ACC recruiting stock report: Miami is sky-high on recruiting trail
Conference championship weekend has come and gone and the run to the early signing period and Signing Day is upon us. Coaches are hoping for a strong close to their recruiting classes. With the regular season in the rearview mirror, here is a stock report of all the ACC teams heading into these chaotic few months.
This entire calendar year has been a boon for the Hurricanes. Their recruiting momentum continues to increase and the 10-win season they just posted will likely help things on that front continue. Mark Richt had things rolling without any help, but getting abrupt coaching changes at both Florida and Florida State were welcome surprises. Miami is, by far, the most stable program in the country’s most fertile recruiting ground and their recruiting reflects that. The Hurricanes are on pace to land a top-5 class in 2018 and there’s no reason to think 2019 will be much different.
Up until late October, it seemed like N.C. State was America's darling. A dominant defensive front and exciting playmakers on offense had the Wolfpack in the spotlight. Now Dave Doeren has a new contract and there is a lot of optimism in Raleigh that extends to the recruiting trail. Rivals250 linebacker Payton Wilson recently flipped from the in-state rival Tar Heels signaling N.C. State could be headed toward their first top 25 recruiting class since 2003.
No. 1 team in the country, current national champions, ACC champions, third straight trip to the College Football Playoffs, and they didn’t lose their head coach. Clemson is riding high and the coaches have an easy sell when recruiting players to fill the last few spots in this recruiting class.
Justin Fuente is one of the hottest coaches in college football and the Hokies feel like they are close to taking the next step as a program. There is very limited space remaining in their 2018 recruiting class, but Virginia Tech is heading into the 2019 recruiting class with some good momentum.
What a great turnaround Bronco Mendenhall and his staff have put together in Charlottesville. The Cavs were much more competitive this year and will continue to get better as the staff is able to recruit more of their players. There are some big holes to fill on this roster and that will intrigue a lot of recruits.
Louisville’s 2017 hasn’t matched its impressive 2016, but Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson isn’t any less exciting and the Cardinals brand as an exciting program that develops players hasn’t changed. Bobby Petrino and company won’t pull in many five-stars or top-50 prospects, but they should still be able to make their living snagging four-star prospects away from other second-level power programs.
Steve Addazio was on the hot seat heading into the season and then promptly finished third in what is considered one of the toughest divisions in college football. Wins over Louisville and Florida State were unexpected this season and Boston College has a chance to finish with the same record they did last year with a young roster.
The Blue Devils showed some improvement over last year but still aren't a very hot team. Until Duke and head coach David Cutcliffe show they can get over the hump, the Blue Devils are still going to be looking up at the Tar Heels and N.C. State in football popularity in North Carolina. Their recruiting success so far in the 2018 class has been lacking, but they have more spots to fill as we head towards Signing Day.
Georgia Tech is, well, Georgia Tech. Because of the academic requirements and the offense, the Yellow Jackets are forced to recruit differently. Head coach Paul Johnson has been in place for a decade and he’s had his share of highs and lows as the program’s leader. This year’s 5-6 season comes on the heels of a nine-win year, which comes after a three-win campaign. Point is, inconsistency is becoming the norm here. For better or worse, nothing that has taken place in the last year will cause the recruits that Tech targets to view the school differently.
Overall it was a rough season for Pittsburgh but the Panthers showed improvement as the season went on. Beating Miami in the fashion that they did with a freshman quarterback caught everybody's eye. That and the slow start to the season balance each other out and now Pat Narduzzi and his staff need to finish out this recruiting class on a strong note.
With big wins over N.C. State and Louisville, the Demon Deacons could end up with a better record than they had last season, even when they lost a lot of coaches. The fertile recruiting grounds of North Carolina have been good to Wake Forest and they could capitalize with a couple scholarships still available. However, Wake Forest is still Wake Forest. They end up with a lot of players that are under-recruited and will develop them into solid players.
This is the third year in a row Syracuse has finish 4-8. It’s hard to be much steadier than that. Dino Babers' squad showed some more life this year by beating Clemson, but their stock remains steady on the recruiting trail. The Orange will continue to find players that fit their scheme and keep building their program, but landing highly rated recruits still looks like a challenge for them.
Florida State may well thrive under Willie Taggart. Thing is, there’s no way to know that and everything, at least for now, is in disarray. The Seminoles saw Jimbo Fisher, who won a national title and three ACC titles at the school, walk away during a 6-6 season that disappointed everyone associated with the program. What’s happened since, is also discouraging. A recruiting class that wasn’t particularly impressive to begin with is losing commits by the day. Taggart is a tremendous recruiter and will likely get things straightened out, as FSU has the resources and the geographic location needed to bounce back. Still, things are a mess as they relate to the 2018 class. The reemergence of Miami is also less than ideal for FSU.
Things couldn't have gone much worse for North Carolina this season. Countless injuries and inconsistent play have slowed their recruiting momentum considerably. Losses to in-state rivals Duke and N.C. State as well as losses to Virginia and Virginia Tech definitely hurt their efforts recruiting local talent. The good news is North Carolina is a fairly young team with some talent coming back. The bad news is that this could be a rough finish to the 2018 recruiting cycle.