Miami, Clemson sign outstanding classes
Coach Randy Shannon did an outstanding job landing top-tier defensive talent in his first full recruiting class. The Canes boast five of the top seven outside linebackers, led by the top three -- Arthur Brown (Wichita, Kan./East), Sean Spence (Miami/Northwestern) and signing day recommit Ramon Buchanan (Melbourne, Fla./Palm Bay). The talent continues up front with Marcus Fortson (Miami/ Northwestern), the country's No. 1-rated defensive tackle. Taylor Cook (Eagle Lake, Texas/Rice) and Jacory Harris (Miami/Northwestern) have different types of games but are both quality quarterback prospects. ESPN 150 receivers Aldarius Johnson (Miami/Northwestern) and Davon Johnson (Miami/Booker T. Washington) both project to haul in a bunch of balls in their careers.
This year's surprise class closed with a bang down the stretch on signing day with signatures from No. 6 offensive tackle Antoine McClain (Anniston, Ala.), No. 3 tight end Dwayne Allen (Fayetteville, S.C./Terry Sanford) and No. 3 running back Jamie Harper (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian). This was all while ESPN's No. 1-rated overall prospect, DaQuan Bowers (Bamberg, S.C./Bamberg-Ehrhardt), was already hitting the books on Clemson's campus with No. 4-rated quarterback Kyle Parker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bartram Trail).
Offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders (Clayton, Ohio/North Clayton) was a nice pickup down the stretch, but Bobby Bowden did not close as strong in 2008 as he usually does. FSU did sign four top-50 overall prospects and got off to an unusually fast start. ESPN's No. 5-rated corner Terrance Parks (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) fits perfectly in legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews 4-3/Cover 2 scheme and could challenge for early playing time; he is already on campus this spring. Parks teams up with inside linebacker Nigel Bradham (Crawfordville, Fla./Wakulla) and outside 'backer Nigel Carr (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) to give Florida State three top-five positional prospects on defense, all with the skills and physical development to contribute early. Help is on the way at quarterback with E.J. Manuel (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), which may have Jimbo Fisher thinking back to his days of grooming JaMarcus Russell at LSU.
Frank Beamer should continue producing top-ranked defenses and excellent special teams with this talented class. Eddie Whitley (Matthews, N.C./Butler) fills a need and adds value at corner with his great size, range and potential to also play safety. Projected safety Lorenzo Williams (Fayetteville, N.C./Westover) possesses similar tools at defensive back. Projected end Dwight Tucker (Oviedo, Fla.) is a sleeper with vertical attacking speed. No. 14-rated inside linebacker Allen Stephens (South Boston, Va./Halifax County) is one of the more powerful between-the-tackles run stuffers in this class. Fellow linebacker Bruce Taylor (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) possesses size and straight-line closing speed. Ryan Williams (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) is a great, shifty, workhorse back who should soon be ready to take the reigns from Brandon Ore. Offensive line was also addressed with 6-foot-6, 79-grade offensive tackles Vinston Painter (Norfolk, Va./Maury) and Nick Becton (Wilmington, N.C./New Hanover).
Tom O'Brien probably did not achieve the success he desired in his first-year at NC State, but off the field the former Boston College head coach built a quality recruiting class in 2008. Quarterback Mike Glennon (Centreville, Va./ Westfield) possesses the size, arm strength and quick release to excel as a college quarterback and the intangibles to lead a rebuilding program. ESPN's No. 8-rated athlete, Brandon Barnes (Bunn, NC), is a nice addition and will likely settle in at safety. Quality additions were made in the secondary, wide receiver and along the offensive front.
The Yellow Jackets lost some key commits when Chan Gailey was fired, but former Navy coach Paul Johnson still inherited a solid class and filled down the stretch with his own personnel. Malcolm Munroe (Miami/Coral Reef) is a potential playmaker on defense projecting best as an outside linebacker. Three prospects with solid 77 Scouts Inc. grades and top-50 positional rankings will join Munroe, led by corner Jon Lockhart (Blounstown, Fla.). Hybrid safety Cooper Taylor (Atlanta/Marist) could be joined on the defense by fellow Georgia native Steven Sylvester (McDonough, Ga./Union Grove), who was an impressive high school running back but also has good outside linebacker measurables. Powerful Richard Watson (Tallahassee, Fla./FAMU) fits Johnson's mold at fullback, and dual-threat quarterback Tevin Washington (Wetumpka, Ala.) was a good pickup down the stretch.
Running back Josh Haden (Fort Washington, Md./Friendly Senior) comes from good lineage -- recruiting fans may remember his brother Joe in 2007's class who played as a true freshman for the Florida Gators. Quarterback Justin Tuggle (Duluth, Ga./Northview) is perhaps a better athlete at this time than a pure quarterback, but the powerful arm is present and he could develop into a playmaker with more reps and polish. Ugo Okpara (Sugarland, Texas/John Foster Dulles) earned his No. 18 QB ranking with his solid size and speed combination. Okechuckwu Okoroha (Greenbelt, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) is one of the more well-balanced run and pass supporters in the 2008 defensive back class. BC upgraded in speed and athleticism by continuing to move south in its recruiting efforts.
