ACC Blitz: Teams look to finish strong
Clemson is hoping to finish with a couple of five-star linebackers, a four-star defensive tackle and hold onto four-star defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan with Signing Day quickly approaching. Can the Tigers do it? Check out the breakdown of recruiting in the ACC as National Signing Day nears in a special edition of the ACC Blitz.
href=#gatech>Georgia Tech | Maryland
Clemson is hoping to finish with a couple of five-star linebackers, a four-star defensive tackle and hold onto a four-star defensive lineman. Tony Steward took his official visit to Florida State and had a great time so the 'Noles have an edge over Clemson according to most. Stephone Anthony took his official visit to Virginia Tech and many think this will come down to the Hokies and Clemson while defensive tackle Phillip Dukes is a tight battle between the Tigers and South Carolina. The most interesting development this week has been the last second official visit to Alabama of Clemson defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan to Alabama. Many feel Pagan could flip from Clemson to 'Bama or Georgia come Signing Day.
The Blue Devils are somewhat limited in terms of available scholarships this year and they are just about finished with the Class of 2011. Duke's top priority from here on out has to be four-star tight end Cameron Clear. The Memphis prospect has had Duke near the top of his list for a long time now. Alabama and Tennessee are the biggest competition here, so if the Blue Devils pulled the upset it would generate a lot of buzz. The coaches would also be happy to accept a commitment from three-star Alabama tight end David Reeves, who appears to favor Duke and South Florida. Blair Holliday was thinking about taking an official visit to UCLA but he now appears solid with Duke.
With tight end Nick O'Leary on board, FSU has only a handful of targets left on the board but most of them are huge names. The biggest name is linebacker Tony Steward who is a strong lean to the 'Noles and just had a great visit this past weekend. FSU is also in the top two for Timmy Jernigan, Jermauria Rasco and Arrington Jenkins and are in the mix for Jacoby Brissett, Elkino Watson and even Jadeveon Clowney. However, if they can close with Steward, Jernigan, Rasco and Jenkins, they will not only be thrilled but could end up with the No. 1 class in the country.
Georgia Tech got some much needed good news over the weekend when three-star linebacker Nick Menoca backed out of his pledge to Miami and chose the Yellow Jackets. Prior to that it had been a difficult week for Georgia Tech fans. Five-star defensive end Stephon Tuitt de-committed from Notre Dame and committed to Tech, only to flip back to the Irish after only a day. Then Atlanta defensive end Darrius Caldwell, one of Georgia Tech's most prized commitments, flipped to Illinois. On a good note quarterback Vad Lee appears to be more solid now than he has been in a long time. The Yellow Jackets are a finalist, along with Iowa and Michigan State, for defensive tackle Darian Cooper. He was at Iowa over the weekend but after a great visit from coach Paul Johnson and defensive coordinator Al Groh recently the Jackets still feel good.
New head coach Randy Edsall has the unenviable task of putting together a coaching staff and a recruiting class just before National Signing Day. That's a tough chore for anyone. Most of the recruits that are on board with Maryland seem impressed with Edsall and his staffing decisions so far. The staff had to be excited about the commitment of three-star defensive end Quinton Jefferson. His teammate, Lafayette Pitts, remains verbally committed to Pitt but is listening to what Maryland has to say. It's not clear whether Maryland will be able to hold onto tight end Ryan Malleck. The three-star prospect recently visited Miami and has been thinking about trips to Miami and Virginia Tech, among others. The Terrapins would love to find a way to get back into the picture with Jeremiah Hendy, a former strong Maryland commitment who has since shifted his attention to schools such as Virginia, Iowa and NC State.
The most important commitment for the Hurricanes actually wasn't a commitment but a re-commitment and came this weekend for Miami as defensive end Anthony Chickillo re-affirmed his love for the 'Canes after his visit. Chickillo is clearly the headliner in this class, ranked as the No. 44 player in the country, and he will help future efforts this year and beyond. Head coach Al Golden has done a good job of adding some quality to this class over the last few days with players like Kevin Grooms, Antonio Kinard, Dallas Crawford and Denzel Perryman as well as getting some huge names on campus for visits.
