ACC football recruiting overview
With camps and combines finished and high school and college seasons ready to begin, this time of year is sort of an unofficial midway point in football recruiting.
Now, some schools are just a few guys away from finishing their classes and others are just getting started. But now’s a good time to assess where each ACC team is currently sitting, and where each school is projected to finish.
Sleeper: Defensive back Tavon Wilson was initially rated as a two-star player by Rivals before earning his third star last week. The 6-foot-0, 175-pounder from D.C. runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, and possessed several BCS conference offers, including Boston College, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Michigan State, according to Scout.
Overview: Very nice start for the Terps, particularly in keeping local guys like Dorsey and Teddy Dargan home. Ralph Friedgen likely has Maryland headed for another top 25-30 class.
Headliner: Ft. Washington Friendly running back
Josh Haden chose the Eagles over joining his brother, Joe, with the Florida Gators. The 5-foot-8 speedster also sported offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee, according to Rivals.
Sleeper: Take your pick. BC has four or five two-stars, depending on which scouting service you trust.
Stephen Atkinson, a safety from Fort Lauderdale has some nice offers.
Overview: It goes without saying that procuring a commitment from Haden was huge. As for the rest of the class, there’s not much to write home about if you’re a star-gazer (which is what this entire analysis piece is based on). BC always wins without spectacular recruiting, so the class so far is a success based on getting its normal level of kids plus an absolute game-breaker in Haden.
DaQuan Bowers, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end is one of the biggest catches throughout the entire ACC conference. A five-star recruit according to both services, Bowers is planning to graduate in December and join the Tigers during the second semester, according to Rivals.
Sleeper: Brandon Ford is a two-star in-stater who will come in as a wide receiver for Clemson, but with a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, might be able to transition to tight end with a year in a college strength program.
Overview: Tommy Bowden has the Tigers well on its way to another top 15 class. Recruiting has never been the problem for Bowden – it’s those pesky on-field results that have hurt. Regardless, Clemson remains one of the ACC’s top recruiting powers.
Headliner: Matt Daniels, a three-star defensive back from Fayetteville, Ga., is a rare Blue Devils recruit who actually had a plethora of other BCS conference offers – although many of those came following Daniels’ April commitment. According to Scout, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, South Carolina and others all extended scholarships.
Sleeper: There a lot to choose from here, but Lee Butler, a two-star defensive back from Anderson, S.C., sports 4.3 speed, according to Scout. If that’s anywhere near accurate, then Butler should be a special teams warrior, at the very least.
Overview: I was actually surprised by the number of three-star players the Blue Devils have procured (five, according to Rivals). That said, Duke will likely finish with the ACC’s lowest-ranked class … again.
Headliner: Depending on which scouting service you prefer, E.J. Manuel is either the first- or second-ranked quarterback in the entire 2008 class. A pro-style quarterback who just so happens to run a 4.6 40, Manuel showed at the Elite 11 quarterback camp why he possessed scholarships from nearly every major college football power.
Sleeper: Schools like FSU don’t really have traditional sleepers – i.e. guys who they’ve unearthed and stolen before other schools get involved. Need proof? Toshmon Stevens, a defensive end from Crescent City, Fla., held offers from Colorado, South Carolina and North Carolina State among others.
Overview: A definite top-five class, the Seminoles could actually challenge for college football’s top-rated class in 2008. With the way FSU recruits, it makes you wonder how last season’s 7-6 debacle occurred.
Headliner: Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins had offers from Florida, LSU, Miami (and Maryland!), but chose the Yellow Jackets in late July. Jenkins was reportedly impressed with GT’s academics, but producing Calvin Johnson the year before certainly couldn’t have hurt their cause either.
Sleeper: A rangy safety from Atlanta, Cooper Taylor chose his hometown team over Virginia and possesses some intriguing measureables.
Overview: Fresh off an ACC runner-up finish, it doesn’t look like Tech will be able to reel in a better group than last year’s top-20 class. They have some nice pieces, but it looks like this class will fall in the 25-40 range.
