- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you look at the latest recruiting class rankings, you’d never know 2012 was arguably the worst season in ACC history. With half of the conference ranked in the top 30 (Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia, NC State, Virginia Tech, Boston College), the future looks bright, but there are some definite surprises in there. Which one, though, is the biggest?
No. 11 Miami: Al Golden has recruited three entire classes under the cloud of an NCAA investigation and self-imposed scholarship reductions, and he’s working on his fourth. The uncertainty of the program’s future hasn’t deterred some of the nation’s top recruits, as Miami has lured in the nation’s No. 3 running back, Joseph Yearby, who had originally committed to Florida State. The Canes have a total of 20 recruits who have committed, including four members of the ESPN 150. No bowl games the past two seasons? No problem.
No. 15 Virginia: Yes, this is the same program that finished 4-8 last year and won just two conference games. And yet here it is, sitting pretty with two five-star recruits, including the No. 1 safety in his class, Quin Blanding, and the No. 3 overall player, defensive tackle Andrew Brown. Both players have actively been recruiting other top talent to join them. Overall, there are 15 players in Mike London’s current class, and the staff is doing an excellent job in-state, despite last year’s struggles. The Hoos get my vote as the ACC’s biggest recruiting surprise so far.
No. 26 NC State: First-year coach Dave Doeren has wasted no time adding talent to his roster. The Wolfpack have benefited from a young, energetic staff that has lured in 22 players, including four-star quarterback Jalan McClendon. NC State is still in the running for some top prospects, including ESPN 300 defensive lineman Kentavius Street, who reportedly has NC State as a front-runner. Not bad for a program that finished 7-6 last year and fired its coach.
No. 27 Virginia Tech: The Hokies are coming off the worst season the program has had in 20 years, but the overhauled staff is earning its money on the recruiting trail. A strong April pushed Virginia Tech into the class rankings, as the Hokies now have 13 commits, including athlete Ja'Von Harrison, who is No. 88 in the ESPN 300 and was highly recruited by the Florida schools. They’ve also got a possible answer at quarterback in Andrew Ford. The defense continues to reload, but it’s clear first-year coordinator Scot Loeffler has already made an impact.
No. 28 Boston College: This might be one of the biggest surprises in the ranking, as the Eagles have been on a downward spiral in recent years. First-year coach Steve Addazio has injected some life into the program, though, and he is obviously selling it on the recruiting trail. BC won just two games last year -- including just one ACC win, against Maryland, and former coach Frank Spaziani was fired. Addazio has done well recruiting the Mid-Atlantic region, and he’s brought the Flutie name back to Chestnut Hill. Troy Flutie, the nephew of Doug Flutie, committed in June. Equally important is the fact the Eagles are starting to fill a need at running back and quarterback.
16hJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy