Florida State Seminoles: nicodem pierre

Questions for signing day: ACC 

November, 12, 2013
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It is a chicken or the egg argument. Has the SEC ruled college football for much of the last decade because the conference annually places five or more teams among the top 10 of the recruiting rankings? Or is the SEC’s recruiting dominance a result of seven straight national championships?

The ACC, though, could be the David to the SEC on the field and in recruiting. In the 2014 cycle, two ACC schools have top-five classes. Will that remain the same come signing day?

We look at that question and nine others as we examine the most pressing ACC recruiting questions leading up to signing day.

1. Will FSU and Miami remain in the top five of the class rankings?
Both classes are close to completion, so it could be tough for the Noles and Canes to finish in the top five of the rankings. Alabama is at No. 1 and could end up running away with another recruiting title. The rest of the SEC will charge hard come signing day, too. Tennessee should be a safe bet to finish in the top five, and programs such as Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and more could break into the exclusive group come February. Tennessee recently jumped both schools, pushing Florida State to No. 3 and Miami to No. 4.

2. Can Miami surpass Florida State for the ACC’s top class?
If both were to fall out of the top five, there is still some pride in finishing with the top class in the conference. The Noles are ahead of the Canes at the moment, and it will be tough for the Canes to jump FSU. It looks as if Miami has two spots left and should finish with Johnnie Dixon and Anthony Moten. But the Noles could sign more than 30, and some of the country’s truly elite prospects have Florida State among their finalists. It looks doubtful that Miami -- or any ACC team -- will catch and pass Jimbo Fisher’s class.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Featherston
Courtesy of IntersportESPN 300 DE Lorenzo Featherston is a Clemson lean whose pledge would help the Tigers close strong.
3. Will Clemson finish in the top 10?
Sitting at No. 12 in the rankings, the Tigers have a good chance to finish in the top 10 and even an outside chance to crack the top seven. Defensive end Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page) is No. 27 in the ESPN 300 and a Clemson lean. It would be a surprise to see him land anywhere but with the Tigers. Cornerback D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton), No. 88 in the ESPN 300, also looks to be leaning Clemson’s way, and the same could be said for defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Christian Landing), No. 168 in the rankings. The prize of the defensive class would be five-star inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan, however. He is slated to visit officially later this month, and the No. 12 player and top linebacker in 2014 has the Tigers among his top three.

4. Can Pitt close out with three of its four Western Pennsylvania targets?
For Pitt’s class to be considered a success, Paul Chryst needs to do just that. The Panthers are struggling some with Pittsburgh-area prospects in 2014, but the same happened in 2013 before Pitt landed Dorian Johnson and Tyler Boyd. In February, the Panthers hope to land Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon), Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa./Washington); Henry, Bookser and Nicholson are all in the ESPN 300 and have Pitt among their finalists. Henry is a Pitt legacy. Bookser looks to be focused on Ohio State and Pitt; Nicholson will decide in December and is projected to Pitt.

5. Will Duke sign an ESPN 300 prospect?
The Blue Devils have never signed an ESPN 150 or ESPN 300 prospect since the rankings began almost a decade ago. That was going to change in 2014 with quarterback Nicodem Pierre (Miami/Coral Reef), but the dual-threat dropped from the ESPN 300 in October. However, Trevon Lee (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) could be leaning Duke’s way with the Blue Devils on a roll this season. With a guaranteed winning regular season -- their first in nearly two decades -- Lee is thinking hard about Duke. Academics are big for the 241st-ranked player, so a decision could come down to Duke and Vanderbilt.

ACC class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the ACC, check out our conference rankings:

1. Florida State, 24 commits: The Seminoles have the top class in the ACC and the No. 2 class nationally. The class includes 10 ESPN300 prospects, including a trio of linebackers Kain Duab (Jackonsville, Fla./Sandalwood High), Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby High) and Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic High). The Semionles could close with a bang with up to 31 or 32 possible in the class. No. 6 Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra High), No. 13 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen High), No. 22 Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara High), No. 28 and Florida commit Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead High) and a number of others make up the wish list.

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ACC 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That is what college coaches must do when it comes to recruiting. Every coach would love to land their top target at every position, but coaches are forced to play the what-ifs and continue to recruit prospects lower on the recruiting board. With signing day a few months away and several classes close to completion, college staffs are pushing for those few final targets but also keeping a watchful eye on players down the board.

Here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for each of the ACC schools.


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ACC recruiting mailbag

October, 4, 2013
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Does Florida State land an elite receiver? What are Pittsburgh's chances with Jamil Kamara? And how has Miami recruited so well of late?