Headliner: Cornerback Patrick Johnson is the gem of Miami, the ACC and arguably the country. Rated the No. 3 player overall and No. 1 cornerback in the country by Rivals, Johnson will be the key recruit in Randy Shannon’s first full class.
Sleeper: Just like Florida State, Miami doesn’t really possess a true sleeper, but quarterback Taylor Cook is the second of two Canes QB commits (the other being Elite 11 participant Jacory Harris), and one who, at 6-foot-7, 210-pounds, has potential at other positions – particularly considering his 4.6 speed.
Overview: Again, just like Florida State, Miami will challenge for the nation’s top-rated class in 2008. If recruiting is any indication, Shannon will turn the Hurricanes around in a hurry.
Headliner: Ebele Okakpu, a three-star linebacker from Roswell, Ga., sported offers from nearly all the Southern powers before selecting the Tar Heels. Scout likes him a little bit better than Rivals, rating Okakpu the nation’s No. 8 middle linebacker.
Sleeper: Tight end Randy White selected UNC over … nobody, according to both Rivals and Scout databases. White’s an accomplished long snapper as well, which is obviously an incredibly underrated, yet vital position.
Overview: With just five commits on board (according to Scout), Butch Davis has a long way to go in filling out the class. UNC receives an incomplete grade thus far, but Davis has proven both at Miami, and last year coming in late to Chapel Hill, that he can recruit with the best.
North Carolina State
Headliner: Brandon Barnes could’ve gone anywhere in the country, but decided to roll the dice and be a part of Tom O’Brien’s first full class at NC State. The five-star Barnes could make an impact at wide receiver, running back or defensive back for the Wolfpack.
Sleeper: No astute analysis here, but two-star defensive back Earl Wolff is pulling a Ricky Williams and wearing his helmet on camera in his Scout profile picture.
Overview: O’Brien’s off to a great start in Raleigh, already securing a quarterback for the future (Mike Glennon) and doing a nice job keeping some of the best in-state talent home. The Wolfpack look poised for one of the country’s surprise classes.
Headliner: The Cavaliers’ gain was Maryland’s loss, as UVA reeled in a commitment from Stratford, Ct. running back Torrey Mack, a four-star player who had the Terps in his ‘top two or three,’ according to Scout. Virginia has quietly produced a solid stable of NFL running backs (Tiki Barber, Thomas Jones, Wali Lundy), and Mack has the potential to be the next.
Sleeper: Matt Mihalik, one of two UVA offensive line commits from Ohio, runs a 5.3 40. Not too shabby for a 6-foot-7, 270-pounder.
Overview: Al Groh seems to always pull in solid recruiting classes, and this one looks no different. It’s the on-field results that need improving. It’ll be interesting to see if the Ohio kids pan out. That state has plenty of talent to spare, and OSU can’t bring them all in.
Headliner: Bruce Taylor, an inside linebacker from Myrtle Beach, S.C., is VaTech’s only four-star player, according to both Rivals and Scout. Taylor, who chose the Hokies over offers from Florida State, Clemson and South Carolina among others, was hampered by a shoulder injury as a junior, according to Rivals.
Sleeper: This one’s easy, although it has nothing to do with football potential. Tight end Eric Martin sports a bright red mustache in his profile picture. Definitely worth the click.
Overview: Rivals is a bit higher on Virginia Tech’s class than Scout. Frank Beamer has filled up a lot of slots in the class already, but several big fish are still in play. The Hokies will probably finish with a nice class, per usual
Headliner: Ted Stachitas, a dual-threat quarterback, sported several ‘athlete’ offers from a variety of BCS schools, but the Demon Deacons will bring him in as a signal-caller. He’s undersized at 6-foot-0, but plenty of quarterbacks that size have made huge impacts at the D1 level.
Sleeper: Linebacker Riley Haynes is another Nease standout (same school as Stachitas) headed to Winston-Salem. Haynes might be a little overlooked thanks to a 4.6 40, but he’s excelled at the highest level of Florida high school football.
Overview: The Demon Deacons seem to have gotten a little recruiting bump thanks to last year’s ACC championship. Sure, Wake’s class will probably rank near the bottom of the conference, but improvements are certainly being made.