Remember the winter of 2013, when Fall Out Boy reunited for a new tour and “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” hit theaters? OK, we don’t remember those things, either, but around college football, national signing day in 2013 was a big moment.
How big? The foundation for a run to the national championship game was set for one ACC team and superstars sent over their letters of intent for several others. This year’s NFL draft will be dominated by a handful of players who made their commitments official that day, and a few other big misses might have cost teams a chance at moving up the ACC ladder.
With that in mind, a quick look back:
Best class: Clemson Tigers
Dabo Swinney had landed his share of big-time recruits before 2013, but this is the class that put the Tigers in position to win a national title. Ten starters from last season’s ACC champions were singed in 2013, and that doesn’t include injured starter Mike Williams or top reserve Dorian O’Daniel. Mackensie Alexander, Ben Boulware, Wayne Gallman, Shaq Lawson — the list goes on and on. This is the type of success rate with a recruiting class that coaches can only dream of.
Runner-up best class: Pitt Panthers
Perhaps Pitt didn’t land a class with quite as much talent as Florida State, Miami or North Carolina, but all things considered, it was an impressive haul. The 2013 class included future ACC player of the year James Conner and superstar receiver Tyler Boyd at the top end, and it also included a collection of major contributors, including Dontez Ford, Dorian Johnson, Matt Galambos and kicker Chris Blewitt.
Most star-crossed class: Florida State Seminoles
Jimbo Fisher nabbed another class filled with high-end talent, and while some of those stars paid big dividends — Jalen Ramsey, DeMarcus Walker, Kermit Whitfield — more than a few others fizzled quickly. Among the ESPN 300 signees in that class, E.J. Levenberry, Ira Denson and Isaiah Jones are already gone, while Keith Bryant and Matthew Thomas have yet to emerge as regular contributors.
Runner-up most star-crossed class: Miami Hurricanes
The highs included Stacy Coley, Corn Elder, Standish Dobard and Artie Burns. But the off-field troubles of highly regarded recruits such as Kevin Olsen, Alex Figueroa and Al-Quadin Muhammad provide ample blemishes on the overall class.
Something out of nothing class: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Paul Johnson signed just 14 players in this class and six of them are no longer with the team. Still, of the eight who remain, Johnson did manage to salvage a few key players, including kicker Harrison Butker, linebacker P.J. Davis and receiver Ricky Jeune.
Jury’s still out class: Louisville Cardinals
So far, the Class of 2013 has been something of a disappointment, and with Kyle Bolin’s up-and-down career, James Quick’s inconsistency and the lack of playing time for Stacy Thomas and James Hearns, there’s reason to be dubious that will change. But there’s still plenty of talent from that class on the roster, and the future might be bright if a few of those players turn out to be late-bloomers.
Under the radar class: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Dave Clawson inherited a roster with minimal talent, but Jim Grobe’s final signing class at Wake Forest did have a few hidden gems. Brad Watson, Cam Serigne, Marquel Lee and Josh Harris weren’t even considered the best in Wake’s class, but all four are starters now with a history of success already under their belts.
Most position-heavy class: Duke Blue Devils
Three-quarters of Duke’s secondary came from this class with the signing of Deondre Singleton, Breon Borders and Bryon Fields. That’s not even counting Evrett Edwards, who was the team’s top-ranked recruit that year.
Class that will help a new coach: Virginia Tech Hokies
Sure, the headliner is gone as Kendall Fuller looks to the NFL. But new coach Justin Fuente should have a nice group of fourth-year players to build upon at Virginia Tech, with talented veterans such as Brandon Facyson, Bucky Hodges, Wyatt Teller, Jonathan McLaughlin and Andrew Motuapuaka all established starters from the Class of 2013.
Turning point class: NC State Wolfpack
The pressure is getting ratcheted up on Dave Doeren as NC State looks to take the next step into contention in the ACC Atlantic. If that’s going to happen this season, Doeren will need some big-time contribution from his first signing class, which included Matt Dayes, Jack Tocho, Josh Jones, Jerod Fernandez, Bra’Lon Cherry and Dravious Wright.