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Three-Point Stance: ACC snapshot, Clemson-Miami, recruiting observations

National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with a breakdown of ACC recruiting so far, a look at the talent discrepancy between Clemson and Miami and some random recruiting observations.


FACT OR FICTION: Shambre Jackson is a lock for Florida State

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

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

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series




James Williams
James Williams (

Let's continue my look at the state of recruiting in each of the Power Five conferences with the ACC - and, at least for this season, we include Notre Dame here.

Dominant Team: Clemson — There is no question about it as Dabo Swinney and his staff are recruiting like two-time national champions. When it comes to quality, you’d have to put Clemson at the top in the country.

Biggest Recruiting Get: DB James Williams, Miami — Williams was supposed to be a lock for Georgia, but the Hurricanes did a tremendous job keeping him in South Florida and those efforts continue to pay dividends.

Biggest Recruiting Get II: OT Blake Fisher, Notre Dame — Notre Dame gets in the action here with a huge keep in the five-star offensive tackle from Indiana. This continues the excellent recruiting tradition along the OL for the Irish.

Biggest recruiting Loss: WR Jacorey Brooks, Alabama — Brooks is yet another top Florida wide receiver who got away from Miami and Florida State in the ACC to go play at Alabama. Sound familiar? Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy are all millionaires because of a similar decision.

On The Come Up: North Carolina — The momentum continues to increase for Mack Brown and his staff as they are winning huge recruiting battles against teams like Clemson and Alabama and closing on players it looked like they had lost like OL Diego Pounds.

Slowing Down: Virginia Tech — The Hokies have more than 20 commitments in this class and an average star rating well below three. Not one top-15 in-state prospect has chosen the Hokies in 2021.

Steady Eddie: Miami — Miami is No. 11 in the country and seem to be on the rise, right? Last year the Hurricanes finished No. 13 and in 2018 they were No. 6. The difference this year is that more prospects are staying home but they’ve always recruited at a high level.

As Expected: Notre Dame Brian Kelly said he wanted to bring top-five classes to South Bend, but with academic restrictions that’s not going to happen very often. Notre Dame is No. 10 and that’s around where you’d expect them to be.

Must Keep: OT Tristan Leigh — He has family ties to Virginia and Clemson was high on his list early but it looks like he could be headed to either the SEC, Big 12 or Big Ten.

Out of State Grab: LB Barrett Carter, Clemson — Clemson continues to hit Georgia hard and land elite players and Carter is next in line. The state has been very good to them led by a guy named Trevor Lawrence.

Out of State Grab II: WR Lorenzo Styles Jr., Notre Dame — Styles doesn’t play far from Indiana as an Ohio native, but his skill set was coveted by everyone and his younger brother, Sonny Styles, is one of the best in the class of 2023.

In State Keep: DT Leonard Taylor, Miami — Taylor was considered a lean to Florida at one time so he was always going to stay in-state it seems, but Miami pulled this one out after the Williams commitment.

In State Keep II: LB Branden Jennings, Florida State — The Seminoles need some good news right? Landing Jennings has been one of the few highlights of the Seminoles' recruiting efforts so far.

New Coach Crootin’: Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley is the guy here and not Mike Norvell, which is strange. It won’t last but BC is just behind Florida State in recruiting in the ACC and the jump has been noticeable for the Eagles under Hafley.

Hot Seat Recruiting: Dave DoerenNC State is getting beaten badly in-state by North Carolina and that’s not a good sign for Doeren, who is off to a solid 2-1 start on the field but under scrutiny.


Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence (AP Images)

Clemson is a 14-point favorite over Miami in a huge ACC matchup this weekend that will have playoff and recruiting repercussions. Many feel the talent gap between the Tigers and Canes is wide but, guess what, there isn’t a huge difference.

QUARTERBACK - On paper this is a clear advantage for Clemson with Trevor Lawrence being a generational talent at quarterback and D’Eriq King starting off at Group of Five Houston before transferring to Miami. But while I give the edge to Clemson here, King is dynamic and makes things difficult on defenses with his ability to run. But can King pass him team back if they fall behind? That’s the question.

