Florida State Seminoles: Shai McKenzie

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 23, 2013
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As the Christmas holiday nears, recruiting has slowed some. But not entirely as both Virginia schools extended offers.

Florida State and Virginia Tech landed commitments recently, too.

Biggest offer: 2015 defensive end Sterling Johnson (Clayton, N.C./Clayton) already has an impressive group of schools after him. Clemson, Florida and NC State have all offered. And just last week, another high-level ACC school jumped in, too -- Virginia Tech. The Hokies would love to add a 6-foot-5, 245-pound player off the edge for Bud Foster’s defense. The Hokies' in-state rival, Virginia, also issued an offer, but this one went to 2015 tight end Jackson Harris (Columbia, Tenn./Columbia Central). Other ACC schools in on Harris include Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Louisville, a future ACC school, has offered as well.

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ACC class rankings analysis 

December, 18, 2013
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This week is starting to look a lot like the week leading up to signing day. Four of the country’s premier ESPN 300 prospects committed Tuesday and a handful more will make decisions in the coming week.

Naturally, it has caused a few shakeups, so here is a breakdown of the updated class rankings, and how it affects the ACC.

Trending up: Once again this distinction belongs to Florida State after two commitments last week and another one Wednesday with junior college lineman Kareem Are (Fort Scott, Kan./Fort Scott CC) deciding Wednesday morning The Noles have added two juco linemen over the last 10 days; Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau) pledged to the Noles Dec. 9. Three-star Brock Ruble (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) also joined the offensive line class with a commitment Friday. As for the rest of the class, things still look good to flip ESPN 300 running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/ Central) and landing five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover). There is still a chance for No. 1 cornerback Adoree' Jackson and No. 1 receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), too.


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ACC signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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Signing day and Feb. 5 still might feel far away (50 days away to be exact), but for coaches the sense of urgency has officially set in. The offseason dead period was extended and began Sunday. It will last a month into mid-January, leaving coaches with only a few weekends left to host recruits on campus visits and meet prospects and their families inside their homes.

So with signing day closer than it appears in college football’s mirrors, here are 10 storylines in the ACC to watch between now and Feb. 5.

1. Who will sign the ACC’s top class?


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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

December, 9, 2013
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Wake Forest is still in the process of identifying and hiring a new coach as its 2014 recruiting class remains in flux. The Seminoles are heading to the national championship game and could be in for a big recruiting finish.

Meanwhile, a couple of very important visits and new offers to younger recruits went out in the ACC over the past week.

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ACC class rankings analysis 

December, 4, 2013
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It’s championship week in college football, and the ACC could have what is considered to be the most lopsided contest of the weekend. No. 1 Florida State and No. 20 Duke meet in Charlotte for the ACC title.

In a few more seasons, this game might not have a 29-point spread in favor of the Seminoles. Coach David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils on the rise after leading them to their first double-digit win season in school history. Duke’s ACC Championship Game appearance coupled with Cutcliffe’s desire to finish his career in Durham has the Blue Devils poised to make a future splash in recruiting.

Before we take a look at the latest from the ACC, here's the most recent class rankings and BCS conference class rankings.

Trending up: A successful season usually impacts the next cycle of recruiting more than the current one as a large number of BCS schools have at least half of their spots filled by December. So Duke’s best season in school history should pay dividends in 2015 more so than 2014. After talking with several 2015 recruits from the state of North Carolina, many are looking at Duke more seriously. Three-star Corey Bell (Cornelius, N.C./Hough), who has offers from Duke, NC State and UNC, already has Duke as his No. 1 school. He won’t be the last North Carolina prospect to place Duke at the top in the coming months. Cutcliffe has a lifetime contract at Duke essentially, and his job security is on the level of Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. He’s not going anywhere. If the Blue Devils do not crack the top 40 in the class rankings in 2014, there is a very good chance it will happen in 2015.


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ACC recruiting storylines: Nov. 21 

November, 21, 2013
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Clemson's big visit weekend highlights this week's storylines in the ACC. Also, can Florida State get a running back target into town this weekend, and can Virginia Tech continue its lead for a three-star tailback?

Big weekend for Clemson

Clemson's last home game of the season is going to a be a big one for visitors.


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ACC class rankings analysis 

November, 20, 2013
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Generally during the season, recruiting takes somewhat of a backseat, which is why you see much more movement in the player rankings than in the class rankings.

This past week was a little different, though. There is a new top class in the ACC as the Miami Hurricanes have surpassed Florida State. This is the first time since the rankings were released in April that the Canes are ahead of the Noles. At No. 3 nationally, the Canes matched their highest ranking in the 2014 cycle. The Noles dropped to No. 4.

Trending up: Florida State will almost certainly pass Miami for the top spot in the conference before signing day, but we’re not here to rain on the Canes’ parade. The state of Florida gets enough rain as it is. Miami picked up two commitments this week, defensive tackle Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) among them. Coach Al Golden has been waiting for that domino to fall since Moten decommitted from the Gators.


