ACC Football: Where Are The Five Star Recruits Going On Signing Day?

As the college football season winds down and heads into bowl season, many teams are taking advantage of developing their young stars with the extra practices while others are going through coaching changes and transitions. Perhaps the most important aspect of this time of year is the focus on recruiting.

Programs around the nation are going all in on signing those last key recruits and finalizing their classes with an eye towards National Signing Day on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. Rivals national recruiting publication recently released their updated top 100 list which comprises the best prospects in the nation.

In this piece, we will take a look at which teams in the ACC have committed five-stars and potential five-star recruits that the respective team is currently in the running for. These blue chip athletes can elevate teams quickly (See Ole Miss) as well as maintain dynasty type runs (See Alabama). Lets take a look at who these guys are, where they come from and who’s lucky enough to gain their signatures in two months time.

Florida State Seminoles (#2 Overall Class in the Nation)

Five Star Commits:

Derwin James (DB), 6’1″ – 199 Lbs.  

James, a standout defensive back from Haines City Senior High in Haines City, Florida gave his oral pledge to the Seminoles back in February of 2012. Touted as the top defensive back/safety in the nation, James will add to FSU’s lineage of top flight athletes to man the defensive backfield.

Committing early in his high school career, James has been steadfast in helping the FSU staff in recruiting fellow big time athletes to join him in Tallahassee.

Haines City has also produced former Auburn and 1st round NFL draft pick OL Wayne Gandy.


Tavarus McFadden (DB), 6’2″ – 195 Lbs.

McFadden, a top five cornerback out of Plantation, Florida is another outstanding recruit hailing from American Heritage High. The silky-smooth McFadden committed to the Noles back in mid October is also an excellent return specialist. McFadden is a mixture of finesse and power, able to deliver crushing hits from the CB position.

American Heritage has churned out a bevy of talented athletes throughout the years. Notables are Eric Hosmer (1B Kansas City Royals), Nick Castellanos (3B/LF Detroit Tigers) and 2012 first round pick of the Boston Red Sox SS Deven Marrero.

Not to be outdone by the impressive baseball alums, American Heritage also currently touts four star quarterback/athlete Torrance Gibson who recently pledged to Urban Meyer and Ohio State. In 2014, five star running back Sony Michel and four star wide receiver/return specialist Isaiah McKenzie both took their talents to Athens, Georgia to play for Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs.


Jacques Patrick (RB), 6’1″ – 224 Lbs.

The Seminoles received a verbal commitment from highly coveted running back Patrick who attends Timber Creek High School in Orlando, Florida. Patrick touted numerous offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Oregon, Ohio State, Texas, and USC just to give you an idea of how coaches around the nation view Patrick’s talent.

With his ability to run between the tackles or break it outside, Patrick will look to garner early playing time for the Noles and join 2014 top RB recruit Dalvin Cook in the backfield.


The reigning national champions look to close out their 2015 class with some impressive prospects to bolster the already stacked depth chart. Here are the players that head coach Jimbo Fisher looks to close in and bring home another top ranked class to Tallahassee.

Potential Five Star Commits:

Josh Sweat (DE), 6’5″ – 240 Lbs.

Top Schools: Virginia Tech, Florida State, Ohio State, Georgia and Oregon.

Sweat’s rankings have taken a bit of a plunge due to suffering a season ending knee injury (left kneecap dislocation) during a game in late September. Sweat, an elite specimen out of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Virginia was regarded by most  recruiting publications as the best overall defensive end in the nation, garnering comparison’s to former South Carolina Gamecock standout Jadeveon Clowney who went on to become the number one pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Most prognosticators feel the battle for Sweat’s services will come down to the ‘Noles and home state favorite Virginia Tech. Florida State has had success in recent years beating the Hokies in head to head recruiting battles for highly coveted prospects. In 2014, one of the top DT’s in the nation Derrick Nnadi from Virginia Beach, Virginia spurned VT (who seemed to be the favorite throughout much of his recruitment) for FSU.

This will be interesting to watch, as Sweat will announce his decision this coming Wednesday, December 10.


Byron Cowart (DE), 6’3″ – 252 Lbs.

Top Schools: Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, and Maryland.

Cowart, out of Armwood High in Seffner, Florida is a destructive force on the edge of the defensive line. Along with Josh Sweat, Cowart has arguably been the top ranked defensive end in the nation. Considered a Florida Gator lean, Cowart’s recruitment may get interesting as Florida head coach Will Muschamp was fired with two games left in the regular season.

