NCF On The Trail: ACC

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Florida State already has one of the best 2015 classes in the nation, but after a key prospect says he's ready to commit, it's about to get even better. South Carolina quarterback prospect Kelly Bryant continues to be a hot target with recruiters this spring, but Bryant says only five schools are on the top of his list.


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video ESPN Junior 300 offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen committed to Clemson on Thursday during a ceremony at his high school. The No. 124-ranked prospect in the 2015 class chose the Tigers over Florida and adds to an already outstanding recruiting class for coach Dabo Swinney.

With Fruhmorgen on board, Clemson now has five ESPN Junior 300 commitments, including fellow offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt, who is ranked No. 4 overall.

Adding elite offensive line talent to its roster was a priority for Clemson, as the Tigers will be fielding some seniors along the offensive line when this class gets to campus. That idea of playing early might have helped the Tigers in their pursuit of Fruhmorgen, as his path to the field could be clearer at Clemson than at some of his other options.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State, among others. Fruhmorgen knew he wanted to make his decision for nearly three weeks now, but he decided to take a few visits to make sure there wasn’t any doubt in his choice.

After seeing Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State, the No. 7-ranked tackle knew Clemson was still the best fit.

This commitment also gives Clemson two prospects from Florida, a state that has been very kind to the Tigers recently. With targets George Campbell and Garrett Williams still on the board, Clemson is hoping to continue its success in the Sunshine state.

For the second straight recruiting class, more than 100 players from junior colleges signed with schools from the power five conferences. And for the second straight class, Florida State contributed to that number.

Of course, that’s nothing new for Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher. He has signed a junior college player every recruiting cycle since he was named coach in 2010, and that will be extended again in 2015.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsFSU coach Jimbo Fisher has had success with junior college prospects.
A decade ago, some programs were unwilling to recruit junior college players. (One assistant coach told ESPN that his head coach once characterized junior college players as “nothing but thugs, criminals and dummies.”) But recruiting junior college players is a must for nearly every FBS program now.

“Those guys are making an impact,” Fisher said, “… and we’ve had some pretty good success with our guys here lately.”

That’s a slight understatement from Fisher. Former Noles Menelik Watson and Cornellius Carradine were both second-round selections in the 2013 NFL draft, and Fisher could have another player from the juco ranks taken high in the draft in the coming years. Last week, Fisher said Kareem Are, who enrolled in January out of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, is the surprise of spring practice.

Are has only participated in half of Florida State’s practices, but he has seen significant time with the first-team offense at left guard as the Noles battle some injuries and experiment with varying lineups along the offensive line. Senior Cameron Erving has been alongside Are for much of those drills working at left tackle and even some center. Erving said there is a different level of maturity with Are and junior college players in general.

“For the most part the guys we’ve had here that transferred from juco, they’ve come with a different focus,” Erving said. “They were hungry and always felt like they had something to prove. Those guys have always played hard from what I’ve seen, seeing Menelik, seeing Kareem come from juco, seeing guys like [senior Desmond Hollin].

Troy Morrell has coached Butler (Kan.) Community College to three national championships in his 15 seasons as coach. He said junior college recruits are better prepared physically and academically than they were even just a few years ago. Watson declared for the NFL after just one season at Florida State. Coaches are constantly looking for ways to improve their team, and the junior college ranks have a number of able bodies that can contribute immediately.

“They’re going to maybe be more prepared in the classroom. That gives the schools a little more freedom to be able to recruit a junior college kid that maybe they haven’t been able to before,” Morrell said.

“And there’s a tremendous amount of pressure for those big schools to win.”
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South Florida is arguably the most fertile area in the country for recruiting, and college football coaches annually flock to the talent-rich area to try to land a small piece of a very large pie. The large area located south of Lake Okeechobee that includes the football hotbeds of Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties has produced 45 ESPN 300 members in the last two recruiting cycles and almost half (22) signed with out-of-state schools.


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SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- With the world’s busiest airport down the road, quarterbacks from across the country flocked to the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday at Gary Pirkle Park, including several highly regarded passers from outside the Southeast.

Part of that group was Indianapolis Decatur Central’s Tommy Stevens. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Stevens traveled more than 500 miles, but it was worth every mile because he proved he has the tools to compete with the best of the best.