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ACC recruiting storylines: Nov. 14 

November, 14, 2013
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Several ACC schools will be having important visit weekends coming up. Though the weekends aren't as big as some past dates, the recruits who are visiting could have a big impact on some of the best classes in the conference.

Seminoles hosting two recruits this weekend

It's not a huge weekend for Florida State, in terms of recruiting, when it hosts Syracuse. But there will be two prospects of significance in town.


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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.


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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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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Billy Napier has a great reputation as a recruiter and is proving it this season for the Crimson Tide; despite a season-ending injury, running back Shai McKenzie received good news from schools recruiting him; Auburn could be the team to watch in the SEC if the Tigers continue to win ball games.


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ACC class rankings analysis 

September, 4, 2013
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The ACC had several big Week 1 games, but few conference teams took advantage of the opportunity. Clemson made a real statement to recruits across the country with a prime-time win, and the performance from Florida State’s Jameis Winston probably has offensive skill players putting the Noles a little higher on the list. But FSU’s win came at the expense of another ACC school, and three other conference teams missed a chance to impress recruits with big out-of-conference wins last week.


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As the regular season kicks off this weekend, recruiting, specifically revolving around visits, will start to get going, too.

Here are five storylines to watch as we head in to the opening weekend.

Pitt hosting important group

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ACC recruiting mailbag

August, 16, 2013
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College football kicks off in two weeks, but recruiting never stops. We present the first installment of the ACC recruiting mailbag, answering the pressing questions from ACC fans. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @cdowlar or @JShankerESPN. Feel free to email us as well at cdowlar@gmail.com or JShankerESPN@gmail.com.

@Jameshall616: Do you think FSU will get a five-star prospect in this class?

Corey Dowlar: The quick answer is no, probably not. They are in the running for three -- Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) and Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen). But as it stands now, they are all heading to the SEC. I would guess the best chance at one of the three would be Humphrey when Jeremy Pruitt's Alabama ties are taken into consideration.

Humphrey intends to run track in college, too, so FSU's history of dual-sport athletes (Jameis Winston and Ronald Darby, for example) could make an impression. Winston, especially since he is not only one of the more prominent members of the football team but also from the state of Alabama, could be a factor.

@Kzovko: Outside of the state of PA, who are some "must-get" players for Pitt?

Jared Shanker: I’m not sure there any must-get players for Pitt outside of Pennsylvania right now considering the remaining top targets not just in the state but in the WPIAL. Anything less than at least two of Alex Bookser, Dravon Henry, Shai McKenzie and Montae Nicholson should be considered a major disappointment and would only intensify the longstanding criticisms of Paul Chryst’s ability to recruit.

But for Pitt’s out-of-state targets, I think Qadree Ollison from Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius tops that list, especially if they miss on McKenzie. They have a shot at ESPN 300 receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan), although I think he lands elsewhere in the ACC. With Rutgers filling up at receiver, four-star Juwann Winfree (Englewood, N.J./Dwight Morrow) has to move Pitt up at least a little. Pitt was at the top with Rutgers, but look out for Virginia or West Virginia. Chris James (Niles, Ill./Notre Dame) is another option at running back.

@vincevinvinny: Who are Clemson's top remaining targets? And where do they go at defensive end after Rick Leonard?

Dowlar: One guy fits both criteria pretty well. Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing Christian Academy) is the country's No. 168-ranked player and a four-star prospect. You'd better believe the Tigers would love to have him in this class. Another guy they'd love to bring in is 6-foot-1, 200-pound wide receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe). Clemson will be fighting Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.

At defensive end, there is another nice option in Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page). At 6-7, 202, Featherston has a tremendous frame to add weight. And he'll need to do that. He's ranked by ESPN as the No. 27 player in the country and a four-star prospect. Clemson is thought to be the team to beat for Featherston with North Carolina, NC State and Ohio State lurking in the background.

@JacobsDj082167: You think [Ishmael] Witter goes to Cuse if [Jonathan] Hilliman goes RU?

Shanker: Now that Hilliman is officially committed to Rutgers, it probably closes the door at running back for the Scarlet Knights, who have three pledges at the position. Rutgers looked to be the favorite for Witter, but now that absolutely opens the door even more for Syracuse. He took a visit to Syracuse in late July, and at the moment I think Syracuse looks to be the most likely landing spot. However, don’t count out the SEC when it comes to pulling recruits, and Missouri has offered. Big Ten program Indiana offered recently, too, and if the Hoosiers can get to six or seven wins, they could close strong.
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Running back Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa./Washington) doesn't yet have a clear picture of which school he would like to attend, but he's hoping that starts to sort itself out in the near future. The three-star running back has a top list in order but said nothing is final just yet.

"I'm at a top five, in order: Florida State, Pitt, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Arkansas," he said. "I know July 13 I'm going to visit Virginia Tech and July 20 going to Arkansas, so that order could change. Those are my top five for now, but I could fall in love with one of those schools and switch it."

At 5-foot-11, 213 pounds, McKenzie has some big-time offers outside his top five, including Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan State, Penn State, South Carolina and Tennessee among others. Despite saying that his order could change, the Seminoles have a firm grasp on the top spot for now with a slight advantage in its corner.

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