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ACC breakdown: Top-ranked recruits on each roster

Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence (AP Images)

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

With the college football season set to swing into full action this weekend, recruiting is always on my mind. So I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the highest-ranked returning player on each roster and the highest-ranked player from the class of 2019. We continue today with the ACC (and Notre Dame).

These are only players recruited by the school and doesn’t include transfers.

RELATED: Highest-ranked players on Big Ten teams | SEC

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals100 | Position | Team | State



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BOSTON COLLEGE 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Dillon initially committed to Michigan during the spring after his junior season, but then flipped to Boston College in December. The Eagles’ coaching staff never let up on him after his commitment to the Wolverines. Coming off a huge 2017 season, Dillon battled through some injuries in 2018 but still finished with 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now fully healthy, Dillon seems physically and mentally prepared for a huge junior season.

Farrell’s take: Dillon was a huge in-state keep for Boston College and it’s always good to flip a kid from a power program like Michigan. He has panned out very well so far for the Eagles and should have another monster season. Garwo is a big-time running back as well and you could say Dillon is a big reason he committed.

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CLEMSON 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Despite elite offers from coast-to-coast, Lawrence decided to end his process early with a commitment to Clemson during his junior season. He never wavered off of that pledge. After beating out Kelly Bryant for the starting job in Death Valley, Lawrence had a magical true freshman season that culminated in a national championship victory over Alabama. Being mentioned as one of the elite college quarterbacks in recent history, he is one of the clear favorites for the Heisman Trophy leading into the 2019 season.

Farrell’s take: Lawrence is the best quarterback I’ve ever scouted, we all know that, and we all know how great he has been already. He was easily the No. 1 player in the country for a reason. Booth is a lockdown corner with good size and yet another out-of-state five-star get for the Tigers who are recruiting on a different level than the rest of the ACC.

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DUKE 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Bracey committed to Duke during the summer leading up to his junior season and stuck with the Blue Devils over offers from programs such as Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. After redshirting in 2016, Bracey’s two collegiate seasons have been plagued by hamstring injuries and general ineffectiveness. Totaling only 11 receptions for 100 yards to this point, Bracey will have his opportunity to shine this fall as the Blue Devils receiving corps has undergone an overhaul since last season.

Farrell’s take: This is very surprising, because Bracey looked like a surefire star coming out of high school and a kid who reminded me early on of a bigger Stefon Diggs. He regressed a bit in high school, so maybe he peaked too early and now he’s just an average guy, but at the time he was a huge commitment. Davis is a big Rivals250 defensive back and a huge in-state keep for Duke.

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FLORIDA STATE 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Wilson committed to Florida State over LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and South Florida on National Signing Day. He began to show his true potential during the 2018 season, when he finished with 42 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. While Wilson dealt with a knee injury at the beginning of summer camp, he is back at practice and looks poised to have a breakout season for the Seminoles in Tallahassee.

Farrell’s take: Wilson was the No. 1 player in the country at one point during his recruiting cycle and this could be a breakout year for him if he can stay healthy. He was a huge get out of Texas and flexed the recruiting muscle of Jimbo Fisher. Dent is a five-star cornerback who should help continue that great tradition at FSU.

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GEORGIA TECH 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: King was focusing on Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Louisville when he decided to end his process with a commitment to the Yellow Jackets in late July. Despite seeing minimal playing time in three games last fall, King managed to keep his redshirt. Since the end of the 2018 season he has been working to move up the depth chart. While a major contribution is not yet expected, he should be in the regular rotation at cornerback.

Farrell’s take: King was a Rivals250 pull from Tennessee for the Jackets and a big-time commitment. Georgia Tech doesn’t get many four stars, so it’s important that he pans out. Yates isn’t big, but he’s an explosive quarterback and a winner and he should be the guy down the line.

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LOUISVILLE 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Becton took January official visits to Louisville, Virginia Tech and Oregon before committing to the Cardinals a few days prior to National Signing Day. He became an immediate starter for the Cardinals at left tackle and has been an anchor on the line ever since. While the Cardinals are expected to struggle this fall, Becton is one of their beacons of hope in their attempt to surprise people. NFL scouts will also be keeping a close eye on him this fall, as a first-round grade is possible.

Farrell’s take: Becton was a Rivals250 grab for Louisville from Virginia and he has panned out to be a star and an NFL prospect for the Cardinals. We loved his size and frame coming out, but he’s been much more athletic than expected. Edwards is a high three-star for Louisville from last year’s class who is undersized right now but quick off the edge and a good pull from Mississippi.


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MIAMI

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Lingard was an early commitment to Miami, making his choice after his junior season. He selected the Canes over Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Clemson and Auburn. Lingard’s true freshman season never fully developed, as he never seemed comfortable and then sustained a knee injury in October that cut his season down to only six games. That knee injury is still slowing down Lingard’s progress, as he has yet to be cleared for contact and should miss the first couple of games of the 2019 season.

Farrell’s take: Lingard has been the victim of injury, so the five-star running back hasn’t come close to making an impact yet, but there is hope he will be a dynamic playmaker when he gets healthy. Payton was a Rivals100 wide receiver in the 2019 class with very reliable hands and should be a go-to guy for the ‘Canes throughout his career

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NORTH CAROLINA 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Barnes took January official visits to North Carolina, Florida and Ole Miss. The Gators were considered the favorite for quite some time and had Barnes on campus during the final weekend before National Signing Day for his visit, but the coaching change they underwent was too much for them to overcome. He committed to the the Tar Heels on National Signing Day. Barnes played in three games in 2018, maintaining his redshirt status. This off-season he has lost a good amount of bad body weight and become quicker, which has put him into the rotation on the line.