Kenny Tate (Forestville, Md/Dematha) is a top-20 receiver, but if prospects were rated on pure upside, wide receiver Kerry Boykins (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith) might be rated ahead of him in the ESPN 150. Boykins has playmaker written all over him; he has great hands and a supreme blend of size and athleticism. Boykins and the top half of this Maryland class, comprised of four top-20 positional prospects, are solid. Defensive tackle Masengo Kabongo (Fairfield, Conn.) can be explosive off the ball and disruptive down the line of scrimmage, and he possesses the tools to blossom at the next level. Stacking behind him at inside linebacker is Demetrius Hartsfield (Raleigh, N.C./Southeast), a potential sleeper if he can fill out his frame and retain his quickness and fast-twitched athleticism between the tackles.
This recruiting class was a disappointment for Butch Davis and the Tar Heels after landing the No. 11 class a year ago. UNC did land some good prospects to complement the large group of freshmen employed by Davis this past fall while also addressing some needs. Zach Brown (Columbia, Md./Hargrave Military Academy) committed to the Tar Heels while prepping at Hargrave, and the extra year only enhanced the physical tools we were impressed with last year. Kevin Reddick (New Bern, N.C.) joins Brown at linebacker and is a top-25 positional prospect. The offense got a boost with Jamal Womble (Sierra Vista, Ariz./Buena), a future workhorse in Chapel Hill given his great size and lower-body strength.
Linebacker Riley Haynes (Ponte Verda, Fla./Nease) may lack some size, but he plays harder and is more physical than his listed measurables and consistently made plays close to the line of scrimmage during his high school career. Wake needed to find its next Kenny Moore while also infusing some young depth at the receiver position. Athlete Terence Davis (Snellville, Ga./Brookwood) possesses the size and natural gifts to develop into a good deep threat with some polish. Wake also needed to a land a talented, young tight end due to the graduations of John Tereshinski and Zac Selmon, and they found one in Andrew Parker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bartram Trail). The No. 26 prospect at the position displays solid blocking skills while flashing the speed needed to pose a vertical threat in the passing game.
Unfortunately for Ted Roof, he won't be around to reap the benefits of one of the better classes he recruited while at Duke. David Cutcliffe inherits four prospects with a grade of 77 or higher, led by top-20 athlete Donovan Varner (Miami/Gulliver Prep). Varner is small but shows great speed and quickness, excelling in all three phases of the game in high school. He is joined by Matt Daniels (Fayetteville, Ga./Fayette County), a talented safety with the blend of size, speed and coverage skills that make him a steal for the Blue Devils. Jay Hollingsworth (Lee County, N.C.), a projected running back with great athleticism and good in-line running strength, was a solid pickup.
Al Groh can develop talent, but this is Virginia's third straight class without an ESPN 150 member, and the quality from top to bottom is marginal in 2008. Projected safety Ausar Walcott (Hackensack, N.J.) has a great frame, range and overall versatility as both a run and pass supporter. Tight end Colter Phillips (Bethesda, Md./Georgetown Prep) gives Virginia much-needed receiving skills and a big target on intermediate routes. Torrey Mack (Stratford, Conn.) could develop into a workhorse at running back with his frame and slashing style. Rodney McLeod (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) is a versatile athlete with the quickness to play receiver and the closing speed to play corner.
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National signing day 2008
What schools have the best classes? Where are the top undecided recruits heading? ESPN.com and Scouts Inc. have you covered in the final month leading up to national signing day.
• Top 25 class rankings
• Team grades: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | SEC
• Team grades: Big 12 | Pac-10 | Best of the rest
• Lawlor: Pryor's choice is not to choose just yet
• Hudson: Jones stays home to play for Alabama
• Signing day blog
• Signing day chat wrap
• Behind the scenes on signing day
• Tucker: Top uncommitted prospects
• Schlabach: Michigan's future could hinge on Pryor
• Forde: Verbals can be risky business
• Florida climbs to No. 1 in class rankings
• WIR: Pryor announcement could be on hold
• Dinich: Recruiting pipelines
• Lawlor: Proud HS coaches
• Dinich: Long and winding road for assistants
• Conley: What happens on home visits
• WIR: Watching the early entries
• Top 10 undecided prospects
• Conley: The final push
• WIR: Uncommitted prospects hit the road
• DaQuan Bowers tops final ESPN 150
• Pac-10 part one | Part two
• ACC Atlantic | ACC Coastal
• Big Ten part one | Part two
• Big 12 North | Big 12 South
• Big East
• Notre Dame and best of non-BCS
• SEC East | SEC West
• Follow the latest commitments