How did the class of 2011 shake-out in the ACC?
When Florida State officially handed the reins to Jimbo Fisher, it expected to inject some energy and passion into its program. But after a trip to the ACC Championship game in his first season, Fisher has exceeded all expectations on the recruiting trail. Clemson was the Clemson we have all grown to know and love. The Tigers surged late in the recruiting process and had one of the best National Signing Days in the nation. North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami all finished in the top half of the ACC as usual.
But the real story in the ACC this recruiting session was in Charlottesville, Va. Mike London vowed to refocus the Cavs efforts in-state on Commonwealth prospects and refocus he did. Of the top eight players in the state of Virginia, the Wahoos landed five including the No. 2 player in the state. The rival Hokies did not land any of the top eight Virginia prospects.
Editor's Note: A nationally rated recruit is a anyone who received at least one AC100 vote. There were 269 in 2011.
2011 ACC Recruiting Team Rankings:
1. Florida State Seminoles (29 signees – 7 AC100)
Ever since the coaching change, Florida State recruiting has been on a roll. With arguably the most balanced class in the nation, the Noles added depth to every position. The offensive line, which was a major issue for the better part of a decade, got loads of help with eight new prospects projecting to contribute up front. Five defensive tackles, five defensive backs and three running backs – nine of which are nationally rated – add quantity and quality to those positions. In a loaded year in the Sunshine State, Fisher landed three of the top four prospects in Florida. Of the 29 signees, 22 of them hail from in-state – including the top 12 players in this class.
Nationally rated recruits:
No. 11 Karlos Williams, S (Davenport, Fla.)
No. 12 James Wilder Jr., ATH (Tampa, Fla.)
No. 13 Tim Jernigan, DT (Lake City, Fla.)
No. 26 Nick O’Leary, TE (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
No. 47 Bobby Hart, OL (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
No. 75 Kelvin Benjamin, WR (Belle Glade, Fla.)
No. 93 Nick Waisome, CB (Groveland, Fla.)
No. 104 Giorgio Newberry, DE (Ft. Pierce, Fla.)
No. 123 DeVonta Freeman, RB (Miami, Fla.)
No. 127 Jordan Prestwood, OL (Plant City, Fla.)
No. 147 Keelin Smith, S (Port St. Lucie, Fla.)
No. 154 Rashad Greene, WR (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
No. 195 Tyler Hunter, S (Valdosta, Ga.)
No. 214 Derrick Mitchell, DT (Jacksonville, Fla.)
No. 255 Nile Lawrence-Stample, DT (Davie, Fla.)
2. Clemson Tigers (29 signees – 5 AC100)
Few teams perform better year-in and year-out on NSD than the Clemson Tigers. With the top two players in this class committing on NSD, 2011 was no exception. Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony are the top two linebacker prospects in the nation and both announced on the final day (along with a few others). This five-man linebacking haul is probably the best in the nation. AC100 athletes Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake and Mike Bellamy add elite level play-making ability to an offensive in desperate need of depth at the skill spots.
The job Dabo Swinney did outside of the Palmetto State was outstanding. Of the eight nationally rated recruits to sign with the Tigers, six hail from other states – which is a testament to the staff’s ability to cultivate relationships. The state of Florida, in particular, has turned into a stronghold for Clemson talent.
No. 15 Tony Steward, LB (St. Augustine, Fla.)
No. 16 Stephone Anthony, LB (Wadesboro, N.C.)
No. 24 Sammy Watkins, ATH (Ft. Myers, Fla.)
No. 29 Mike Bellamy, RB (Punta Gorda, Fla.)
No. 37 Charone Peake, WR (Roebuck, S.C.)
No. 150 Eric MacLain, TE (Fayetteville, N.C.)
No. 208 Spencer Region, OL (Cullman, Ala.)
No. 213 Lateek Townsend, LB (Bennettsville, S.C.)
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (25 signees – 1 AC100)
Despite a tumultuous season and a seat that continues to increase in temperature, Butch Davis still managed to land a great class. He has been able to recruit nationally for years, and in 2011, Davis pulled the top four players in this class from outside of the Tar Heel State. Other than defensive back – which clearly got more attention (six signees) – every position is evenly represented. Two TEs, three RBs, three OLs, two LBs, two DEs, four DTs, one QB and one WR fill the 25-man class.
