Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Most important targets: ACC
By Jared Shanker
This is the time for schools to make final visits and final pitches to recruits. Only a select number of prospects remain uncommitted, as most programs’ classes are close to completion, which means coaching staffs are focusing their attention on the final big pieces to the puzzle.
Here are the top targets remaining for each ACC school:
Boston College DT Oseh Saine (Worcester, Mass./Worcester) 6-foot-4, 295 pounds Not rated It is possible Boston College will add another commitment between now and signing day. Coach Steve Addazio is hoping for a quiet signing day, as his first full class at BC is a good one, and any unexpected news on Feb. 5 could be bad news for the Eagles. Postgraduate defensive lineman Oseh Saine could sign, however, and he made an official visit after the Eagles had offered. There are academic hurdles, but if Saine is playing FBS football next season, it likely will be with the Eagles.
Clemson OLB Richard Yeargin III (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) 6-3, 225 pounds Four stars The Tigers missed on several important defensive targets in December and January, but coach Dabo Swinney received some good news during the weekend. Yeargin committed to Notre Dame in August but made an official visit Clemson in November. Two months later, Yeargin reneged on his Irish pledge and looks poised to pick the Tigers at some point before signing day. Clemson needs some good news on defense, and the hope is it comes in Yeargin and maybe even a surprise in ESPN 300 defensive end Andrew Williams.
Duke WR Trevon Lee (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) 5-11, 168 pounds ESPN 300 rank:235 A player of Lee's caliber at Duke would be a remarkable coup for David Cutcliffe's program, which won the Coastal Division title and secured double-digit wins for the first time in school history. Lee is coming off an official visit to Vanderbilt, and a decision will come down to the Blue Devils and Commodores. Cutcliffe is making his in-home visit this week, which could play a pivotal role in Lee's decision. He would infuse some Florida speed in Duke's offense, and it seems he could contribute immediately.
Florida State DE Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) 6-5, 234 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 14 The only thing missing from the Seminoles’ class is a five-star commitment, and the hope is that it will be Carter. The talented defensive lineman is coming off an official visit to Tallahassee this past weekend, and it was the Seminoles’ last chance to catch the SEC for Carter's pledge. Coach Jimbo Fisher has built one of the country’s best defensive lines in his short time at Florida State, and Carter could become a dominant third-down pass-rusher to play opposite rising star and former national No. 1 recruit Mario Edwards. It will be tough to beat Georgia and a few other SEC schools such as Florida and LSU, but it is not wise to count out FSU, considering the momentum it has built the past few months.
Georgia Tech ATH Myles Autry (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) 6-foot, 175 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 249 Autry, if he decides to go to Georgia Tech, would provide a huge shot in the arm, given his ability to create plays with his athleticism and speed. He has a brother in Atlanta already, so there is the draw of playing with a sibling. There is some competition for Autry, namely from the south. Originally it was Florida State that was poised to steal Autry from Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson, but Florida coach Will Muschamp is intensifying the heat. He is visiting all three schools in the two weeks leading up to signing day, and the Yellow Jackets will not know for sure until he commits on signing day on ESPNU.
Maryland OT Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) 6-5, 286 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 26 Maryland is confident Randy Edsall is the right coach to lead the Terps' transition to the Big Ten, and for Edsall to see the move through for the foreseeable future, he will need to recruit better. He is doing a fine job on that front, but he cannot afford to lose out on the top talent from the local area known as the DMV -- Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. He already has missed on the first pivotal piece in five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor, once considered a lock for the Terps but now on campus at Florida. Missing on Prince would be devastating. Both were the building blocks of the 2014 class and future Big Ten rosters. A decision will come down to Maryland and Florida, which receives his final official visit this coming weekend.
Miami DT Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) 6-3, 305 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 164 Valentine decommitted in early January when Miami coach Al Golden was rumored to be off to Penn State, but the truth is Valentine was already close to decommiting. LSU was mounting a charge for the four-star lineman, and he made an official visit the weekend of Jan. 24. The visit went well and LSU, which was his No. 1 choice going into the visit, might have put this one out of the Hurricanes' reach. There is still a chance the Canes will sign Valentine, who visits this coming weekend, but Golden has his work cut out for him. Although the Hurricanes previously held Valentine’s commitment, a pledge back to the Canes over LSU would be a surprise.
