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ACC breakdown: Top needs in the 2018 class

The ACC, home of the national champion Clemson Tigers, is off to a fast start to the 2018 recruiting cycle. Miami is currently atop the 2018 Team Recruiting Rankings, while two other league teams boast top 10 classes. This week we take a look at which positions of need will be crucial to recruiting success for each SEC program.

MORE: Big Ten breakdown | SEC breakdown

Class of 2018 rankings: Rivals250 | Team | State | Position


Ryan Betro
Ryan Betro

Biggest Need: Linemen

The Latest: Steve Addazio’s team is known for big, tough linemen on both sides of the ball and that’s where Boston College’s priorities lie for this class. The Golden Eagles are at their best when they have dominant interior linemen. Rivals250 prospect Finn Dirstine remains Boston College’s top priority regardless of position. Groton (Mass.) Lawrence Academy has been good to Boston College in the past and Dirstine isn’t the only one that has shown legitimate interest in Boston College. Defensive tackle Ryan Betro is also high on Boston College and could end up playing in Chetsnut Hill.


Jackson Carman
Jackson Carman

Biggest Need: Offensive linemen

The Latest: The defending national champions have great quarterbacks coming in to replace the departed Deshaun Watson but there is only so much whomever wins the job can do without quality linemen blocking for him. Left tackle Mitch Hyatt will likely be gone in a year and Clemson doesn’t have a solid replacement lined up yet. Five-star Jackson Carman is Clemson’s top target followed closely by five-star guard Jamaree Salyer.


David Cutcliffe
David Cutcliffe (AP Images)

Biggest Need: Offensive linemen

The Latest: The Blue Devils need to keep improving their pass protection if they hope to take the next step. Redshirt sophomore Daniel Jones will be under center again this season after Thomas Sirk decided to transfer and he is hoping for some more help from the big guys upfront. With his verbal commitment to North Carolina, the Blue Devils lost out on Avery Jones but David Cutcliffe’s staff is going after other targets like Blaine Scott and Jovaughn Gwyn.


Jamaree Salyer
Jamaree Salyer (

Biggest Need: Offensive line

The Latest: Well, the Seminoles have a stable of running backs that would make nearly any other program jealous. What Jimbo Fisher’s program needs now is to secure the future of the offensive line. And while Florida is a talent-rich state, sometimes there’s not a surplus of offensive line talent. This is actually a decent year for talent in that area, but the Seminoles swing at some of the bigger out-of-state names such as Jamaree Salyer and Jackson Carman before turning to the Sunshine State’s crop. FSU has success recruiting out of state, so it seems likely that it will hit on at least a few of its top targets like William Barnes, Christian Armstrong or Deontrey Hill.


Darnell Jefferies
Darnell Jefferies (Chad Simmons)

Biggest Need: Defensive linemen

The Latest: Georgia Tech has yet to land a 2018 commit so really every position is a big need right now. Paul Johnson’s team needs to be better on the defensive line and Darnell Jefferies and Austin Smith are at the top of Johnson’s wish list. Both in-state prospects have shown significant interest in the Yellow Jackets but other programs are drawing their attention as well. More than 20 defensive linemen hold Georgia Tech offers and the staff is trying to gain momentum wherever it can.


Bobby Petrino
Bobby Petrino (AP Images)

Biggest Need: Defensive linemen

The Latest: It’s been a recurring theme on this list but the Cardinals also need to reload on the defensive line. With about 50 offers out to defensive linemen, Louisville is hell-bent on landing some big-time prospects. Dejmi Dumervil Jean (nephew of former Louisville great Elvis Dumervil) is considered a Louisville lean as a defensive lineman. Look for Jayson Oweh and junior college prospects Tayland Humphrey, Emmit Gooden and a few others to put Louisville in their top group when the time comes.


