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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
ACC class rankings analysis

By Jared Shanker

The final installment of the ESPN 300 brought significant changes to the top 40 of the ESPN class rankings. More than half of the schools in the rankings moved up or down at least one spot and two schools in the top 30 a little more than a week ago have now fallen completely out of the rankings.

Trending up: Florida State’s class is back in the top three of the rankings, and that is due in large part to assistant Tim Brewster and his efforts in south Florida. The Noles tight ends coach flipped Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central) from the Gators before the New Year, and the No. 3- ranked running back is now Florida State’s top commit (Cook is No. 21 in the ESPN 300). Florida State will likely not be able to catch Alabama for the recruiting rankings title, but the Noles very well could jump to No. 2, which would give them a top-two finish for the third time in four years. For FSU to move into No. 2, it will probably need a commitment from Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead), who is the second-ranked receiver in the country. Lane decommitted from Florida last week and his only official visit is set for Florida State just days before signing day. Lane is another south Florida target Brewster is recruiting. In the most recent ESPN 300 update, Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was moved to the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback. Brewster recruited Harris, who could eventually be the successor to Jameis Winston. Class of 2015 recruiting is strong with Brewster, too, as ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Calvin Brewton (Miami/Miami Central) committed last week to Brewster and the Noles.

Trending down: The Canes' once top-three class is beginning to suffer several decommitments from ESPN 300 targets. Despite coach Al Golden remaining in Coral Gables, three ESPN 300 prospects decommitted from Miami over a weeklong period. It began with defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) opening up his commitment and naming LSU his leader. It was then a major surprise to see Nigel Bethel II, a local standout from Miami Booker T. Washington flip from the Canes to Texas Tech. Miami is not used to losing out on recruits in its own backyard to the Red Raiders. And at the end of last week, four-star athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) enrolled at Florida days after receiving an offer from coach Will Muschamp. The Canes could still get Valentine back, but significant damage is done to the Canes’ class, which was once No. 1 in the ACC.

What to watch: Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara), the top uncommitted prospect in the East, takes the first of three official visits leading up to signing day. The four-star tackle and 26th-ranked prospect in the ESPN 300, Prince heads to Columbia, S.C., on Friday to visit South Carolina. The Gamecocks are a threat for Prince, who could realistically land at four schools when he announces on signing day on ESPNU. He will follow up his South Carolina visit with an official to Florida and Miami. The Gators are a dark horse quickly emerging as a possible favorite. Florida State and Maryland, having hosted Prince on official visits already, are presumed the leaders at this point and the Hot Board projects a Florida State recruiting win. Florida, however, is surging with Prince and the Jan. 24 official visit to Gainesville could ultimately be the deciding factor in his recruitment.

Bold prediction: Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) is tight-lipped regarding his recruitment, but it looks as if the ESPN 300 receiver is ACC bound. Clemson and NC State look to be in the best positions for the 20th-ranked receiver and No. 152 prospect in the nation. Thompson could be on Clemson’s campus for an official visit this weekend, and if he makes it this will be the weekend that solidifies Thompson to the Tigers. Chad Morris is going to employ a lot of receivers in his offense, so the fact Clemson already has two receivers among the country’s top-25 players at the position should not scare Thompson. There is an opportunity to see the field early at Clemson, especially with Sammy Watkins off to the NFL.