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Thursday, August 15, 2013
ACC recruiting storylines: Aug. 15

By Jared Shanker

This is the quietest time of a recruiting season that is active for nearly all but a few weeks of the year. Both high school and college programs are in the midst of a preseason practice, so recruiting takes a back seat. That is not to say recruiting still isn’t in the air, as even during the slow periods there is always news going on.

FSU beats division rival for Leonard

The future of the ACC Atlantic Division was not decided Aug. 13, but it is always nice to beat not just a conference rival, but a division rival for a recruit. Three-star Rick Leonard (Middletown, Md./Middletown), the No. 34 defensive end nationally, chose Florida State over Clemson earlier this week. Leonard adds to an impressive defensive line haul for the Seminoles, who also have two ESPN 300 linemen committed. On the other hand, Clemson doesn't have any committed defensive ends.

Nicholson keeps checking out Pittsburgh

ESPN 300 athlete Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) took a visit to Pitt last weekend, which is a good sign for the Panthers considering their slow recruiting start with the Steel City’s elite prospects. Nicholson is a prospect the Panthers cannot afford to lose, and several of Nicholson’s former teammates are recruiting him to Pitt. The four-star plans to make all five official visits -- Florida State, Miami (Fla) and Virginia Tech each could receive one too -- so it is far from over. But Nicholson talks often about being the hometown hero at Pitt.

UNC gains commit from three-star receiver

There are not many commitments going on, but Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora was able to land one earlier this week. Three-star receiver Josh Cabrera (Jacksonville, N.C./Northside) pledged to UNC. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Cabrera is the first true receiver in the Heels’ 2014 class.

Louisville loading up for ACC run in 2014

The Cardinals are focused on winning the AAC in 2013, but the current class Charlie Strong is putting together will have Louisville ready for the ACC in 2014. August has been kind to the Cards, with several commitments in the first half of the month. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) picked Louisville last week, and his pledge was sandwiched by commitments from Isaac Stewart (Mathews, N.C./Butler) and Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy). Louisville currently has the 24th-ranked class in 2014.

Opening weekend a big one for ACC

There are always going to be a couple Week 1 games that stink up the schedule -- college football loves cupcake openers -- but the last weekend of August could make a major impression on potential ACC recruits. North Carolina travels to South Carolina on Aug. 29 to officially kick off the college football season, so there will be a lot of eyes on the Tar Heels. Both programs tend to recruit the other state, so this game is big.

On the first Saturday, Syracuse coach Scot Shafer can make a strong first impression with a win against Penn State in the shadows of New York City -- the backyard of ESPN 300 DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln). And two of the biggest games of Week 1 include Virginia Tech (against Alabama) and Clemson (against Georgia). Pitt opens ACC play on Labor Day against FSU.