All this and more in this week's ACC recruiting mailbag.

@93warchant99 asks: How many out of Malone, Rudolph and Dupre do you think FSU gets, if any?

Dowlar: It's so hard to pencil these guys into classes right now since there is a long way to go, but I could see Florida State grabbing one of these guys.

[+] EnlargeTravis Rudolph
Steve Dipaola/NikeOhio State, Alabama and Florida are in the picture to land Travis Rudolph, but don't count Florida State out.
Malone is going to be tough for them. I really think he's headed to Georgia right now, but visits and results can change things. Tennessee is a huge player for him, too. He'll visit Tennessee this weekend, already took an official to Georgia and then will finally head to Tallahassee on the weekend of Nov. 1.

Malachi Dupre is the longest shot of them all, to me. I think most people who follow recruiting realize how hard it is to get prospects from Louisiana away from LSU. And right now, the biggest competition appears to be UCLA. I would think he lands in Baton Rouge.

Travis Rudolph is the best chance of the three for you, I think. Ohio State, Alabama and Florida are absolutely in the picture, but the Seminoles have been trending up for a while now. Rudolph has taken one official so far, and that was to Columbus to see the Buckeyes.

Ross_Abbott11 asks: what is the chance that #Pitt gets Jamil Kamara?

Shanker: They still have to jump Virginia, but the Panthers should be happy with where they are at. Neither team looked good in last weekend’s game, but Pitt did pull out the win, and the Cavs’ offense was atrocious. I still think the Cavs lead here, but Pitt continues to impress Kamara. He won’t decide until January and Pitt will certainly get an official visit.

Wisconsin is potentially a team to look out for, and he recently said Penn State could be a factor now with the increase in scholarships. I still see it as a top two of Pitt and Virginia -- with the Cavs still holding the lead. There are too many ties to the UVa program to project him anywhere but Charlottesville -- for now.

@fenstythenole asks: Will Florida State get any of the five-star offensive line prospects they are in the running for?

Dowlar: Well, I don't know which rankings you're referencing, but there aren't any five-star offensive linemen FSU is in on, according to ESPN's rankings. I will assume, though, that you're probably talking about David Sharpe, Chad Mavety, Damian Prince and Roderick Johnson.

I think you can write off Sharpe now. I'm thinking he's headed to either Georgia or Florida. And Damian Prince no longer seems likely now. He'll probably end up at Maryland.

When talking about the other two, though, Florida State is in really good shape, especially with Johnson. There are a lot of factors going in the Seminoles' favor for him at the moment. Mavety is too close to call right now, but I have a feeling it is either going to be Florida State or Ohio State.

If FSU lands both of those guys, fans will have to feel really good about the incoming class up front.

@couloaksteelers asks: has Duke seen a bump in recruiting due to last year’s bowl game appearance?

Shanker: They don’t play bowl games in basketball so ... oh, this is a Duke football recruiting question?

Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe actually has taken full advantage and seized the opportunity set forth last winter when he coached Duke to a 6-7 record and an appearance in the Belk Bowl. From 2010-2013, the Blue Devils signed only one four-star prospect -- a placekicker. In the 2014 class alone, though, Duke has commitments from three four-star recruits including ESPN 300 Miami Coral Reef quarterback Nicodem Pierre. The Blue Devils have beat out the likes of NC State and UNC for a few in-state prospects as well.

Cutcliffe is also expanding Duke’s borders, breaking into Ohio for three commitments in the 2014 class. Cincinnati Sycamore linebacker Tinashe Bere and Columbus (Ohio) Bishop Hartley defensive back Alonzo Saxton committed to Duke over Big Ten offers.

@EricHoudini12 asks: FSU and UF used to whip Miami in South Florida recruiting. That has changed. Was it as simple as Al Golden?

Dowlar: No, I don't think so, but he's played a major role.

Even though Florida has made a larger impact down there this season, Florida State really hasn't and Miami has done very well. Why?

Well, take a look at your new offensive coordinator, James Coley. Miami's top-rated commitment, Joe Yearby, was once a Florida State commitment. Coley had a major, major impact there.

Move over to Booker T. Washington and guys like Chad Thomas and Nigel Bethel are Coley targets, too.

But the bottom line is there always has to be some kind of promise shown on the field. That's where Golden and his team come in to play. Sure, Miami's commitments mostly came before the win over Florida, but make no mistake about it, those pledges can be, and probably were, solidified because of it.

The short answer is that it is a lot of different moving parts pulling in the same direction at the moment. And it's working for them. Golden is helping to orchestrate it all.

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