ACC mailblog

It's casual Friday in my office today.

Jessica in Coral Gables, Fla., writes: How about Randy Shannon's smart recruiting last year with avoiding the Bryce Brown fiasco, as news comes out of Tennessee that he is no longer a part of the Volunteer's team?

HD: I think most Miami fans realized that in the end, it wasn't worth it. For better or for worse, most coaches know more about the athletes they recruit than they let on. Miami's staff knew what it was doing. Coaches want players who want to be there, period. That's why a Seantrel Henderson probably wouldn't be the best fit anyway, regardless of how highly rated he is.

John in Canestown, Fla., writes: With all these highly rated D players from UNC on Mel's board, curious how these recruiting classes ranked overall by the "experts" at the time they signed. Hoping it proves my thesis that these "stars" assigned to HS kids are about as meaningful as a star on a homework paper.

HD: Well, I think ESPN Recruiting did a pretty good job labeling UNC's class of 2007 as the No. 11 class in the country. I took a look back at the ESPN Recruiting ratings for the five UNC players who made Kiper's list:

  • Marvin Austin: Rated the No. 1 DT and No. 10 player overall in the ESPNU 150 class of 2007.

  • Zach Pianalto: Rated the No. 19 TE in his class.

  • Quan Sturdivant: Rated as the No. 12 safety and No. 121 in the ESPNU 150. Was also evaluated as an outside linebacker.

  • Bruce Carter: In the class of 2006, Carter was rated the No. 42 safety. Evaluated as an athlete who could play almost anywhere on either side of the ball.

  • Deunta Williams: Also a member of the 2006 recruiting class, Williams was rated the No. 63 safety in the country, but was also evaluated as a linebacker.

Eric C. in Rhode Island, writes: I'm a bit worried Heather. For years now, VT has had a solid QB prospect waiting in the wings for their chance to run the show. I don't get that good feeling about the untested folks there now. What are your thoughts about the post-Tyrod Taylor era?

HD: Well, the good news is that Ju-Ju Clayton played in five games last year. He completed 1 of 5 passes -- and 80-yard touchdown. Logan Thomas hasn't gone anywhere. Of course, given the limited experience at backup, it should be a concern and a question mark, just like it is for several other teams in the conference this year. So I guess my thoughts are simply that they're unproven and we have to wait and see. All the more reason to make the most of what they have to work with this year.

Jeremy in Atlanta writes: whats up with everyone immediately ruling tech out of everything this year. we still have nesbitt who is a great leader of the team, anthony allen who will make a good transition to the b-back spot, and stephen hill who has been living under the radar in the shadow of baybay thomas. also tech should have a better year defencively with a new defencive coordinator. this is similar to when everyone said the option wasnt going to do anything at tech and coach paul johnson proved them all wrong. every year tech has players that step up and fill the holes. like when tchoice left dwyer stepped up and when calvin johnson left baybay thomas stepped up. be ready to see more of the same stuff this year from tech.

HD: There are enough questions facing the program that -- at least now, from the outside looking in -- can open the door for another team to win the ACC title this year. You're right, though -- Johnson's forte is proving folks wrong, and last I talked to him, he wasn't too concerned about who's no longer on the team or in the program. He likes what he has and is still confident. And Al Groh took that job with the hopes that he could win a national title with Georgia Tech. That's a pretty big vote of confidence in the direction the program is headed. I don't think anyone doubts Georgia Tech's ability to win the ACC again -- I certainly don't -- but it does have inexperience and transition to overcome.

Scott in Baltimore writes: Hey HD! I'm a huge fan or your blog and of the ACC. I think you have on of the best jobs on the planet. So tell me - what's the best part? What makes you get up and love to go to work every day? Is it interviewing football players and coaches, getting a chance to write every day, travelling, watching the fans get all jazzed up before a big game? Inquiring minds gotta know . . .

HD: Well, thanks. I do love my job. The best part about it is the Saturdays -- the conference race, and the new hope that comes for each team every season. The anticipation builds from the time the season ends to the opening kickoff. It's like reading the same book every year with a different ending to it each time.