ACC: George Campbell

Spring football is off and running at several ACC schools, with many more set to kick things off in the coming days and weeks. There is no shortage of storylines throughout the league, but here are the questions that stand out above all else:

1. Does the ACC have an embarrassment of quarterback riches? It's not every day a league can withstand losing a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to the pros (more on FSU later), but the ACC has a ton of talent coming back under center in 2015. Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, NC State, Pitt, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest all return players who started at quarterback in 2014. Thomas Sirk is the frontrunner at Duke, and he saw extended time last year as a change-of-pace quarterback, too. Then there's Clemson and North Carolina, whose talented signal-callers from last fall will miss this spring, giving others a chance to prove themselves and build depth. Which brings us to …

2. What about the No. 2 quarterbacks? Deshaun Watson may be way ahead of schedule in his recovery from ACL surgery, as Dabo Swinney said Friday, and we all know what the sophomore is capable of when he is healthy. But this spring will see others get a chance at Clemson, as last year's No. 3 signal-caller, Nick Schuessler, leads a trio of quarterbacks that includes early enrollees Kelly Bryant and Tucker Israel. At North Carolina, meanwhile, the Tar Heels will have to go through spring drills without starter Marquise Williams, who is sidelined with a hip injury. That means Mitch Trubisky, who split time with Williams in the early part of the 2014 season, will run the first team this spring.

3. How does FSU replace Jameis? More quarterback talk, you say? Why of course! Florida State lost just one game in two years with Jameis Winston as its starter, so replacing him is no easy task. Sean Maguire is back after an uneven performance in his lone start last year, but he will have to battle it out with redshirt freshman J.J. Cosentino, a former ESPN four-star prospect, and early enrollee De'Andre Johnson, another four-star prospect.

[+] EnlargePat Narduzzi
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicPat Narduzzi spent the past eight seasons as Michigan State's defensive coordinator.
4. What does Narduzzi bring to Pitt? There is just one new head coach in the ACC this time around. And, once again, he resides in the Steel City. Pat Narduzzi is the fourth different head coach to open a spring in Pittsburgh since 2010, but he walks into a pretty good situation. The Panthers boast junior studs in James Conner and Tyler Boyd on offense, and Narduzzi's defensive roots should prove valuable to a Panthers unit that struggled down the stretch last season.

5. How will BC's offensive makeover look? Few coaches have had as much early success at new stops as Steve Addazio has had at Boston College, taking a two-win team from 2012 to consecutive 7-6 seasons. In 2013, he rode Heisman finalist running back Andre Williams to a strong finish. In 2014, he relied on dual-threat transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy. This season Addazio promoted receivers coach Todd Fitch to offensive coordinator after Ryan Day left for the Philadelphia Eagles, and he is looking for a more balanced attack. This could be more challenging considering he'll be without a senior signal-caller for the first time.

6. Will early enrollees make an impact? We already mentioned Johnson at FSU, but five-star safety Derwin James could have an easier path to the field, given the Seminoles' openings in the secondary. So, too, could five-star receiver George Campbell. Similar circumstances at North Carolina could allow four-star linebacker Andre Smith to start early, especially on a Tar Heels defense that had a staff makeover and is in need of a massive turnaround from 2014.

7. Can Clemson's defense again be dominant? The Tigers boasted the nation's No. 1 defense last season, but they said goodbye to plenty of talent. Coordinator Brent Venables will have his work cut for him, but bringing back Shaq Lawson, D.J. Reader, Ben Boulware, Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse is certainly a good starting point for a team that appears to be the early league frontrunner in 2015.

8. Will Louisville keep it going defensively? The Cardinals' defense was one of the bigger surprise of 2014, Bobby Petrino's first year back with the program. But all of those playmakers came from the past regime, and Petrino will be counting on transfers with troubled pasts to pitch in this year: former Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, former Georgia corner Shaq Wiggins and former TCU linebacker Devonte Fields.

9. Can Miami take advantage of the talent at its disposal? Brad Kaaya, Joseph Yearby, Gus Edwards and Stacy Coley give the Hurricanes a great starting point this spring. But Miami likely has to figure out its retooling offensive line in order to take advantage of its weapons. Questions on how this team went 6-7 last year continue to mount, and now will be as good of a time as any for the Canes to get things going and change the conversation.

10. Will Notre Dame get a quarterback answer? The Irish's inaugural year of quasi-ACC membership helped bring us arguably the game of the year, at Florida State. This year the Irish, who return 19 starters, will face six ACC teams, including contests against potential division frontrunners Clemson and Georgia Tech. But who is directing the offense under center will likely be determined this spring, as Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will battle it out after splitting reps in Notre Dame's bowl win over LSU. There is also always the chance that Golson, who said he graduates this spring, could transfer and play his fifth season elsewhere this fall.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher reclined in a black leather chair with lunch -- a bowl of gumbo -- cooling on the arm rest. The Florida State coach, in a pair of jeans and chestnut-colored western dress boots, could rest easy and exchange seafood small talk with reporters as there was no signing day drama with the Seminoles.

As with every signing day, there was angst in the morning as Fisher awaited official word -- or fax -- from his commitments, but there were no 11th-hour surprises. A program once known for its signing-day surges had no surprises as all 20 commitments faxed their letters of intent by mid-morning. Even the signing-day addition of ESPN 300 safety Marcus Lewis was mostly expected, capping the nation’s No. 2 class at 21 signees.

“It’s like Christmas. You know what you asked Santa and he’s got it in the sleigh,” Fisher said, “but he’s just got to put it under the tree.”

While the Seminoles swung for the fences with five-stars Terry Beckner Jr. and Iman Marshall, Florida State’s signing day wasn't defined by the misses. Florida State has three five-star commitments, another 12 four-stars and 11 ESPN 300 recruits. Fisher and his coaching staff wrapped a bow on one of the country’s best classes before the New Year as only one commitment came after Jan. 1.

Several of Florida State’s top recruits have been enrolled at the school for nearly a month, too. Five-star signees George Campbell, Derwin James and Josh Sweat enrolled in January, as did ESPN 300 recruits Da'Vante Phillips, De'Andre Johnson and Jacques Patrick.

Fisher, and most coaches, typically prefer this kind of signing day.

“It does take away from the drama, getting all of those guys in,” Fisher said, “but I’d much rather have them in here because now they’re in spring ball.”

Sweat was the No. 1 prospect in the ESPN 300 before he suffered a torn ACL during his senior season, which dropped him to No. 11. Fisher believed Sweat would have finished as the top-ranked recruit nationally if not for the injury, which will keep him out of spring practice but not the fall.

“You’re talking about a guy 6-foot-4, 245 pounds and runs a sub-4.5 and verticals 39 inches and can cover you, can play wideout,” Fisher said. “Guys who can affect that quarterback and come off of that edge, standing up or hand in the dirt, it’s so effective. He has that kind of ability.”

Fisher said he was nervous about one or two players not signing with Florida State, and one of them wasFrancois, the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback. There were reports over the last week Francois was decommitting in favor of rival Florida, but the Seminoles received Francois’ letter of intent around 9:45 a.m.

With the departure of Jameis Winston, the Seminoles’ have an open competition at quarterback heading into the 2015 season. While the early favorites to start in the opener are Sean Maguire and JJ Cosentino, Fisher will open up the competition to the freshmen Francois and Johnson.

“De'Andre Johnson is going to be a great player,” Fisher said. “We had to have depth there, we had to have another quality guy and think [Francois is] a big-time player. Because of that, you know those schools are going to constantly pound and go at him. I think he’s going to be a heck of a player.”
National signing day, and the build up to it, is as close as Texas and Texas A&M get to actual football competition these days, to see who will in fact “run this state.”

Well, right now it’s neither school. The Lone Star State is run by Baylor and TCU, the Big 12 co-champs that narrowly missed the initial College Football Playoff field.

That’s why the 2015 recruiting class and the season are so vital to both the Longhorns and Aggies, with each power striving to re-establish itself -- not just regionally, but nationally.

Texas and Texas A&M lead off our look at programs and coaches that need the 2015 class to pay off, and the sooner the better.

(Note: The RecruitingNation ranking and number of commitments are updated as of Sunday evening.)

1. Texas
Ranking: 9
Commitments: 26

The Longhorns have secured a number of solid, team-building pieces in this class, and a few high-end targets -- DT Daylon Mack and RB Soso Jamabo, among them -- remain distinct possibilities to sign with Texas this week.

Still, Wednesday
While the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual was a forgettable one for Dalvin Cook, his freshman season as a whole will be talked about at Florida State for quite some time.

Without Cook's emergence in the second half of the season and MVP performance in the ACC championship game, the Seminoles likely would not have made the inaugural College Football Playoff in the first place.

One of the elite prospects of the 2014 class, Cook was able to get a jump-start on his college career when he enrolled at Florida State in January of last year rather than the summer, which is when most signees officially step on campus full time. Although Cook suffered a shoulder injury that cost him all of spring practice, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said it was pivotal having Cook in team meetings and learning the nuances of a complex offense. It clearly paid dividends in the fall.

Fisher hopes the next crop of early enrollees, which arrived this past weekend, can provide a similar impact. Few programs play more freshmen than Florida State, and it will certainly need a boost from its 2015 class with significant losses coming at nearly every position.

The good news is that once again Fisher's haul is an impressive one, and the Seminoles' top four commitments are all on campus. Five-star defensive end Josh Sweat, five-star and No. 1 athlete George Campbell, No. 1 safety Derwin James and No. 3 running back Jacques Patrick highlight the Seminoles' No. 2-ranked class Insider, and they're all on campus.

Sweat, No. 5 in the ESPN 300, suffered a torn ACL during his senior season, but he'll now be able to rehab with the Florida State staff. While it's unlikely he will participate in spring practice, the weakside defensive end should be ready in the fall and can provide an immediate pass rush on third down. The Seminoles struggled all season to consistently rush the passer.

