Florida State Seminoles: Maryland Terrapins

By the numbers: Going deep

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
4:00
PM ET
Earlier this week, we looked at the top offensive lines in the ACC, which led me to tweet about the units that had the best and worst sack rates in the conference.

The best:

Duke (1 sack every 29 dropbacks)
Miami (1 every 24)
Syracuse (1 every 24)
North Carolina (1 every 23)
Virginia (1 every 23)

The worst:

Pitt (1 sack every 10.3 dropbacks)
NC State (1 every 13.2)
Boston College (1 every 13.2)
Virginia Tech (1 every 14.1)
Florida State (1 every 14.4)

For the teams ranking at the top, there may have been a few surprises, but UNC and Virginia both had offensive lines with top-tier NFL talent, and Syracuse and Duke both had mobile quarterbacks capable of avoiding sacks. It is probably worth noting, however, that the Blue Devils' offensive line was remarkably good in pass protection, but also had the ACC's lowest rate of running plays that went for a loss or no gain, too (7 percent).

On the other end of the spectrum, the names are a bit more surprising. Pitt's line was a problem, and Tom Savage didn't move around much in the pocket, so the Panthers' spot at the top makes sense. But didn't Boston College have a solid line protecting a veteran quarterback? Didn't NC State play half the season with mobile Brandon Mitchell taking snaps? Wasn't Logan Thomas one of the hardest quarterbacks in the country to bring down? And, of course, isn't Florida State supposed to have one of the top O-lines in the country to go with a Heisman-winning quarterback?

A few people on Twitter thought they had the answer, though: Deep balls. FSU, Pitt and BC had offenses that encouraged quarterbacks to look downfield, and the unfortunate side effect of such a philosophy is a few more sacks while quarterbacks are hanging on to the ball an extra second or two.

The theory made some sense, but we wanted to see if the numbers backed it up.

Here, courtesy of ESPN Sports & Information, are the ACC offenses that had the highest percentage of pass attempts go 20 yards or more.

As it turns out, only Florida State fits the bill as a team that looked deep often and suffered a few extra sacks as a result. Pitt's and NC State's deep-ball rates were right around the league average (22.3 percent), Virginia Tech was even lower (21.5 percent), and Boston College had the lowest percentage of any team in the conference (15.5 percent).

On the other end, the teams that had low sack rates did seem to throw deep a little less often. Duke, Virginia and Syracuse were all well below the league average for deep balls. But how about Miami and North Carolina? Both looked deep relatively often, and both still managed to limit sacks.

What this all likely means -- which is probably relatively intuitive in the first place -- is that a penchant for the deep ball likely plays some small role in the number of sacks a team allows, but it's hardly the overwhelming factor. A quarterback's decision-making and mobility play a part, the quality of talent on the line and ability of tailbacks and fullbacks to pick up blocks matters. The play calling (see: Georgia Tech) has an effect, too.

In other words, filtering out all the little nuances that define a successful offensive line from a not-so-successful one isn't a simple process, which is just one more reason the big guys up front tend to get far too little credit for the work they do.

Notebook: IMG 7v7 Championship 

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
10:00
AM ET
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championship held at IMG Academy over the weekend featured some of the top 7-on-7 teams from all over the country and even a few teams from Canada. The event, which included 12 prospects ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN 300, showcased some of the best talent you will find in a single tournament. Led by Alabama verbal commits Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker, the Florida Fire from South Florida defeated Tampa’s Unsigned Preps 20-18 in the championship game to take home the title.

Quarterbacks shine

There were several high-profile quarterbacks in attendance, and they lived up to the hype for the most part. Deondre Francois, who recently transferred to IMG Academy, made numerous impressive throws. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound signal-caller has a top three of Oregon, Auburn and Florida State and is planning to make his decision at the end of July.

The biggest news to come from last week’s ACC league meetings was a decision on future conference scheduling. With expansion, there was a push to move to a nine-game conference slate, along with the potential to switch up the conference title game format. For now, however, things are going to stay more or less the same.