No. 83 Kiaro Holts, OL (Indianapolis, Ind.)
No. 102 Travis Hughes, LB (Virginia Beach, Va.)
No. 119 Delvon Simmons, DT (McKeesport, Pa.)
No. 128 Landon Turner, OL (Harrisonburg, Va.)
No. 173 T.J. Thorpe, ATH (Durham, N.C.)
No. 218 Marquise Williams, QB (Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 261 DeVonte Brown, DT (Fayetteville, N.C.)
4. Virginia Cavaliers (26 signees – 1 AC100)
The Cavs finished 10th in the ACC in the recruiting rankings last year. They finished eighth in 2009 and 10th in 2008. This is the best class in recent UVa memory and London, along with former star safety turned secondary coach Anthony Poindexter, deserves all of the credit. The energized Virginia staff has done a remarkable job rebuilding the school’s image within the state. Of the 26 signees, as many as 19 could end playing on the defensive side of the ball – no shock for a head coach who played and coached on that side of the ball for every year of his career.
No. 76 Demetrious Nicholson, CB (Virginia Beach, Va.)
No. 157 Darius Jennings, DB (Baltimore, Md.)
No. 168 Clifton Richardson, ATH (Newport News, Va.)
No. 227 Dominique Terrell, DB (Manassas, Va.)
No. 244 Jay Whitemire, OL (Alexandria, Va.)
No. 252 Brandon Phelps, CB (Damascus, Md.)
5. Virginia Tech Hokies (21 signees)
This was not a vintage Hokie class. Of course, this is compounded by how successful rival Virginia was in-state this year. Tech lost most of the big, in-state battles. That does not mean, however, that this is a talent-laden class with loads of potential. With seven defensive line recruits, including nationally rated stars Kris Harley and Corey Marshall, Bud Foster should have plenty of talent to work into his front seven. Also, a unusually deep tight end class adds loads of depth at a position that is normally thin for every school.
No. 233 Kyshoen Jarrett, CB (East Stroudsburg, Pa.)
No. 243 Kris Harley, DT (Indianapolis, Ind.)
No. 259 Corey Marshall, DE (Dinwiddie, Va.)
6. Miami Hurricanes (16 signees – 1 AC100)
Much like the Hokies, this class is not, especially in terms of size, what most Canes expect from its recruiting efforts. And missing out on most late targets hurt too. But this is a team in transition and the class size should be back up to normal in 2012. That said, the quality is still strong. Gems Anthony Chichillo (a third generation Cane legacy) and Jalen Grimble lead a strong defensive line class while RB/ATH Kevin Grooms can make plays at a number of positions. This class also adds plenty of depth to the linebacking corps as four solid prospects signed with the Canes.
No. 43 Anthony Chickillo, DE (Tampa, Fla.)
No. 140 Jalen Grimble, DE (Las Vegas, Nev.)
No. 191 Kevin Grooms, RB (Hollywood, Fla.)
No. 237 Dallas Crawford, CB (Ft. Myers, Fla.)
7. Boston College Eagles (23 signees)
An above-average haul for the Eagles, led by talented secondary and offensive line classes.
No. 177 Albert Louis-Jean, DB (Brockton, Mass.)
8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (22 signees)
Versatile class – five “athletes” – full of players Paul Johnson hand-picked for his system.
No. 198 Vad Lee, ATH (Durham, N.C.)
9. Maryland Terrapins (20 signees)
Terps use 10 states, and two coaching staffs, to land solid class highlighted by offensive skill players.
10. Duke Blue Devils (20 signees)
Duke used 11 states to land quality collection of talent, including six O-line signees.
11. North Carolina State Wolfpack (20 signees)
Not a highly touted group, but Tom O’Brien has never cared about star ratings.
No. 242 Hakeem Flowers, WR (Greenville, S.C.)
12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (14 signees)
One of the smallest BCS classes in the nation with nearly half coming from Florida.