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February 5, 2009

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the ACC

More Conferences: Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | SEC | Pac-10

Florida State and North Carolina ended up in the Rivals.com top 10 after National Signing Day, checking in at No. 6 and No. 8, respectively. Check out the breakdown of the conference in a special edition of the ACC Blitz.

Boston College | Clemson | Duke | Florida State | Georgia Tech | Maryland
Miami | North Carolina | N.C. State | Virginia | Va. Tech | Wake Forest

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the ACC
1. Florida State

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Headliner: Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel is about as athletic a prospect as you are going to find at that position. The Greenville (Fla.) Madison stud faced double teams throughout his high school playing career and opposing offenses still couldn't keep him from getting to the quarterback and into the offensive backfield. The five-star prospect is ranked as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com.
Sleeper: Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes safety Justin Bright did not hold offers from in-state schools Clemson or South Carolina, but the Seminoles see something they like in him. The 6-1, 184-pound defensive back has good instincts and a knack for making plays in the secondary and is also a fearless tackler.
Overview: The Seminoles didn't need to sign a huge class but, as always, there's a lot of quality. There is an abundance of skill-position talent. Four-star running backs Lonnie Pryor and Chris Thompson should solidify the position for years to come. Six-foot-6, 202-pound wide receiver Rodney Smith of Miami (Fla.) Archbishop Carroll is an intriguing prospect and is ranked as the No. 65 overall prospect in the nation. Willie Haulstead will provide quarterbacks with another big target at the position. Defensive end Brandon Jenkins is still a bit thin on his frame, but once he puts some weight on he could develop into an excellent pass rusher. Athlete Willie Downs and defensive end Demonte McAllister are both four-stars who provide the class with more elite-level talent. Aubrey Phillips was a great get along the offensive line late in the process.
2. North Carolina

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Headliner: The Tar Heels have put their share of defensive linemen into the NFL over the years, and the top prospect in this class certainly has the potential to end up there. Defensive end Donte Moss, a 6-4, 235-pound force from Jacksonville (N.C.) Northside, is ranked the No. 16 prospect overall in the nation by Rivals.com and could have gone just about anywhere. The five-star prospect is excellent against the run, and he has the athleticism and motor to turn into a great pass rusher in college.
Sleeper: Safety Curtis Campbell did not receive the publicity like some of the others in this class, but the 6-2, 205-pounder could be called on to contribute early. He has good speed and instincts, and the Heels struggled against the pass this year. If he arrives in good condition he could be called on early.
Overview: Not since the days of Mack Brown has North Carolina had this much success on the recruiting trail, and it has been about that long since the Heels' future looked this bright. Coach Butch Davis has a steady stream of talent coming into the program, and he doesn't appear to be letting up any time soon. Wide receiver Jheranie Boyd is an electrifying playmaker, while four-star linebackers Justin Dixon and Hawatha Bell have the athleticism to make plays early. All are from North Carolina. Outside the state Davis secured commitments from the likes of wide receiver Joshua Adams and four-star offensive linemen Brennan Williams, two of the top players in New England. Quarterback Bryn Renner, a 6-3, 192-pound gunslinger, saw his stock rise over the course of the season. North Carolina met its needs at nearly every position.
3. Miami

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Headliner: While there are a lot of very talented prospects in this class, the headliner is clearly Wichita (Kan.) East running back Bryce Brown. Although he didn't sign on LOI Day and is still looking around, confidence is high that he'll end up at Miami. As far as players who actually signed, five-star athlete Ray Ray Armstrong is also quite a headliner based on his athletic ability and versatility.
Sleeper: It's tough to find a sleeper in this group, but Jacksonville (Fla.) Fleming Island tight end/offensive lineman Cory White may qualify. Miami has a long and storied history of producing NFL tight ends and have also had success turning high school tight ends into offensive linemen, so White should be a good fit in the Hurricanes' offense either way. The 6-4, 250-pounder has the frame to play along the offensive line or he could end up as a big tight end.
Overview: Coach Randy Shannon took to the recruiting trail this year touting signs of the improvement that took place in the 2008 campaign. As expected, Miami did much of its damage in the Sunshine State, where the Hurricanes found 11 commitments. Armstrong is a freakish athlete who could contribute at a number of positions, while Brown (if he signs) will be complemented by four-star running backs Lamar Miller and Mike James. The Hurricanes found some quality offensive linemen in Brandon Washington, Jermaine Johnson and Malcolm Bunche, while Lauderhill (Fla.) Plantation cornerback Brandon McGee held offers from USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State and others.
4. Virginia Tech

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Headliner: Future wide receiver/tight end Logan Thomas is a rare athlete with his 6-6, 233-pound frame and basketball feet. Thomas will provide Tyrod Taylor with a massive target in the passing game, and there will certainly be Wild Turkey formations to utilize his ability as a quarterback as well. Running back David Wilson is the highest-ranked signee and could be a franchise back, but Thomas meets a greater need.
Sleeper: The Hokies have had plenty of excellent defensive backs under coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster over the years. Fayetteville (N.C.) Seventy-First cornerback James Hopper may not be as highly regarded as some they have signed, but he could make his mark in Blacksburg. At 5-9 and 179 pounds he does not have great size but packs a punch. Hopper has recorded a 41-inch vertical leap, bench presses 345 pounds and is an explosive athlete.
Overview: A whopping 17 of Virginia Tech's commitments come from in-state prospects in this class. Four-star running back and Danville (Va.) George Washington standout David Wilson could be a factor immediately at the position and picked Tech despite receiving offers from schools like Auburn, Michigan and others. Wide receiver D.J. Coles spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy, and the 6-4, 200-pounder is a physically imposing prospect who will be ready to contribute early. The Hokies dipped into the Palmetto State for cornerback Jerrodd Williams, who has great size at 6-2 and 185 pounds. He held offers from Georgia and Tennessee but elected to go slightly north to play his college ball. Tyrell Edwards, Antone Exum and Theron Norman are all highly regarded athletes who could contribute at a number of positions. And the Hokies finished with defensive back Jayron Hosley, a great late addition.
5. Maryland

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TerrapinTimes.com
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Headliner: Defensive end DeOnte Arnett is a college-ready prospect who could contribute immediately upon his arrival in College Park. He has an excellent motor and a great frame to continue to add weight, and you would be hard-pressed to find a defensive end who is better against the run.
Sleeper: Maryland has developed some excellent linebackers under coach Ralph Friedgen and Washington (D.C.) Roosevelt standout Darrin Drakeford could be one to keep an eye on. He largely flew under the radar and just began playing football recently, but his combination of size and speed is hard to find.
Overview: The Terrapins signed 13 in-state prospects in this class, and most of the others came from nearby in the Atlantic East region. Four-star running backs D.J. Adams and Caleb Porzel could be a thunder-and-lightning combination for years to come, while Arnett will be complemented by fellow four-star defensive end David Mackall of Baltimore (Md.) Edmonson-Westside. Three-star quarterbacks C.J. Brown and Danny O'Brien should compete for time at the position down the road. Both of them have the smarts to pick up Friedgen's complex offense. Getting offensive lineman Peter White is a big late boost to the class and the position. Linebacker is the position that will get the biggest boost with seven incoming prospects, all of whom are rated three-stars.
6. Virginia

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Headliner: Richmond (Va.) Meadowbrook offensive lineman Morgan Moses is one of the biggest gets at the positions since departing left tackle Eugene Monroe inked years ago. Moses has the potential to have a similar impact as Monroe and could play early.
Sleeper: Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch athlete Javanti Sparrow looks the part of an elite athlete at 6-0, 190 pounds and with a 40-yard dash time of 4.42 seconds. While the Cavaliers will likely give him a shot at wide receiver, they have left open the possibility of moving him to defense down the road.
Overview: Cavaliers coach Al Groh has never had problems attracting talent to Charlottesville, and this class is no exception. In this class they picked up prospects from Ontario to Florida and as far west as Illinois, but as usual, did a lot of their work in their home state. Moses and Brooklyn (N.Y.) Xaverian offensive tackle Oday Aboushi are a great 1-2 punch for the future, and Orange (Va.) Orange County athlete Quintin Hunter was highly pursued and could play numerous positions. Tim Smith is a 6-0, 182-pound wide receiver who broke many records at Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith program and should make an early impact on offense. Three-star tight ends Paul Freedman and Tucker Windle should continue the success at the position under Groh. Fullback/running back Dominique Wallace could be a beast in the backfield or turn into a great linebacker.
7. Clemson

