NSD 2019 Wrap-Up: ACC superlatives
National Signing Day is in the rear-view mirror, but it’s worthwhile to take one more look at which prospects could be special in the coming years. We move to the ACC.
HIGHEST CEILING - Savion Jackson, NC State
Overview: Coming out of high school, Bradley Chubb was a 6-foot-3, 220-pound three-star prospect who went on to do phenomenal things at NC State. Savion Jackson finished as a three-star recruit listed at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. Maybe Jackson does not have all the special physical ability Chubb brought to Raleigh, but he was a four-star for most of the cycle and he does have some serious skills on the defensive line. If he can max those out at NC State then he could be a special defensive lineman.
Farrell’s take: Jackson isn’t the biggest or longest defensive end and he struggled at Under Armour with bigger linemen, but NC State coaches up their defensive linemen and he has a lot of athleticism. We could be looking at a different guy in a couple of years and someone who emerges as a star as Chubb did.
MR. VERSATILITY - Tayvion Robinson, Virginia Tech
Overview: Tayvion Robinson is an interesting story because he played quarterback for his high school team, but Virginia Tech likes him at wide receiver and he could be dynamic in the slot. The four-star athlete has also played cornerback and linebacker, so moving to defensive back wouldn’t be out of the question in a pinch. Robinson has proven the ability to play all over the field and he could be one of the more versatile recruits in the ACC next year.
Farrell’s take: Virginia Tech takes advantage of athletic players and you can bet they will have Robinson in the right position before too long. He can play so many positions, it will be interesting how he’s used or even if he sees time on both sides of the ball.
SPEED DEMON - Lee Kpogba, Syracuse
Overview: This award usually goes to a running back or a wide receiver, but Lee Kpogba showed off his speed, versatility and athleticism at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas this summer and it really stuck out through his senior season. The Syracuse signee stuck right with some of the fastest running backs out of the backfield at the Five-Star Challenge - a nearly impossible task for linebackers with no help over the top - and he did a great job knocking away passes. He could be an immediate help in Syracuse’s defense.
Farrell’s take: Kpogba is a quick twitch kid who is very good in coverage and should be all over the field for Syracuse. There isn’t a true blazer at running back or wide receiver headed to the ACC this year, at least not a player we liked better than Kpogba, and he will have a great career.
CANNON ARM - Sam Howell, North Carolina
Overview: There was a reason why North Carolina coach Mack Brown made Sam Howell, who was then committed to Florida State, a top priority once he landed the job in Chapel Hill. The four-star quarterback could be the centerpiece of Brown’s first recruiting class because he can sling it all over the field and it was a major coup for the Tar Heels to steal Howell from the Seminoles so late. He threw 3,240 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight picks in his senior season and had good moments at the All-American Bowl as well.
Farrell’s take: Howell can make all the throws and is the key to this class for UNC in a big way. Much of the success for UNC on offense will hinge on how Howell develops and how quickly but he certainly has the talent to succeed and the arm.
MR. SANDMAN - Nolan Grouix, Wake Forest
Overview: It is rare that a four-star could be considered a sleeper and especially in Wake Forest’s recruiting class, but Nolan Groulx might very well be one of the top receivers in this class who plummeted in the final round of rankings after not having a huge performance at the All-American Bowl. Groulx was unstoppable at the Five-Star Challenge but faded away at the all-star event and moved down 154 spots. Still, Groulx could be the main target in Wake’s offense for years to come and Michael Campanaro comparisons are not outlandish.
Farrell’s take: Groulx will have a very good career at Wake Forest and could break some records, but he won’t get a ton of national notice because he’ll be at Wake which makes him perfect for this category. He’s one of the best route runners in this class and has great hands.
FUTURE NO. 1 PICK - Tyler Davis, Clemson
Overview: Clemson is sending five defensive linemen to the NFL Combine and Tyler Davis could be one of the next star players for the Tigers on that side of the football. The four-star has power, toughness and a great motor, plus with so many departures to the pros, Davis should have an opportunity to get early playing time for the Tigers. With Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and others leading the way before the NFL Draft, which pro teams won’t be looking for the next elite defensive lineman at Clemson in the coming years?
Farrell’s take: Clemson develops defensive linemen as well as anyone in the country and Davis has a ton of upside. Athletic big men are all the rage at the NFL level and Davis has a chance to be an early contributor and make a big splash, especially with players like Xavier Thomas on the line with him.
INSTANT IMPACT - Christian Williams, Miami
Overview: The four-star defensive back was committed to Alabama for months but Miami and LSU were really battling it out for Christian Williams and he picked the Hurricanes on signing day. With the depth issues at Miami, the Daphne, Ala., standout could emerge as a player that sees early playing time and with his position versatility, moving from corner to safety and back could be something the Miami coaching staff considers. Corner could be his first position and Williams has all the ability in the world, so making an impact early on would not be surprising.
Farrell’s take: Williams will probably impact as a nickel back and see time that way until he pushes for a starting job. Miami develops defensive backs very well and he should be well coached. Williams is arguably the most important commitment in this class because he chose Miami at a time when few prospects weren’t jumping on board.
FITS LIKE A GLOVE - Patrick Garwo, Boston College
Overview: Patrick Garwo is 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, he bench presses 365 pounds and deadlifts 555 pounds. He is a big block of muscle and a “dude” as Boston College coach Steve Addazio will probably call him. This is exactly the kind of running back the Eagles love to utilize in the backfield and even though A.J. Dillon comparisons might be a stretch because of his unreal output in Chestnut Hill, Garwo has special abilities and there’s no doubt he has the power and toughness to run well behind the Boston College offensive line.
Farrell’s take: Garwo will learn under Dillon at first and be the workhorse after his first year. He’s perfect for the Boston College offense because of his vision and ability to gain yards after contact. He’s a one-cut runner and very decisive and in the BC offense that is rewarded with many long runs.
BOOM OR BUST - Jowon Briggs, Virginia
Overview: Jowon Briggs is the highest-rated Virginia signee since five-stars Andrew Brown and Quin Blanding signed with the Cavaliers in the 2014 recruiting class. That’s a long time, so the expectation for Briggs is super high and he has the ability to be special in Charlottesville. The four-star is rated as the fourth-best defensive tackle in the 2019 class with two Alabama signees and a Michigan signee ahead of him. Virginia could use Briggs’ high-level talent right away so all eyes will be on him.
Farrell’s take: Briggs is a monster on the field but has many interests so it will be interesting to see if his full focus remains on football and if he becomes as good as he can be. I love his upside and think he will be a great player for Virginia but there is that bust factor there as well.
EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES - Florida State defensive backs
Overview: The Seminoles did not put together its typical outstanding class but there should be no complaints when it comes to Florida State’s defensive backs haul - even with four-star standout Nick Cross choosing Maryland. Five-star cornerback Akeem Dent leads the way but four-star Brendan Gant is not far away plus four-stars Travis Jay and Jarvis Brownlee are really nice additions. Florida State also signed three-star Renardo Green, who had more than a dozen offers.
Farrell’s take: Willie Taggart is under fire for his recruiting and on field abilities so far, but he landed a very good defensive back class even with Cross choosing the Terps. This should continue the tradition of excellent defensive back play in Tallahassee and help them get back on the road to winning seasons.
HIGHLIGHT MAN - Joe Ngata, Clemson
Overview: In his senior season, Ngata finished with 66 catches for 1,269 yards and 22 touchdowns. He averaged nearly 20 yards per catch, many of those going up and over cornerbacks or taking short passes and making people miss. Everybody knew the ball was coming Ngata’s way and not many people could stop it. The five-star had a quiet week at the All-American Bowl, but Ngata looks and plays like Tee Higgins or Justyn Ross and he has star potential at Clemson.
Farrell’s take: Will he be the next one? Clemson has produced so many wide receivers in recent years that there’s no reason to think they won’t continue. Ngata has all the talent in the world and should be a dominant force in the ACC especially learning under Higgins and Ross.