Around the ACC: Signing Day Spotlight

SUNSHINE SHOWDOWN: It was an up-and-down day for the Florida schools on signing day, as Florida State and Miami battled each other as well as other schools for several top recruits.

Miami received good news early, as three-star running back Augustus Edwards signed with Miami after decommitting from Syracuse, adding depth behind Duke Johnson for the Hurricanes’ backfield.  Edwards had also received an offer from Florida State.

Another Miami-bound player that had offers from both the Hurricanes and Seminoles is four-star wide receiver Stacy Coley. ESPN’s fourth-best receiver, he sports a 4.5 40-yard-dash and played in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.  He weighs in at 6’1”, 175 pounds, so he could stand to bulk up. Nonetheless, he excited Hurricanes fans with his decision.

Jermaine Grace, a linebacker from Miramar (Fl.) High School, chose the Hurricanes over Louisville. Rivals ranks Grace as their 17th best outside linebacker.  Weight measurements for Grace range from 195 to 210 pounds, which makes him smallish for a linebacker.  His athleticism and speed make him an enticing prospect nonetheless.

A pair of teammates at Miami’s Booker T. Washington HIgh School made announcements on Signing Day, with both Miami and Florida State on their radars.  Five-star outside linebacker signed with the Seminoles, while Denver Kirkland chose Arkansas over both of the Florida programs.

Thomas had narrowed his decision to Miami and Florida State.  Kirkland’s decision became much more interesting after Miami pulled their scholarship offer to the four-star offensive tackle. Many believed Miami’s hiring of Florida State offensive coordinate James Coley (who had recruited Thomas) would sway him to Coral Gables, but the Hurricanes’ episode with his teammate may have had an impact in the decision as well.

Florida State landed another Miami target in four-star defensive tackle Keith Bryant.  The 6-2 lineman from Delray Beach, Florida with great explosiveness mentioned that Jimbo Fisher was the only head coach to make an in-home visit.

The Seminoles also added four-star Jalen Ramsey on signing day.  While Miami was not in the hunt for the best cornerback in the class per Rivals, the Florida Gators were involved in recruiting Ramsey after he decommitted from Southern Cal.

There were also players other than Kirkland who escaped both Miami’s and Florida State’s grasp.  Four-star wide receiver Jordan Cunningham chose Vanderbilt over the two Sunshine State schools, citing the importance of a strong education in his decision.  Four-star defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick chose Florida over Miami and Alabama. At 6-4, 250 pounds, Bostwick could have been an imposing force in the middle of the Hurricanes defensive line.

SECOND WIND: Arguably, Clemson’s biggest need entering Signing Day was the secondary.  There were times when the Tigers struggled with depth at cornerback throughout the season, and only four corners with experience on their roster.  Dabo Swinney and company’s recruiting class should solve some of those problems.

The big name for the Tigers’ recruiting class is five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander.  Alexander comes from Immokalee High School, which produced Edgerrin James and Brian Rolle.  ESPN’s second-best cornerback chose Clemson over Texas A&M, touting his “well-honed skill-set” and “great anticipation and awareness.”

Alexander had also considered Auburn (which landed his twin brother, Mackenro), Mississippi State, and Texas A&M, so it was a big win against the SEC for Clemson a little more than a month after the Tigers’ Chick-Fil-A Bowl win over LSU.

Another cornerback, Adrian Baker, decommitted from Florida State in December, following the team’s offseason coaching changes.  He also signed with Clemson.  A 3* CB listed as top-30 at his position by 24/7, he had 22 tackles and five interceptions for Chaminande-Madonna Prep (Fl.).

Clemson also picked up a late flip from another ACC opponent, as Korrin Wiggins from Hillside (NC) High signed with the Tigers.  The 6-1, 185 lb. defensive back had been verbally committed to the North Carolina Tar Heels for nearly a full year, but announced he would be Clemson-bound on Signing Day.

In late January, three-star defensive back Marcus Edmond committed to Clemson, flipping from NC State.  He was the second recruit to move to Clemson from NC State, as three-star wide receiver Kyrin Priester also made the jump. These moves have been connected to Mike Reed, the former defensive backs coach at NC State, getting hired by Clemson at the same position.

Cordrea Tankersley, whom the Tigers signed in last year’s recruiting class, spent last fall at Hargrave Military Academy, but re-signed with Clemson today.  The Tigers have a routine of sending players to Hargrave to improve their academic prospects and getting better players, on and off the field, in return.  It doesn’t always work out like that (see fellow 2012 signee Josh Brown), but several Hargrave alumni are on the Clemson roster.

ROARING INTO THE ACC: Pittsburgh will bring a strong recruiting class into their first season in the ACC, highlighted by five-star offensive lineman Dorian Johnson, four-star wide receiver Tyler Boyd, and four-star quarterback Tra’Von Chapman.

Johnson was Rivals’ and ESPN’s #2 offensive tackle in this year’s recruiting class, choosing the Panthers over Ohio State.  The Belle Vernon, PA native is a great combination of size (6-6, 275) and speed (4.88 in the 40) that will stay in-state after decommitting from Penn State last summer.

Tyler Boyd created some last-minute suspense with his recruitment, as he was struggling with his decision as recently as yesterday. Ultimately, the wide receiver will join fellow Clairton High School football players Terrish Webb and Titus Howard to Pitt.

The Panthers are losing two of their top three wide receivers and had already missed on five-star Robert Foster, so Boyd will be a big-time signing for Pittsburgh.

There was considerably less suspense surrounding Chapman: He was an early enrollee and is already taking classes at Pittsburgh.  A story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review from December illustrates Chapman’s incredible work ethic, which led to his early enrollment and is exactly the type of story you want to see from your future quarterback.  He’s also Rivals’ #2 dual-threat quarterback, so he should be no slouch on the field.


2013 recruiting class rankings for current and future ACC members

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