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Headliner: There are a lot of candidates, but quarterback Tajh Boyd may be the gem of this class. The 6-1, 208-pound pro-style passer from Hampton (Va.) Phoebus has a great arm, good leadership skills and impressive accuracy. He is ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the state of Virginia and is one of the top pocket passers in the country. He held offers from the likes of Ohio State, Oregon and others before choosing the Tigers late.
Sleeper: It's difficult to find a sleeper in this class as almost every prospect has a fairly high rating. Charlotte (N.C.) South Mecklenburg linebacker Spencer Shuey might qualify because he came out of nowhere to dominate the Shrine Bowl and earn offers from numerous programs. Shuey is a throwback linebacker with great size and good instincts.
Overview: Considering the coaching change the Tigers did an excellent job with this class. Clemson has plenty to work with in this group. It wasn't a big haul but the quality is very high. Spartanburg (S.C.) Dorman offensive tackle Brandon Thomas is extremely athletic for someone 6-4 and 280 pounds and he is joined at the position by fellow four-star J.K. Jay, also a home-state pull. The Tigers did a great job of landing Minneapolis (Minn.) Breck wide receiver Bryce McNeal, the top player in that state and the No. 10 wide receiver in the nation. Safety Jonathan Meeks spent a year at Hargrave and should be ready to compete for early playing time. Also, keep an eye on defensive end Malliciah Goodman, a 6-4, 255-pound defensive end who should be very disruptive down the road and has unlimited potential.
8. Georgia Tech

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Headliner: Defensive tackle J.C. Lanier is a load inside at 6-3 and 335 pounds. Rivals.com has him ranked as the No. 31 tackle in the nation, and he has a huge upside. Big, athletic defensive tackles are hard to come by, and Lanier could anchor the Georgia Tech defensive line for years to come.
Sleeper: At 5-10 and 212 pounds there will surely be those that doubt the ability of linebacker Julian Burnett. He should quickly silence those doubters. Burnett runs the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and bench presses an eye-popping 400 pounds. He put together an impressive offer sheet before committing to the Yellow Jackets in December.
Overview: There will be a lot of incoming help at defensive end, where the Jackets were hoping to reload in this recruiting class. Three-star ends Emanuel Dieke, Izaan Cross, Chris Crenshaw and Euclid Cummings have good frames and unique skill sets, and each should contribute before too long. Coach Paul Johnson and his staff did a great job of stealing St. Matthews (S.C.) Calhoun County athlete David Sims from Kentucky, and they should give him a shot at quarterback. Offensive guard Will Jackson is the perfect lineman for Johnson's offensive system, while three-star, dual-threat quarterback Jordan Luallen could be the quarterback Johnson was looking for.
9. Duke

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Headliner: Earlier in the process Durham (N.C.) Hillside running back Desmond Scott was committed to Rutgers, but after learning more about coach David Cutcliffe and his staff he decided to stay at home and attend Duke. The 5-9, 185-pound all-purpose back did it all in high school and will be called upon to play a huge role in Duke's offense right away. The four-star back is ranked the No. 5 overall prospect in North Carolina and could be a star in the ACC.
Sleeper: At 6-3 and 205 pounds, Arden (N.C.) Christ School linebacker August Campbell runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. He's a great athlete, but the jury is still out as to what position he will line up at when he arrives at Duke. Campbell will undoubtedly need to improve his strength, but his range and speed make him an intriguing prospect.
Overview: Duke was clearly an improved team on the field this past fall, and its improvement in recruiting was perhaps even greater as the Blue Devils pulled in their best class in recent memory. Columbus (Ga.) Northside defensive tackle John Drew was committed to Georgia Tech at one point but switched over to the Blue Devils. The four-star tackle should be a plug in the middle. Roebuck (S.C.) Dorman safety Walt Canty is a hard hitter and has speed to boot. He checks in at No. 15 in the Palmetto State's final rankings by Rivals.com. Many were surprised to learn that 6-2, 185-pound wide receiver Tyree Watkins made the switch from UVa to Duke late in the recruiting process. Watkins may have been swayed by the potential for playing time at Duke.
10. North Carolina State