Artur Sitkowski
Artur Sitkowski

Biggest Need: Quarterback

The Latest: Miami has plenty of quarterbacks on its current roster. It’s just that the Hurricanes don’t have anything resembling a proven one. If one of the freshmen emerge as a star this fall, the program’s top recruitment need will change. Otherwise, it becomes imperative that Mark Richt and company hang on to the commitment of Rivals100 signal caller Artur Sitkowski. UM seems to be on the verge of a major on-field breakthrough and quarterback play will likely decide how quickly that takes place. The Hurricanes landed a pair of quarterbacks in last year’s class, so it may or may not take a second body at the position in 2018.


De’Von Graves
De’Von Graves (Bob Lanum)

Biggest Need: Defensive back

The Latest: NC State came so close to winning some huge games last season and a slightly improved secondary could have made a huge difference. Current Wolfpack verbal commit De’Von Graves is listed as an athlete but will play in the secondary for NC State. Keeping him on board is a major priority for the program. Four-star safety Nate Thompson, three-star safety Bryson Richardson and three-star cornerback Kendall Williamson are just a few of the other defensive backs N.C. State covets.


William Barnes
William Barnes (Nick Lucero/

Biggest Need: Offensive linemen

The Latest: The Tar Heels will have a new quarterback under center this season and once it’s over they’re going to lose four offensive linemen. They already have a commitment from three-star Avery Jones but are pushing for a number of other highly rated prospects. Getting commitments a combination of Rivals100 linemen William Barnes and Richard Gouraige or Rivals250 linemen Rasheed Walker and Nana Asiedu would be a home run for the Tar Heels.


Justin Johnson
Justin Johnson

Biggest Need: Linemen

The Latest: Pat Narduzzi and his squad made some serious waves last season and were the only team to beat Clemson. To try to keep the momentum going, Pittsburgh needs to reload on both the offensive and defensive lines. Offensively, Justin Johnson from Philadelphia and Jimmy McKenna from Avon, Ohio, are two of the Panthers’ biggest targets out there. Even though he is listed as an offensive lineman, Pittsburgh really wants Jake Kradel to play defensive tackle next year.


 Stevie Scott
Stevie Scott (

Biggest Need: Running back

The Latest: This season the Orange will only have three running backs on their roster so they really need more depth. Stevie Scott is a big priority for Dino Babers and his staff but there are about 20 backs across the country that Syracuse has offered. Look for Syracuse to take at least two running back commitments in the 2018 class to help complement Dontae Strickland and the rest of the Syracuse backs.


James Collins
James Collins (Matthew Hatfield (

Biggest Need: Offensive linemen

The Latest: The first step in Bronco Mendenhall and his staff’s efforts to remake the Virginia roster is improving on the offensive line. Losing out on 2017 Rivals250 offensive lineman Mekhi Becton really stung but the Cavaliers did land five other linemen in the last class. In-state 2018 lineman James Collins really likes Virginia and could be one of the next to commit to the Cavs. Other major targets include Calvin Atkeson, Jordan McFadden and a few others.


Rasheed Walker
Rasheed Walker (Nick Lucero/

Biggest Need: Offensive linemen

The Latest: Surprise! The Hokies are another ACC team that desperately needs more offensive linemen. Justin Fuente has proven he can work magic with quarterbacks but they are so much more effective when they have good protection. Rivals250 offensive tackles Rasheed Walker and Nana Asiedu are two of their highest priorities for this class but Virginia Tech has stiff competition for both. Aidan Rafferty out of Washington, D.C., John Harris from Georgia and Kavesz Sherard from South Carolina are just a few of the linemen that Virginia Tech has invested a lot of time in recruiting.


Amir Abdur-Rahman
Amir Abdur-Rahman

Biggest Need: Wide receiver

The Latest: One of Wake Forest’s biggest goals is making its offense more explosive. The Demon Deacons already took a big step in the right direction securing a commitment from quarterback Sam Hartman but now they need receivers that can make big plays. Hartman is a very accurate quarterback but receivers that can score from anywhere on the field, such as Amir Abdur-Rahman, Christian Ford and Sam James, should be very high on their wish list.