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

Monday, February 10, 2014
FSU remains atop way-too-early Top 25

By Andrea Adelson


Not a surprising coordinator change, nor a major transfer, has impacted where Florida State stands in yet another new version of the way-too-early top 25.

ESPN.com colleague Mark Schlabach re-ranked the teams after national signing day and kept the Seminoles at the top, writing:
The defending BCS national champions added another top-five recruiting class to their already impressive roster, signing 13 players from the ESPN 300. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher added a couple of offensive weapons who might help reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston this coming season, including Dalvin Cook, the No. 3-ranked running back in the country, according to ESPN RecruitingNation, and wide receivers Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph.

Alabama jumped to the No. 2 spot thanks in large part to former Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker, who is transferring to the Tide and is expected to compete for the starting quarterback job in the fall.

As for the other ACC schools, North Carolina remained at No. 16, while Clemson dropped two spots to No. 20 and league newcomer Louisville dropped out of the rankings completely. While I agree the Tar Heels have an opportunity to be a Top 25 team in 2014, I don't think they should be ranked four spots ahead of Clemson headed into the season.

The Tigers do have the more difficult nonconference schedule, but they also have a far better defense, one that should be among the best in the conference. There is no doubt Clemson has questions to address on offense, but as Schlabach points out, the Tigers signed three of the country's top 25 prep receivers and the No. 1 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation. Coordinator Chad Morris returns to orchestrate the offense once again. There might be some bumps along the way as the new starters get integrated, but Clemson has a huge opportunity to prove it can reload -- not rebuild.

One more point: Duke should receive consideration to start the season ranked in the Top 25. This team returns plenty of playmakers on both offense and defense, and it has one of the  most manageable schedules in the ACC. The Blue Devils should go 4-0 in nonconference play, and they also avoid Florida State, Clemson and Louisville in the Atlantic.