Signing Day Around The ACC
Sports Fan Insider
An overall look at how the 14 schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference fared Wednesday on Signing Day.
National rankings: (Rivals 42; Scout 61).
Best in class: Connor Strachan, lb, Needham, Mass.
Best of the rest: Jonathan Hilliman, rb, Jersey City, N.J.; Harold Landry, de, Fayetteville, N.C.; Mike Knoll, k, Cuyahoga Falls, OH.
Late additions: Nat Dixon, wr, Lynn Haven, Fla.; Noa Merritt, dl, Sparta, N.J.; Oseh-Lie Saine, dl, Lincoln, R.I.
One that got away: Defensive back Tre Tarpley from Pittsburgh, Pa., flipped his commitment from BC to Vanderbilt over the weekend.
NOTE: “This is our class. Last year we were able to bring in a couple of guys,” BC second-year coach Steve Addazio said. “This is a class that we put a full year in to and we know them very well. Anytime you sign 30, that’s a large number. There can be some misses, but we feel great about this class.”
National rankings (Rivals 13; Scout 28).
Best in class: Deshaun Watson, QB, Gainesville, Ga. The Parade All-American who amassed 17,134 yards of total offense is expected to compete with senior Cole Stoudt and sophomore Chad Kelly for the starter’s job. Watson committed to the Tigers in February 2012 and held firm despite overtures from schools like Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State.
Best of the rest: Artavis Scott, WR, Oldsmar, Fla. Picked Clemson over home-state schools Florida, Florida State and Miami.
Late addition: None. Of the drama-free day, Clemson recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott said “when your 5-star quarterback is already on campus you can sleep a little better the night before signing day.”
One that got away: Andrew Williams, DE. Clemson didn’t have strong hopes of landing Williams, but crossed their fingers before he chose Auburn.
NOTES: Clemson’s class includes linebackers Judah Davis and J.D. Davis, the twin sons of former Tigers great Jeff Davis, who’s now an assistant athletic director for his alma mater. … Clemson’s lone defensive end signee was Richard Yeargin of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., who had committed to Notre Dame but re-opened his recruitment after the season.
National rankings (Rivals 4; Scout 4).
Best in class: Dalvin Cook, RB, Miami Central HS
Best of the rest: Ermon Lane, WR, Homestead (Fla.) HS; Travis Rudolph, WR, Cardinal Newman (Fla.) HS
Late addition: Ja’Von Harrison, WR, Kathleen (Fla.) HS, had been committed to Virginia Tech.
One that got away: Malik McDowell, DE, Southfield (Mich.) HS.
NOTE: “Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane I think our big-time players,” Fisher said. “But I think Ja’Von (Harrison) is right there in that same caliber of them. And then when you get three of them, so spread the field, inside guys, outside guys, they’re all big-bodied guys. But the big-bodied guys that have the capability and have the quickness to go inside, which is rare.”
National rankings (Rivals 46; Scout 45).
Best in class: Reggie Bonnafon, QB, Louisville. Rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com, the 6-3, 205-pounder was Louisville’s first 2014 signee by the staff of former Cardinals coach Charlie Strong, now at Texas. Bonnafon threw for 2,606 yards and 16 touchdowns against just eight interceptions last season. He also rushed for 895 yards and 18 TDs.
Best of the rest: RB L.J. Scott, OL Lukayus McNeil, OL Danny Burns, DE Terry Ramsey, TE Charles Standberry.
Late additions: Sharieff Rhaheed-Muhammad, LB, Fort Pierce, Fla; Cornelius Sturghill, WR, Memphis; Jimmie Terry, OL, Madison, Miss. All three committed to the Cardinals on Wednesday.
One that got away: Devin Pike, TE, Cincinnati. He had committed last July to Louisville but switched to Wake Forest last week after making his official visit.
NOTE: Petrino loves offense and lavishly praised Bonnafon, who fits his philosophy: “I’m really excited about Reggie Bonnafon and being able to have him come in, a guy we feel is very, very talented throwing the ball,” he said. “He can make all the different throws, is accurate and has a strong arm. He also has the ability to run the ball.”
National rankings: (Rivals 30; Scout 26).
Best in class: Kentavius Street (Greenville) is rated as a four-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals ranked the defensive end as the No. 2 recruit in North Carolina.
Best of the rest: N.C. State loaded up with instate talent, including safety Germaine Pratt (No. 9 in state by Rivals) and quarterback Jalan McClendon (No. 9 in state by Scout).
