ACC: Jeff Farrar

Signing day wrap: ACC

February, 5, 2014
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Signing day is known for the crazy. Condense an entire college football season into 12 hours and that offers a glimpse -- albeit minimally -- into the first Wednesday of February.

It began with ESPN 300 defensive lineman Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), arms folded and chest out, announcing his intention to sign with Michigan State. His intention to sign. A glare from his parents and whispers in the gym let it be known this saga was not going to end at 10 a.m. in front of a microphone.

Both of McDowell’s parents would like to see their son, No. 60 in the ESPN 300, at any school in his top four not nicknamed the Spartans. Florida State is among those finalists, and several predicted the Seminoles would land McDowell considering his parents' distaste for all things Green. So Jimbo Fisher and those inside Doak Campbell are keeping the fax machine plugged in, offering a few more hours' respite from the storage closet for the condemned technology.

Ultimately, McDowell, whether of his own volition or executing his parents’ will, did not fax a letter of intent to Michigan State as of 8:00 p.m. ET, and the Noles finished signing day with the No. 3 class sans another elite lineman.

Compared to the McDowell drama, the rest of the morning was tame for the ACC. There were some tense moments, but signing day pretty much went the way most expected.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Nnadi
John Albright/Icon SMIGetting ESPN 300 DE Derrick Nnandi on Wednesday helped make national signing day successful for Florida State.
No team had more of an opportunity to close strong than the Noles, and Fisher did a fine job closing. It was unrealistic to expect Florida State to land every recruit on the board, five-star Lorenzo Carter (signed with Georgia) and No. 1 receiver Malachi Dupre (LSU) among them. However, into the fold for Florida State was ESPN 300 linemen Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes), Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central) and Derrick Kelly Jr. (Quincy, Fla./East Gadsden), who was poised to sign with Florida but gave his commitment at the 11th hour.

Florida State was involved with a handful of signing day flips, but none that caught the Noles’ staff off-guard. No. 7 dual-threat quarterback Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) switched to Florida and Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) signed with South Carolina, but the Noles flipped Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen), No. 117 in the ESPN 300. Harrison was committed to Virginia Tech for 18 months before his signing day change of heart. Harrison, ranked as an athlete, finalized what could be the best receiver class in the country. It was one of the best classes nationally, too.

“We’ve had large numbers this year, got needs all the way across the board and filled it with great players and everyone position across the board we had somebody in,” Jimbo Fisher said at his signing day news conference. “We were excited about that.”

Miami’s flipping efforts went for naught, but it prevented one of its own from changing allegiances. Local defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), ranked No. 3 among Hurricanes commits, took late official visits to Alabama and Florida State. There was some panic from fans when Thomas’ fax did not roll through exactly at 9 a.m., but Canes coach Al Golden said Thomas’ mother reassured him the 65th-ranked player in the country would stay near South Beach.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney would scoff at the claim FSU has the best receiver class. The Noles received the signing day pats on the back for landing No. 2 receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) and Harrison on Wednesday while the Tigers had three four-star receivers already on campus. ESPN 300 receivers Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) and four-star Kyrin Priester (Snellville, Ga./Fork Union) enrolled in early January. ESPN 300 receiver Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) signed Wednesday.

“It was a critical need for us ... and we are excited about all four,” Swinney said at his signing day news conference.

Mike London had a quiet signing day in his Charlottesville office, but that is all he could have hoped for following a winless ACC campaign. The Virginia coach did most of his 2014 recruiting work before the 2013 season, and he was able to secure the signatures of five-star Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) and ESPN 300 recruits Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland), Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan) and Steven Moss (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor High).

“Obviously keeping the class was important when the season didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to ... but the in-state kids wanted to play together and build a brand together,” London said on the ESPNU signing day telecast.

While the day was quiet for Duke, it was still most the shocking signing day Durham has ever seen. The Blue Devils, coming off a 10-win season and an ACC title game, signed its first ESPN 300 recruit and four four-star recruits overall. Between 2010 and 2013, Duke signed only one four-star prospect -- a kicker.