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Headliner: The gem of this class is Pahokee, Fla., cornerback Jarvis Byrd, a 5-10, 173-pound athlete who is as physical a prospect as you will find at the position. The No. 51 player in the Sunshine State spurned offers from plenty of other schools to join the Pack.
Sleeper: Coach Tom O'Brien and his staff worked their former BC connections to secure a commitment from Dorchester (Mass.) Lawrence Academy defensive end Darryl Cato-Bishop. The 6-3, 238-pound defensive end has a sturdy build and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds. While he did not have a long offer list he did attract a lot of attention and could also play tight end.
Overview: Chuck Amato spent much of his time as coach at NC State recruiting the state of Florida, and Tom O'Brien is building his own pipelines leading in to Raleigh. Defensive tackle was a priority in this class and the Pack came through big with commitments from three-star prospects Tyson Chandler, Raynard Randolph, Deion Roberson and Brian Slay. Chandler and Randolph are already massive and could contribute early, while the other two will likely need to spend some time in the weight room before they hit the field. High Point (N.C.) Central linebacker Rickey Dowdy is an impressive athlete at 6-1 and 229-pounds and could be called on early, while the Pack tapped into Ohio for wide receiver Bryan Underwood, who had also received offers from Pitt, West Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina and others.
11. Wake Forest

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Headliner: There may not be one elite prospect in this group, but Clarksville (Md.) River Hill athlete Michael Campanaro certainly has the potential to be a big-time player. The 5-10, 173-pound prospect could contribute at a number of positions and is excellent with the ball in his hands. He is ranked the No. 15 prospect in the state of Maryland.
Sleeper: Duncanville, Texas, running back Josh Harris may not have received the accolades that some of the other Texans at his position did, but Wake Forest fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about the 5-10, 190-pound burner. Harris has tremendous strength for a player his size, and the Deacons have always gotten the most out of their backs since coach Jim Grobe arrived in Winston-Salem.
Overview: Wake Forest did not have a huge year recruiting any one position in particular but put together a balanced class. Three-star quarterback Brendan Cross from Alpharetta (Ga.) Chattahoochee does not have an all-world arm but is the type of heady player Grobe likes running his offense. Ponte Vedra (Fla.) Nease defensive tackle John Gallagher chose the Deacs over several SEC and ACC schools. Many were impressed when Wake secured a commitment from 6-0, 196-pound linebacker Daniel Mack out of Miami (Fla.) Dade Christian. He is ranked the No. 38 inside linebacker in the nation by Rivals.com. He is joined by fellow three-star linebacker Justin Jackson, an in-state recruit with a lot of speed. Keep an eye on Statesville (N.C.) West Iredell wide receiver Quan Rucker, a youngster who had an impressive offer list and excellent playmaking ability.
12. Boston College

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Headliner: Elmsford (N.Y.) Trinity Pawling defensive tackle Dillon Quinn looks like a very solid prospect. The 6-6, 295-pounder could play on the offensive or defensive lines and he has good athleticism for someone his size. To top it off he has a bench max of 520 pounds, indicative of his great strength. He is ranked the No. 10 defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com.
Sleeper: Another defensive tackle Conor O'Neal of Lithia (Fla.) Newsome. At 6-3 and 295 pounds, O'Neal has not received the accolades of some other defensive linemen but had an impressive offer sheet. Michigan State, NC State and Wisconsin extended offers to him.
Overview: Recruiting was going a bit slow for the Eagles before the firing of coach Jeff Jagodzinski, but the Eagles did a nice job once the coaching change took place. As usual they looked across the country for talent and brought in a solid haul. A pair of running backs Rolandan Finch and Sterlin Phifer are two of the bright spots in this class. For a while it appeared as though Finch might sign with Kentucky, an in-state program. BC signed four offensive linemen and while none of them are especially highly ranked, all of them have good athleticism, which is something the staff wants. Three-star linebackers Luke Kuechly and Andre Lawrence are two more highlights in this haul.

More Conferences: Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | SEC | Pac-10



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