ACC football recruiting overview
Two-a-days are under way for college and high school football programs across the country, shoving recruiting to the backburner for most prospects.
With this unofficial break in action, now's a good time to take a look around the Atlantic Coast Conference and see what each school has done so far.
Headliner: When the Terps landed four-star defensive end DeOnte Arnett in July, they bested traditional powers like Georgia, Ohio State and Tennessee, and kept the all-important Forestville-to-College Park pipeline flowing. Arnett -- who possesses the wingspan of a seven-footer -- follows ex-Forestville tight end Devonte Campbell and receiver Kevin Dorsey to UM. Arnett's a good bet for early playing time at Maryland.
Sleeper: Edmondson defensive end David Mackall is rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, but once the recruiting service gets film on the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder, that ranking should change in a hurry. Mackall's a relentless pass rusher whose size makes him the ideal fit for UM's LEO position. Click here for DigitalSports.com's highlight reel of Mackall.
Overview: Right now Maryland's 2009 class is on the fringe of the top 25, according to Rivals.com. The Terps could hang around the top 30 when Signing Day rolls around, or they could surge into the top 20 depending on the decisions of guys like Dunbar running back Tavon Austin, Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins and St. John's College (D.C.) offensive lineman Pete White. The Terps' 19-man class includes two promising quarterback prospects (C.J. Brown and Danny O'Brien), a thunder (D.J. Adams) and lightning (Caleb Porzel) combo at running back, the heir apparent to Obi Egekeze at kicker (Nick Ferrera) and a number of intriguing defensive prospects (Arnett, Mackall, linebacker Bradley Johnson and several others).
Headliner: According to Rivals.com, the Eagles landed the strongest defensive tackle in the country in Dillon Quinn, a four-star prospect. The 6-foot-6, 270-pounder from Pawling, N.Y., sported early offers from Maryland and Virginia before committing to BC in April. It probably goes without saying that Quinn would’ve garnered many additional offers had he not committed so early.
Sleeper: Defensive end Kasim Edebali couldn’t get his football fix playing for club teams in Germany, so the 6-foot-2, 235-pounder left his homeland to play high school football at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H. Information on Edebali is scarce (he doesn’t have a Scout.com profile and there were no stories written about his commitment), making the two-star player the quintessential sleeper recruit.
Overview: Slim pickings so far from a numbers standpoint, but that’s probably to be expected considering BC landed a 29-man class in 2008. A big question for the Eagles is whether or not they can pull off the rare re-commitment. Dartmouth, Mass., tight end Arthur Fontaine committed to Boston College in May, withdrew his commitment weeks later, and now is reportedly down to BC, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia. According to this article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Bulldogs might have the edge.
Update: A couple hours after I wrote this, Fontaine did, in fact, commit to Georgia. Tough break for the Eagles.
Headliner: The Tigers went to battle with a who’s who of college football powers for the services of Craig Loston, but the No. 1 ranked safety in the country verbally committed to Clemson in April. The Aldine, Tex., native, paired with four-star safety DeVonte Holloman, give Clemson an embarrassment of riches in the defensive backfield.
Sleeper: Finding a sleeper in Clemson’s star-studded class is tough, but linebacker Quandon Christian probably qualifies. Christian, an in-stater with 4.5 speed, earned his Clemson offer with a standout performance at the Tigers’ summer camp. My Clemson insider tells me Christian reminds some CU coaches and analysts of former Tigers standout and current San Diego Charger Anthony Waters.
Overview: Clemson could potentially top its 12th-ranked 2008 class, from a ratings standpoint, in 2009. Tommy Bowden has already assembled a well-balanced mix of offense (including ultra-quick athlete Larry Raper and punishing tackle J.K. Jay) and defense (namely Loston, Holloman and defensive end Malliciah Goodman).
Headliner: Four-star running back Desmond Scott went from one of Rutgers’ prized recruits to Duke’s biggest catch last month. The Durham native cited distance as the reason for switching his commitment from the Scarlet Knights to the Blue Devils. Scott picked Duke over reported offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and a host of others. I’m no Duke football historian, but I’ve got to believe Scott’s one of the Blue Devils’ highest-rated commitments of all time.
Sleeper: Scott’s quarterback at Hillside, Corey Gattis, torched opposing teams as a junior, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. Gattis’ athleticism and 4.5 speed could make for a dynamic slot receiver.
Overview: Apparently David Cutcliffe means business. Under the Blue Devils’ first-year head coach, Duke has landed 21 verbal commitments, many of whom had other big-time BCS offers. In the past, Duke did battle with many mid-major schools in football recruiting. But landing guys like Scott and Georgia defensive tackle John Drew shows that things will be much different on the recruiting trail for Duke under Cutcliffe.
Headliner: Five-star defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel is the highest rated commitment in the entire ACC, checking in at No. 8 on the Rivals 100 list. McDaniel committed to FSU on Feb. 7 -- one day after National Signing Day for the class of 2009. The 6-foot-1, 270-pounder picked the Seminoles over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, among others.
Sleeper: Sleepers are hard to come by in FSU’s already loaded class (even the Seminoles’ kicker commitment, Dustin Hopkins, has three stars), but rangy South Carolina safety Justin Bright fits the bill. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder chose Florida State over an offer from Texas A&M. According to NoleDigest.com, Bright plans to enroll early, making early playing time a distinct possibility for the three-star player.
Overview: Looks like a typical Florida State class -- tons of speed, lots of in-state athletes and plenty of intriguing defensive standouts. Per usual, the Seminoles will almost assuredly end up with a top 10 recruiting class.