While the ACC did not touch the SEC in the number of teams toward the top of the class rankings, for the most part the conference as a whole improved, and Florida State went a long way in challenging Alabama to become college football’s next dynasty.

Best ACC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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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.

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ACC 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That is what college coaches must do when it comes to recruiting. Every coach would love to land their top target at every position, but coaches are forced to play the what-ifs and continue to recruit prospects lower on the recruiting board. With signing day a few months away and several classes close to completion, college staffs are pushing for those few final targets but also keeping a watchful eye on players down the board.

Here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for each of the ACC schools.


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Best ACC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Florida State has the top class among ACC schools right now, but that is taking the Seminoles’ entire 23-recruit class into account. The Noles don’t have the best class at every position, as some of Florida State’s top rivals are looking stronger at certain positions. Here’s a look at which ACC school has the best class by position:

Quarterback
Strongest class: Clemson
The Tigers just don’t have the No. 1 quarterback in the conference but the top quarterback in the entire country. Clemson has an argument for the best QB class in the nation with Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) in the fold. Heisman candidate Tajh Boyd will be gone after this season, so Watson could even come in and make a major impact as a freshman in 2014. Watson, who has been committed for more than a year, has also helped the Tigers reel in the conference’s strongest class at another position.

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ACC class rankings analysis 

August, 14, 2013
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Florida State, the ACC's reigning champion, now owns the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in the country for the 2014 cycle, as Alabama has passed up the Seminoles. Miami, too, is in the top five giving the ACC some strong classes to go with the usual dominance of the SEC. There is a noticeable drop off beyond that, though. Clemson is next at No. 11, Virginia at No. 17 and North Carolina at No. 22.

Trending up: Mike London's Cavaliers have put together a tremendous class already. Their top two commitments, Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith) and Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), are both five-star caliber and in-state talents. Keeping highly rated guys home is important for any program, and London and Co. were able to do that. But last week, they reached across the country and snagged ESPN 300 ATH Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland) out of California. That gives Virginia four ESPN 300 commitments, but at only 11 commitments, they'll need to fill out the rest of their class in the coming months. It's also worth noting that North Carolina picked up a verbal from three-star wide receiver Josh Cabrera (Jacksonville, N.C./Northside).

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As recruiting begins to slow a little, thanks to the opening of fall camps around the country, news isn't as plentiful as it was over the summer. But still, there were some coming and goings inside the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami continues at home

ESPN 300 athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) was all set to head off to Tennessee when it came time to sign his letter of intent. That is until the Hurricanes got a hold of him. He promptly decommitted from the Volunteers on Saturday and pledged to Miami just a short while later. The Hurricanes' class is up to 25 commitments for 2014 and 11 of them are ranked in the ESPN 300.

North Carolina loses a running back

D'Ernest Johnson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), a three-star running back, had been committed to North Carolina since late May. But this week, he decided that his commitment was no more. Louisville, the reigning Sugar Bowl champions, have made a big move for Johnson and are now considered the favorite.

Pitt looking for help north of the border

ACC newcomer Pittsburgh has turned to Canada for a defensive end option. Julien Kafo, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound lineman from Vanier College in Montreal has an offer from the Panthers. Pitt is up against the likes of Connecticut, Indiana, and Minnesota to land him. He will make an official visit to see the Panthers at some point this fall.

Virginia lands ESPN 300 ATH


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videoESPN 300 athlete Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland) committed to Virginia on Wednesday, nine months after originally pledging to UCLA.

Farrar, the nation’s No. 188 overall recruit and No. 19 prospect in California, held more than 15 offers, but narrowed his finalists down to Arizona State, California and Virginia. It was a recent unofficial visit to the Cavaliers that helped put them on top.

What was it about the visit that set Virginia apart?


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