What has changed in terms of scheduling is a rule that will require all teams to play at least one nonconference game against a team from a Power 5 conference (Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC). While that won’t affect the four ACC teams with annual rivalry games against the SEC (FSU, Clemson, Louisville and Georgia Tech), it will force some others to up the ante on future scheduling.

[+] EnlargeACC logo
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesThe ACC has not performed well in regular-season, nonconference games against Power 5 teams since 2009. The combined record of the 11 current ACC members who have been a part of the conference since then is 22-51.
(Note: For a more detailed look at scheduling of Power 5 nonconference foes in the next few years, BC Interruption has a detailed list.)

Rather than look ahead, however, we decided to take a look back at how the ACC has fared against Power 5 competition in recent years.

As colleague Andrea Adelson pointed out, the 2013 nonconference slate in the ACC was one of the toughest in the nation, and the 2014 schedule projects to be similarly daunting.
“The ACC played one of the most challenging nonconference schedules in the country a season ago, featuring games against Georgia, USC, Florida, Northwestern, Penn State, Alabama, South Carolina, BYU and Oregon.

This year, Oklahoma State, Georgia, Ohio State, Nebraska, UCLA, USC and Iowa are on the nonconference schedule, in addition to the standard SEC rivalry games for Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville.”

But while the ACC played a fair number of tough nonconference games, it didn’t exactly perform particularly well in them.

In fact, going back five years to the 2009 season, the numbers are pretty bleak.

The 11 current ACC members who have been a part of the conference since 2009 have played a total of 73 regular-season, nonconference games against Power 5 teams. Their combined record is a dismal 22-51 (.301).

Here’s how bad it actually is:

• Three of those 22 wins actually came against Pitt, Syracuse and Louisville when those programs were not part of the ACC.

• Seven more wins came against Vandy, Kansas, Rutgers and Indiana — hardly traditional powers despite their conference affiliations.

• No ACC team has a winning record in nonconference, regular-season games against Power 5 teams during that span. The team that has performed the best during that stretch is North Carolina, which is 3-3.

• The most impressive nonconference, regular-season wins over Power 5 teams for the ACC in the last five years amounts to a short list: Clemson over Georgia (2013), Miami over Florida (2013), Clemson over Auburn (2011), FSU over Florida (2010), Miami over Oklahoma (2009) and Virginia Tech over Nebraska (2009).

The failures against Power 5 teams are league-wide, but the spread is a bit one-sided. Since 2009, there are a few teams that have distinctly avoiding playing nonconference, regular-season games against Power 5 teams. The full list is in a chart on the right.

What’s worse, four of those six games played by NC State and Virginia Tech came in 2009, meaning those two programs have each played just one regular-season, nonconference game against a Power 5 team in the last four years. (Virginia Tech played Alabama last season, while NC State played Tennessee in 2012.)

Of course, conference games are also played against Power 5 foes, and the ACC has won its share of bowl games against teams from major conferences as well. With that in mind, here are the league’s standings since 2009 based on all games against teams currently in a Power 5 conference (plus Notre Dame).



It’s probably no surprise that Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech -- the league’s power teams -- have performed the best.

Georgia Tech’s solid 31-24 record might be a nice feather in Paul Johnson’s cap, if not for the five straight losses to UGA.

Miami and North Carolina have played .500 football in big games the last five years, which puts them in the middle of the pack but, of course, is far below the expectations for two programs with the resources to perform much better.

The league’s newcomers -- Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville -- have won a few significant games, but the ACC obviously has higher hopes for all three schools moving forward.

(Note: Losing Maryland certainly isn't hurting the ACC with respect to these numbers. The Terps were a dismal 13-33 (.282) against all Power 5 teams in the last five years and just 1-5 in regular-season, nonconference games against Power 5 foes.)

