ACC: Joseph Yearby

ACC morning links: A loss for Clemson

October, 20, 2014
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The last thing Clemson needed was more bad news on offense, but that's exactly what was in store Sunday.

The Tigers' leading rusher, freshman Adam Choice, is done for the season with a knee injury, as the Charleston Post & Courier writes.

Choice suffered a torn ACL in Saturday's 17-13 win against Boston College, adding more grim news to a running game that has struggled to find any footing this season. Through seven games, Choice was Clemson's leading rusher with 218 yards and also averaged a team-best 4.4 yards per carry.

Choice actually would have redshirted this season, but he was thrust into the tailback mix when Zac Brooks went down with a season-ending injury in fall camp. Choice's injury leaves the trio of Wayne Gallman, C.J. Davidson and D.J. Howard to pick up the slack in the Tigers' backfield.

In fairness, the bulk of Choice's production this year came against South Carolina State. Against FBS foes, he's carried 38 times for 144 yards -- an average of 3.8 per carry -- good for 38th among ACC tailbacks.

Still, his replacements don't offer much alternative. Howard, Davidson and Gallman have averaged a woeful 3.6 yards-per-carry against FBS foes and just seven of their 113 rushes (6 percent) went for 10 yards or more. Add the fact the Tigers will be without dual-threat QB Deshaun Watson for at least another few weeks, and the offensive struggles of the past two games don't seem like they'll diminish any time soon.

A few more links:

Jameis Winston is a near lock to enter the NFL draft, according to CBS Sports. Well, yeah. Of course. The whole “will he or won't he” discussion has been silly for a while, and when I spoke with Winston's father, Antonor, in August, he said the talk about returning was entirely dependent on Jameis' draft status. And that was before all the new off-field chaos.

Matthew Thomas, who had been suspended for the first half of the season, added some much-needed athleticism to Florida State's defense, writes the Orlando Sentinel.

Georgia Tech's defense was a complete disaster against North Carolina, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Virginia Tech is shaking up its offensive line after another ugly offensive performance against Pitt, writes the Roanoke Times.

More from the Roanoke Times: Matt Johns should've run more often against Duke, according to Virginia coach Mike London.

Marquise Williams has been tremendous over the past two games, including leading a comeback win for North Carolina on Saturday, writes the Charlotte Observer.

After A.J. Long led Syracuse to a much-needed win over Wake Forest, is Terrel Hunt still the starting QB when he's healthy? It's an interesting question, writes Syracuse.com.

Duke Johnson has been a crucial mentor in the development of fellow Miami tailback Joseph Yearby, writes the Sun-Sentinel.

Why Miami will win Coastal

July, 25, 2014
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The ACC's Coastal Division is wide open entering the 2014 season. With six of seven teams receiving at least one first-place vote in the preseason media poll, the possibilities for how this race shakes out are vast. Here, we take a look at the six teams that garnered first-place votes, examining reasons that are working for and against them in their quests to get to the ACC title game.

Why Miami will win the Coastal:

1. They have recruited the best. Steve Spurrier says the recruiting rankings are usually right, so, first off, pat on the back RecruitingNation. If it was sarcasm, Steve, keep it to yourself. Miami would like to think so, too, as no program in the Coastal has recruited better than the Hurricanes despite the NCAA sanctions. In four out of the last five cycles, Miami has had the best class among Coastal teams. The only time they didn’t finish first is when Golden was hired two months before signing day in 2011. This most recent class finished in the top 10, and the 2013 class had budding star Stacy Coley and Al-Quadin Muhammad, who could make a national name for himself this fall. The 2012 class finished No. 8 nationally, and as third-year players it is time for them to become the core group that will elevate Miami to a conference championship game.

[+] EnlargeDuke Johnson
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesDuke Johnson rushed for 920 yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry through eight games before his 2013 season was cut short by a fractured ankle.
2. Duke Johnson is 100 percent healthy. Miami’s offense is a question mark going into the season. A case can be made for four different quarterbacks to be the starter opening day. One thing Golden won’t need to worry about is the player behind his signal-caller. Johnson said he felt 100 percent last month and will be ready for preseason practice. He is the conference’s best running back and will challenge the 100-yard mark in every game this season. Golden and Johnson agree the junior running back is even better than he was a year ago and won’t come off the field often. When he does, Johnson is doing his best to make sure there is little to no drop in production. He regrets not preparing Miami’s younger running backs last season before his injury, so he has taken Joseph Yearby, the No. 4 running back in the 2014 class nationally, under his wing.

3. There is talent on defense. Canes fans hoped Golden would relieve Mark D’Onofrio as defensive coordinator at the end of last season, but Golden refused to fire his long-time friend. The defense will have to be markedly better for D’Onofrio to return to Miami fans’ good graces, but there are capable players throughout the defense, especially in the back seven. Denzel Perryman is one of the conference’s best linebackers as a tackler and in pass coverage. Cornerback Tracy Howard and Deon Bush are coming into their own in the defensive backfield. And maybe this is the season Anthony Chickillo puts it all together.

