- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
A few of the warmest seats in the ACC have cooled through the first five weeks of the season, among them Maryland’s Randy Edsall. If the Terrapins’ third-year coach didn’t at least push for a bowl bid in 2013, Maryland brass might have moved in a new direction. The Terps are 4-0 so far, though, and it is having a positive impact on recruiting. Here's where the rest of the ACC stands in the 2014 class rankings.
Trending up: The Terps are undefeated and picking up momentum on and off of the field. Maryland had a bye last weekend but still came away with a win of sorts, landing a commitment from four-star athlete Juwann Winfree (Englewood, N.J./Dwight Morrow). Maryland made a consistent push for Winfree since the summer as the Terps were not in his initial top two. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Winfree wants to play receiver, and that is where the Terrapins will put him. He is the second-highest rated prospect among the Terps’ 12 commitments.
Among those pledges is three-star Norcross (Ga.) High athlete Jordan Noil, who followed Winfree’s lead and committed to the Terrapins last Tuesday, and he represents what could be a big step for Edsall. The state of Georgia is loaded with talent annually, and Norcross has several BCS-level recruits every season. Much of the ACC dips into Georgia every cycle, and the Terps would love to open that pipeline.
Although not yet in the top 40 of the class rankings, Maryland should make a push shortly as it leads for ESPN 300 prospects Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship) and Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara).
Trending down: North Carolina is No. 20 in the class rankings, and fourth among ACC schools, but the Tar Heels are heading in the wrong direction on the field. The team has regressed and the defense is among the worst in the country. The Tar Heels are No. 105 in total defense and only four BCS programs allow more points per game than UNC. There is not any significant help coming on the defensive side of the ball in the 2014 class either. Uncommitted in-state defensive ends Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page) and Kentavius Street (Greenville, N.C./J.H. Rose) do not look to be headed UNC’s way. Featherston is a Clemson lean, and Street does not plan to officially visit the Tar Heels, electing to travel to NC State instead.
What to watch: Tabor, No. 17 in the ESPN 300, recently announced his five official visit destinations: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Maryland and USC. The Terps are the prohibitive favorite, but if Tabor does make all of these visits, it could be a little unsettling for the Terps. A lot of so-called “locks” have landed elsewhere after an eye-opening official visit. Alabama and Florida have always been toward the top for Tabor, and USC could turn its class around depending on the new hire. Tabor will not announce until the Under Armour All-America Game, so the Terrapins are hoping to retain the lead for the next three months.
Bold prediction: Ole Miss is going to make a strong run at Kentavius Street, No. 33 in the ESPN 300. The Rebels could use some bodies at defensive end as only four players at the position are either freshmen or sophomores. That should worry NC State some even though he is predicted to land with the Wolfpack. The Rebels closed so strong in the 2013 class in large part because of late official visits to Oxford. In Street’s case, he will visit Ole Miss later this month, but the Wolfpack aren’t far enough ahead that a positive visit to Ole Miss would not shake up his recruitment. Street has other official visits set, but the one to the Rebels should concern NC State coach Dave Doeren most.
5dAndrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna