In the 100 days leading up to signing day 2015, RecruitingNation will be looking back at our ESPN recruiting rankings from 2006 to the present and counting down the best player of the past 10 years at each ranking position, No. 100 to No. 1.

Arrelious Benn, No. 17 in 2007 class

Benn came out of talent-rich Dunbar High in Washington, D.C., where he was teammates with 2009 NFL first-round pick Vontae Davis and 2011 seventh-round selection Nate Bussey. Benn picked Illinois in November of 2008 after making official visits to Florida State, Miami (FL), and Notre Dame. His choice was due in large part to then-Illini assistant coach Mike Locksley and the fact that Davis was already on campus at Illinois and Bussey was already committed to the Illini. Benn was part of a stellar Illinois class in 2007 that included Martez Wilson, Craig Wilson, and D'Angelo McCray.

Benn hit the ground running at Illinois, earning Big Ten Freshman of the year after setting school freshman records for receptions (43) and yards (521). He caught two TD passes.

As a sophomore in 2008, Benn caught 67 passes for 1,055 yards and three TDs, and accounted for 1,668 all-purpose yards. He was named All-Big Ten second team by the coaches, and first team by the national media. He also received fourth-team All-American honors from Phil Steele Magazine.

Benn was named All-Big Ten honorable mention as a junior after catching 49 passes for 645 yards.

Benn chose to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2010 NFL draft. He left Illinois with 159 receptions for 2,221 yards, and 996 kick return yards. He caught a pass in 36 of 37 games played.

Benn was selected in the second round, No. 39 overall, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010. He has battled through a torn ACL, missing ample time the past two seasons.

Honorable mention: Timmy Jernigan, No. 17 in 2011, and Malachi Dupre, No. 17 in 2014. Jernigan was a three-year standout at Florida State starting his junior campaign on the Seminoles' BCS National title team. He was selected in the second round, No. 48 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Dupre was named to the All-SEC Freshman team in 2014 after catching 14 passes for 318 yards and five TDs.

Final Top 25: Who missed the cut

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
11:00
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Our ACC Top 25 player countdown for the 2014 season has begun. As somebody who has helped put these lists together for three years now, this may have been the toughest ranking to do. The proof is there -- we had a tie in the rankings from 21-25 -- and were forced to leave off several deserving candidates.

So who just missed the cut? Consider these the honorable mentions in the ACC postseason Top 25.

Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida State. This was probably a tougher omission than P.J. Williams because Jackson was among the best guards in the entire country. The ACC has three All-Americans at this position. We chose the two who were on better offensive lines.

P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State. His omission might raise some eyebrows, but the truth is he was not the best player in his own secondary -- a group that did not live up to lofty preseason expectations. Williams finished with just one interception and 11 passes defended.

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. Williams finished with 1,030 yards receiving and six touchdowns, averaging 18.1 yards per catch (fourth-best in the ACC). The other three 1,000-yard receivers made the Top 25. He should have a spot in the 2015 preseason Top 25. Same goes for teammate Artavis Scott, who ended with 965 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.

Roberto Aguayo, PK, Florida State. Even though Aguayo did not win the Lou Groza Award, he still is the most valuable kicker in the entire nation, having scored 136 points this season to rank No. 2 in the ACC. But he did miss three kicks this year so that kept him off the Top 25.

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami. Kaaya blossomed as the season went on and is sure to have a spot on this list when the 2015 preseason Top 25 makes its debut in the summer. Kaaya finished first in the ACC in pass efficiency (145.9), passing yards per completion (14.5) and second in passing yards (3,198).

DeVon Edwards, DB/AP, Duke: Edwards provided tremendous value to the Duke defense and on special teams, finishing second on the team with 133 tackles, tied for second with 4.5 sacks, while leading the team with 10 passes defended. He also ranked fourth in the ACC in kickoff return average and returned one for a score.

Synjyn Days, BB, Georgia Tech. When Days got his opportunity midway through the season, he took full advantage. He ended up with 924 yards rushing and nine touchdowns -- 835 yards and eight of those touchdowns came in the final seven games of the season.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Watson showed flashes of brilliance when he was on the field. But the problem was he wasn't on the field nearly enough to make the Top 25. He's almost a lock to be a top-5 preseason pick in 2015.
We’re counting down the ACC’s top players of the 2014 season, with a look today at Nos. 16 through 20.

To see the rest of the list, click here.

16. Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville

Position: Linebacker

Year: Senior

When Todd Grantham switched up Louisville’s defensive scheme in his first season as defensive coordinator, many predicted Mauldin would thrive in his new role as an outside linebacker and pass-rush specialist, and the senior didn’t disappoint. His 6.5 sacks were good for ninth in the ACC, and his 13 tackles for loss ranked seventh as the Cardinals’ defense ranked near the top of the national rankings for the bulk of the season. A nagging hamstring injury slowed Mauldin a bit down the stretch, but before the injury Louisville had allowed the third-fewest touchdowns per drive of any defense in the country.

17. Tyler Boyd, Pitt

Position: Wide receiver

Year: Sophomore

No receiver in the nation was as vital to his team as Boyd, who accounted for 52.2 percent of Pitt’s receiving yards this season. Boyd finished second in the ACC in receiving (1,261 yards), third in catches (78) and second in receiving touchdowns (8), while chipping in with 1,928 all-purpose yards, good for second in the conference. Boyd finished the season with six 100-yard receiving games, including topping the century mark in five of Pitt’s final six.

18. Jalen Ramsey, FSU

Position: Defensive back

Year: Sophomore

One of the most dynamic defensive backs in the country, Ramsey was the linchpin for Florida State’s defense in 2014. Ramsey finished the year with 80 tackles -- ninth in the ACC among defensive backs -- and two interceptions, but it was his versatility and leadership that set him apart. Ramsey was a crucial piece to FSU’s scheme, starring in coverage, where he racked up 12 pass breakups, and supporting against the run, tallying 9.5 tackles for loss. He was the only player in the nation who had at least 12 pass breakups and nine tackles for loss.

19. Cameron Erving, FSU

Position: Offensive line

Year: RS Senior

Erving entered the season as perhaps the most heralded offensive lineman in the ACC, the veteran left tackle on a senior-laden line for Florida State. But while much was expected of the Seminoles' line, the production was missing early in the year as FSU cycled through centers and the ground game failed to coalesce. Midway through the season, however, Erving made the switch from tackle to center, and everything clicked. Dalvin Cook and the running game found their footing, and Erving looked right at home in the middle of the line. For the year, FSU’s line helped cut Jameis Winston’s sack rate nearly in half, and Erving went on to win the ACC’s top blocker award for the second straight season.

20. Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech

Position: Defensive end

Year: RS junior

The Hokies’ defense lost five seniors from its 2013 defensive front, then star tackle Luther Maddy went down just four games into 2014, but the unit remained one of the most effective in the country thanks in large part to the work of Nicolas. His 8.5 sacks ranked third in the ACC and his 18 tackles for loss ranked second, and Nicolas single-handedly took over several games for Virginia Tech when the Hokies needed him most -- including racking up two sacks against both Ohio State and Duke.

ACC morning links

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
9:00
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Gene Chizik is now officially onboard as North Carolina defensive coordinator. On paper, the move makes sense.

Chizik has made his name as a top defensive coach; North Carolina was unwatchable on defense last season, ranking among the worst groups in America. Defense has held North Carolina back the last two seasons, and Larry Fedora was not stubborn enough to keep allowing a broken system to keep running.

He had to make a change, so he went out and hired the biggest name available.

But despite Chizik's résumé as a top defensive coach, the move wasn't met without some criticism. It is interesting, to say the least, that the Tar Heels opted to hire a coach who was accused of NCAA violations during his tenure at Auburn. Though nothing was ever substantiated, North Carolina has got to be careful about the company it keeps, considering the athletic department is once again under NCAA investigation for alleged academic fraud in its African and Afro-American Studies classes.

Fedora addressed the NCAA question unprompted in an interview with Andrew Carter of the News & Observer, telling the newspaper the school was confident the allegations were false after investigating.

“Just like everybody, we vetted him completely and are very comfortable with where we’re at,” Fedora said told the newspaper. “I mean, there were some unsubstantiated allegations out there about him and what’s happened in the past.”

Chizik was fired after a 3-9 season in 2012. In April 2013, he was accused of paying players and changing grades in a report on Roopstigo.com, run by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated journalist Selena Roberts. Chizik vehemently denied the charges then, and did so again in a statement released through his attorney to the News & Observer:

“During my time as Auburn’s head coach, I never authorized, instructed or directed anyone to change any player’s grade or provide any type of illegal payment to any student-athlete,” Chizik said.

During his stint as Auburn coach, the NCAA also investigated the recruitment of quarterback Cam Newton, but that was tied to allegations that the player's father tried to shop him to Mississippi State. Still, an NCAA cloud hung over Auburn midway through its 2010 championship season and into the 2011 season as Chizik was forced to answer questions about Newton. In 2012, Yahoo! Sports reported the NCAA was investigating allegations of recruiting improprieties between Auburn representatives and third parties.

So it is not as if Chizik has a squeaky clean image. Though he was never charged with committing NCAA violations, Chizik does come with some baggage. Not exactly ideal for a scandal-plagued program still suffering the consequences for NCAA rules violations.

Elsewhere around the ACC:
  • The NFL announced the official list of early entrants to the NFL draft. Florida State led the way with five players.
  • Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo tops The Sporting News' list of top 20 impact players returning to school.
  • Georgia Tech has offered a grayshirt to in-state product Brad Stewart.
  • Former Louisville player Patrick Grant will have his lawsuit against the university go to trial Tuesday. Grant has accused former coach Charlie Strong of breaking a promise to keep him on scholarship after he was beaten so badly by two teammates he nearly lost an eye and had to quit the team. Strong is expected to testify in the trial.
  • Miami players and coaches are growing weary of all the negativity surrounding the program.
  • Pitt offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings will draw a crowd at the Senior Bowl this week.
  • Solid take from Andy Bitter in the Roanoke Times: Aaron Morehead's departure from Virginia Tech shows Frank Beamer has made some good hires over the last few years.
  • The Orlando Sentinel lists its early list for 2015 Heisman candidates. Is Dalvin Cook the top choice from the ACC?
Now that the season is over, it is time to rank the top 25 players in the ACC based on 2014 performance. Needless to say, we had tough choices to make -- so tough, in fact, that we could not break a tie between two exceptional offensive guards. So there are in fact 26 players on our top-25 list, and we are just fine with that decision.

What went into the ranking? In addition to performance this season, we also took into account each of the players' value to their team, value at their respective position and game-changing ability. With that, here is a look at players Nos. 21-25 (plus No. 26).

21. Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State

Position: defensive end

Year: junior

Edwards was dominant at times but also lacked the consistency many were hoping to see out of him in his second year as a starter. Weight continued to be a problem. When he was on, he was effective, racking up 44 tackles -- 11 for loss -- and three sacks this season. But against Oregon, he was essentially a nonfactor. Cherry on top for being one of the best quotes in the ACC this season, though!

22. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

Position: cornerback

Year: sophomore

Fuller was the best cornerback in the ACC -- and he won that designation despite playing the entire season with a broken wrist. Coming off a successful freshman campaign, Fuller finished tied for first in the ACC with 17 passes defended (15 breakups, two interceptions), while earning All-ACC honors and second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation and Football Writers Association of America.

T-23. Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech AND Laken Tomlinson, Duke

Position: offensive guards

Year: seniors

The ACC had All-American play at offensive guard this season -- Tre Jackson at Florida State also deserves mention -- so we are making an exception here and going with a tie between two of them because they are both equally deserving of recognition. Mason helped pave the way for a Georgia Tech rushing offense that led the nation with 342.1 yards per carry, the best average in the Paul Johnson era. Meanwhile, Tomlinson was a consensus All-American and first-team All-ACC selection after helping Duke average 180-plus rushing yards and 210-plus passing yards for the first time in school history.

25. Jeremy Cash, Duke

Position: safety

Year: junior

Cash was an impressive force in the defensive backfield once again for the Blue Devils, racking up more than 100 tackles for a second straight season. In fact, Cash was the only defensive back in the nation to record 100-plus tackles, 10 or more tackles for loss and five or more sacks. He also forced four fumbles on the season, tied for the second most in the ACC. With the news that Cash is returning for his senior season, expect his name to be on this list again come 2015.

26. Tyler Murphy, Boston College

Position: quarterback

Year: senior

Murphy was the engine that made the BC offense go, and he set a host of records in the process. His 1,184 yards on the ground set a new ACC and school record for rushing yards by a quarterback, and he ranked second among all quarterbacks in yards rushing. Murphy accounted for 56 percent of the Eagles' total offense in 2014 and had five 100-yard games. The highlight, of course, was his MVP performance in a 37-31 upset win over USC in September, in which Murphy ran for 191 yards and a score, averaging 14.7 yards per carry.

NCF 100 ListIllustration by Mikey BurtonESPN.com is ranking the top 100 college football players of the 2014 season.

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones started just three games in 2014, but he might have made the most important contributions to his team of any player this season.

Except maybe Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

But what about how valuable Melvin Gordon was to Wisconsin? Or Amari Cooper to the Crimson Tide?

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a stellar contributor, how would you rate those offensive standouts when compared with Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III, and Alabama safety Landon Collins?

Don't worry, we figured it out for you -- again.

Heading into the 2014 season, ESPN.com ranked the top 100 players in the country based on their expected contributions for the season. Jones didn't make the cut in August -- go figure -- but Braxton Miller was tied for No. 5.


(Read full post)


Best of the visits: ACC

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
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The recruiting weekend that was in the ACC has come and gone. Louisville played host to their biggest weekend since Bobby Petrino was hired, while Miami had a number of top targets on campus. In Tallahassee, it was all about five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, while Duke picked up a key defensive back pledge over the weekend.

Louisville

The Cardinals had the biggest recruiting weekend since Bobby Petrino was hired last year. Among the many official visitors on hand were a pair of commitments to SEC programs, South Carolina commit Quandeski Whitlow and Alabama commit Mekhi Brown. Whitlow took to twitter to post a picture of the pair in Louisville game jerseys.
Former Tennessee commitment and three-star running back Rocky Reid was also on hand at Louisville. He also took to twitter to post a pic in Louisville jersey.
West Virginia's commit Kahlil Lewis is a top wide receiver target for the Cardinals, and was one of several South Florida prospects on hand this weekend.
Louisville three-star defensive lineman pledge G.G. Robinson was seemingly blown away the entire weekend.
Robinson's time with Petrino at the Louisville basketball game was certainly a highlight.
Four-star athelete and former Miami commit Jordan Cronkrite was another South Florida prospect making his official visit to Louisville this weekend. He was greeted with goodies, of course.
Miami

The Hurricanes had a big weekend with positive reviews a must. Among the top uncommitted prospects on hand was ESPN300 and Booker T. Washington playmaker Antonio Callaway, who took to twitter upon arrival at his hotel room.
One of the more important recruiting weekends in recent memory for Miami featured these four ESPN 300 members from L-to-R: Texas commit Davante Davis, running back commit Jordan Scarlett, Antonio Callaway and commit Mark Walton.
Fellow ESPN300 member, Kendrick Norton was also on hand in Coral Gables this weekend. He posted a picture on twitter with Hurricanes head coach Al Golden.
ESPN 300 defensive back Marcus Lewis also took to twitter as he was leaving Miami.
The Under Armour All-America Game selection is expected to choose between Kentucky and the Hurricanes.

Five-star at Florida State

In the ACC, there wasn't a higher ranked recruit on a campus than No. 4 Marshall at Florida State. A great follow on twitter, @iman_marshall8, "Biggie" took to twitter throughout the visit to Tallahassee.
His first tweet was after being picked up at the airport by ace recruiter Tim Brewster.
Duke adds key piece
The Blue Devils sit in the RecruitingNation Top 40, and on Sunday added a key piece at defensive back with three-star Jeremy McDuffie.
McDuffie posted a picture with his new position coach, @dukecoachdj.

Postseason #CFBrank: 11-20

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
11:22
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just as we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a 0-10 scale based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Postseason #CFBrank: 21-30

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
11:06
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just like we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Postseason #CFBrank: 31-40

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
10:47
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just as we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you also can find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Postseason #CFBrank: 41-50

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
1:00
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just like we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


In the 100 days leading up to signing day 2015, RecruitingNation will be looking back at our ESPN recruiting rankings from 2006 to the present and counting down the best player of the past 10 years at each ranking position, No. 100 to No. 1.

Allen Bailey, No. 20 in 2007 class

Bailey came out of tiny McIntosh County Academy in Darian, Georgia, as one of the nation's most talented athletes playing both linebacker and fullback. He grew up in a very small town of 60 residents (Hog Hammock) on Sapelo Island. He picked Miami (FL) over offers from Alabama, Florida, Clemson and Georgia on Feb. 5 of 2007. He was a member of the Hurricanes' 2007 class that included Graig Cooper and Leonard Hankerson.

Bailey played in all 12 games as a freshman, mostly on special teams. He did see action at linebacker in two contests.

Bailey would make the move to defensive end as a sophomore. He played in 12 games with four starts recording 36 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and a team leading five sacks.

As a junior, Bailey would become one of college football’s top defensive ends, recording 34 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and seven sacks earning All-ACC First Team honors following the 2009 season.

Bailey would start all 13 games as a senior at defensive end, also flashing the ability slid inside and be an effective pass-rusher on third down. He had 45 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. He earned All-ACC Second Team honors.

Bailey was selected in the third round, No. 86 overall, by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2011 NFL draft where he still plays.

Honorable mention: Nico Johnson, No. 20 in 2009 class, and Nick O'Leary, No. 20 in 2011 class. Johnson was a part-time starter at Alabama on three BCS National Championship teams. He was selected in the fourth round, No. 99 overall, in the 2013 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. O’Leary has been a multi-year starter for Florida State, taking home the John Mackey Award following the 2014 season. He is expected to be drafted in the first four rounds of the 2015 NFL draft.

Postseason #CFBrank: 71-80

January, 17, 2015
Jan 17
12:03
AM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just like we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Postseason #CFBrank: 81-90

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
11:19
PM ET

We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just like we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Bowden: Restoring wins right call

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
7:35
PM ET
video

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is glad to be No. 2 behind Joe Paterno again after the NCAA restored the late Penn State coach's vacated victories.

The NCAA and Penn State reached a settlement Friday in a lawsuit that challenged the legality of the consent decree used to sanction the school in 2012 for the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation scandal.

The NCAA agreed to restore the 111 victories that had been removed from Paterno's record, giving him 409 again. Bowden is second on the list with 377, though he also has had 12 victories vacated.

"That's OK," the 85-year-old Bowden told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday about no longer holding the record. "I'm glad for him. I was self-conscious about that anyway.

"Every time I would speak they would say, 'He's the winningest coach in I-A history.' I'd say, 'Yeah, after they took 100 away from Joe.'"

Bowden said that while he doesn't know all the details about what went on at Penn State with the Sandusky scandal, it seemed to him the NCAA punishment of Paterno was too harsh.

"I felt like that was pretty dadgum strict," Bowden said.

The NCAA stripped Bowden and Florida State of 12 victories from the 2006 and '07 seasons because of NCAA violations related to an academic cheating scandal.

"By the way, am I going to get my 12 back now?" Bowden said.


(Read full post)


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