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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
ACC class rankings analysis

By Jared Shanker

The college football season is just hours away, but several high schools already began playing games this past weekend. With the focus back on the field, recruiting is taking a back seat. That will change in a few days, though, as several ACC schools are playing in marquee Week 1 games that will catch the eye of prospects up and down the East Coast.

Trending up: The ACC is trending up with its scheduling for the opening weekend, as five schools open their season in a game with big recruiting implications. Clemson will host Georgia, and the Tigers have really made big strides in securing Peach State talent. Pitt hosts Florida State, and the Panthers’ four biggest targets all plan to attend the Labor Day game. Although it is at a neutral site, Virginia Tech can make a statement with a win over two-time defending champion Alabama. And Syracuse will play Penn State, a program the Orange routinely recruits against.

Trending down: Following another positive visit to West Virginia, the Mountaineers continue to impress ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) and pad its lead over Pittsburgh. There is a strong pipeline between Aliquippa and Pitt, but Henry is not worried about breaking the trend. He will be at Pitt’s opener against FSU with his teammates, so a win or at least an electric atmosphere could help Pitt pull back even with a prospect few believed would end up anywhere but Pitt initially.

One to watch: Now that ESPN 300 running back Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic) is finally committed to UNC, how much of an impact will it have for the remainder of the Tar Heels’ class. Hood is the highest-rated prospect Larry Fedora has landed in his tenure at UNC, and Hood will be an active recruiter. He also is one of the most recognizable players in the state of North Carolina, so it should help Fedora’s in-state recruiting average.

Bold prediction: Pelham (Ala.) High defensive tackle Braxton Hoyett is set to decide between Miami and Mississippi State on Sept. 1, and the Bulldogs should come away with Hoyett’s pledge. It is not much of a loss for Miami, however, as defensive tackle is a position the Canes should get significantly better at by signing day. Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), No. 175 in the ESPN 300, is a strong lean to Miami.