Why Miami won’t win the Coastal

1. They don’t have a starting quarterback. The sense around Coral Gables is Ryan Williams needs to return from his April knee surgery as quickly as he can. Golden and Johnson made it clear redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen still has a lot to prove, not only on the field but as a leader. Jake Heaps is eligible to play right away but he’s been the college equivalent of a journeyman, bouncing from program to program. Brad Kaaya was a blue-chip prep quarterback but has not been on campus long. It’s rare for a team to win a conference championship with shaky quarterback play, and, outside of Wake Forest, no team is worse at the position right now than the Canes. If Williams returns after missing only a few games or Olsen can step up during preseason drills and just manage the game, Johnson might be able to carry Miami all the way to Charlotte.

2. The defensive line is still shaky. The hope is Chickillo will live up to the expectations that followed him when he arrived at Miami, but he’s been inconsistent in his career. Muhammad has the promise and look of a great lineman, but he’ll still take his lumps early in his sophomore season. Golden looked to the junior college ranks for help and signed Calvin Heurtelou, but determining the impact of a juco prospect in their first year is a guessing game. If the defensive line does not improve, chances are it won’t matter how talented the back seven of the defense is. Bush and Howard cannot cover all day, and Perryman will be far less effective when the running back is charging at him with a 300-pound lineman lead blocking.

3. The schedule could be an issue. The hope is Williams returns by the Nebraska game Sept. 20, but if he does not it could put Miami in an early hole. The Canes open up the season at Louisville in a Monday night game, and it is the Cardinals’ first game as an ACC team. Expect a wild atmosphere in what could be a Week 1 loss for Miami. The week after the nonconference Nebraska game, Miami plays host to Duke, the reigning Coastal champions. If Williams does not play in that game, will Miami be able to score enough points to hang with Duke? If he does, will he have shaken off the rust in time? It could be a double-edged sword. Miami also has to play at Virginia Tech in prime time on a Thursday, and let’s not forget the annual rivalry game against Florida State. The Seminoles are going to be the preseason No. 1 team in all likelihood.
Miami has an unsettled quarterback situation this spring, but the biggest question that must be answered is whether its defense can make giant strides from where it has been the past two years.

[+] EnlargeDallas Crawford
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsDallas Crawford rushed for 12 scores last year, but will move to the secondary for the 2014 season.
To that end, the Hurricanes made one position switch that caught many off guard. Running back Dallas Crawford opened spring at safety, a surprising move on the surface. It was Crawford who stepped in and started when dynamic back Duke Johnson went down last season, and ended up rushing for 12 touchdowns and 558 yards. With Johnson and early enrollee freshman Joseph Yearby out this spring with injuries, the natural assumption was that Crawford would take reps with the first team.

Instead, Crawford is on the other side of the ball. In the short term, there is not much depth at running back this spring. In the long term, however, this could be the best move for the Canes. Johnson is expected back in the fall and will be the workhorse back this team so desperately relies on when he is healthy. Crawford is as tough as they come, but there was a drop off in production once Johnson was sidelined with his ankle injury. Gus Edwards and Walter Tucker will get the bulk of the reps this spring, and if Yearby is as good as advertised, Miami will have at least four quality backs in rotation without Crawford.

Miami has a much more pressing need in the secondary, and especially at safety, one of the biggest weaknesses on the defense in 2013. Crawford played defensive back and running back in high school, and spent his freshman year on defense. In fact, he was named Miami's Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. So Crawford does have familiarity with the position, and he was on board with the change, telling reporters in Miami he would do whatever was best for the team.

Coach Al Golden believes that is on defense. During offseason evaluations, he and the coaching staff kept coming back to Crawford as one of the top 22 players on the roster. They want to get him on the field. So Golden asked Crawford to make the change.

"No matter how many times we cut it, we're always saying he's one of the best 22," Golden told reporters in Miami this past weekend. "We know we can put him back to running back in five practices or six practices, but he's physical, he's always been great on special teams, he's smart, he's tough, and it's something he wanted to do."

Biggest flips: ACC 

February, 3, 2014
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With prospects making commitments earlier than ever, naturally there are second thoughts before signing day. That leads to a number of recruits decommitting and flipping to another school.

Here is a look at five of the biggest flips in the ACC in the 2014 recruiting class.

ACC signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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Signing day and Feb. 5 still might feel far away (50 days away to be exact), but for coaches the sense of urgency has officially set in. The offseason dead period was extended and began Sunday. It will last a month into mid-January, leaving coaches with only a few weekends left to host recruits on campus visits and meet prospects and their families inside their homes.

So with signing day closer than it appears in college football’s mirrors, here are 10 storylines in the ACC to watch between now and Feb. 5.

