Taylor II in this class, landed a big commitment in the one-time No. 1 overall prospect Sweat. The No. 2 defensive end is an outstanding athlete with a wonderful combination of speed and power and he can be a versatile and disruptive defender in the Seminoles defense. The current No. 5 player overall in the ESPN 300 was sidelined with a knee injury during his senior season and that could slow initial contributions, but the talented defender is an early enrollee and still possesses great upside with the potential to be an impact player while Tallahassee. The addition of the five-star helped the Seminoles to move into the No. 2 spot in the class rankings.

Inside the rankings

The most difficult thing to do in recruiting is project what a player will be three to five years down the line and perhaps no coach in America does it better than TCU's Gary Patterson. The value of having coached at the mid-major level prior to making the jump to the Big 12 has provided this staff with valuable insight and evaluation tools when it comes to developing players who predominantly will be graded in the 77-82 range for just about all their classes. This was particularly true in the 2012-2014 classes.

This includes players like former WR Josh Boyce (who was lightly recruited) as well as freshman Emmanuel Porter just to name a couple. For TCU, it is about getting the right player -- does he work hard, will he compete and does he have upside in his physical development? Those are the three key things to each TCU class. The other undervalued area that has set the Horned Frogs apart is the staff's ability to project a player at a different position than the one he played in high school. Former TCU great Jerry Hughes was a running back, current safety Sam Carter was a quarterback, OC Joey Hunt was a DT and current starting QB Trevone Boykin was a wide receiver/QB athlete that had to transition to playing QB fulltime.



To see the full rankings, click here.
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Under Armour All-American defensive end Josh Sweat committed to Florida State on Wednesday morning, becoming the Seminoles' second five-star pledge. Here's what the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2015 ESPN 300 brings to Jimbo Fisher's loaded roster:


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Class rankings: Dec. 3 update

December, 3, 2014
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There was little positive movement in the rankings, but all was far from steady as classes on the decline took center stage in this update. 'Tis the season for coaching changes, and two dismissals at prominent programs led to some key decommitments and classes dropping.

Michigan, which signed top-10 classes in 2012 and 2013, faltered on the field, and after four years in Ann Arbor, head coach Brady Hoke was let go. After his departure, the Wolverines class, which had been in decline for a while, losing four ESPN 300 commitments in October and November, suffered another big loss with No. 3 TE-Y Chris Clark decommiting. Having now lost five ESPN 300 commitments since the season started and with a class down to just six total commits, the Wolverines are currently a long way from the top 10. Following the news of the coaching change in Lincoln, Nebraska quickly saw three key offensive prospects decommit, led by ESPN 300 WR Stanley Morgan, and dropped from the rankings.-- Craig Haubert

Inside the rankings

Alabama is at the pinnacle of college football recruiting because it simply has more resources than everyone else. Facilities, finances, booster support, alums, tradition, winning, history, etc. They are all positives. Couple that with Nick Saban's philosophy in player evaluation, attention to detail and pro personnel model, and you have the ideal recipe for long-term success and sustainability.

At Alabama, if it has to do with winning and losing, winning always wins when it relates to recruiting resources. If the Tide need something because it will help them win, they get it. From an evaluation standpoint, Bama is every bit as concerned about the best player as it is with the right fit. From measurable standards to a specific set of critical factors, we have seen them bypass great players because they weren't the right fit. The bottom line is that for the last seven years, Alabama has drafted players while its competitors recruit players.-- Tom Luginbill

To see the full class rankings, click here.
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Although the battle for highly coveted junior college cornerback Rasul Douglas isn’t among only ACC teams, he is one of the top prospects remaining on the board for Louisville, with the Cardinals battling regional foe West Virginia and others vying for the talented defensive back.


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Best of the visits: ACC

November, 30, 2014
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It was a busy weekend of recruiting in the ACC, with Florida State, Louisville and Clemson taking center stage. As expected, there were rave reviews on Twitter. Here's a look at some of the best social media posts of the weekend in ACC recruiting.

South Carolina at Clemson

Sophomore receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. tweeted this picture of him talking with Tigers coach Dabo Swinney after Clemson’s big rivalry win.


Before the game, Johnson tweeted out a picture with former NFL star Ray Lewis.


The sophomore wide receiver from California has offers from UCLA, Tennessee, Arizona State and others in addition to Clemson.

One of many 2016 prospects on hand Saturday at Clemson was ESPN Junior 300 No. 19 Saivion Smith. Smith sent out a pair of tweets, one prior to the visit and one following.