Overall, however, the win-loss records don’t exactly tell the story of the ACC as a rising power in the national landscape. In fact, the new scheduling strategy is effectively a carbon copy of the one installed by the SEC, but the difference between the performance of the two leagues in those games is actually quite stark.

In the last five years, the 12 continuous SEC programs are 41-24 (.631) in nonconference, regular-season games against Power 5 opponents, winning at more than double the rate of the ACC. While the ACC doesn’t have a single team that has won more than half of its games against Power 5, nonconference teams in the regular season, the SEC has three teams (Alabama, LSU and South Carolina) that are undefeated in such games.

The knock on the SEC, of course, is that its programs have widely shied away from top-notch competition outside the league. While ACC teams have played, on average, 6.6 regular-season, nonconference games against Power 5 foes in the last five years, the SEC has averaged just 5.4.

But that doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things. Scheduling big-name opponents wasn’t really the problem in the first place. Winning more of those games is the big hurdle the conference needs to clear.
The NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rates (APR) across Division I on Wednesday, with overall scores increasing, including in football.

The 2012-13 average APR was 976, a two-point increase from a year ago. The two-point increase held true for football individually as well, rising from 949 to 951.

Last week, Boston College, Clemson, Duke and Georgia Tech were recognized as NCAA Public Recognition Award winners for their football programs’ APR, which ranked in the top 10 percent nationally.

Eleven of the 14 programs that competed in the ACC in 2012-13 exceeded the national football average of 951. Duke, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State, NC State, Maryland and UNC all saw an increase in APR from last year’s numbers.

Here’s a rundown of each ACC program’s 2012-13 multiyear APR score:

Duke, 992
Georgia Tech, 983
Clemson, 983
Boston College, 981
Virginia Tech, 977
Miami, 972
Wake Forest, 970
Syracuse, 965
Pittsburgh, 961
Florida State, 958
Virginia, 956
Maryland, 950
NC State, 950
North Carolina, 938

Louisville, which officially replaces Maryland as an ACC member next month, had an APR of 947.

The APR is designed to provide an accurate measure of a team’s academic success by tracking the progress of each student, including eligibility, retention and graduation.
CLIFTON, Va. -- Five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle, No. 10 in the ESPN 300, will not be making an early commitment, that much has been known from the start. What is also known about Settle is that he intends to go through the entire process and take all five of his official visits.

What wasn’t known is that Settle has started to think about what schools will make the cut.

“I’m going to trim it down in August to 14,” said Settle, who earned an invitation to The Opening Saturday after a stellar performance at the Nike Football Training Camp at Centreville High School in Clifton, Va. “The reason I’m going to trim it down in August is two-a-days and getting ready for the season. I don’t want a lot of pressure on me. I just want to play and have fun my senior season.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ACC spring dates

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
4:00
PM ET
Goodbye, February -- and good riddance. March means spring football, and Miami and Virginia both begin on Saturday -- the same day Duke ends with its annual spring game. It's finally time to see what the 2014 rosters actually look like throughout the ACC.

Here's a quick rundown of the start dates and spring games for each school:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring start: March 12
Spring game: April 12

CLEMSON

Spring start: March 5
Spring game: April 12

DUKE

Spring start: February 7
Spring game: March 1

FLORIDA STATE

Spring start: March 19
Spring game: April 12

GEORGIA TECH

Spring start: March 24
Spring game: April 18

LOUISVILLE

Spring start: March 18
Spring game: April 11

MIAMI

Spring start: March 1
Spring game: April 12

NORTH CAROLINA

Spring start: March 5
Spring game: April 12

NC STATE

Spring start: March 4
Spring game: April 12

PITTSBURGH

Spring start: March 16
Spring game: N/A

SYRACUSE

Spring start: March 18
Spring game: April 19

VIRIGNIA

Spring start: March 1
Spring game: April 12

VIRGINIA TECH

Spring start: March 27
Spring game: April 26

WAKE FOREST

Spring start: March 25
Spring game: April 26

Team-by-team attendance numbers

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
4:00
PM ET
Average attendance in the ACC as a whole remained steady in 2013, but there are definite issues administrators across the sport are working on to try and get more fans in the stands.

For now, here is a quick look at team-by-team attendance numbers for the 2013 season, with the percent change from 2012.

Clemson 82,048, up less than 1 percent
  • Notes: The Tigers set a new single-season school attendance record thanks to home games against Georgia and Florida State. Memorial Stadium was filled to 101 percent capacity.
Florida State 75,421, down less than 1 percent
  • Notes: Despite a lackluster home schedule, the Seminoles drew slightly fewer than the 75,601 they averaged in 2012 (when Clemson and Florida played in Tallahassee). Doak Campbell Stadium was filled to 92 percent capacity.
Virginia Tech 63,999, down 2 percent
  • Notes: The Hokies had their 93-game home sellout streak snapped against Western Carolina, ending the third-longest active sellout streak in the country. There was no marquee home game this year. Lane Stadium was filled to 97 percent capacity.
Miami 53,837, up 11 percent
  • Notes: The Hurricanes got a big bump this past season thanks to their nonconference showdown against Florida, which drew 76,968. Sun Life Stadium was filled to 71 percent capacity.
NC State 53,178, down 1.7 percent
  • Notes: The Wolfpack struggled on the field in 2013, so their numbers dipped slightly. Carter-Finley Stadium was filled to 92 percent capacity.
North Carolina 51,500, up 2 percent
  • Notes: A Thursday night game against Miami drew 56,000 fans, while the regular-season finale against Duke drew 62,000. Kenan Stadium was filled to 82 percent capacity.
Pitt 49, 741, up 16.6 percent
  • Notes: The Panthers had a blockbuster home schedule with games against Florida State (on Labor Day night), Notre Dame and Miami. Compare that to 2012, when the Panthers played two FCS teams, Louisville, Temple, Rutgers and Virginia Tech. Heinz Field was filled to 76 percent capacity.
Georgia Tech 49,077, up 10 percent
  • Notes: The Jackets benefited from a Thursday night home game against Virginia Tech and the regular-season finale at home against Georgia. Bobby Dodd Stadium was filled to 89 percent capacity.
Virginia 46,279, down less than 1 percent
  • Notes: Though the Hoos have struggled to win, attendance didn't drop that dramatically thanks to a home schedule that featured Oregon, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Scott Stadium was filled to 75 percent capacity.
Maryland 41,278, up 9 percent
  • Notes: This attendance figure counts the game against West Virginia played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, which drew 55,677.
Syracuse 38,277, up less than 1 percent
  • Notes: The Orange hosted Clemson and Boston College but have struggled to fill the Carrier Dome for years now. The Carrier Dome, among the 10 smallest in the power five conferences, was filled to 78 percent capacity.
Boston College 33,006, down 11 percent
  • Notes: Even though the Eagles were vastly improved this past season, they did not have Notre Dame on the home schedule, and that has to be one of the biggest reasons for the attendance drop.
Wake Forest 28,414, down less than 1 percent

  • Notes: The Deacs, with the smallest stadium among the power five conferences, did fill their stadium to 89 percent capacity thanks to home games against NC State and Florida State.

Duke 26,062, down 7.5 percent

  • Notes: The Blue Devils had a historic season, but they did not have North Carolina or Clemson on the home slate this season. Wallace Wade Stadium, the third-smallest in the power five conferences, was filled to 77 percent capacity.

One more item of interest. Louisville joins the league in 2014, so that should help the overall ACC attendance numbers. Last season, the Cardinals averaged 52,914 fans, and Papa John's Cardinal Stadium was filled to 95 percent capacity.

ACC mailblog

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
4:00
PM ET
Now that our weekly chats are on hiatus, feel free to send me a line in the mailbag!

