|The spotlight in the ACC heading into National Signing Day is once again focused on Clemson and Florida State. (US Presswire)|
Fax machines across the country will be busy Wednesday as recruits from all over send in their letters of intent to their new schools. It's the culmination of a lot of work by coaching staffs, as they spend a lot of time travelling the country trying to fill their teams' needs.
With that in mind, let's look at the 14 schools of the ACC, their needs and what their coaches are doing to help fill them in the 2013 recruiting class.
Boston College -- Needs: QB, WR, LB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 97 -- Chase Rettig finally ended a few years of quarterback indecision at Boston College with a strong showing in 2011-12. Now the Eagles must act quickly to replace him for the future. Steve Addazio got a commitment last week from James Walsh, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound quarterback from Ohio, but it resulted in Tim Boyle -- one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the Northeast -- switching his commitment from BC to UConn. The coaching change, and any style change that might accompany the transition, has had an effect on Boston College's class. With only 14 or 15 available scholarships, Addazio's challenge will be blending last year's youth with Spaziani's recruits to build for the future.
Clemson -- Needs: DB, DL, RB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 26 -- Clemson once again enters National Signing Day awaiting the final word from some of the nation's most highly touted recruits. A Signing Day commitment from five-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams would help fill the void from Robert Nkemdiche's flip, joining JUCO prospects Shaq Lawson and Ebenezer Ogundeko -- both early enrollees -- to address the Tigers' concerns on the defensive line. The Tigers are also expecting to hear from four-star offensive guard Tyrone Crowder and hope to get some help in the defensive backfield from Adrian Baker (also considering Oklahoma) and/or MacKensie Alexander (also considering Auburn). Four-star running back Tyshon Dye and athlete Wayne Gallman will join the group looking for snaps after Andre Ellington's departure.
Florida State -- Needs: DL, LB, WR. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 14 -- The depth of Florida State's front seven will be thinner than usual in 2013 after the departures of all four starters on the defensive line, linebackers Vince Williams and Nick Moody, as well as some more reserves. The 2013 commitment class lacks some of the star power of recent years, but the signing of remaining stars on the board could change that outlook. Five-star outside linebacker Matthew Thomas and fellow five-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey could add a lot to the class, along with defensive tackle Keith Bryant, wide receiver Stacy Coley and offensive tackle Denver Kirkland. Because recruiting is always volatile for the Florida schools, just locking up the current commits is worth watching on Wednesday. In addition to Matthew Thomas, Florida State is in a battle with rival Miami for Bryant, Coley as well as a few other recruits. Those aren't just wins for 2013, those recruiting coups will also help in years to come.
Maryland -- Needs: OL, TE, QB, LB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 36 -- The roster turnover since Randy Edsall's arrival in College Park back in 2011 has given the Terps a healthy number of available scholarships. With a pair of JUCO signees already enrolled, including four-star wide receiver Deon Long, Mike Locksley and the rest of the staff have focused on filling out the class with some of the best the DC area has to offer. Eleven of the Terps' 20 current commitments are from either the District of Columbia or Maryland, and that would look even more impressive if Derwin Gray, from the Friendship Academy (Washington, DC), can get his teammate Yannick Ngakoue -- the No. 12 rated inside linebacker -- to choose the Terps over South Carolina and Florida State. Dual-threat quarterback Shane Cockerille fills the spot left by Devin Burns (transfer), and 6-3, 225-pound tight end Andrew Isaacs might have an opportunity to play immediately with both Matt Furstenburg and Devonte Campbell now graduated.
NC State -- Needs: OL, DB, WR/TE. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 59 -- The Wolfpack will likely undergo a bit of an identity change as new head coach Dave Doeren begins to install new systems on both sides of the ball. The effects on the recruiting trail might not be felt until 2014, but Doeren lived up to his reputation locking down 10 in-state recruits, including four-star outside linebacker Jonathan Alston (Bunn, N.C.). Alston, who chose NC State last week over Arkansas, Notre Dame, East Carolina and North Carolina, is the only four-star in the 2013 class. But with eleven of the 23 recruits in this class committing after the coaching change, you have to feel confident that the former Northern Illinois coach is happy with the players he is bringing to Raleigh.