1. Who will sign the ACC’s top class?


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Under Armour game storylines: ACC 

December, 5, 2013
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The rosters are set, plane tickets purchased and coaching staffs assembled. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is less than a month away.

Deshaun Watson
Courtesy of IntersportDeshaun Watson could be the starter from Day 1 at Clemson.
With nearly all of the country’s elite prospects all together, there are bountiful storylines leading up to and during the Jan. 2 game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Here are five for ACC fans:

1. Will Deshaun Watson follow the footsteps of Jameis Winston and Christian Hackenberg? Both Winston and Hackenberg were the No. 1 quarterbacks in their respective classes and played in the Under Armour Game. Both then went on to have great freshman seasons (Winston after a redshirt year) and have their teams in position to make waves on a national level the next few seasons. Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) is the No. 1 quarterback for 2014 and will enter a similar situation to Hackenberg’s. Clemson will have an opening at quarterback in 2014, and Watson will enroll at Clemson following the game. He will have to beat out 2012 Under Armour All-American Chad Kelly, but there is a legitimate chance Watson could be the starter from Day 1 for the Tigers. He is that good.


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ACC class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the ACC, check out our conference rankings:

1. Florida State, 24 commits: The Seminoles have the top class in the ACC and the No. 2 class nationally. The class includes 10 ESPN300 prospects, including a trio of linebackers Kain Duab (Jackonsville, Fla./Sandalwood High), Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby High) and Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola, Fla./Pensacola Catholic High). The Semionles could close with a bang with up to 31 or 32 possible in the class. No. 6 Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra High), No. 13 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen High), No. 22 Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara High), No. 28 and Florida commit Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead High) and a number of others make up the wish list.

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Top ACC recruiting rivalries 

October, 1, 2013
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Rivalries extend past the field in college football. The bad blood and feud seeps into the fans, the coaching staffs and especially in the high schools when it comes to top recruits. Often the teams duking it out on Saturdays were going head-to-head in February for several of the players on the field.

The ACC might not be on the same level as the SEC when it comes to recruiting rivalries, but the conference has its fair share, including one of the nation’s most intense.

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ACC's 2014 impact freshmen 

September, 25, 2013
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Fans always want to know who is next. Coaches need to know who is next. The top programs reload instead of rebuild. Ideally, a coaching staff can move down the depth chart and replace a graduated senior without much of a drop in production. With several coaches forgoing redshirting and instead playing true freshmen extensively, those replacement players are often first-year players now.

Here are Class of 2014 prospects in the ACC who could be the next household name on your favorite team.


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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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Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

September, 9, 2013
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By a large margin, the most important game with recruiting implications was in Miami over the weekend as the Hurricanes hosted the Florida Gators.

Miami was able to edge out a close, 21-16 victory, but how much will it help?

Best prospect performances


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ACC recruiting storylines: Sept. 5 

September, 5, 2013
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Here's a look at the top storylines in the ACC this week.

[+] EnlargeRaekwon McMillan
Jeff Barlis/ESPNRaekwon McMillan, who visited Clemson over the weekend, has the Tigers, Ohio State and Alabama at the top of his list.
Clemson makes push for McMillan
Top Georgia linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) was at Death Valley last weekend to see Clemson's top-10 win over long-time rival Georgia.
As expected, the Tigers rolled out the red carpet to their visitors, McMillan included, to make the best possible impression. A win certainly helped in that regard. Clemson now joins Ohio State and Alabama at the top of the list for the top inside linebacker in the country. ESPN ranks McMillan as a five-star prospect.

Miami preparing for big weekend
Florida and Miami don't play on a regular basis these days. So when the two schools meet, there is obvious excitement and interest on both the local and national level. Among the most well-known visitors are the Miami Central running back pair of Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook, four-star receiver Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and Anthony Moten (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas). Of the majority of uncommitted recruits who will be in attendance, Florida and Miami are top contenders for getting their commitments.


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The most important commitment in a team's recruiting class is a purely subjective. Is it the best overall recruit or the commit who fills the biggest need? Is it the lineman that has helped recruit other big-time prospects? And in six months, let alone a year or two, will they still even be on the team?

ACC reporters Corey Dowlar and Jared Shanker take these factors into effect and come up with the most important 2014 commitments for every ACC program.


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Florida State has gotten a head start on its 2014 recruiting class, landing a commitment this week from a second high school sophomore.

Rising junior running back Joseph Yearby (Miami/Central) committed to the Seminoles, joining wide receiver J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) as part of FSU's 2014 class.

Up in Raleigh, N.C., meanwhile, NC State has landed a pair of defensive players this week in cornerback Da'Wan Hunte (Miami/Central) and inside linebacker Ford Howell (Memphis, Tenn./University School).

From the Winston-Salem Journal:
"He liked the coaches," University coach Bobby Alston said of Hunte. "He visited over there, and he liked the setup, and he felt comfortable going to school there and playing there."

The Wolfpack currently have four commits for the Class of 2013.

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