Robert VT in Blacksburg, Va., writes: AA, again thanks for yours and HD's professional reporting. You ladies do a great job, no question about it! Thanks for switching Maryland over to the Big Ten and bringing in LOUISVILLE. I'm ready! I sure hate seeing Maryland leave the ACC, but I think the ACC got a much better overall sports program with LOUISVILLE. I have a bunch of Maryland friends who are really unhappy about the move to the Big Ten and feel the move was shoved down their throats, with a back-room deal in the middle of the night. They just feel their President (Wallace) Loh (from Big Ten) did not allow enough input from the school and ACC to be fair, after 60 years of ACC membership. It reminded some of them of the Baltimore Colts moving out in the middle of the night to Indy on 3 Mayflower moving vans. Ha! Have a great day.

Andrea Adelson writes: Thank you, Robert. We appreciate the loyal readership! I agree the ACC got the better end of this deal. While the Big Ten has not had a glowing national reputation over the last few years, it is difficult to see how the Terrapins will move in to that conference and have their football program thrive from the outset, especially playing in a division with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. And let's not forget Penn State, which has hired former Maryland coach-in-waiting James Franklin. He just put together an outstanding recruiting class, sanctions and all. Now the Atlantic is tough, don't get me wrong, but the Big Ten East looks much tougher, at least on paper. There might be more money on the other side of the rainbow, but more money cannot buy you 10-win seasons or conference championships. Just ask West Virginia.


David Goldberg in Houston writes: Hi, much is being made of Rob Moore leaving for the Buffalo Bills. People forget that George McDonald lasted at Arkansas exactly 4 weeks (December 2012-January 2013) before becoming the offensive coordinator at Syracuse. I realize the timing is a little different in terms of recruiting. Nevertheless, it's just one illustration of how coaches jump from job to job ... and that's life in the business.

Adelson writes: You are right, David. Look no further than new North Carolina assistant Keith Heckendorf, who just returned to the Tar Heels after spending one month at Arkansas State. Pitt also recently lost receivers coach Bobby Engram, too. I think the biggest issue, as you mentioned, was the timing. Did Moore and coach Scott Shafer know about the move and tell incoming recruits about it before signing day? Did they have an obligation to do so? It is absolutely true that recruits should choose programs over coaches because there is so much turnover. But at the same time, there must have been a sense from these recruits that they would play for Moore once they arrived on campus, even if it was for just a short period of time.


Jeff in Boston writes: Looks like Jimbo (Fisher) might be right! Jameis (Winston) confirmed that he will be focusing on baseball instead of the 2015 draft! :)

Adelson writes: Well, sure, did any of us expect him to declare for the 2015 draft now? I think we would all be wiser to focus on 2014 before we even think about who is staying and who is leaving for 2015.


KC in Michigan writes: After reading Tim in Blacksburg's suggestion on rivalry weekend, I decided to submit my own idea. Why not realign the divisions to protect all rivalries? Atlantic: Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Wake Forest. Coastal: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech. That would make all but three rivalry games divisional. Those three games could be protected crossovers. They are Boston College-Syracuse; Clemson-North Carolina State; North Carolina-Virginia. Eliminate all other protected crossover games.

Adelson: I have been a proponent of divisional realignment since I started covering the ACC not only to balance out the divisions but to also help protect a majority of these rivalry games. Because when it comes down to it, one of the biggest issues moving forward with the eight-game league format is teams such as Duke and NC State going a billion years between playing each other. We have seen too many rivalry games get lost in the shuffle during conference realignment, and I think it would be smart to protect as many as possible. But one idea that has grown on me is getting rid of the divisions entirely. There are no divisions in basketball. If the NCAA grants the ACC the autonomy to govern its championship game the way it wants, and athletic directors are in favor of having the top two teams in the league play in the title game, then why do you need divisions at all?


Mark in Orlando, Fla., writes: No mention of Duke Johnson in your ACC top 25 players? Almost 1,000 yards and he missed a third of the season? No Stacey Coley? A freshman who scored on pass plays, a kick return and a punt return? The only player in the nation to do so? Both of those guys will be NFL first-rounders, yet your only mention of a Miami player is a third- or fourth-round linebacker who got a bunch of tackles because his D-line was porous? Do you actually watch any games or just read year-end stat sheets?