Syracuse -- Needs: LB, WR, DL, RB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 67 --Promoting Scott Shafer to head coach after Doug Marrone's exit to the NFL helped keep much of the 2013 commitment class together, but unfortunately the Orange have lost their prized running back, 6-3, 225-pound Augustus Edwards. With Edwards out, the pressure is on to land Laray Smith, the No. 2 running back in the state of New York, according to 247Sports. Smith visited Indiana over the weekend and will decide between the Hoosiers and Orange. The strength of this class is on the defensive line, where Wayne Williams -- ranked as the No. 11 defensive tackle in the nation -- is expected to join three-star defensive ends Malik Brown, Isaiah Johnson, and Trevon Trejo as the anchor of the 2013 class. The biggest Signing Day splash for Syracuse would be to get a commitment from four-star safety Duron Singleton. One of the top JUCO recruits in the country named Syracuse and Missouri as the leaders last week, and his experience would allow an opportunity to play immediately in a defensive backfield that will be missing Shamarko Thomas and Ri'shard Anderson.
Wake Forest -- Needs: DL, OL, LB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 80 -- The offensive struggles of 2012 are a concern, but it is hard to imagine many players in the 2013 recruiting class having an immediate impact. Jim Grobe's staff often lays out five-year plans for their players and chooses to focus more on player development. Another classic trait of Grobe's staff has been the ability to identify overlooked talent in recruiting hotbeds to fit in at Winston-Salem. The 24-person commitment class features only four in-state prospects, while 13 are from Florida, Texas or Georgia. Outside linebacker Lance Virgile, from St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), and safety Michael Stevenson, from Clearwater Central (Clearwater, Fla.) committed at the beginning of a strong final push by Wake Forest, with 6-5, 210-pound tight end Corey Manges (Rowlett, Texas) as the most likely unknown left on the board for Signing Day.
Duke -- Needs: DB, OL, ATH. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 78 -- The immediate concern for the Blue Devils, coming off their first bowl appearance since 1994, is to strengthen a secondary that loses three starters and ranked next-to-last in the ACC in pass defense. Three-star cornerbacks Evrett Edwards and Deondre Singleton could be key pieces of the defense in the future, with Edwards choosing Duke over Clemson, Georgia, and Northwestern, among others. Offensively, David Cutcliffe has used a multiple attack in recent years that includes rotating quarterbacks for different situations. Expect that trend to continue with a pair of three-star dual threat quarterbacks, Parker Boehme (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Quayshawn Chambers (Monroe, NC), and a couple of athletes in the 2013 class.
Georgia Tech -- Needs: RB, DL, WR. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 68 -- Wide receiver may sound like an odd position of need for a team that runs as much as Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets were lacking that one dominant X receiver that has become a standard in recent years. The hope is that Ricky Jeune, who chose Georgia Tech over Boston College, UConn and Kansas, could help solve those issues -- particularly after leading wide receiver Jeff Greene left the team in December. The running game did get the annual attention needed, with three-star running backs Travis Curtis and Donovan Wilson committing along with four-star offensive tackle Shamire DeVine and four-star dual-threat quarterback Damon Mitchell. The Signing Day frustration for Georgia Tech could come from Cornelius Elder. The all-purpose athlete, who could contribute at safety or running back, is not only deciding between the Yellow Jackets, Auburn and Ohio State -- but also between basketball and football.
