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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Best ACC classes by position

By Jared Shanker



Florida State has the top class among ACC schools right now, but that is taking the Seminoles’ entire 23-recruit class into account. The Noles don’t have the best class at every position, as some of Florida State’s top rivals are looking stronger at certain positions. Here’s a look at which ACC school has the best class by position:

Quarterback
Strongest class: Clemson
The Tigers just don’t have the No. 1 quarterback in the conference but the top quarterback in the entire country. Clemson has an argument for the best QB class in the nation with Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) in the fold. Heisman candidate Tajh Boyd will be gone after this season, so Watson could even come in and make a major impact as a freshman in 2014. Watson, who has been committed for more than a year, has also helped the Tigers reel in the conference’s strongest class at another position.

Running back
Strongest class: Miami
To start, the Hurricanes have the No. 3 running back in Joseph Yearby (Miami/Miami Central), a Miami commit since February. The highest-rated running back committed to an ACC school, Yearby could be the next in line at a tradition-rich position at the school. Athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) should also see a good amount of time at running back once he gets to Coral Gables. Miami flipped Powell from Tennessee.

Wide receiver/tight end
Strongest class: Clemson
Watson is Clemson’s top commitment in the 2014 class. Of the Tigers’ next six highest-rated commitments, four are either receivers or tight ends. Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) and Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) are just below Watson in the Tigers’ class and Nos. 10 and 13 among receivers, respectively Just behind them are two ESPN 300 tight ends in Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Baptist Day) and Cannon Smith (Columbia, S.C./Hammond). Richard is No. 2 at his position nationally and Cannon is No. 3. Clemson can make a case for the best WR/TE class in the country, not just the conference.

Offensive line
Strongest class: Miami
The Canes are putting together a dominant offensive line class for Yearby and Powell, the conference’s top incoming running back tandem. Three offensive tackles among the top 18 in the country are committed to Miami, and the Canes won significant recruiting battles for two of those ESPN 300 commitments. Al Golden is continuing the pro-style tradition at Miami, and No. 5 offensive tackle Kc McDermott (Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach Central) could be the building block of future offensive lines in Coral Gables. No. 10 offensive tackle Trevor Darling (Miami/Miami Central) is from the city of Miami, and Reilly Gibbons (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg Catholic) had more than 30 scholarship offers.

Defensive line
Strongest class: Miami
This was a close one between traditional rivals FSU and Miami, as the Canes are loading up at defensive end while the Noles have two stellar defensive tackles. The tipping point was ESPN 300 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic), who was previously committed to Florida and Louisville. Valentine is No. 170 in the ESPN 300, and Miami hopes he will eat up double teams for Trent Harris (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) and Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), who are ranked 13th and 14th at DE.

Linebacker
Strongest class: Florida State
It took a while for the Noles to pop up on here, but there is little question Florida State towers over the rest of the conference when it comes to linebacker recruiting in the 2014 class. Florida State’s top three commitments are all ESPN 300 linebackers and all among the top six at their position. Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla/Sandalwood) is the No. 2 inside linebacker nationally, and he has two standout linebackers on either side of him. Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) and Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola) are back-to-back in the rankings at Nos. 5 and 6 among outside linebackers. Linebacker is a position FSU always seems recruit well and the Noles should continue to be strong at linebacker for the foreseeable future.

Secondary
Strongest class: Virginia
The Cavaliers’ defensive back class starts with Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), the top-ranked safety in the country and a five-star prospect. Blanding was the first elite in-state prospect to commit to coach Mike London in the 2014 class, and top-ranked defensive tackle Andrew Brown followed this summer. Blanding will be the captain in the secondary, and he will direct fellow ESPN 300 prospect Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland). Listed as an athlete, Farrar is likely to be a cornerback in Charlottesville.