Thursday, February 2, 2012
2012 ACC recruiting superlatives
By Heather Dinich
It was another whirlwind of a signing day, with a little bit of drama and a few surprises. Now that we’ve had some time to digest Wednesday’s news, here’s a quick overview of 2012 signing day in the ACC:
Top class: Florida State is the undisputed heavyweight champion in the ACC this signing day. The Noles brought in 10 ESPNU 150 commitments and finished with the No. 2 class in the country. Jimbo Fisher lured in the No. 1 player in the country in defensive end Mario Edwards, and bolstered an already strong defense by adding even more depth and speed, particularly up front, where it added the No. 1 DT in Eddie Goldman.
Biggest surprise: (Tie) Dante Fowler Jr. flipping from Florida State to Florida and Jawand Blue flipping from Virginia Tech to Miami. Both Fowler and Blue entered signing day committed to their previous programs, but at the last minute decided to flip. Fowler said he was enticed by Florida’s hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position, and Blue’s decision caused quite a stir on Twitter when a conversation between he and a Virginia Tech assistant was made public via a reporter’s tweets.
Biggest loss: While some teams missed out on highly touted players, Georgia Tech lost one of its assistants to a recruiting violation. Co-offensive line coach Todd Spencer resigned after he broke NCAA rules by sending text messages to recruits.
Recruiter of the year: Miami coach Al Golden. Sure, Florida State and Clemson had higher-ranked classes, but Al Golden is only in his second season recruiting in South Florida (his first full recruiting calendar), and had to recruit against uncertainty that still looms because of an ongoing NCAA investigation. Despite possible further sanctions, Golden was able to lure in a top-10 class, which will help the program get back on track regardless of what awaits from the NCAA.
Rookie of the year: Virginia Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer. In his first season on staff, he made an immediate impact for the Hokies on the recruiting trail. Virginia Tech had five four-star recruits and one ESPNU 150 member sign, and Beamer played an integral role in giving the program's recruiting a boost. Coach Frank Beamer said this is the kind of class that could help change those results in the BCS bowls.
First impression: First-year UNC coach Larry Fedora is a walking advertisement for Red Bull. The man is hopped up, turbocharged, and it’s exactly what the program and fan base needs right now -- a little bit of life. With a recruiting window that was cut short by the timing of his hire, Fedora still cobbled together a solid class that met the needs of his philosophies and will help the program adapt to the changes in schemes. Much like Golden, he managed to do it with the NCAA cloud still hanging over the program.
Class most likely to make an immediate impact: Miami. With so many players leaving early for the NFL and graduating, one of the biggest selling points for Miami this year was immediate playing time. The early departure of Lamar Miller to the NFL should open the competition up at running back, and defensive back is another area of opportunity for freshmen, but there will be spots up for grabs all over the two-deep.
Under-the-radar class: NC State. Tom O'Brien said he's bringing in a "whole different breed" of pass-rushers, and that "we're finally getting to look like our guys did at Boston College, the guys that are still playing in the Super Bowl this weekend." It's not a flashy class, but it will make NC State better, and the Wolfpack are already a team worth watching in the 2012 ACC race.