Five-star linebacker Curtis Grant and four-star running back Savon Huggins are at the top of the Tar Heels' wish list. Grant has narrowed his options to Ohio State, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia and he will be in Chapel Hill on his official visit this upcoming weekend. It would be a surprise if Grant chose the Tar Heels but as the nation's No. 2 prospect the coaches will make a run at him. Huggins might end up choosing between North Carolina and Rutgers this Friday, though Notre Dame is one to watch. Sources say the Tar Heels feel good about their chances but most feel this is all Rutgers. Beyond that the Tar Heels would love to land defensive end Max Issaka, a soft Pitt commit. The Heels are also in play for Miami linebacker Keeon Virgile, who also likes Nebraska. The Tar Heels could go in on running backs Stephen Houston and Derrick Milton if Huggins falls through and expect UNC to make a late push for Miami commit Ricardo Williams.
For a while the Pack was struggling mightily on the recruiting trail but they have turned it up of late. This class isn't one of the better groups in the ACC but NC State has helped itself late. Four-star linebacker Rodman Noel was a big late addition, and that was followed by the commitment of wide receiver Hakeem Flowers. That came as somewhat of a surprise, and Flowers attributes it to how tirelessly the staff was in recruiting him. The Pack also landed three-star defensive tackle Chris Jones over the weekend, another nice pickup. NC State would love to land five-star linebacker Stephone Anthony, but at this point it would be a surprise if he landed in Raleigh. It doesn't appear as though his teammate Brandon Ellerbe will choose the Pack either. Benson Browne, Jeremiah Hendy and Ty McGill are also prospects the staff would love to reel in, though Hendy is another long shot.
It was a huge weekend for Virginia as most of the program's commitments and three of their top four remaining targets were in Charlottesville. Curtis Grant remains a possibility, as the Cavaliers are one of four finalists. If he decides to stay close to home and base his decision on his comfort level UVa will be his choice. Jeremiah Hendy is very high on UVa, though Maryland is making a late push to get back into the game and a couple of other schools are involved as well. Dominique Terrell appears to be a solid UVa lean at this point and something would really have to change for him to end up anywhere else. It looks as though he will still visit Miami this weekend but West Virginia is the biggest competition here. All three prospects visited over the weekend. Beyond that the staff would love to land Darius Jennings. The four-star prospect is high on both UVa and Wake Forest, with the Demon Deacons having promised him the opportunity to play quarterback.
The Hokies have just a handful of prospects remaining on the target board for the class of 2011. Five-star linebacker Stephone Anthony is expected to announce on or just prior to Signing Day between Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida and North Carolina. North Carolina gets the final shot this weekend before an imminent decision. While you can never rule out the competition, Anthony seems to be saying all the right things as he felt at home and comfortable with the team on his visit this past weekend to Virginia Tech. Tech also is in the race for a tight end with Ryan Malleck getting the most attention, a Maryland commitment that took a visit this past weekend to Virginia Tech. His finalists are the Hokies, Maryland and Miami. The Terrapins are tough since they've been the longstanding commitment, but the Hokies have moved in fast in recent weeks. Meanwhile, receiver continues to gain attention as Robert Lockhart will be taking a visit and it appears Tech is the team to beat heading into an official this weekend. However, that's not to say the Hokies aren't forced to fend off opponents and keep this class intact as Miami offered James Farrow on Sunday. However he states he is firm with Virginia Tech.
DeAndre Martin committed to Wake Forest over the weekend that that's the big back the Deacs were looking for. They also went into the weekend hoping to pick up a specialist and they found the one they want in Mauro Bondi. Three-star Florida athlete Joshua Grady was in Winston-Salem over the weekend and there's a good chance he ends up choosing Wake Forest. It's not clear whether Wake will be able to hold onto the commitment of quarterback Kevin Sousa with Miami making a late push. If Sousa flips it could really shake up the staff's strategy in the final week. Sousa likes the fact that Miami sees him as a pro-style quarterback. Darius Jennings remains a very high priority and he loved his official visit to Wake Forest. Wide receiver Curt Evans flipped to Boston College and the Deacs are hoping Raheem Mostert, who is down to Wake and Purdue, can fill the void.