Adelson writes: I wondered how long it would take to get a note like this one. First, as you point out, Johnson missed a large chunk of the season. So we eliminated him from consideration, much in the same way we eliminated Stefon Diggs from consideration. Johnson and Diggs are two of the most dynamic players in the league, but they got hurt. And the 2013 final player countdown takes into account performance throughout the entire 2013 season. To that point, we do not count NFL projections in the countdown, either. Denzel Perryman was a first-team All-ACC selection by both the media and the coaches. I think the coaches watch the games. As for Coley, receiver was an incredibly deep position in the league this year. We had six receivers make the countdown -- and that does not include Michael Campanaro from Wake Forest, also left out because of injury. Coley was great, and will more than likely be in the 2014 top 25 preseason player countdown, but his overall numbers do not compare to the guys who made the list. It is tough to rank somebody with only 33 total receptions for 591 yards in the top 25. You mentioned his all-purpose production. Tyler Boyd and Jamison Crowder were better, and they were bigger contributors on offense. It is interesting that you are upset about Coley being left off, but not 1,000-yard receiver Allen Hurns. I thought for sure Miami fans would be screaming at us for that one.

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
4:00
PM ET
The NFL draft combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will be held from Feb. 19-25 and will feature workouts, medical examinations, psychological testing and interviews for the 335 invited prospects. The ACC has a total of 46 players who will participate, including at least one player from every school (we included Maryland and not Louisville in this post, because it is from the 2013 season). National champion Florida State led the league with eight players heading to the combine, but UNC was right behind with seven. Don't cry ... you're gonna miss some of these names next year. Good luck to these guys.

Here is the official list of the ACC attendees:

BOSTON COLLEGE (5)
CLEMSON (4)
DUKE (1)
FLORIDA STATE (8)
GEORGIA TECH (2)
MARYLAND (1)
MIAMI (5)
NORTH CAROLINA (7)
NC STATE (1)
PITTSBURGH (3)
SYRACUSE (2)
VIRGINIA (2)
VIRGINIA TECH (4)
WAKE FOREST (1)

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
12:00
PM ET
It's moving day for Maryland. From now on, catch all the Terps coverage over on the Big Ten blog. Louisville moves into this space Thursday.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
12:00
PM ET
Bravo, Michael Sam. Bravo.

Signing day wrap: ACC

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
8:51
PM ET

Signing day is known for the crazy. Condense an entire college football season into 12 hours and that offers a glimpse -- albeit minimally -- into the first Wednesday of February.

It began with ESPN 300 defensive lineman Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), arms folded and chest out, announcing his intention to sign with Michigan State. His intention to sign. A glare from his parents and whispers in the gym let it be known this saga was not going to end at 10 a.m. in front of a microphone.

Both of McDowell’s parents would like to see their son, No. 60 in the ESPN 300, at any school in his top four not nicknamed the Spartans. Florida State is among those finalists, and several predicted the Seminoles would land McDowell considering his parents' distaste for all things Green. So Jimbo Fisher and those inside Doak Campbell are keeping the fax machine plugged in, offering a few more hours' respite from the storage closet for the condemned technology.

Ultimately, McDowell, whether of his own volition or executing his parents’ will, did not fax a letter of intent to Michigan State as of 8:00 p.m. ET, and the Noles finished signing day with the No. 3 class sans another elite lineman.

Compared to the McDowell drama, the rest of the morning was tame for the ACC. There were some tense moments, but signing day pretty much went the way most expected.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Nnadi
John Albright/Icon SMIGetting ESPN 300 DE Derrick Nnandi on Wednesday helped make national signing day successful for Florida State.
No team had more of an opportunity to close strong than the Noles, and Fisher did a fine job closing. It was unrealistic to expect Florida State to land every recruit on the board, five-star Lorenzo Carter (signed with Georgia) and No. 1 receiver Malachi Dupre (LSU) among them. However, into the fold for Florida State was ESPN 300 linemen Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes), Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central) and Derrick Kelly Jr. (Quincy, Fla./East Gadsden), who was poised to sign with Florida but gave his commitment at the 11th hour.

