Print and Go Back ESPN.com: ACC [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
ACC class rankings analysis

By Jared Shanker

Generally during the season, recruiting takes somewhat of a backseat, which is why you see much more movement in the player rankings than in the class rankings.

This past week was a little different, though. There is a new top class in the ACC as the Miami Hurricanes have surpassed Florida State. This is the first time since the rankings were released in April that the Canes are ahead of the Noles. At No. 3 nationally, the Canes matched their highest ranking in the 2014 cycle. The Noles dropped to No. 4.

Trending up: Florida State will almost certainly pass Miami for the top spot in the conference before signing day, but we’re not here to rain on the Canes’ parade. The state of Florida gets enough rain as it is. Miami picked up two commitments this week, defensive tackle Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) among them. Coach Al Golden has been waiting for that domino to fall since Moten decommitted from the Gators.

With Moten on board, the future of the Miami defensive line looks set. In the Canes’ four defensive linemen scheme, the 2014 class has two defensive ends and two defensive tackles ranked among the top 14 at their position. Local receiver Tyre Brady (Homestead, Fla./South Dade) also committed, which wasn't much of a surprise. With Moten and Brady committed, the focus is on reeling in Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), No. 39 in the ESPN 300. Projected to Miami on the Hot Board, Dixon will decide in less than a month.

Trending down: With another ugly loss -- 31-point setback to UNC -- I can’t move Virginia out of this spot just yet. The Cavs close with struggling Miami and up-and-down Virginia Tech. UVa could conceivably be blown out by both teams in what could be Mike London’s final two games as coach. If London does not return -- and even if he does -- the Cavs’ class could be in trouble. There is no progress being made on the field so recruits aren’t able to look at the product and say they are the missing piece to right the ship. Five-star commits Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown remain on board, but that could all change in the hours after the Virginia Tech game.

What to watch: Three-star running back Shai McKenzie announced he will decide on Dec. 20, and his final four schools are all ACC teams. The Washington (Pa.) High recruit has long been considered a Pittsburgh lean, but an official visit to Virginia Tech looks to have swung momentum in the Hokies’ favor. Florida State hosted him for an official visit, but the Noles do not look to be a likely landing spot. Georgia Tech is the dark horse, as McKenzie’s mother lives in Atlanta. McKenzie has been a priority for the Panthers for the better part of a year, and it would be a tough blow to lose him. Pitt did recently add three-star RB Chris James, however. Virginia Tech could use some offensive help, but McKenzie might not be ready to contribute as a freshman because he's rehabbing a torn ACL.

Bold prediction: If Duke can indeed win the ACC Coastal and play in the conference title game, it will be the 2015 equivalent of Northwestern. The Wildcats are having their best recruiting cycle ever and have the No. 34 class nationally, and they could add two more ESPN 300 prospects in the coming weeks. With similar academics and success to Northwestern’s 2012 season, Duke can play the role of Northwestern in 2015, and the Blue Devils added a junior commitment a few days ago. A top-40 class in 2015 is not out of the realm of possibility as the state of North Carolina annually boasts a lot of talent. And with its academics, Duke can recruit outside of its region.