There is no doubt that Seminoles defensive coordinator Charles Kelly will use this to their advantage as FSU looks to add to the tremendous depth along the defensive line and march towards repeating as National Champions.


CeCe Jefferson (DE), 6’2″ – 245 Lbs.

Top Schools: Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Ole Miss and Cincinnati.

Jefferson, like Cowart is another big time defensive end prospect from the sunshine state who has also been thought of as a Florida Gator lean. Hailing from Glen Saint Mary, Florida, the Baker County High School standout is taking a wait and see approach with new Florida head man Jim McElwain. McElwain who was offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban was a part of two national championship teams from 2008-11, so he is no stranger to big time SEC football.

The battle for top recruits in Florida looks to be a big story heading into the final two months before National Signing Day. Can FSU continue to build on their recent success on the field and in the living rooms or can the new regime in Gainesville change the momentum heading into 2015? This will be fun to watch!


Clemson Tigers (#4 Overall Class in the Nation)

Five Star Commits:

Mitch Hyatt (OL), 6’5″ – 285 Lbs

Rated one of the top two offensive tackles in the country, Hyatt committed to the Clemson Tigers during his junior year, ironically on signing day (2/5/14). The North Gwinnett star out of Suwanee, Georgia received a bevy of offers from the “who’s who” of college football. Throughout the year, Hyatt has stayed true to his verbal commitment to head coach Dabo Sweeney to become one of the crown jewels of their 2015 class. With many top flight defensive ends playing in the ACC, Hyatt is a tremendous catch for the Tigers who look to compete with FSU as the top program in the conference.


Ray-Ray McCloud III (ATH/RB), 5’9″ – 176 Lbs.

An exceptional and explosive athlete, Ray-Ray Mcloud III will look to help reignite the Clemson offense which took a bit of a nose dive in 2014 with the departures of former playmakers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins to the NFL. The electric McCloud out of Sickles High in Tampa, Florida will have a great shot to contribute early at Clemson, whether that be at running back or a hybrid Percy Harvin type role running out of the back field or lining up in the slot to create mismatches for opposing defenses.


Potential Five Star Commits 

According to the Rivals database, Clemson is currently not a contending favorite for any of the remaining uncommitted prospects. We will surely provide an update if certain situations change.

 Miami Hurricanes (#13 Overall Class in the Nation)

Five Star Commits:


Potential Five Star Commits:

John Houston (OLB), 6’3″ – 208 Lbs

Top Schools: Oklahoma, Arizona State, USC, Oregon and Miami.

After landing a five star recruit in 2014, the Miami Hurricanes coming off of a disappointing 6-6 campaign look to add another top flight recruit to its 2015 class and help the “U” return to its former glory.

Head man Al Golden will work to earn the pledge of Junipero Serra (Gardena, CA) OLB John Houston. The Canes appear to be the longest shot of the top five in landing Houston, though he did officially visit Miami in November. The lure of South Beach and South Florida can be a tantalizing proposition for a young man, so I wouldn’t count the Canes out quite yet. The odds on favorite at the moment appear to be the home-standing USC Trojans.


Virginia Tech Hokies (#22 Overall Class in the Nation)

Five Star Commits:


Potential Five Star Commits:

Josh Sweat (DE), 6’5″ – 240 Lbs.

Top Schools: Virginia Tech, Florida State, Ohio State, Georgia and Oregon.

The Virginia Tech Hokies, who in the past three years have gone through considerable decline in on the field results and recruiting look to change the inconsistency and return the Hokies back to perennial contenders in the ACC.

As big-time programs in the SEC, ACC and Big 10 raid the fertile recruiting grounds of the heralded “757” area code, Virginia Tech looks to regain the stronghold it once had starting with standout defensive end out of Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake, VA Josh Sweat. As previously mentioned in the Florida State review, Sweat appears to be down to the Hokies and Seminoles. With defensive line depth issues and the proximity to his hometown advantage, Coach Frank Beamer and staff must sell out and go all in on the coveted star. The Hokie faithful have grown weary in the past few seasons and the groans are becoming louder. Nabbing Sweat can change all of that and revitalize some of the lost enthusiasm in Blacksburg.

Final thoughts:

As National Signing approaches less than two months away, these respective ACC programs look to continue to enhance their programs in signing these few and highly touted recruits. To put it in perspective, out of Rivals’ top 100 only 33, exactly a third of the that list are considered five stars. 20 of those five stars have yet to commit as the competition for these game changing players is at an all-time high and gaining their pledge is no small feat.

Inside The ACC’s next recruiting piece will dive into the the four stars according to Rivals as we review which programs are having success winning the commitments of these highly rated student athletes.




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