Florida State was involved with a handful of signing day flips, but none that caught the Noles’ staff off-guard. No. 7 dual-threat quarterback Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) switched to Florida and Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) signed with South Carolina, but the Noles flipped Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen), No. 117 in the ESPN 300. Harrison was committed to Virginia Tech for 18 months before his signing day change of heart. Harrison, ranked as an athlete, finalized what could be the best receiver class in the country. It was one of the best classes nationally, too.

“We’ve had large numbers this year, got needs all the way across the board and filled it with great players and everyone position across the board we had somebody in,” Jimbo Fisher said at his signing day news conference. “We were excited about that.”

Miami’s flipping efforts went for naught, but it prevented one of its own from changing allegiances. Local defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), ranked No. 3 among Hurricanes commits, took late official visits to Alabama and Florida State. There was some panic from fans when Thomas’ fax did not roll through exactly at 9 a.m., but Canes coach Al Golden said Thomas’ mother reassured him the 65th-ranked player in the country would stay near South Beach.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney would scoff at the claim FSU has the best receiver class. The Noles received the signing day pats on the back for landing No. 2 receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) and Harrison on Wednesday while the Tigers had three four-star receivers already on campus. ESPN 300 receivers Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) and four-star Kyrin Priester (Snellville, Ga./Fork Union) enrolled in early January. ESPN 300 receiver Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) signed Wednesday.

“It was a critical need for us ... and we are excited about all four,” Swinney said at his signing day news conference.

Mike London had a quiet signing day in his Charlottesville office, but that is all he could have hoped for following a winless ACC campaign. The Virginia coach did most of his 2014 recruiting work before the 2013 season, and he was able to secure the signatures of five-star Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) and ESPN 300 recruits Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland), Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan) and Steven Moss (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor High).

“Obviously keeping the class was important when the season didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to ... but the in-state kids wanted to play together and build a brand together,” London said on the ESPNU signing day telecast.

While the day was quiet for Duke, it was still most the shocking signing day Durham has ever seen. The Blue Devils, coming off a 10-win season and an ACC title game, signed its first ESPN 300 recruit and four four-star recruits overall. Between 2010 and 2013, Duke signed only one four-star prospect -- a kicker.

While the ACC did not touch the SEC in the number of teams toward the top of the class rankings, for the most part the conference as a whole improved, and Florida State went a long way in challenging Alabama to become college football’s next dynasty.

Bold predictions: ACC 

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
10:30
AM ET

It is becoming a bit cliché, but the saying holds true every year on the first Wednesday of February: Expect the unexpected on signing day.

With the direction signing day and recruiting have been going, a prospect simply signing his letter of intent to the college he has been committed to for months qualifies as a mild surprise.

Here are five bold predictions for ACC signing day.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
12:00
PM ET
Enjoy Super Sunday, gang.

Key recruiting visits -- ACC 

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
9:00
AM ET

Signing day is now officially less than a week away. Recruits can make their final visits to colleges this weekend, and then beginning Monday there will be no more in-person contact between coaches and recruits. So coaches better make these last visits count.

Here are the 10 biggest visits affecting ACC teams this weekend, although this late to signing day there is always a potential for a change of plans or cancellation.

1. WR Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis)
Visiting: UCLA
Florida State is feeling confident, but the Noles probably were hoping to get Dupre, No. 17 in the ESPN 300, for his last visit. Instead he visited Ole Miss during the middle of this week and now goes to UCLA. The Noles would have preferred to turn this into a FSU-LSU battle, but these last two visits could really muddy the waters for the nation’s top-ranked receiver.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Drawing Conclusions: Week 8
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

ACC SCOREBOARD