With the loss of Nick O'Leary and Rashad Greene, FSU's career leader in receptions, the Seminoles have a significant void to fill at receiver. Campbell, ranked No. 10 nationally, was a 6-foot-4, 190-pound athlete rather than a receiver initially, but reviews from his senior season and Under Armour All-America Game practices suggest Campbell's hands have improved significantly.

"There has not been a 6-foot-4 vertical receiving threat in the Under Armour All-America Game who runs as well as George Campbell since A.J. Green in 2008," Tom Luginbill, ESPN.com's senior national recruiting analyst, wrote last week. "The knock on Campbell has been consistent ball skills, but all he did was pluck the ball nicely and take the top off the defense. Campbell falls out of bed in the morning and runs a sub-4.4 40-second dash, and he will be a nice complement to the more physical, stoutly built Da'Vante Phillips."

The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Phillips, No. 58 in the ESPN 300, is also enrolled early. He comes from Miami Central High School, the alma mater of Cook.

Patrick will provide a bigger complement to Cook and Mario Pender in the backfield. Patrick is 6-foot-3 and 233 pounds, so he could immediately see time in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Although Florida State failed to effectively run the ball at times this season, the Seminoles performed well in short yardage with the senior Karlos Williams. Patrick might fill that role.

Then there is James, the top-ranked safety and a player who has impressed evaluators at every camp, combine, practice and all-star event. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound James has been committed to Florida State for nearly three years, and his loyalty could be rewarded with early playing time. Luginbill labeled James "The Punisher" for his physicality and speed. Luginbill called James a "headhunter," and fellow recruiting analyst Craig Haubert said the NFL coaches at the Under Armour All-America Game practices could see James turning into an elite linebacker. The Seminoles are in need of an upgrade at linebacker.

Eighth-ranked dual-threat quarterback De'Andre Johnson is also on campus as well as four-star safety Calvin Brewton.

UA Day 1: Best sights and sounds

December, 29, 2014
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Several players made incredible plays on Day 1 of the Under Armour All-America game practices. Byron Cowart had several sacks, quarterbacks Kyler Murray, Deondre Francois and Brandon Wimbush all made impressive throws, and Notre Dame commit Shaun Crawford had a big pass breakup. Here’s a closer look at some of the top plays caught on camera.

Notre Dame pledge Shaun Crawford with nearly perfect technique on a pass breakup of a pass intended for George Campbell.

Quarterback Kyler Murray with a beautiful touchdown pass.

George Campbell coming down with the catch.

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins against Alabama recruit Richie Petitbon.

Georgia recruit Terry Godwin makes a catch against Iman Marshall.

Quarterback Deondre Francois with a nice touchdown pass over the middle.

UNC OL pledge Tommy Hatton winning a battle against the No. 1-ranked player in the country, Terry Beckner Jr.

Oregon recruit Canton Kaumatule with a great spin move to win his one-on-one battle.

Byron Cowart with a nice move on Drew Richmond for the sack of Blake Barnett.

South Carolina commit Arden Key with the tackle.

Brandon Wimbush with a nice touch pass.



TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida State Seminoles have been on a tear. The success extends from the field, where the Seminoles have won 24 straight games and a national championship and have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner leading their potent offense, to recruiting, where they continue to stockpile top prospects.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

September, 9, 2014
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The ACC once again had a weekend on the recruiting front without a number of big-time official visitors or a large number of commitments. With that said, Florida State made national news Friday, and the nation's No. 1 prospect made his first official visit -- which impacts the ACC.

Biggest commitment: Florida State


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The ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015 has been updated with the 2014 season in clear sight. With the prestigious list updated and the helmets and pads just days away, RecruitingNation takes a look at five things to know for the ACC.


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ESPN 300: Top ACC targets 

April, 16, 2014
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With Wednesday’s release of the 2015 ESPN 300, here’s a look at five top ACC targets in the 2015 class.


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Top 2015 targets: ACC 

February, 6, 2014
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It might seem premature to look at the 2015 class just hours after signing day’s conclusion, but the reality is college staffs have been working hard toward Feb. 2015 for the past two years.

With signing day in the books, here are five recruits who sit near the top of a number of ACC schools' 2015 boards.


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ACC commits, targets highlight NFTC

March, 15, 2013
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Many of Florida's top 2014 and 2015 recruits will be on hand this weekend when the Nike Football Training Camps hit Orlando on Saturday and Miami on Sunday.

Orlando's event will feature top prospect Kain Daub, who has offers from Florida State, Miami, Alabama, LSU and many more. Sleepers like Darrion Owens, considering N.C. State, Boston College and Maryland, will have a chance to raise their profiles. And don't forget about 2015 phenom George Campbell, who already has offers from Clemson, Florida State and N.C. State, in addition to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Florida.

The Miami NFTC will feature a couple of future Hurricanes in WR Travis Rudolph and OL Trevor Darling. RB Dalvin Cook, who has committed to Clemson, will also be participating.

To read more about the Orlando NFTC, click here Insider. And for more on the Miami NFTC, click here Insider.

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