Miami -- Needs: TE, DL, DB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 30 -- After a pair of super-sized classes, Miami hopes to make the most bang for its buck in 2013. Of the 14 hard commitments so far, five are already enrolled -- including a pair of tight ends: Beau Sandland (No. 6 nationally ranked prospect, No. 1 tight end) and Standish Dobard (No. 10 tight end). Miami natives Artie Burns and Jamal Carter answer the concerns in the secondary, but Miami's class can still get a huge boost from some big names on signing day. Miami missed out on five-star running back Alex Collins, which makes Gus Edwards a key prospect to watch on Wednesday. Edwards, five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas, and four-star wide receiver Stacy Coley all have the Hurricanes and Florida State in their final three. The same is true for defensive tackle Keith Bryant. Hurricanes coach Al Golden visited Bryant, a former Canes commitment, over the weekend and is hoping to bring him back into the 2013 class. If Bryant chooses Florida State or South Carolina, it's crucial that Miami steal defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick from Florida and Alabama.
North Carolina -- Needs: DB, DL, RB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 22 -- The off-field issues have deterred Larry Fedora in his first full recruiting cycle, as the Tar Heels have a strong 18-prospect class with four early enrollees heading into Signing Day. Mitch Trubisky, one of the top-ranked dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, is already on campus and is the star of the group. The transition to the 4-2-5 scheme was troublesome for the secondary in 2012, but in-state commitments from Desmond Lawrence and Brian Walker -- both ranked in the Top 35 nationally for their position -- should boost the depth at that position. Gio Bernard's replacement could come from another pair of in-state prospects, Khris Francis and T.J. Logan, with both players ranking in the top 20 for their positions. Fedora spoke about "putting a fence around the state" when he was hired, and 2013 was a year when he kept some of those players from venturing further South to the SEC.
Pittsburgh -- OL, QB, DL. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 29 -- It should come as no surprise that Paul Chryst has opted to beef up his offensive and defensive lines in his first full recruiting cycle. Landing five star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon, Pa.) and four-star wide receiver Tyler Boyd (Clairton, Pa.) were huge for the new staff, who has picked up commitments from 14 in-state prospects. Defensive tackle Justin Moody and weakside defensive end Shakir Soto (already enrolled) represent the in-state stars on the other side of the ball. The graduation of three-year starting quarterback Tino Sunseri is not immediately addressed in this class, though dual threat quarterback TraVon Chapman, ranked in the Top 15 at his position, is already on campus and could challenge rising junior Trey Anderson for snaps.
Virginia -- DL, RB, DB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 27 -- Mike London's work on the recruiting trail in Virginia has raise the Cavaliers profile, and 2013 is another strong showing with 10 of the current 20 commits claiming Commonwealth roots. Running back Taquan Mizzell and safety Tim Harris both address immediate needs and rank among the Top 10 prospects in the state of Virginia. Throw in a pair of JUCO four-stars from Fork Union, safety Malcolm Cook and defensive tackle Tyrell Chavis, with four-star defensive tackle Donta Williams and it's clear that London did not seek out just any players from the state -- he wanted the best. Linebacker needs are addressed with four-star outside linebacker Micah Kiser and early enrollee LaChaston Smith, while London has added two three-star quarterbacks -- Corwin Cutler (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Brendan Marshall (Olney, Md.) to a crowded and competitive quarterback position.
Virginia Tech -- DB, LB, RB. 247Sports Team Class Rank: 10 -- Needs in the defensive backfield should be taken care of with five-star cornerback Kendall Fuller (younger brother of Kyle Fuller), four-star safety Holland Fisher, and four-star cornerback Charles Clark. Malcolm Cook appears to remain committed to Virginia after a visit from the Hokies, so the pressure is on to lock up his teammate, Fork Union running back Drew Harris. The four-star JUCO prospect made Hokies' fans nervous when was unable to enroll this spring, so there will be a huge sigh of relief when he signs Wednesday. Four-star commit Bucky Hodges, a 6-6, 225-pound dual threat quarterback, should benefit from another year behind Logan Thomas before competing for snaps in 2014. There are few unknowns heading into national signing day, but Virginia Tech's 20-player commitment class is ranked as the best in the ACC by 247Sports.com.
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