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ACC Spotlight: How teams are addressing recruiting needs

Marcus Tate
Marcus Tate (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The recruiting cycle for the class of 2021 continues to churn on, despite in-person recruiting being banned for more than six months. Within the ACC, some programs have fared better than others when it comes to meeting their needs.

Here is a look at all 14 programs (plus Notre Dame) and how well each team has addressed its most pressing positional needs.

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RELATED: How each Big Ten team is addressing biggest recruiting need | SEC

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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BOSTON COLLEGE 

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive back

Progress: Jeff Hafley and his staff had a lot of work to do when they arrived in Chestnut Hill, but they have made tremendous progress in their short time running the Boston College program. They had needs all over the defensive side of the ball but none were more pressing than at defensive back.

The coaching staff responded in a big way by landing six defensive backs so far in this class, led by four-star Clinton Burton, who flipped from Florida to Boston College. Athlete Jamareeh Jones could end up being a seventh defensive back for this class because he could play on either side of the ball. A lot of credit has to go to defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim for how he’s hit the recruiting trail to get some of these important recruits.

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CLEMSON 

Biggest recruiting need: Offensive tackle

Progress: Clemson has recruited almost every position at an elite level under Dabo Swinney, except offensive line. Now, the Tigers need more options and depth at offensive tackle. Walker Parks was an excellent addition in last year’s class, but this year the Tigers have whiffed on a couple top targets. They hold a commitment from Rivals250 tackle Marcus Tate, but missed on five-stars Amarius Mims and Tommy Brockermeyer as well as Rivals100 tackle Nolan Rucci.

Clemson worked hard to get into the race for five-star Tristan Leigh, but his recruitment is trending toward Oklahoma. As a whole, Clemson’s 2021 offensive line recruiting class of Tate, Rivals250 center Ryan Linthicum and three-star Dietrick Pennington is pretty good, but the Tigers would love to add another tackle to this group.

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DUKE 

Biggest recruiting need: Running back

Progress: Duke prioritized a few positions in this recruiting class, but running back is the most pressing need. Next year there will likely only be one or two sophomore backs on the roster and leading rusher Deon Jackson will be gone. Mataeo Durant will likely take over the starting running back job, but depth at the position will be a concern. Duke will lose at least two more running backs to graduation and the Blue Devils only have one (Trent Davis) in this recruiting class so far.

The Blue Devils could be in the market for at least one more running back for this recruiting class. David Cutcliffe and his staff have done a nice job loading up on defensive backs and are bringing in a few quality offensive linemen to satisfy their two other major needs in this recruiting class.

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FLORIDA STATE 

Joshua Farmer
Joshua Farmer (Rivals.com)

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive line

Progress: The Seminoles have been trying to dig themselves out of a recruiting hole for the last few years and they needed to add some big-time players on the defensive line this year. Shambre Jackson is the highest-rated defensive line commit and the second highest-rated player in this Florida State class. Associate head coach Odell Haggins has also done a good job getting commitments from three-stars Joshua Farmer and Byron Turner, but there is still work to be done to add additional playmakers.

Offensive line was also a priority for this recruiting class, and the Florida State staff has addressed it with commitments from three three-star prospects. Additions on the defensive and offensive line could be coming before the end of this recruiting cycle.

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GEORGIA TECH 

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive tackle

Progress: The Yellow Jackets have recruited pretty well under head coach Geoff Collins but they need to pick it up when recruiting defensive tackles. They didn’t sign any in the 2020 recruiting cycle and don’t have any yet this year. Last year, Georgia Tech did sign six defensive linemen, but they were all defensive ends. This year, the Yellow Jackets have three defensive commitments but they are also all defensive ends. Expect Collins and his staff to try to add a couple defensive tackles to this top 30 class before the end of this recruiting cycle.

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LOUISVILLE 

Biggest recruiting need: Safety

Progress: Scott Satterfield and his staff have outperformed expectations so far in their time at Louisville and they’ve turned that into recruiting success. Currently, the Cardinals have a top 20 recruiting class and they’ve addressed their biggest need in the 2021 recruiting cycle.

The Cardinals needed to add safeties to their roster and they have commitments from some promising prospects, starting with four-star Jaraye Williams from Washington. Louisville also reeled in a commitment from Benjamin Perry, TJ Quinn and former Georgia pledge Bralyn Oliver, all three-stars.

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MIAMI 

Biggest recruiting need: Wide receiver

Progress: The Hurricanes are recruiting at an impressive clip this year and it looks like they’ve upgraded at a number of positions. Miami wanted to bring in more playmakers at wide receiver, and they’ve done so with Rivals250 prospects Romello Brinson, Jacolby George, four-star Brashard Smith and three-star Malik Curtis.

Even though the Canes missed out on some of the best receivers in Florida, this group is still very talented and should help make the receiving corps one of the best positions Miami fields next year.

