ACC: Winners and losers from the 2020 recruiting cycle
With the second Signing Day now complete, it’s time to take stock of how each individual Power Five Conference fared in the 2020 class. In the ACC, it wasn’t just the rich that got richer. A few teams pulled off impressive recruiting class while others fell short of expectations.
The Tigers continued their outstanding recruiting run in the 2020 cycle by landing three of the top five prospects in the nation, including No. 1 overall prospect Bryan Bresee. That’s a feat accomplished only once before in the history of Rivals.com (Florida State also did it in the 2017 class). Clemson finished with the top recruiting class in the ACC and No. 2 in the nation with the third highest average star rating per signee.
Clemson signed the No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 2 quarterback, No. 1 defensive end, No. 1 outside linebacker and No. 2 running back. All of them were five-stars, tied for the most in the nation. On top of that, the Tigers signed five four-star offensive linemen and just one three-star at the position, making it their best class of offensive linemen ever. There are other impressive areas of this recruiting class, but it’s very clear that Clemson was a major winner on the recruiting trail this year.
All things considered, Miami has to be thrilled with its 2020 recruiting haul. Following up a 6-7 season that included a loss to FIU and a shutout at the hands of Louisiana Tech doesn’t usually inspire the confidence needed to land the county’s No. 12 recruiting class. Alas, that’s exactly what took place in Coral Gables this cycle. The Hurricanes got an extra boost on signing day, when they pulled off the surprise of the afternoon by stealing Rivals100 safety Avantae Williams away from Florida.
Finishing with the No. 16 recruiting in the nation is a major win for Mack Brown and his staff as they try to build momentum after beating expectations last season. Out of the 10 defensive players they signed, only three were rated less than four-stars. Rivals100 defensive ends Desmond Evans and Kedrick Bingley-Jones headline the defensive line class, followed by Rivals250 defensive tackle Cylde Pinder, four-star Myles Murphy and three-star Aaron Beatty and Kaimon Rucker.
Defensive line is certainly the strongest position group in this recruiting class, but don’t be surprised when you hear a lot about receiver Joshua Downs. He is the highest-ranked member of North Carolina’s 2020 recruiting class and he should be able to contribute a lot this coming season. Standout quarterback Sam Howell will appreciate all the new weapons in this class.
Confidence in Geoff Collins’ Georgia Tech rebrand clearly remains high. Everyone expected some bumps and bruises this season and there were plenty of those. That said, there was a bright spot or two mixed in, and recruits are clearly encouraged by the latter. The Yellow Jackets landed a top-25 class despite a 3-9 record, welcoming in four four-star prospects,. The biggest victory down the stretch was hanging on to running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who listened to overtures from a number of other programs.
This is a recruiting cycle Virginia Tech fans would like to forget. This recruiting class for the Hokies, that finished No. 82, makes them the biggest losers in the ACC and one of the biggest losers in the nation. To put this in perspective, in the history of Rivals.com, Virginia Tech has never finished worse than No. 45 in the final team rankings.
There are a couple bright spots in this class of 15 signees. The defensive line features a few solid prospects, headlined by four-star defensive end Alec Bryant and three-star defensive end Robert Wooten. Both Bryant and Wooten are from Texas, a state Virginia Tech rarely pulls from. The Hokies also have some quality depth coming in at running back with three-stars Jalen Hampton and Jordan Brunson.
Louisville looks to have an upward trajectory under head coach Scott Satterfield. Last year’s 8-5 finish was certainly a positive development. The recruiting will have to get better if Satterfield and company hope to take the next step, however. That starts inside the state, where Kentucky signed five of the top-10 prospects this cycle, while Louisville came away with none. Things aren't dire by any stretch, but plenty of room for improvement exists.
The Demon Deacons haven’t been a recruiting juggernaut, but they didn’t capitalize on some positive momentum coming off of last season's 8-5 record. Wake Forest didn’t sign a four-star prospect and head a hard time attracting big-time playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. On top of all that, Wake Forest lost quarterback Jamie Newman via transfer to Georgia.