Edge: Clemson

RUNNING BACK - Travis Etienne was ranked as a three-star coming out of high school (our bad) but he has emerged as the best running back in college football. He’s backed up by Lyn J-Dixon who was a four-star and is no slouch himself. That's a great 1-2 punch for the Tigers.

Miami is impressive as well with Cam’Ron Harris lighting things up as a former Rivals100 player and the freshmen duo of Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney who were both four-stars. This is closer than many would think but Etienne still gives Clemson a slight edge.

Edge: Clemson

WIDE RECEIVER - Even without Justyn Ross, a former five-star, Clemson is absolutely loaded at wide receiver led by Amari Rodgers and Frank Ladson as well as former five-star Joseph Ngata and a slew of others.

Miami boasts speedster Mike Harley and former five-star Mark Pope, but the Hurricanes lack the same depth as Clemson in the talent department.

Edge: Clemson

TIGHT END - This is where Miami shines with Brevin Jordan leading all Miami players in targets, catches and everything else. Braden Galloway is solid but he’s not the weapon that Jordan is.

Edge: Miami

OFFENSIVE LINE — On paper, based on recruiting rankings, this is closer than you’d think with Clemson starting a former two-star at center in Cade Stewart but also a former five-star tackle in Jackson Carman.

Miami boasts some former big-time recruits in John Campbell and DJ Scaife and the line has been very good this year after being a weak spot for years. Talent is even here but Clemson has the more experienced group.

Edge: Clemson

DEFENSIVE LINE - This is very interesting from a recruiting standpoint and from a talent perspective because, on paper, it’s not even close. Clemson has four-star Tyler Davis and former five-stars K.J. Henry, Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee in the rotation.

Miami has a rejuvenated Jaelan Phillips who is a former five-star, and Nesta Silvera. But the best player on either defensive line could be Temple transfer Quincy Roche who was a two-star out of high school. From a rankings perspective this isn’t close, but from a talent perspective this is a slight edge for Clemson.

Edge: Clemson

LINEBACKER — This is pretty even when it comes to talent and recruiting stars although Clemson does have a five-star in Trenton Simpson waiting in the wings. For two elite football programs there are plenty of three-stars in this mix like Bradley Jennings and Zach McCloud for Miami and Baylon Spector and James Skalski for Clemson. Clemson has the edge on paper, but I like the Miami linebackers a little better.

Edge: Miami

DEFENSIVE BACK — Some playmakers are emerging like Al Blades for Miami and Andew Booth for Clemson who were highly-touted but former Rivals100 safety Bubba Bolden gives Miami the edge.

Edge: Miami


Tommy Brockermeyer
Tommy Brockermeyer (Sam Spiegelman)

And finally here are a few observations on the recruiting front that might be surprising compared to where we were months ago.

... Alabama is No. 1 — Why is this any sort of surprise? If you remember back in the spring, the Tide had more decommitments than commits and there was a bit of panic. But we all knew not to worry and the Crimson Tide are setting the pace right now.

... Had I told you back in April that Georgia would be fifth in the SEC recruiting rankings, not in the country, would you have believed me? Yes, it’s a small class so far and the quality is excellent, but there have been some swings and misses like James Williams and Barrett Carter.

... What if I told you back in the spring that Clemson wouldn’t have a five-star commit in the 2021 recruiting class come October? Remember, Korey Foreman was committed at the time.

... And what if I told you that it’s very likely that Oklahoma — not Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State or LSU — would be set up to finish with the most five-stars in the 2021 class? The Sooners are tied with Ohio State for the most five-stars in the class (2 - Mario Williams and Caleb Williams) and are in on as many as the Buckeyes are. LSU will push as well, but this would certainly be a surprise.

... Would you be surprised if I told you in the spring that Texas would lose the legacy brothers Tommy and James Brockermeyer, would lose Austin safety Andrew Mukuba and wouldn’t be a factor very much at all for the three remaining in-state five-stars come October? I would have been.

... Finally, what if I told you that the more top-10 prospects in the state of Michigan would be heading to Penn State and not the Wolverines, and that more top-10 prospects in the state of Pennsylvania would be committed to Pitt over the Nittany Lions by October?