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Altanta Elite 11 regional camp notebook 

March, 21, 2014
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SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- Several talented quarterbacks took the field at the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday. Though no official invites for the Elite 11 finals, held in Beaverton, Ore. in July, were extended, there were five finalists with potential to eventually earn an invite. The finalists included Anthony Ratliff, Austin King, Kendall Hinton, Ross Trail and Alex Malzone. Four of the five finalists were from out-of-state. King is from Alpharetta, Ga.


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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For most highly-rated defensive line prospects coming out of high school, the word "technique" is rarely used. Not because the prospects don’t want to learn, but because proper technique is something that is seldom taught or even required at the high school level. Top defensive line prospects generally rely on brute strength or superior speed to beat the offensive linemen they face. But for ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Byron Cowart, who is the No. 68-ranked prospect in the country, technique has been his sole focus during the offseason.


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Top position classes: ACC 

March, 6, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes in each conference. For the full series, click here.

Quarterback
Syracuse is going to an open, up-tempo offense next season, and, on national signing day, the Orange signed a pair of quarterbacks who could be near-perfect fits. Four-star recruits Alin Edouard (Hialeah, Fla./Hialeah) and A.J. Long (Lebanon, Tenn./Friendship Christian) fit the bill as athletically skilled, dual-threat prospects who can play fast and spin the ball.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: After a few weeks to recover from national signing day, it’s always interesting to analyze the data to get a better understanding of what really happened. To me, there’s no better test of a program’s recruiting momentum than to see how they climbed from one class to another. And programs like Boston College, NC State and Stanford are definitely trending upward.

New to the mix
Boston College, Syracuse and Western Michigan were the three schools you could make a case climbed the most from the 2013 to 2014 recruiting class, especially the Eagles. None of the three programs were ranked in the 2013 top 75, but Boston College climbed all the way to No. 42 overall in 2014. The Eagles' class was headlined by former Rutgers commit and ESPN 300 prospect Jonathan Hilliman, who is expected to have an instant impact at running back. Syracuse (60) and Western Michigan’s (68) entrance into the rankings weren't as high as the Eagles’ but it’s a step in the right direction if you’re a fan of both programs. There are many, including me, that believe the Broncos signed the best class ever in the MAC. Insider

Top-5 climbers


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: One of the better defensive back prospects in Florida is heading to Ohio State, and Urban Meyer is a big reason why; this weekend is Missouri’s chance to impress a number of top 2015 prospects; and one of the top 2015 prospects is making rounds on unofficial visits.

Meyer seals it for Edwards
Three-star safety Ben Edwards (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) gave high marks to Ohio State assistants Tim Hinton and Chris Ash for playing a role in his decision to commit to the Buckeyes on Tuesday. But it was head coach Urban Meyer who made the biggest difference. “Who wouldn’t want to play for Coach Meyer?” Edwards said. “People down here in Florida still love him and talk about him all the time. He won two national championships and has always had winning teams. My family is also comfortable with me playing for him, so he definitely played a big factor in my decision.” Edwards picked Ohio State over offers from about 20 other teams.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Tuesday's offerings: The Tiger was already out of the bag, but that didn’t stop Deondre Clark from having his moment in the sun; it looks like the Malik McDowell saga is going to last quite a bit longer; and the defensive tackle position looks loaded in the Class of 2015.


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2016 RB with offers has eyes on ACC 

February, 10, 2014
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The 2014 class is signed and delivered, which means it is time to look to the future. One recruit in the 2016 class already has a few offers and the attention of schools throughout Florida and the Southeast.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Lost in the signing day shuffle and success from SEC programs was a tremendous effort by Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck; people have overlooked that Malik McDowell doesn’t technically have to sign a letter of intent if he wants to play for Michigan State; and believe it or not there are already recruits in the 2016 class committing.


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Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.


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Top 2015 targets: ACC 

February, 6, 2014
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It might seem premature to look at the 2015 class just hours after signing day’s conclusion, but the reality is college staffs have been working hard toward Feb. 2015 for the past two years.

With signing day in the books, here are five recruits who sit near the top of a number of ACC schools' 2015 boards.


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