Late addition: Cornerback Troy Vincent Jr., son of the former NFL Pro Bowl defensive back, was originally committed to Penn State. But when coach Bill O’Brien left to coach the NFL’s Houston Texans, Vincent switched his commitment to the Wolfpack. “Troy’s very technical,” Doeren said. “He’s been backpedaling since he was 3 years old.”
One that got away: N.C. State couldn’t quite reel in instate receiver Trevion Thompson of Durham. Thompson, Scout’s No. 3-ranked recruit in the state, signed with Clemson.
NOTES: Early enrollee Ty Linton originally signed with rival North Carolina in 2010 before signing to play baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He recently decided to play college football and Doeren — who had recruited him while an assistant at Wisconsin — got him to sign with N.C. State instead of UNC. “It’s great to have a freshman that’s 23 years old that’s … going to offer some unique experiences and life lessons to our team,” Doeren said. … The Wolfpack added five offensive linemen and six defensive linemen. … N.C. State signed six from Georgia. … Nine players in the class enrolled for the spring semester.
National rankings (Rivals 48; Scout 51).
Best in class: KJ Williams, WR, Bethlehem, Pa.
Best of the rest: Alin Edouard, QB, Miami; Steve Ishmael, WR, Miami; Chris Slayton, DE, Chicago.
Late addition: Denzel Ward, OG, Chicago.
One that got away: Zeek Rodney, DT, Rock Hill, S.C.
National rankings (Rivals T-55; Scout 66).
Best in class: Clawson’s class had no players rated higher than three stars by either recruiting service. The best of the bunch might be three-star TE Devin Pike (Cincinnati), whom Scout.com rated as the nation’s 32nd-best player at his position. Two of Pike’s brothers played for the University of Cincinnati.
Best of the rest: The Demon Deacons signed two quarterbacks with impressive pedigrees. Travis Smith went 41-0 at Ithaca (Mich.) High School with three consecutive state titles. John Wolford threw for 126 career touchdowns at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Fla. — breaking the state record set by Tim Tebow.
Late addition: Fourteen players committed from Jan. 16 to signing day, assistant Zach Stone said. DE Willie Yarbary (Augusta, Ga.) defected from Indiana’s class after the Hoosiers changed defensive coordinators.
One that got away: Wake Forest got most of the players it wanted. The Demon Deacons offered Demarquis Gates last week but the linebacker signed with Mississippi.
NOTE: Wake Forest appeared to cast a wider net than perhaps in previous years. Clawson signed players from 12 states, including Michigan, Arkansas and Mississippi. “I am really proud of our staff. We hit the ground running,” Clawson said. “There wasn’t one day that a coach could be on the road that we weren’t all on the road.”
National rankings (Rivals T-55; Scout 66).
Best in class: Zach Harmon (Toledo, Ohio) is rated as the nation’s 20th-best center by Scout.com.
Best of the rest: Cutcliffe’s quarterbacks always attract attention — he’s a key mentor for Super Bowl MVPs Peyton and Eli Manning — and his latest QB signees are Johnathan Lloyd (Graham, N.C.) and Nicodem Pierre (Miami). Lloyd enrolled early and took part in Duke’s pre-Chick-fil-A Bowl practices, and Cutcliffe says he has “great feet, about as fluid as you would want to be and he’s quick.”
Late addition: Sixteen of Duke’s signees committed in 2012 or ’13. The last to say he would sign — WR Trevon Lee (Miramar, Fla.) — made his announcement Monday and Cutcliffe said the Blue Devils’ big year helped sway him. Cutcliffe says Lee “has certainly got a lot of talent” but shied away from saying he would be an immediate difference-maker.
One that got away: None. Duke didn’t appear to have any late defections from its class because Cutcliffe doesn’t like to play games with the recruiting process. “You didn’t hear the word decommit. … If you decommit, odds are, you never committed,” he said.
NOTE: Cutcliffe spent Sunday watching his pupil Peyton Manning lose the Super Bowl from a luxury box at Metlife Stadium and he said “as I’m going in, maybe in the hundreds of people said, ‘We followed your team, we love your team, etc. etc.’ … All that does have an effect.”
National rankings (Rivals 47; Scout 47).
Best in class: RB Myles Autry, DB Step Durham
Best of the rest: WR CJ Leggett, C Andrew Marshall, WR Qua Searcy, DE KeShun Freeman, DB Lance Austin, DB Lawrence Austin
Late addition: Autry
One that got away: DT Mike Sawyers of Nashville signed with Tennessee.