Manny Diaz and his staff also wanted to upgrade the defensive line, and they’ve done so in this class with commitments from five defensive line prospects, headlined by Rivals100 defensive tackle Leonard Taylor.

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NC STATE 

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive line and defensive backs

Progress: It has been tough sledding on the recruiting trail for the Wolfpack this year. They’ve missed on some of the top targets and players they probably would have landed in years past. NC State did land commitments from coveted defensive linemen Travali Price and Zyun Reeves. The two in-state defensive linemen seriously considered heading out of state but ended up going with Dave Doeren’s squad. NC State would love to add one or two more defensive linemen in this class, but the list of targets is slim.

Defensive back was also an area the Wolfpack wanted to address in this recruiting cycle and they hold commitments from two cornerbacks and two safeties.

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NORTH CAROLINA

Biggest recruiting need: Linebacker and defensive end

Progress: The Tar Heels have recruited very well this year and addressed their two top priorities in impressive fashion. At linebacker, North Carolina holds commitments from Rivals100 in-state prospect Raneiria Dillworth, Rivals250 in-state prospect Power Echols, four-star in-state prospect Gabe Stephens and former Pittsburgh commit Trevion Stevenson.

North Carolina only has two defensive end commitments right now but they are both highly rated. Rivals100 in-state prospect Keeshawn Silver has been one of North Carolina’s best recruiters and he is joined in this class by Rivals250 in-state defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie.

NOTRE DAME 

Tyler Buchner
Tyler Buchner (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Biggest recruiting need: Quarterback

Progress: Since Brian Kelly arrived at Notre Dame in December of 2009, Notre Dame has not experienced the level of success at the quarterback position that the fanbase expects. Kelly and his staff have recruited the position very well, pulling commitments from six Rivals250 prospects and a couple more four-stars, but very few of them have turned into reliable starters and a good chunk of them have ended up transferring.

Tyler Buchner will be Kelly’s fourth Rivals100 quarterback when he signs with the Fighting Irish. So, theoretically, Notre Dame has addressed its need for an elite quarterback. We’ll find out down the road if this proves correct.

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PITTSBURGH 

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive back

Progress: Pittsburgh’s needs in the 2021 recruiting class were pretty even across the board, but the Panthers are losing the most at defensive back with Paris Ford and a couple others leaving after this season. The Panthers are bringing in four defensive backs in this recruiting class, led by Khalil Anderson. The coaching staff has high hopes for the cornerback out of Atlanta, but he’ll have support from fellow 2021 recruits Noah Biglow, Javon Mcintyre and Stephon Hall.

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SYRACUSE 

Biggest recruiting need: Offensive line and quarterback

Progress: Syracuse could use help at a variety of positions, but the Orange prioritized offensive line and quarterback in this recruiting cycle. Dino Babers and his staff found five offensive linemen they plan on signing this year, with all five hailing from either Minnesota, Illinois or Hawaii. Wes Hoeh and Enrique Cruz, the duo from Illinois, and Kalan Ellis from Hawaii figure to be the best of the group.

The Orange were dealt a tough hand when starting QB Tommy DeVito went down with a season-ending injury, but it didn’t hurt their recruiting efforts with future Syracuse signal caller Justin Lamson.

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VIRGINIA 

Biggest recruiting need: Offensive line

Progress: Bronco Mendenhall and his staff have been recruiting pretty well on the offensive line over the last couple years, but it was still a position of need in this recruiting class. Four-star Noah Josey leads a solid group of five offensive linemen in this Cavalier recruiting class. High three-star offensive tackle Logan Taylor is another prospect the coaching staff is really excited about. Three-stars Hugh Laughlin, Ty Furnish and Charlie Patterson round out this group.

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VIRGINIA TECH 

Biggest recruiting need: Defensive line

Progress: While Virginia Tech is trying to find consistency on the field, they’re also trying to find defensive linemen off it. The Hokies need more defensive linemen in this recruiting class, but they’ve only picked up commitments from two so far. Mattheus Carroll from Maryland committed to Virginia Tech in May, choosing the Hokies over Duke and Maryland. He has a very high ceiling and could turn out to be a special player if he develops the way the Hokies expect. Pass-rushing specialist Cole Nelson is the other defensive end that is committed. Look for the Hokies to try to add at least one more defensive lineman before the end of this recruiting cycle.

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WAKE FOREST 

Biggest recruiting need: Safety

Progress: The Demon Deacons have addressed their need for safeties in this recruiting class by landing three of them. Wake Forest played a walk-on at safety last week and, luckily for them, he came up with three interceptions. Next year they’ll be deeper at the safety position with three-stars Quincy Bryant and Evan Slocum in this recruiting class. The Wake Forest coaching staff views Joshua Sosanya as a safety as well, but he is currently listed as a linebacker.

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