National signing day didn’t shake up our early power rankings so much as reaffirm who are the real power players. Florida State, Clemson and Miami brought in the three strongest recruiting classes in the league, and they remain the top three in our power rankings.
The Seminoles signed the No. 4 class in the country, addressed big needs with players like Cam Akers, Marvin Wilson and Joshua Kaindoh, and all of this added to a program that is arguably already the most talented in the ACC.
The defending champs signed the second-smallest class of Dabo Swinney’s tenure -- just 14 players -- but they got their money’s worth, including replacements for some of their key departing talent in QB Hunter Johnson, WR Tee Higgins and RB Travis Etienne.
Mark Richt inked the No. 12 class in the country, further bolstering an already impressive young defense with D.J. Johnson, Jonathan Garvin and Trajan Bandy, but the key to the Hurricanes’ chances in 2017 may be the development of last year’s top offensive signee, QB Jack Allison.
If you watched Louisville stumble to the finish line, the biggest need was blatantly obvious: offensive line. Bobby Petrino addressed that in a big way by inking five OLs, including juco transfer Ronald Rudd. Now the big questions for the Cardinals is whether any of the new linemen are ready to help right away.
After finishing 2016 by winning six of its final seven, Tech remains a team on the rise for 2017 with a strong signing day class, ranked No. 42 by ESPN, that included brothers Bruce Jordan-Swilling and Tre Swilling. Four of Tech’s top five signees were on the defensive side of the ball, joining a unit that was already surprisingly strong last year.
Despite turnover at some key positions, Pitt returns plenty of talent, added a solid transfer QB in Max Browne, and brought in the No. 31 class in the country. The strength of the class was on the offensive side, however, but it’s the Pitt defense — particularly in the secondary — that looms as the largest question for 2017.
It’s tough to predict how the Hokies will manage the losses of key offensive weapons, but Justin Fuente signed the No. 25 class that included RB Jalen Holston and juco transfer QB A.J. Bush. Bud Foster’s defense, on the other hand, looks like it’s due for another terrific season, with plenty of fresh talent joining the fray on signing day.
The near-constant talk of Dave Doeren’s job security certainly didn’t make recruiting easy for the Wolfpack this year, but they may have found their QB of the future in Matt McKay and added some strength up front with Joshua Fedd-Jackson and Grant Gibson. It’s the return of Bradley Chubb to a nasty D-line that should have NC State fans particularly excited though.
In our last round of power rankings, we probably undervalued Larry Fedora’s ability to replace a ton of departures on offense. While QB certainly remains the biggest question, and UNC didn’t address that on signing day, it’s possible a graduate transfer could provide an answer. Meanwhile, Billy Ross, Jonah Melton, C.J. Cotman and J.T. Cauthen provide an influx of talent for the rest of the offense.
Dave Clawson’s roster is already stacked with veterans, the advantage of starting so many young players the past three years. But Wake also added some nice pieces with this year’s signing class, including another strong edge rusher in Michael Allen Jr. to join Duke Ejiofor.
11. Duke Blue Devils
Duke’s coming off a year of struggles, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this ranking looks foolish by the end of 2017. The Blue Devils already have some nice pieces in Daniel Jones, Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris, but David Cutcliffe added his strongest recruiting class yet, ranked 34th nationally and including three four-star signees.
12. Syracuse Orange
Dino Babers’ up-tempo offense is already sparking interest on the recruiting trail, with Syracuse nabbing ESPN300 QB Tommy DeVito and swiping receiver Sharod Johnson out of Miami. The big question for the Orange is if the defense can keep pace.
BC hasn’t developed a regular starting quarterback in seven years, but the addition of C.J. Lewis at the top of this year’s signing class could change that history. Finding a true weapon at the position would be a huge step for a BC offense that simply hasn’t had much to offer in recent years.
Bronco Mendenhall said that when he took the job he probably underestimated the amount of rebuilding that had to happen for Virginia to be competitive, but he took a big step in the right direction with this year’s signing class, gaining a ton of speed and athleticism with the likes of Shawn Smith, Germane Crowell and Zane Zandier.