Scouts Inc. breaks down and grades each team in the ACC, including five top-25 teams. Some of the other grades might surprise you.
Miami had a quiet signing day but still signed another top-10 class to add to last year's No. 1 overall class. Randy Shannon & Co. have been able to lure championship-caliber defensive talent to south Florida, and their most recent addition, S Ray Ray Armstrong (Sanford, Fla./Seminole), could be another Kenny Phillips. Although it's still important for the Canes to sign RB Bryce Brown (Wichita, Kan./East) after signing day, we feel that Lamar Miller (Miami/Killian) and Mike James (Davenport, Fla./Ridge Community) combine for similar attributes. We thought Miami needed to focus on the cornerback position in this class, and it did just that, signing No. 5 corner Prince Kent (Norcross, Ga.) and sleeper athlete Jamal Reid (Mayo, Fla./Lafayette). Getting versatile DE/TE Billy Sanders (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho/Lake City) back on signing day will add great depth to both sides of the ball.
It's no surprise coach Bobby Bowden closed strong and signed a top-10 class. He's been doing it for years, and this year's late run was highlighted by his ability to snag No. 2 corner Greg Reid (Valdosta, G./Lowndes) from Florida. The Seminoles signed four prospects in the ESPNU 150 and eight who rank in the top 20 at their respective positions. FSU has reloaded on defense in this class, especially along the defensive front. Under Armour All-American Jacobbi McDaniel (Greenville, Fla./Madison County) is the nation's fifth-rated prospect and the No. 1-rated defensive tackle. With sack artist Everette Brown bolting for the NFL, the addition of explosive DE Demonte McAllister (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) is also big. Top-10 safety Gerald Demps adds versatility and talent at safety, which was needed. The class also features some tall receiving targets, including 6-foot-6 Rodney Smith (Miami/Archbishop Carroll), a top-20 receiver prospect, and Willie Downs (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby), who might make the move to safety. Don't underestimate the importance of special teams -- the Seminoles signed Dustin Hopkins (Houston/Clear Lake), ESPN's top kicker.
North Carolina bounced back strong on the recruiting trail from a year ago as Butch Davis continues to turn around the Tar Heels' once-struggling program. Based on this class, their quarterback play should be productive and consistent for years to come thanks to the signings of QB Bryn Renner (Lorton, Va./West Springfield) and ATH Donavan Tate (Cartersville, Ga.). Renner is an underpublicized prospect, but he's a terrific athlete who could easily become a dual-threat player for Davis. Tate also would give the Tar Heels' quarterback position a boost -- if he decides to play football; he also is a highly touted baseball prospect. Whoever is under center will have WR Jheranie Boyd (Gastonia, N.C./Ashbrook), who is UNC's highest-rated prospect, to throw to. He certainly will help fill the void left by WR Hakeem Nicks, who is opting for the NFL. The Tar Heels also landed top-10 DE Donte Moss (Jacksonville, N.C./Hillside).
No. 22 CB Jayron Hosley (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community) was a nice land on signing day and one of the few prospects signed from outside the state. The Hokies' class has a potential difference-maker at RB in David Wilson (Danville, Va./George Washington), who has more speed than incumbent Darren Evans and could be good change of pace. Virginia Tech also signed two quality athletes in Logan Thomas (Lynchburg, Va./Brookville) and Theron Norman (Richmond, Va./Hermitage). Thomas is built a lot like Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and could play wide receiver, H-back or even QB, and Thomas could make an impact at safety or receiver. Most importantly, the Hokies signed sleeper LB Tariq Edwards (Cheraw, S.C./Marlboro County), who fills a need and could make an impact in the near future.
The Tigers fell short of their No. 2 finish in 2008 but, after a tumultuous fall, did sign five ESPNU 150 prospects, including top-10 WR Bryce McNeal (Minneapolis/Breck) and top-5 QB Tajh Boyd (Hampton, Va./Phoebus). Clemson's class also boasts No. 11 OT J.K. Jay (Greenville, S.C./Christ Church), who's already on campus, and No. 9 DE Malliciah Goodman (Florence, S.C./West). Goodman and DaQuan Bowers could give Clemson a formidable bookend duo. Clemson also has a verbal commitment from Under Armour All-American LB Eric Fields (Warner Robins, Ga./Northside), who would fill a major need for the Tigers, but it looks as if he will be a late qualifier.
This is a class that has a terrific balance between academic standards and good players. Coach Paul Johnson has hit on many positions that add talent and depth across the board. Jackets fans should be excited about QB Jordan Luallen (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) because he fits their scheme perfectly. ATH David Sims (St. Matthews, S.C./Calhoun County), like Luallen, has the skills to play quarterback, but he could play any skill spot. At 230 pounds, Daniel Drummond (Flowery Branch, Ga.) is the perfect fit for the H-back position. Simply put, Tech has hit the mark at QB, on the O-line and on the D-line -- with guys such as mammoth DT J.C. Lanier (Twin City, Ga./Emanuel County Institute), DE Izaan Cross (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and guard Will Jackson (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut).
A disappointing season on the gridiron has not slowed the Cavs just yet. Al Groh was forced to make some tough staff decisions, including the dismissal of his son Mike as offensive coordinator. This class is not flashy, but it is very solid. Five prospects are graded at 78 or higher, and five at 77. Virginia has really loaded up on the defensive front, an area of need, with the likes of DEs Jake Snyder (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run) and Justin Renfrow (Philadelphia/William Penn Charter). The Wahoos also have hit on multiple positions across the board, including TE Tucker Windle (Charlotte, N.C./Catholic), an athletic pass-catcher with loads of upside. He was their highest-rated prospect. OT Morgan Moses (Richmond, Va./Meadowbrook) is also a mammoth prospect with great feet, but he needs to work on his technique.
Although solid from top to bottom, the knock on Maryland's class is that too much good in-state talent has slipped away. Of the state's top 10 prospects, more than half have signed elsewhere. But the state's No. 3-rated prospect, Travis Hawkins (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard), is on board, and Maryland also has landed defensive end DeOnte Arnett (Forestville, Md.) and running back Caleb Porzel (Wheaton, Md./Good Counsel). Maryland also dipped into Georgia to land its top prospect, ESPNU 150 running back D.J. Adams (Norcross, Ga.). Adams is a compact and thickly built runner who can be a workhorse for the Terps. Although we think game-breaking athlete Dexter McDougle (Stafford, Va.) is one of the best-kept secrets in the ACC, Ralph Friedgen did not land a big-time quarterback, which we thought this class desperately needed.
Coach Tom O'Brien went south to work from a more fertile recruiting base, but the ex-Boston College coach still kept a pretty broad recruiting scope. The Pack also have tapped into a few non-pipeline states such as New Jersey, Ohio and even Massachusetts. NC State has also landed in-state players such as athlete Everett Proctor (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt). There are no ESPNU 150 players this year, but NC State's class is solid. The Wolfpack has a pair of good receivers on board in Quintin Payton (Anderson, S.C./T.L. Hanna) and Bryan Underwood (Cleveland/Cleveland Heights). NC State also has made some moves to improve its defensive line with three top-50 prospects in No. 41 DE Brian Slay (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge), No. 48 DT Deion Roberson (Tucker, Ga.) and No. 23 DT Raynard Randolph (Brandywine, Md./Gwynn Park).
David Cutcliffe and his staff have really ramped up their efforts with quality personnel. DT John Drew (Columbus, Ga./Northside) is a load in the middle, and QB Sean Schroeder (Dana Point, Calif./Dana Hills) is a sleeper who is a nice fit for Cutcliffe's scheme because he understands timing and rhythm in the passing game. Duke was also able to lure running back Desmond Scott (Durham, N.C./Hillside) away from Rutgers. He adds another dimension (and much-needed skill) to this offense. The top half of this class is better than what we have seen in the past from the Blue Devils.
The Demon Deacons have proved they can win consistently under coach Jim Grobe, and recruiting is picking up as a result. Wake Forest has had a defensive mindset in an effort to add to its 16th-ranked unit. Of Wake's top seven players, four are defensive prospects, three of whom hail from Florida. The Deacs' top prospect, defensive tackle Frank Souza (Nease) hails from the Sunshine State, and he could see playing time as early as the 2009 season. Defensive end Zach Thompson (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) also will help bolster Wake's defensive front. The class also features good offensive talent, such as athlete Michael Campanaro (Clarksville, Md./River Hill), who is a somewhat undersized but versatile all-purpose back.
Despite being located in a less-than-stellar recruiting area, having tough academic restrictions and dealing with the firing of head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, the Eagles were able to get back on track quickly. Boston College landed its two highest prospects, top-20 outside linebacker Luke Kuechly (Cincinnati/St. Xavier) and strong, downhill RB Rolandan Finch (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier). Also, keep an eye on unheralded quarterback Michael Marscovetra (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills) because he is a signal-caller with a few Matt Ryan intangibles.