Farrell’s take: Barnes was heavily recruited out of Florida during his high school career and the Rivals100 prospect has tremendous upside. Recruiting has taken the next step under Mack Brown and Howell is already the starter after he was pulled away from FSU.

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NORTH CAROLINA STATE 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

he skinny: While schools like South Carolina, Clemson and Georgia were considered, the ability to play closer to home made NC State and Duke viable options from the start. Deciding to end his process early, he committed to the Wolfpack in January after his junior season. Person became an immediate contributor as a true freshman in Raleigh, finishing with 471 yards and two touchdowns on the ground despite dealing with injuries that made him miss four games. While the Wolpack suddenly have additional young backs with the potential to contribute this fall - mainly Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston - Person is still likely to get the bulk of the carries in 2019.

Farrell’s take: Person was a Rivals100 in-state commitment for NC State and is expected to have a major impact this season. He was an all-purpose back despite being so big because he was excellent catching the ball. Harris was another big in-state get for the Wolfpack and a Rivals250 defensive tackle last year.

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NOTRE DAME 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Hayes made an early commitment to USC, which led to his move from Michigan to California. However, after about a month he was back in Michigan and re-opened his process. After taking official visits to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State, he committed to the Irish after his senior season. Hayes has shown flashes during his collegiate career, but has yet to piece it all together. Coming off a 2018 season that saw him finish with 32 tackles, five tackles for loss and two sacks, he returns for his final run at South Bend as one of the veteran leaders of the defensive unit.

Farrell’s take: Hayes was a massive linebacker out of high school who has turned into a defensive end at Notre Dame. He hasn’t lived up to his billing yet, but he’ll be an important part of the defense this year and big things are expected. Carroll is a monster offensive tackle and could be the next great one along the line for Notre Dame.

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PITTSBURGH 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Ford committed to Pittsburgh during his junior season and never wavered from his word. He mentioned that he always wanted to play for the Panthers. Ford redshirted in 2017 and then only played four games in 2018 after he made the transition from cornerback to safety. While it took him some time for him to get adjusted to the new position, everything seems to have worked out as he is projected as a starter for the opener against Virginia.

Farrell’s take: Ford was a very important in-state keep for Pitt and a talented, ball-hawking safety who could also play cornerback coming out. As a Rivals100 player, he’s important for future recruiting in the state. Beville is a huge quarterback from South Carolina and a huge get for Pitt - literally and figuratively.

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SYRACUSE 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: DeVito also considered Boston College, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Temple and Maryland when he decided to commit to Syracuse during the spring after his junior season. Due to injuries to starter Eric Dungey, DeVito saw action in seven games last season after redshirting in 2017. While he didn’t excel during his opportunities last season, Syracuse is confident that the time and effort he has put in during the off-season will greatly enhance his productivity this fall. He should also feel confident knowing that he is firmly entrenched as the starter.

Farrell’s take: DeVito was a smart, heady quarterback from a huge program in high school who showed maturity and the ability to manage the game. Time will tell how he does as the new starter but he has shown flashes. Kpogba is one of the highest-rated recruits for Syracuse in Rivals.com history, and he should have a great career. He was a tackling machine in high school.

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VIRGINIA 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: With offers from Virginia, Duke, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Syracuse, Mack committed to the Cavs soon after an unofficial visit to Charlottesville in June. After starting his collegiate career at safety, Mack was moved to linebacker prior to the 2017. Having totaled 180 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks since the move, and despite missing four games last season due to a shoulder injury, Mack returns for his senior season this fall. Along with Charles Snowden, the Cavs have two of the top returning linebackers in the ACC.

Farrell’s take: Mack was a big, rangy safety coming out of high school and a high three-star who has since moved to linebacker and become one of the best in the ACC. Briggs is an athletic defensive tackle who should make an immediate impact and is a great pickup from out of state.

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VIRGINIA TECH  

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Hunter took official visits to Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Alabama and Florida before committing to the Hokies in late January. It was the Gators who proved to be the stiffest competition for the Hokies. Since arriving in Blacksburg, Hunter has struggled to make a serious impact. However, the coaching staff is optimistic that his recent move from rover to nickel will prove beneficial. He will begin this season in the regular safety rotation, so it now it will be up to him to earn more playing time.

Farrell’s take: Hunter was a five-star at one time if I remember correctly, and he was a huge in-state get for the Hokies back in 2017, but he hasn’t come close to panning out yet. He always had a ton of athletic ability, but time is running out. Nester is a versatile Rivals250 lineman and former Ohio State commitment who can play tackle or guard.

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WAKE FOREST 

HIGHEST-RANKED RETURNING PLAYER

HIGHEST-RANKED SIGNEE FROM 2019 CLASS

The skinny: Allen trimmed his list down to Wake Forest, Tennessee and USC before committing to the Demon Deacons a couple of weeks before the start of his senior season. This was considered a huge recruiting victory for Wake Forest, which went head-to-head against some of the best in the nation. However, his time in Winston-Salem has been uneventful to this point. After redshirting in 2017, he only totaled three tackles while seeing action in five games last fall. In the rotation at defensive end this season, he will need to prove himself to receive more playing time.

Farrell’s take: Allen was a huge pickup from Georgia and a rare four-star for Wake Forest who hasn’t hit his stride yet, but he has potential and length. McCollum is a non-stop motor prospect who will be a very good one for Wake.

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