North Carolina OG Jared Cohen (Owings Mills, Md./McDonough) 6-3, 290 pounds Three stars Close to finished with the class, the UNC staff has a scholarship remaining for three-star guard Cohen despite the NCAA restrictions on the Tar Heels' numbers. Cohen, ranked No. 33 among guards, made an official visit to Chapel Hill on the weekend of Jan. 24, and a decision should come down to UNC and Maryland (where he previously had committed). Now, all of the momentum is in UNC's favor. Cohen would pair nicely with four-star guard commit Josh Allen (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian) and ESPN 300 offensive tackle Bentley Spain (Charlotte, N.C./Providence).
North Carolina State OT Quincy McKinney (Columbus, Ga./Hutchinson C.C.) 6-4, 311 pounds ESPN JC 50 rank: 50 The Wolfpack would certainly love to get McKinney, one of the nation’s top junior college prospects, back in the fold. McKinney signed with NC State out of high school but left for juco program Hutchinson (Kan.) following the 2012 season. Now, as a 2014 recruit, McKinney is looking to get back to the Southeast. He will likely choose from East Carolina, Louisville and NC State. Following a winless ACC campaign in 2013, NC State is looking to bring in a couple of junior college prospects to play immediately.
Pittsburgh QB Wade Freebeck (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) 6-4, 180 pounds Four stars It seemed as if Freebeck's commitment, made in June, was as solid as it could be. Touted as a quarterback who could alleviate the Panthers’ issues of the past several seasons at the position, Freebeck’s pledge now looks shaky. New Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason convinced Freebeck to make an official visit to Nashville after offering last week, and the Commodores could flip him late. He has an official visit planned to Pitt this coming weekend, but if he does not make it, that likely would mark the end of Freebeck’s commitment to the Panthers.
Syracuse OLB Kyron Watson (East St. Louis, Ill./East St. Louis) 6-1, 210 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 136 A commitment to Kansas since May, Watson scared Jayhawks fans a few weeks ago when he took an official visit to Syracuse. On that trip, one of his teammates pledged to the Orange, which certainly could give Watson more incentive to flip to Syracuse. A few days after his official visit, Watson said he was solid to the Jayhawks, a statement he backed up by canceling his remaining official visit to Illinois. However, stranger things have happened this close to signing day, and Scott Shafer is not giving up on the nation’s ninth-best outside linebacker.
Virginia DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) 6-1, 299 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 253 There have been few misses from the state of Virginia for Mike London, specifically from the Virginia Beach area. Nnadi resides along the Virginia coast and likes what London, who has ties to the area, is doing in Charlottesville despite a 2-10 record in 2013. Nnadi's pledge could come down to the two in-state schools, and UVa’s record against Virginia Tech on the recruiting trail among 2014 recruits is impressive. Nnadi’s final official visit is scheduled to go to London and the Cavs less than a week before signing day.
Virginia Tech DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) The Hokies’ in-state recruiting has improved significantly the past few months, and coach Frank Beamer landed four-star and ESPN 300 DT Ricky Walker in the fall. Now the focus is on fellow interior lineman Nnadi, who looked to be leaning toward Virginia Tech. There will be a stiff battle for Nnadi, however. He made official visits to Florida State and Penn State, and he wants to visit Ohio State. The Hokies were stellar on defense in 2013, and Nnadi could be a pivotal player in keeping Virginia Tech among the country’s best defenses for the foreseeable future.
Wake Forest OLB DeMarquis Gates (Lovejoy, Ga./Lovejoy) 6-2, 215 pounds Four stars Dave Clawson is doing an admirable job finishing out Wake Forest's recruiting class, but the first-year Deacons coach still has his eyes on his biggest recruiting prize yet. Gates, ranked No. 29 nationally among outside linebackers, is committed to Ole Miss but plans to officially visit Wake Forest this coming weekend. He said he is solid to the Rebels after an official visit to Oxford, but it's never comforting when a prospect still plans to visit another school the weekend before signing day. There is a decent chance Gates never visits the Demon Deacons, however.