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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Most important targets: ACC

By Jared Shanker

With less than a month until signing day, ACC schools are focused on closing out their 2014 classes before moving onto 2015. Here is the top signing day target for each ACC program.

Boston College
DE Harold Landry (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest)
6-foot-3, 230 pounds
Four stars
Boston College might not add another commitment in 2014, and coach Steve Addazio is looking to take the next big recruiting jump with the 2015 class. Fellow four-star commitments Jonathan Hilliman and Connor Strachan are solid, but Landry decommitted from the Eagles for 24 hours during the fall. He made amends with the staff quickly and rejoined BC. But now opposing coaches are coming through schools and homes, so the Eagles staff can’t rest easy until Landry is on campus. Things have been quiet on the Landry front since October, which is a good sign for the Eagles, but there is always a concern as signing day nears with prospects from outside the region.

Clemson
CB D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga./Walton)
6-foot, 182 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 88
December was a rough month for the Tigers as far as recruiting. Former No. 1 target and five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan chose Ohio State over Clemson, and two weeks later No. 27 prospect Lorenzo Featherston committed to Florida State. So now the onus is on Smith to turn around the defensive recruiting before signing day. A commitment comes Jan. 13, and the Tigers are in a heated race with South Carolina and Tennessee. Compelling cases could be made for all three schools, and the tea leaves are not revealing much in the way of which direction the four-star is leaning.

Duke
WR Trevon Lee (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons)
5-foot-11, 168 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 241
A player of Lee's caliber at Duke would be a remarkable coup for David Cutcliffe's program, which appeared in the ACC championship game and secured double-digit wins for the first time in school history. Lee would infuse some Florida speed into the Blue Devils' offense, and it seems he could contribute immediately. Academics are vital for Lee, which boasts well for Duke. Vanderbilt is in contention, too, but how long will James Franklin be the Commodores’ coach?

Florida State
CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover)
6-foot, 179 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 9
The five-star cornerback is down to Alabama and Florida State, and there is a large contingent that feels it is the Seminoles who lead. Humphrey, the No. 3 cornerback nationally, has a tight relationship with Noles defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who formerly coached at Alabama. It is never easy getting a player Nick Saban covets, especially when that player is from Alabama -- and the top player from Alabama nonetheless -- but there are several indicators that favor the Noles. A five-star commitment is really the only thing left for Jimbo Fisher to accomplish in the 2014 class. Florida State loses several defensive backs from its championship roster, and it is hard to imagine Humphrey not seeing the field in some capacity in 2014 if he signs in Tallahassee.

Georgia Tech
ATH Myles Autry (Norcross, Ga./Norcross)
6-foot, 175 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 253
This four-star playmaker remains firmly on the Yellow Jackets' radar. Autry, if he decides to go to Georgia Tech, would provide a huge shot in the arm for the Jackets, given his ability to create plays with his athleticism and speed. He has a brother in Atlanta already, so there is the draw of playing with a sibling. There is some competition for Autry. Originally it was Florida State that looked poised to steal Autry from Paul Johnson, but an injury forced Autry to drop from the Noles’ radar. But Gators coach Will Muschamp is intensifying the heat on Autry, and the ESPN 300 recruit has responded with significant interest in Florida.

Maryland
OT Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara)
6-foot-5, 286 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 26
Maryland is confident Randy Edsall is the right coach to transition the Terps to the Big Ten, and for Edsall to see the move through for the foreseeable future, he will need to recruit better. He is doing a fine job, but he cannot afford to lose out on the top talent from the local area known as the DMV -- Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. He already has missed on the first pivotal piece in Jalen Tabor, once considered a lock for the Terps. Missing on Prince now would be devastating. Both were the building blocks of the 2014 class and future Big Ten rosters. If Prince lands at Florida, Florida State or South Carolina, Edsall might not have as long of a leash in 2014 as he might have with Prince and Tabor.

Miami
DT Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic)
6-foot-3, 305 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 170
Valentine decommitted when Al Golden was rumored to be off to Penn State, but the truth is Valentine was already close to reneging on his pledge to the hometown Canes. LSU was mounting a charge for the four-star lineman, and Valentine was planning a visit to Baton Rouge before Golden’s name was linked to Penn State. He will also check out Kentucky before a final official visit to Miami. There is still a good chance the Canes sign Valentine, but Golden has his work cut out for him. Valentine told The Times-Picayune that LSU is his new No. 1 school.

North Carolina
WR Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside)
6-foot-2, 188 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 154
The Heels are essentially done in 2014 but have their sights set on adding a receiver. Ideally, the staff would flip in-state receiver De'Andre Thompkins from Penn State, but the ESPN 300 recruit plans to enroll at PSU as long as the new coaching staff wants him. So next on the list is Thompson, No. 154 in the ESPN 300. Thompson is providing few insights into his recruitment, but the feel is Clemson and NC State are in the best positions. With a few official visit dates open, though, assistant Gunter Brewer, who reeled in Elijah Hood and Bentley Spain, is working on Thompson. With the limited scholarships UNC has, landing Thompson to close out 2014 would be a big win for Larry Fedora.

North Carolina State
WR Trevion Thompson
As mentioned above, Thompson looks to be favoring Clemson and NC State as signing day approaches. That does not mean the Wolfpack can coast to signing because they are the team with the local flavor. Dave Doeren has done a fantastic job landing several major in-state targets, and Thompson is the highest remaining prospect on the board for NC State. The Wolfpack have a strong chance and should get Thompson back on campus before signing day.

Pittsburgh
OLB Jamal Davis II (Canton, Ohio/McKinley)
6-foot-2, 212 pounds
Three stars
Most of Pitt’s top targets decided in the month of December. Four names the Panthers hoped to land last month were four-star recruits Dravon Henry, Alex Bookser, Montae Nicholson and Shai McKenzie. Bookser, however, was the only one to commit to Pittsburgh. Missing on the other three has opened up room for a few other recruits, Davis being one of them. The three-star linebacker will officially visit Jan. 24. Davis’ recruitment has seen some twists, so don’t expect a decision until signing day nears.

Syracuse
ATH Demetrius Johnson (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis Area Christian)
6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Three stars
A U.S. Army All-American, Johnson’s recruitment has been relatively quiet. Johnson could play both sides of the ball, but he would likely be a defensive back in the Orange’s scheme. Scott Shafer has done well with his first full recruiting class and would like to round out the class with Johnson.

Virginia
DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes)
6-1, 299 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 257
There have been few misses from the state of Virginia for Mike London, specifically from the Virginia Beach area. Nnadi resides along the Virginia coast and likes what London, who has ties to the area, is doing in Charlottesville despite the poor 2013 record. Nnadi could come down to the two in-state schools, and UVa’s record against Virginia Tech on the recruiting trail among 2014 recruits is impressive. Nnadi’s final official visit will go to London and the Cavs less than a week before signing day.

Virginia Tech
DT Derrick Nnadi
The Hokies’ in-state recruiting has significantly improved over the last few months, and Frank Beamer landed four-star and ESPN 300 DT Ricky Walker in the fall. So now the focus is on fellow interior lineman Nnadi, who looks to be leaning toward Virginia Tech. There will be a stiff battle for Nnadi, however. He officially visited Florida State and Penn State, and he wants to visit Ohio State. The Hokies were stellar on defense in 2013, and Nnadi could be a pivotal player in keeping Virginia Tech among the country’s best defenses for the foreseeable future. The Hokies get an official visit on Jan. 24.

Wake Forest
DT Edgar Cerenord (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage)
6-1, 292 pounds
Three stars
Wake Forest traditionally has recruited Florida really well. Cerenord could be a continued step in that direction if the Demon Deacons can land him. Arkansas and Tennessee will provide stiff opposition. An interesting development here is the Deacons' coaching situation. With Jim Grobe out, how is Cerenord affected? Will new coach Dave Clawson try to close out on Cerenord or instead bring some of his Bowling Green commits with him?