Smith, who has offers from just about every top program in the Southeast, made the trip from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, with fellow ESPN Junior 300 prospect Tavares Chase (No. 128).

Florida at Florida State

The Seminoles' official visitor list over the weekend in Tallahassee would make even Nick Saban blush. Included in the star-studded group was ESPN 300 No. 42 Florida State commitment Jacques Patrick, who posted a picture with his mom and little brother all decked out in Florida State gear.


One of the official visitors and top targets on hand this weekend was ESPN 300 No. 277 Kris Boyd. The East Texas native tweeted out his thoughts Sunday morning.


Boyd also appeared on Twitter in a picture with fellow target Holton Hill (No. 173) and the nation's top safety, Derwin James.


ESPN 300 No. 297 Jalen Merrick tweeted out about having a “great time” on his official visit to Tallahassee as well.

Kentucky at Louisville

The Cardinals hosted a number of 2015 targets, both high school and junior college, as well as some 2016 prospects on Saturday. Junior college corner Rasul Douglas tweeted out a picture Sunday morning in a Cardinals jersey.


ESPN 300 No. 186 and Louisville commit Traveon Samuel also tweeted while on his weekend official visit to Louisville. Samuel is expected to be an instant-impact return man and slot receiver with big-play capability.


In the class of 2016, Michigan defensive end Khalid Kareem tweeted about his visit to Louisville. Kareem has offers from the likes of Iowa, Duke, Maryland, Northwestern, Tennessee and a number others, in addition to the Cardinals.

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

November, 25, 2014
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The weekend that was in the ACC was filled with a number of key official visits, including a trio of ESPN300 prospects. While the news of Josh Sweat's visit to Florida State takes center stage for many, both Wake Forest and Georgia Tech picked up key commitments, as well as a 2016 quarterback giving his verbal to Virginia.


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Best of the visits: ACC

November, 23, 2014
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This weekend in the ACC was a chance for a couple of programs to show they are headed in the right direction. Not only did Wake Forest have a number of top targets on hand over the weekend, but the Demon Deacons delivered with a 6-3 double-overtime win over Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, Virginia won in decisive fashion over Miami (Fla.), 30-13.

Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons had a number of top targets in Winston-Salem over the weekend, and the list included top playmaking target and ESPN 300 No. 149 Nyheim Hines, along with his twin sister, who is being recruited by Wake Forest in track. Hines snapped this pic and tweeted it out Saturday with the Demon Deacons mascot.


Hines is considered a lean to NC State over Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia Tech and others, with the Wolfpack being his childhood favorite and having offered his sister a track scholarship as well.

Another four-star visitor on hand this weekend at Wake Forest was Lawrence Cager, who spent time with Demon Deacon commitments Kahlil Welsh and Steven Claude Saturday during the big win over Virginia Tech.


Claude also took to Twitter before Saturday’s game to post a picture with Welsh in the Demon Deacons football offices.


Welsh flipped his commitment from Florida Atlantic to Wake Forest after the Demon Deacons offered on Nov. 6.

Miami at Virginia

Not only did Virginia and Mike London get a huge win over the Hurricanes Saturday to the tune of 30-13, they also picked a commitment from ESPN Junior 300 No. 162 Sonny Abramson after the signal-caller arrived in Charlottesville Friday night.


The commitment of Abramson is a key one for the Cavaliers with the future of the quarterback position in question, both in terms of starter and depth. He selected Virginia over Iowa, Vanderbilt, Duke and Wake Forest.

Syracuse at Pittsburgh

ESPN 300 No. 17 Tim Settle visited Pittsburgh for its 30-7 win against Syracuse on Saturday.


While Pittsburgh is not considered a serious player in the Under Armour All-America Game selection's recruitment, any time a program can get a prospect on campus they have a shot -- even if minimal. Settle is scheduled to officially visit USC and Washington State the next two weeks, with Virginia Tech and Tennessee considered the frontrunner over Penn State.

Settle was accompanied on the visit by 2016 athlete Eric Kumah, who was offered by the Panthers staff Saturday.


The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Kumah had offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Tennessee and Boston College before the Pitt offer Saturday.

ACC's top recruiting visits 

November, 21, 2014
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There isn’t a marquee game this weekend in the ACC that will bring out prospects by the dozens. With that said, there are three programs hosting big-time and key 2015 prospects this weekend that will certainly take center stage. While No. 5 Josh Sweat has a lot of attention in the ACC at Florida State this weekend, Clemson is set to host one of the nation's top defensive tackles and Wake Forest hosts a speedy playmaker that the Demon Deacons desperately need in the program.


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