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Wednesday, October 2, 2013
ACC recruiting classes roundtable

By Jared Shanker

There are still four months left to go until signing day 2014, but 10 ACC schools already have at least 15 commitments and several of the conference’s programs are just a few players from completing their class. There are still four months until signing day, so there are still several variables with each school’s class.

Fellow ACC recruiting reporter Corey Dowlar, national recruiting expert Tom Luginbill and I took a look at the conference’s class in a roundtable, discussing which classes could climb, fall or are built to last in the ACC.
The class with the most to gain

Damian Prince
If Maryland can keep Damian Prince at home, they can make a big move up in the recruiting rankings.
Jared Shanker says Clemson: The Tigers are No. 13 in the class rankings but have only 16 commitments in their 2014 class. If all falls into place, there is little doubt Clemson will finish with a class among the top 10. Five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan is pushing the Tigers up his board after an unofficial visit for the Georgia game, and McMillan will return for an official visit in October. Lorenzo Featherston, the No. 27 prospect in the ESPN 300, is projected to sign with Clemson, according to Hot Board. Clemson is not finished at receiver, and ESPN 300 prospect Trevion Thompson could be a Tigers lean. McMillan and tackle David Sharpe are unlikely to land with Clemson, but even landing Featherston and Thompson would be a solid finish for the Tigers.

Tom Luginbill says Maryland: Just win, baby! If the Terps continue to impress on the field, it will only enhance their efforts come February, especially with the likes of CB Jalen Tabor and OT Damian Prince. They only have 11 verbal commitments right now with room to grow. This is one of the best defenses in the ACC, comprised of a lot of good football players who were three-star players. This is why the Maryland/DC/Virginia area is so fruitful because there are so many good players that can and will develop, and Randy Edsall is used to building a roster this way.

Corey Dowlar says Maryland: I think that Maryland is the obvious choice here. Between Damian Prince and Jalen Tabor, the Terps are set up for a major run in the recruiting rankings as signing day comes closer. The key is whether Maryland can continue to win during the season. If they show they are a viable option in one of the more fertile recruiting grounds, they will definitely get their fair share. A lopsided win over rival West Virginia was a nice start.

The class with the most to lose

Shanker says Florida State: It’s a bit of a stretch, as at the moment it does not look as if Florida State’s class is in any danger of losing commitments, but as the conference’s top class and with most of its scholarships allotted, there is hardly any room for the Seminoles to move up. Jimbo Fisher has the No. 2 class nationally and 24 commitments, which means the Noles are just about done landing commitments. Florida State could make a run at No. 1 Alabama if it lands an offensive tackle like Roderick Johnson or Damian Prince and a defensive back like Tony Brown or Marlon Humphrey. It’s hard to imagine FSU’s class losing that many, if any, commitments, but there is only one way to go unless the Noles catch fire before signing day.

Luginbill says Clemson: They would love to land the likes of LB Raekwon McMillan, DE Kentavius Street and OT David Sharpe but are likely on the outside looking in. Their best shot on the defensive line is DE Lorenzo Featherston, which would be big. Their current class is strong and will remain so, but for many of the top remaining guys who have Clemson listed as a finalist, it would be a longshot for the Tigers. This is a young roster anyway, so they won’t have a big class.

Dowlar says the top third of the ACC: I think it is the big boys in the conference. Clemson has a bunch of big-time players on their list, but the competition is steep. Florida State has to land an offensive tackle or two before the end of this cycle. And Miami desperately needs this infusion of talent they stand to get. The most likely worst-case scenario is likely at Clemson, but they will still get good players in. Deshaun Watson's quality is going to make a huge difference in their haul. NC State has a couple of recruits looking around, too.

The class safe to stay the same

Johnnie Dixon
Johnnie Dixon would be a huge get for Miami.
Shanker says Boston College: First-year BC coach Steve Addazio has the nation’s No. 34 class, and he should keep the Eagles in the area of a top-40 class no matter how the team finishes the 2013 season. Addazio is in his first season and the Eagles already look improved on the field. Even if the season falls apart, Addazio has made a strong impression with recruits and it does not look as if commitments would begin to jump ship if BC struggles down the stretch. There are not any big-time targets left on the board, either, so the Eagles class is unlikely to move up much either.

Luginbill says Miami: The numbers already limit just how much room they have to work with. Receivers Johnnie Dixon and Travis Rudolph are the prime remaining targets and they would also like to sway some prospects currently committed to other programs. They have hit on major need areas -- offensive line, quarterback and running back, which is a big deal.

Dowlar says Georgia Tech and Miami: Usually, it's going to be Georgia Tech. Paul Johnson has a strict no-visit policy, so when it gets to crunch time, they might lose a guy or two who wants to check out another school. The Yellow Jackets already have 18 commitments for 2014. Miami's class ought to be pretty stable, especially because a lot of the recruits are based locally. It's always a huge benefit when that happens for a program.

The class that could fall apart

Shanker says probably none: No coach’s seat is burning up at the moment in the ACC right now, especially since Randy Edsall has Maryland off to a 4-0 start. Virginia coach Mike London still has some work to do, but he’s 2-1 with a nice Week 1 win against BYU. He should get the Cavs to a bowl game, which will be enough to earn at least one more season and finish off what is one of the best recruiting classes in UVa history. Jim Grobe could be replaced at Wake Forest, but the Demon Deacons were not winning any battles for coveted recruits, so a new coach could come in and actually improve Wake’s class.

Luginbill says none: Don’t believe there is one. In this conference, there could be possibly just one potential coaching change (Wake Forest) and the rest are either on the rise or stable. UNC is getting back to full complement of scholarships, Syracuse, NC State, BC and Pitt have first- or second-year head coaches and Duke is competitive right now. The more games this conference’s powers can win this fall (Clemson, FSU, Miami, etc.), the better the whole conference will be come February from a perception standpoint. Virginia Tech is becoming a bit concerning, as they are just 11-9 since the 2011 season, but no panic just yet.

Dowlar says Clemson: Before last week, I probably would have said Virginia Tech. But it looks like the Hokies are on to something after beating Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The defense is very good; it's just going to depend on whether they can get enough out of Logan Thomas and the offense. I think Clemson deserves to be mentioned, and not because of its record. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris is going to be high on a few program's wish lists this offseason. Will the Tigers retain him again? I wouldn't think so, but we'll see.