Headliner: Four-star defensive tackle J.C. Lanier ended his recruitment before it really got started, pledging to Georgia Tech the day after Signing Day. Lanier, a massive run-stopper, picked the Yellow Jackets over an offer from Clemson.
Sleeper: Offensive guard Raymond Beno is a two-star prospect according to Rivals and Scout, but the 6-foot-1, 280-pounder claimed offers from Miami, Wake Forest and Southern Miss, among others. Height is probably keeping Beno from a higher rating by the recruiting services, but his quick feet make him a good fit for the option offense.
Overview: Paul Johnson’s first full class as Georgia Tech’s head coach looks to be a solid one. The ex-Navy coach has done a nice job taking advantage of Georgia’s plentiful in-state talent. Arguably the most important recruit for Tech is dual-threat quarterback Jordan Luallen -- Johnson’s choice to man his option offense.
Headliner: The Hurricanes landed Bryce Brown, Scout.com’s No. 1 running back, back in February. Brown has said he’ll take visits to other schools, but assuming he follows through on the commitment, Miami will be getting a player who was wanted by pretty much every other major college football program in the country.
Sleeper: Miami pulled tight end Billy Sanders from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, beating several Pac-10 schools for the three-star prospect. If there’s any program in the country that’s earned the benefit of the doubt with tight end prospects, it’s Miami. Sanders could be the program’s next success story at the position.
Overview: The Hurricanes have been selective this season in recruiting after compiling an enormous, 33-man class in 2008. The guys Randy Shannon has brought in for 2009 are mostly impact players. Numbers could prevent it from being a typical, top-10 Miami class, but as always, the Hurricanes will fill their spots with athletic, highly-rated guys.
Headliner: Donte Moss had his pick of ACC and SEC offers early on in the process. In March, the five-star defensive end and top prospect in North Carolina chose the Tar Heels. Moss, a run-stopping, pass-rushing lineman, also doubles as a wide receiver for Jacksonville High School.
Sleeper: Injuries sidelined Curtis Campbell for all but five games of his junior season, which probably explains his one- and two-star rankings, per Scout and Rivals respectively. But the 6-foot-2, 205-pound safety has plenty of athleticism and speed, making him a likely contributor for UNC down the road.
Overview: Butch Davis has hit the in-state class hard, landing six of the top 25 prospects in North Carolina thus far. A big coup for the Tar Heels was landing Elite 11 quarterback Bryn Renner in March -- before many other big-time schools became involved.
North Carolina State
Headliner: High Point, N.C., outside linebacker Rickey Dowdy recorded 12 sacks and 13 tackles for loss as a junior at Central High School. That standout junior season led to reported offers from Georgia Tech and North Carolina (according to Rivals), but the three-star prospect went with the Wolfpack in March.
Sleeper: Orlando running back James Washington is just a two-star prospect according to Scout, but the 6-foot, 180-pounder with 4.4 speed chose NC State over offers from Cincinnati, Rutgers and South Florida, according to Rivals.
Overview: Not much to say about NC State’s nine-man class at this point, other than there’s a long way to go until Signing Day. Tom O’Brien has assembled a few intriguing pieces, most notably Fayetteville, N.C., quarterback Everett Proctor, who will either give the Wolfpack a dual-threat presence under center, or a dangerous deep threat receiver.
Headliner: Fredericksburg, Va., prospect Dominique Wallace is Rivals.com’s top-rated fullback, but the 6-foot-1, 231-pounder is slated to play running back in Charlottesville. Here’s how Wallace described his game to VirginiaPreps.com: “I'm big as crap and have the speed to back it up. I'm not going anywhere to sit on the bench. I may not start, but I have the ability to do something.”
Sleeper: Safety LoVante’ Battle, a two-star prospect, is one of Virginia’s fastest sprinters, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress. He also hails from the talent-saturated Hampton Roads area.
Overview: The state of Virginia is obviously a major priority for Al Groh and staff in 2009, with 11 of the Cavaliers’ 19 commitments coming from the Old Dominion State. Speed also appears to be a point of emphasis for U.Va. According to Rivals, nine of Virginia’s recruits have 4.6 speed or faster.
Headliner: Running back David Wilson’s blend of size and speed earned him the No. 63 spot on the Rivals 100. Wilson picked the Hokies over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and many others.
Sleeper: Defensive end Duan Perez-Means snuck into Rivals.com’s top 30 list for Virginia, checking in at No. 28. A two-star prospect per Scout.com, Perez-Means has impressive athleticism for a defensive lineman, as evidenced by his success on the football field and basketball court.
Overview: The Hokies have made good use of Virginia’s talent, reeling in nine prospects from in-state. So far it looks like a fairly typical Va. Tech class -- not incredibly heavy on star power, but filled with a few standouts and several hard-nosed overachievers.
Headliner: Wide receiver Quan Rucker has the most impressive set of offers of Wake’s commitments. The 6-foot, 182-pound wide receiver chose the Demon Deacons over Clemson, Illinois, Maryland, NC State, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Rivals.com.
Sleeper: 6-foot-4, 215-pound guys with 4.59 speed aren’t exactly plentiful, but that’s what Wake landed in Tazewell, Va., athlete Matt Muncy. Now they just need to find the right position for the two-star athlete recruit.
Overview: The days of Wake Forest picking up table scraps in recruiting are long gone. The Demon Deacons' 16-man class includes 11 three-star prospects, according to Rivals.com. Jim Grobe has established a notable presence in Florida, nabbing six recruits from the Sunshine State. From a local perspective, River Hill running back/slot receiver Michael Campanaro is a perfect fit for Grobe's misdirection style of offense. Campanaro, Rucker and Jacksonville, Fla., athlete Derald Jones should be dangerous in that scheme.