Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Best ACC recruiters
By Corey Dowlar and Jared Shanker
Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.
The best head coaches are often called the closer when it comes to sealing the deal with recruits. Whether on a visit or a trip to a prospect’s home, the head coach is called upon to secure the signature.
Which means those head coaches better have reliable starters and relievers to even get them to the ninth inning. An assistant coach usually serves both of those roles for months if not years of a prospect’s recruitment. Without an assistant around to do much of the leg work, the head coach will never be in a position to close.
The ACC houses some of the country’s top recruiters. Below are the conference’s 10 best.
FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is racking up prospects from the Panhandle to the east coast of Florida.
1. Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State: The Seminoles' new defensive coordinator already has made arguably the biggest impact in the conference when it comes to recruiting. Billed to be a dominant presence along the Interstate 10 corridor, Pruitt has lived up to the hype. Some of his commitments include ESPN 300 prospects Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby), Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) and Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic).
2. Chip West, Virginia: Virginia's recruiting coordinator is responsible for some of the biggest gets for the Hoos in a really long time. Safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) and defensive lineman Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) are his major grabs. Add in Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland) and Corwin Cutler (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes), and it's a pretty nice haul for one coach.
3. Micheal Barrow, Miami: The assistant coach has had a hand in no less than 10 commitments for the 2014 cycle, an obviously large proportion of the class. He teamed up with offensive coordinator James Coley on Nigel Bethel, Chad Thomas and Joseph Yearby. But he also has landed guys such as Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf), Trevor Darling (Miami/Central) and Mike Smith (Miami/Northwestern).
4. James Coley, Miami: Coming over from Florida State to serve as the Hurricanes' offensive coordinator, Coley has made an instant impact. Having done so well at Booker T. Washington for the Seminoles, Coley wrapped up both Chad Thomas and Nigel Bethel from the school for Miami this year. The biggest get, though, was tailback Joseph Yearby (Miami/Central), who should be able to come in and play right away.
5. Mike Locksley, Maryland: Locksley’s reputation as a recruiter preceded him, and the Washington, D.C., native is living up to the billing. Terps coach Randy Edsall gives his offensive coordinator all the big targets from the DMV, and Locksley has delivered on several. Jesse Aniebonam (Olney, Md./Good Counsel), an ESPN 300 DE, committed to Locksley, as did fellow four-star products Derwin Gray (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union) and Will Ulmer (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College). Locksley is the lead recruiter for elite targets Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship) and Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara), and the Terps are the leaders for both.
6. Tim Brewster, Florida State: Another first-year assistant in Tallahassee, Brewster has made a big impact at a position of need for the 2014 class. Mavin Saunders (Houston/Kinkaid) and Ryan Izzo (Highland Lakes, N.J. /Pope John XXIII) are the Seminoles' tight end commits for 2014 at maybe the most important position to establish depth given the circumstances on the depth chart. Wide receiver Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis) will be a big part of the class if Florida State can hold Ole Miss off for him.
Virginia Tech RBs coach Shane Beamer has kept the shelves stocked for his father's team.
7. Shane Beamer, Virginia Tech: The son of Hokies coach Frank Beamer, Shane’s ability to recruit is one of the reasons his dad has what might very well be a lifetime contract in Blacksburg. Without question, Shane is the ace recruiter of the Hokies’ staff. Two of the top three commitments for the Hokies, Holland Fisher and Cequan Jefferson. were recruited by Beamer. And Beamer had to land them both twice as Fisher and Jefferson signed with the Hokies out of high school but grades forced them to enroll at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy for the 2013 season. Five-star DE Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) was a Hokies lean for quite some time because of Beamer, but he dropped the Hokies because the school does not offer his major. If Virginia Tech did, it might have been another feather in the cap for Beamer.
8. Jeff Scott, Clemson: The Tigers often let Scott take the important states of Georgia and Florida, and Scott has rewarded coach Dabo Swinney with a number of ESPN 300 commitments. Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Baptist Day) and Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) are all nationally ranked. Scott could make a run at the top of the ACC recruiter rankings if he can land come-from-behind commitments from five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) and David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School). The Tigers are in the top group but trail for both. However, McMillan comes back to Clemson for an official visit this weekend.
9. Chad Morris, Clemson: The offensive coordinator for the Tigers does not have many commitments under his belt, but he could have the single biggest commitment in the country. Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville), the No. 1 QB in the ESPN 300, committed to Morris and Clemson in February 2012. With Tajh Boyd set to graduate, the Tigers will have a void at quarterback in 2014. Morris might have put Clemson in position to make another run at the national championship, possibly by 2015. Morris also landed ESPN 300 RB Jae’lon Oglesby (Central, S.C./D.W. Daniel) to provide a backfield option for Watson.
10. Bobby Engram, Pittsburgh: The inaugural Biletnikoff Award winner’s inclusion on this list is partly due to how his top signee in 2013 is faring as a freshman. Tyler Boyd was a prospect the Panthers could not miss out on in 2013, and Engram’s presence prevented an 11th-hour switch to Tennessee or West Virginia on signing day. In 2014, Engram has made Pitt a factor for ESPN 300 WR Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan), who has the Panthers in his top group. Joe Rudolph could make a case as Pitt’s top recruiter, too, but no signee under Paul Chryst has made a bigger impact than Boyd and no commitment under Chryst was more important.