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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
ACC class rankings analysis

By Jared Shanker

Miami is back.

That is the fact-or-fiction statement college football is debating this week following the Hurricanes upset of ranked rival Florida last Saturday. Regardless of whether or not Miami continues the success on the field and pushes for a BCS bowl, Miami has been on the rise on the recruiting trail throughout the 2014 cycle. Al Golden has the No. 4 class nationally, and that was before the victory over Florida. As Miami looks to close out its 2014 class and get started on 2015, there is little question that this week the Hurricanes are …

Trending up: This one was just as easy as picking Clemson as the ACC team trending up following Week 1. Just like the Tigers, Miami’s big home victory came in front of dozens of elite 2014 and 2015 recruits, many of whom are from Florida. Top uncommitted targets Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road) and Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) attended the game, as well as 2014 Florida commitment Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central), the No. 2 running back. Fellow Florida commit and also the No. 2 prospect at his position, wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) told’s Matt Shodell he plans to officially visit Miami, although he did not visit last weekend. Both Cook and Lane are in the Canes’ backyard. In the 2015 class, 10 in-state ESPN Junior 300 prospects attended the game, including LSU commit Kevin Toliver II (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy), the No. 2 player nationally in the 2015 class.

Trending down: NC State is 2-0 and owner of the No. 32 recruiting class, but first-year coach Dave Doeren will be without a vital piece of his team going into the Sept. 19 game against No. 3 Clemson. Considered one of the 10 most important ACC games for recruiting this season, NC State will host the Tigers and several recruits in a prime time Thursday game without quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who injured his foot in the season opener. It should still be an electric atmosphere Sept. 19, but an upset of Clemson would have done wonders for Doeren’s recruiting going forward. The game, win or lose, should still boost NC State recruiting, just possibly not to the extent if NC State had a healthy roster and pulled off the upset. That isn’t to say NC State still can’t beat Clemson without Mitchell.

What to watch: Pittsburgh reaped its first reward of last week’s opener against Florida State on Monday. Three-star running back Qadree Ollison (Buffalo, N.Y./Canisius) attended Heinz Field for the Labor Day game and committed to the Panthers a week later over Penn State and Wisconsin. Also at that game was Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa./Washington), another running back target whom Pittsburgh is putting a premium on landing. Pitt has a need at running back with Rushel Shell now at West Virginia, and Ollison helps fill that void. The Panthers still want McKenzie, though. His recruitment looks like it might come down to Pitt and Virginia Tech, and now both programs already have a running back committed. Virginia Tech is not backing off McKenzie despite a commitment from three-star Marshawn Williams (Hampton, Va./Hampton).

Bold prediction: Miami has three top targets at receiver in ESPN 300 prospects Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), Lane and four-star Berrios. Miami will land at least two and possibly three. The Hurricanes are in the driver’s seat for Dixon, No. 42 in the ESPN 300, and Berrios, the No. 55 receiver. Both have a few more official visits to take, but the Canes are sitting pretty. Berrios was the only prospect of the three to visit Miami for the Florida game. The question mark is Lane, who lives in nearby Homestead. Lane committed to the Gators in August but is looking to visit Miami following the Canes’ win. If that official visit takes place, it could spell trouble for the Gators.