Early Look At 2016 ACC Football Recruiting

With the 2015 installment of National Signing Day now in the rear view mirror attention can turn forward towards the 2016 NSD waiting in the distance. In today’s recruiting world early commitments can be taken with a grain of salt, but thus far many of the ACC schools are putting together a solid crop of freshman for the 2016 season. Seven of the nation’s current top 25 recruiting classes belong to ACC schools, headlined by the Miami Hurricanes at the top of the heap. Florida State and Clemson also place in the current top 10, while Duke, NC State, Louisville and Virginia Tech all place in the top 25.

Miami suffered through some late decommitments and losses on last five players during the 2015 recruiting process, but has begun the 2016 campaign at a breakneck pace early. The Hurricanes currently have 13 commitments, including eight of the 4-star variety. Perhaps more importantly is the Hurricanes’ success so far in the state of Florida, as they lost several in state players last month during the home stretch of the recruiting season. Wide receiver Sam Bruce and linebacker Shaquille Quarterman headline the group of recruits, with both claiming top five spots at their position and top ten in the state of Florida. 6’5″, pro-style quarterback Jack Allison from Palmetto, Florida is also a top 20 prospect in the Sunshine State and a solid commitment for the Hurricanes.

Florida State and Clemson are both coming off top five quality classes in 2015, and appear to be positioning themselves for a repeat performance in 2016. The Seminoles are currently third in the nation with seven commitments in place, including that of 5-star quarterback Malik Henry, who projects to be one of the nation’s top recruits by next year’s NSD. Henry attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, after leaving Westlake high school in California in January. He is now teammates with fellow 5-stars Shavar Manuel (Defensive end) and Saivion Smith (Cornerback) at IMG. Both of those recruits are targets of several upper-echelon ACC schools, including Florida State.

Clemson also has seven current commitments, including three 4-star recruits and one 5-star. Running back and South Carolina native Tavien Feaster ranks first in state and committed to the Tigers the day before the 2015 signing day. Clemson has also had early success in the South at large, securing 4-stars from Florida (WR-Tavares Chase), North Carolina (WR-Cornell Powell), and Georgia (QB-Zerrick Cooper).

The early surprise of the 2016 recruiting process in the ACC has to be the Duke Blue Devils. Duke finished with a slim class that lacks quality on paper in 2015, but have had a solid beginning this year with five recruits committed, including a pair of 4-star quality players. The way the Blue Devils have navigated the 2016 recruiting class is also worth noting. Only one of their current commitments comes from North Carolina, while three will be traveling south to Durham from Virginia. 4-star recruits Scott Bracey (Wide receiver) and Mark Birmingham (tight end) both rank near the top of prospects in Virginia, but opted to take their talents to Duke instead. Joining them will be 3-star recruit Myles Hudzick from Arlington, Virginia. The safety committed to the Blue Devils in January.

A quick look around the rest of the ACC’s heavy hitters early in  the 2016 recruiting scene shows that a lack of household names doesn’t mean a poor class. Duke’s in state rival NC State has dominated recruiting in the Tar Heel State thus far, with three of six commits coming from North Carolina…Louisville has received four commitments, including one from borderline 4-star receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick…Virginia Tech has four commitments, all of the 3-star variety, but none from the state of Virginia, an area they have struggled with in recent years.

While still way too early, especially with commitments no longer holding the weight they once did, the recruiting picture in the ACC currently is looking solid. Some of the biggest names are still on the board, but with current recruiting powers Florida State and Clemson still appearing dominant, and some surprises from other schools, the ACC should factor heavily in the 2016 National Signing Day.

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