Recruiting Trends: Who is up, down and holding steady in ACC?
Recruiting trends are always interesting to follow, especially for programs that don’t end up getting as much attention as the bluebloods. This week, we will look at each Power Five conference and discover some teams trending up, down and remaining remarkably consistent. We continue today with the ACC.
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report
Coach Dave Doeren has quietly put together a very good run in Raleigh since his hiring in 2012. Producing five consecutive winning seasons, going 18-8 in the last two seasons and winning three bowl games since 2014, NC State has used all of this momentum to improve its recruiting success. After a somewhat disappointing No. 53 class in 2017, the Wolfpack have finished at No. 34 and then No. 28 over the last two years. Another nine-win season in Raleigh could lead to even bigger things for the Wolfpack in 2019 and beyond.
Farrell’s take: I like the way NC State has recruited, especially when it comes to in-state players, and now Doeren and company will need to step it up even more with Mack Brown at UNC and recruiting well. NC State has also done a good job spot recruiting states like Florida, New Jersey, Virginia and Georgia. The 2020 cycle is off to a very solid start as well, with a top 20 recruiting class.
Recent class rankings: No. 74, No. 61, No. 60
The Wake Forest program may not get an overabundance of national attention, but the Demon Deacons have established a winning culture under coach Dave Clawson. After a rough first two seasons in Winston-Salem, Clawson and the Demon Deacons have gone 22-14 since 2016 and have won three consecutive bowl games. And while the recruiting improvement has not been monumental, going from 74th, to 61st, and most recently 60th, the winning on the field should help this positive pattern to continue.
Farrell’s take: Wake doesn’t get many four-stars and it has disadvantages when it comes to academic standards, facilities and other areas, but the Demon Deacons have done a good job evaluating talent and recruiting many different areas. The improvements haven’t been huge when it comes to the team rankings, but they are getting some high-caliber impact guys such as Nolan Groulx and Shamar McCollum. The landscape in North Carolina is more competitive than ever, so they will continue to work other areas as well.
Recent class rankings: No. 58, No. 69, No. 33
The hiring of Bronco Mendenhall in December of 2015 came as somewhat of a surprise to many. And while his coaching career at Virginia did not start off well, with a 2-10 season, everything seems to be on an upswing now after the Cavaliers have gone 14-12 in their last two seasons and are coming off a victory in the Belk Bowl. This success has caught the attention of recruits, which helped Virginia go from the No. 69 class in 2018 to the No. 33 class in 2019. Mendenhall long ago proved himself to be a very good coach at BYU, but now he has the chance to also prove himself further in the recruiting world, as he will surely go toe-to-toe with some ACC rivals for top-level recruits.
Farrell’s take: At first, the staff wasn’t great working the state of Virginia but it has improved greatly in that area while also recruiting many areas. The Cavaliers need to keep more kids in state, but I am impressed with their efforts in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, and also the pull they have here and there in Texas. The 2020 cycle is off to a slow start when it comes to the number of commitments, but they already have two big-time four-stars.
Recent recruiting classes: No. 11, No. 6, No. 36
While there is a good chance Miami will rebound nicely with the class of 2020, the drop from No. 6 to No. 36 was not what the program needed. The sudden departure of Coach Mark Richt did not help the situation, but the Class of 2019 was not trending in a good direction before his decision. Now it is up to coach Manny Diaz to bring the elite talent in Dade and Broward counties back to Coral Gables. There is plenty of it in the area, and improvement on the field in 2019 would go a long way to keeping some of these players home.
Farrell’s take: I think Diaz will get Miami back on track, and 2020 has been excellent so far as the Hurricanes build a potential top 5 class. But the drop-off last year was a tough one and there have been so many de-commitments that the momentum of 2018 stopped for a bit. Everyone is coming into Florida for prospects these days, so Miami needs to hold on to the guys they have while adding to 2020. The 2018 class will have a huge impact on the future, however, and there is a ton of talent there.
Recent class rankings: No. 28, No. 22, No. 25
Replacing coaching legend Frank Beamer could have caused turmoil in the Virginia Tech program, but since Justin Fuente took over in November of 2015 he has maintained the solid program that was already established. Producing the No. 28, No. 22 and No. 25 classes during the last three years, the Hokies have avoided a letdown that some expected after this coaching change. However, more will be expected on the field in 2019 after a somewhat disappointing 6-7 season that ended with a loss to Cincinnati in the Military Bowl.
Farrell’s take: The Hokies have been steady under Fuente, but there is some concern with the number of transfers and a slow start to 2020. In-state recruiting has to improve, but they are doing a good job in places like North Carolina and the Northeast. Time will tell if the poor season last year takes a toll in 2020.
Recent class rakings: No. 30, No. 23, No. 31
Coach Larry Fedora experienced his fair share of success in Chapel Hill during his tenure, however at the end of the day it was not enough to keep his job. While he maintained a successful level of recruiting during his last two years, finishing No. 30 and No. 23, the output on the field did not live up to standards. Brought in to replace Fedora was coach Mack Brown, which was a hire that caused a mixed bag of responses. However, Brown reeled in the No. 31 class in 2019 and has surprised many with the trajectory he has North Carolina recruiting heading to this point.
Farrell’s take: The 2020 cycle is off to a great start, so if Brown can improve the on-field product, then watch out. Fedora did an OK job recruiting, but NC State beat him out too many times in-state and now that’s not happening under Brown. UNC is on the come-up.