NOTE: Johnson summoned up his customary annual critique of Georgia Tech getting ranked low in recruiting services when he said, “If you go back and look for the last six years, there’s four teams in the ACC who’ve won more games than all of the others. Those teams are Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. And that’s my view of the star system. So if our recruiting is so bad, and that is so accurate, then we must be great coaches. And from what I read from you guys (media) I don’t believe that. You can’t have it both ways. So that’s the facts. That’s not spin. That’s just facts.”
National rankings (Rivals 12; Scout 11).
Best in class: Brad Kaaya, QB, West Hills, Calif.
Best of the rest: Malik Rosier, QB, Mobile, Ala.; Trevor Darling, OL, Miami; Joseph Yearby, RB, Miami; KC McDermott, OT, Wellington, Fla.; Chad Thomas, DE, Miami, Fla.; Michael Wyche, DT, East L.A. College.
Late addition: David Njoku, a 215-pound wide receiver and tight end from Cedar Grove, N.J., committed last week.
One that got away: Travonte Valentine, a 335-pound defensive tackle from Hialeah, Fla., had committed to the Hurricanes but re-opened the recruiting process last month and signed with Louisiana State.
National rankings (Rivals 20; Scout 31).
Best in class: RB Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C.) set Mecklenburg County records with 3,690 yards rushing and 53 touchdowns this season. He originally committed to Notre Dame but Fedora credits assistant coach Gunter Brewer with “staying on him. When he realized that, ‘I don’t have to go across the country to reach all my dreams and goals.’ … That was big.”
Best of the rest: Fedora landed the son of NFL and former Wake Forest receiver Ricky Proehl. Fedora says WR Austin Proehl was “the most competitive guy on the field” at his summer camp and “you know his dad, you know what his dad has done. The kid’s a gym rat.”
Late addition: North Carolina picked up commitments last month from four-star OL Jared Cohen and three-star WR Devin Perry.
One that got away: None. Fedora says he locked up 20 of his 22 recruits before July 2013, didn’t lose anyone to any signing-day drama and kept the class together despite a handful of departures from his coaching staff — most notably offensive coordinator Blake Anderson’s move to Arkansas State head coach. “A lot of those guys committed. … They weren’t tied to a coach. They were tied to the university,” Fedora said.
NOTE: Fedora has placed an emphasis on recruiting the state of North Carolina, and eight of his signees were from the state. He’s landed North Carolina’s past two AP prep players of the year in Hood and T.J. Logan. “Those eight guys from the state are actually seeing what’s happening here in Chapel Hill. They see the future,” Fedora said. “They understand what we’re preaching and they’re seeing it on the field and they’re getting excited.”
National Rankings (Scout 42, Rivals 44)
Best in class: Alex Bookser, OT, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Best of rest: Adonis Jennings, WR, Clementon, N.J.
Late addition: Hez Trahan, DE, Philadelphia, Pa.
One that got away: Wade Freebeck, QB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Quotable: “We’ve had chances to be around him and had a chance to see him play, and we really think he can add a lot to what we think is a pretty good offensive line group that we have already,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said about offensive tackle recruit Alex Bookser.
National rankings (Rivals 40; Scout 40).
Best in class: Quin Blanding, S, 6-4, 210, Virginia Beach. A five-star recruit rated as the top safety prospect in the nation by virtually every recruiting service. He and fellow UVA signee Andrew Brown were named co-Defensive players of the year by Tom Lemming.
Best of the rest: Andrew Brown, DT, 6-4, 290, Chesapeake. Jamil Kamara, WR, 6-2, 210, Virginia Beach. Steven Moss, OL, 6-5, 275, Fredericksburg.
Late addition: None.
One that got away: Will Richardson, OL. Originally committed to the Cavaliers, but flipped a few weeks ago and signed with N.C. State.
NOTE: Despite much speculation about London’s future as the Cavaliers stumbled to a 2-10 finish, he said “it was gratifying to see that the young men that made a commitment earlier stuck with their commitment and really galvanized the entire class going down the stretch.”
National rankings (Rivals 25; Scout 35).
Best in class: Melvin Keihn, LB, 6-2, 215, Towson, Md.
Best of the rest: C.J. Reavis, DB, 6-0, 190, Chester, Va. Marshawn Williams, RB, 5-11, 224, Hampton.
Late addition: Raymon Minor, LB, 6-3, 215, Ashland, Va.
One that got away: Ja’Von Harrison, WR. Committed to the Hokies long ago, but showed up at his signing in a Florida State hat and signed with the home-state Seminoles. Would have been highest-rated recruit.
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