National Signing Day 2011: Power Ranking The ACC Recruiting Classes
From top to bottom, the Atlantic Coast Conference typically doesn't stand too tall when it comes to college football prowess. Only a handful of programs annually can attain the proper exposure under a national spotlight and attract the best high school athletes in the country looking for the next stepping stone in their football careers.
Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech recently have been blessed with the publicity to haul in some good classes, but other programs in the conference are starting to follow suit.
With the conference falling well short of others like the SEC and the Big 12, accuracy in discovering talent to fit their program is paramount.
It's National Signing Day! Here is a breakdown of the 2011 ACC recruiting classes.
To track all the top recruits, click here.
Duke (20 Commitments)
Duke being atop any list in basketball is quite ordinary, but sitting at the front of this ACC football recruiting class ranking puts them in a familiar position in the sport.
Over the last five season, the Blue Devils have secured just five conference wins during that span. But the football program lives on, and to stay afloat, David Cutcliffe and his staff must continue to recruit.
According to Rivals.com, Duke signed 20 total recruits, 11 of them rated 3-star players. Headlining that class is offensive lineman Cody Robinson, a 6'2", 300 lbs. mauler out of Tennessee. Robinson is one of six offensive line recruits heading up to Durham this summer.
A pair of defensive backs, Jared Boyd and Tim Burton, were clocked to have sub-4.5 speed, but it is doubtful that they will be enough to change the football culture at Duke.
As it is in most conferences, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
North Carolina State (20 Commitments)
Despite NC State's successful season last year (9-4, 5-3), it seemed to have made little impact on a consensus ranking of their 2011 recruiting class.
The Wolfpack got commitments from 20 recruits around the country, but only one of those was rated a 4-star recruit by Rivals.com, Rodman Noel.
Noel is a daunting 6'3" defensive back who could be a leader very soon. But with quarterback Russell Wilson entering his final season at NC State (unless he chooses a baseball route with the Colorado Rockies), the Wolfpack will need plenty of help.
Tom O'Brien got commits from three athletes, Juston Burris, Hakim Jones and Maurice Morgan, who all come with good size and speed.
NC State will need a repeat of 2010 to see potential improvements in recruiting.
Wake Forest (14 Commitments)
The Demon Deacons' 2011 class is small to say the least, as Jim Grobe enters his 11th season as Wake Forest's head coach.
Grobe and his staff received 14 LOIs today, but none are projected to be immediate game changers. Eleven of their 14 commits are rated as 3-star recruits by Rivals.com, highlighted by Allen Ramsey, the 39th-rated cornerback and Cody Preble, the 55th-ranked offensive tackle.
Ramsey has good athleticism, and at 6'0", 170 lbs., he could be a feature in the Demon Deacons' secondary soon, while Preble has shown good strength and push, but doesn't possess the greatest athleticism, and it could slow his progress.
Wake Forest has consistently hauled in some of the poorer classes in the ACC, and in 2011 the results are no different.
Maryland (20 Commitments)
The Terps followed an abysmal 2-10 (1-7) season in 2009 with a very impressive 9-4 (5-3) mark in 2010, but the recruits simply did not catch on.
With 20 incoming freshmen, Maryland signed 14 3-star recruits and a single 4-star, Nathaniel Clarke (Rivals.com). Clarke, a monstrous 6'5", 310 lbs. offensive tackle out of Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, will be a valuable asset in the future for a team that ranked 75th in total offense in 2010 (up from 107th in 2009).
Meeting those same standards, and exceeding them, will pay dividends with good recruiting classes.
In addition to Clarke, his teammate, Tyrek Cheeseboro, a 6'0", 180 lbs. wide out, will not wow his coaches with spectacular plays, but his good hands and open-field speed could be an asset for the Terps, who are searching for back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in eight years.
Georgia Tech (22 Commitments)
Georgia Tech and its triple-option offense will always be an anomaly in college football. The program's recruiting process likewise undergoes a different type of scrutiny, as the team requires a particular set of athletes with a very particular set of skills.
The Yellow Jackets locked up 22 commitments in 2011, the majority of which were 3-star recruits, 18 to be precise. But with Josh Nesbitt and Anthony Allen graduating from the program, head coach Paul Johnson will need new faces to run his offense.
From an initial glance at his haul, no such talent exists in this year's recruitment.
His best prospect, Jabari Hunt-Days, is a nationally ranked outside linebacker with good speed for his 6'2", 226 lbs. frame.
Vad Lee, a 6'2", 193 lbs. quarterback prospect out of Durham, N.C., could be next in line to take the reigns of the triple-option.
Boston College (23 Commitments)
Boston College brought in what seems to be a top-heavy class in 2011, but trust in Frank Spaziani as he goes into his third year with the Eagles.
For the last three seasons, BC has ran a steady ship, going 9-5, 8-5 and 7-6 over that span. Spaziani was able to reel in 23 commitments this year, including four 4-star players, three of whom play on the defensive side of the ball, where the Eagles flourished last year, ranking 19th in points allowed, but their offense needs help.
With a relatively young squad, one would think a smaller class may ensue, but BC may already be looking at their quarterback of the future in Christian Suntrup, the 17th ranked pro-style signal-caller in the country.
Suntrup throws a nice deep ball with good touch, but with junior Dave Shinskie and sophomore Chase Rettig sitting ahead of him in the depth chart, it may be some time before he gets his chance.
Miami (FL) (16 Commitments)
The "U" is definitely not what it used to be.
The Randy Shannon Era ends with not much to show for it, and the Al Golden Era (former HC Temple) begins. And the Canes' 2011 recruiting class displays a similar amount of change.
Just two recruits stayed with their commitment to Miami, Anthony Chickillo and Phillip Dorsett.
Headlining the recruitment are Chickillo and Jalen Grimble, a couple of defensive end prospects with similar characteristics. Both use speed and power to get up field quickly to disrupt play in the backfield. And at 6'3", 226 lbs. and 6'4" 255 lbs. respectively, there is plenty of weight behind them.
This class will be an interesting unit to follow as Golden looks to brighten up the Hurricanes program.
Virginia Tech (21 Commitments)
The 2011 recruiting class for the Hokies is very balanced from top to bottom. With a total of 21 commitments, the breakdown is four 4-stars, 15 3-stars and three 2-stars, leaving a wealth of talent to develop in a program that has thrived on evaluating the right pieces for the program.
And coming off a spectacular revival of a season that saw the Hokies drop their first two games, including an embarrassing loss to James Madison, Frank Beamer's squad rallied to win 11 straight and earn its third ACC Title in four years.
The loss to Stanford in the Orange Bowl still stings, but a very defensively-heavy recruiting class can heal some wounds.
Atop Virginia Tech's 2011 class are their four 4-star players, Kyshoen Jarrett (DB), Corey Marshall (DE), Kris Harley (DT) and Ronny Vandyke (DB).
Jarrett is set for cornerback, while Vandyke looks to play safety. Both possess good speed, not top-end, but their size, 6'1", 182 lbs., and 6'3", 200 lbs. respectively, should give them the strength to play very well in the ACC.
Virginia (26 Commitments)
Interesting how a dismal 4-8 (1-7) season can look so bright heading into the subsequent year.
Virginia has finished at the bottom of the ACC Coastal for two straight years, but that didn't stop Mike London from setting up an impressive recruiting class despite the lack of success in recent years.
The Cavaliers received two NSD commits, Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell, two athletes who add a great amount of potential and upside in the coming years.
Together with Clifton Richardson (RB), Demetrious Nicholson (No. 5 DB) and Brandon Phelps (No. 19 S), Virginia signed five guys at skill positions with 4.4 speed.
Let these five names settle in the ACC and Virginia could have plenty to talk about in a year or two.
North Carolina (25 Commitments)
North Carolina will undergo a change at quarterback next season as T.J. Yates graduates the program, ushering in a new era in Tar Heel football.
With the incoming 2011 class, Butch Davis has a good selection of quality players to develop in the coming years.
One in particular, possibly the quarterback of the future, is the ninth-ranked dual quarterback Marquise Williams, a 6'3", 218 lbs. prospect out of Charlotte, N.C. Though at times he looks like a slow, lumbering quarterback scrambling about the field, he actually makes good cuts, but could take some refining and some conditioning to polish him into a true playmaker in the ACC.
The Tar Heels did get three NSD commits, including one 4-star player in Delvon Simmons, a talented defensive tackle prospect out of McKeesport, PA. A 6'5", 265 lbs. beast, Simmons figures to be next in line as a dominant North Carolina defensive lineman.
Clemson (29 Commitments)
The Clemson Tigers' staff did some serious work on the recruiting trails over the last year, and the results are obvious in their very impressive 2011 class.
With four NSD commits, including two 5-star caliber recruits in Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony, two ultra-talented linebackers with tremendous upside, the Tigers claimed the eighth ranked recruiting class, according to Rivals.com (10th on ESPN).
On offense, the Tigers picked up LOIs from WR Sammy Watkins and RB Mike Bellamy. Together with Steward and Anthony, these four all were ranked in the top 25 in the nation by rivals.com.
Bellamy has explosive speed that is top end. He will be a game-changer who could bring the Tigers back to an ACC Atlantic Division Title very soon.
The Clemson 2011 recruiting class is big, deep and littered with fantastic athletes. Props to Dabo Swinney and his staff.
Florida State (28 Commitments)
Florida State finished its 2011 recruiting class with a bang, securing four more recruits in the last five days.
ESPN has the Seminoles' class ranked tops in the country while Rivals.com puts them third. But whatever the source, Jimbo Fisher no doubt has put together an impressive haul.
Headlined by Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr., these two playmakers should become household names in the college football sphere in less than a year.
Williams is a huge safety prospect, measuring in at 6'2", 210 lbs., but moves with a great deal of athleticism and purpose, and he plays with pride and confidence.
Wilder Jr. has very similar measurables as Williams, sizing up at 6'2", 219 lbs. His long strides and big build allow him to move with deceptive pace, but behind his frame, he delivers good power.
Other notables include NSD commit DT Timmy Jernigan, TE Nick O'Leary (both rank in the top 35 nationally) and DE Cornellius Carradine (a JUCO transfer).
The Seminoles have put together a strong group of players after good pickups in 2010 and 2009 (10th and seventh respectively on Rivals.com).