Commentary

ACC Atlantic recruiting breakdown

Originally Published: January 18, 2010
By Craig Haubert | Scouts Inc.

The ACC Atlantic took a bit of backseat to the ACC Coastal division this year because no team was able to notch a 10-win season. However, the big story in the division was the end of Bobby Bowden's era at Florida State.

Despite the legendary coach's leaving, the Seminoles are in a position to land the No. 1 rated class in the conference. Florida State is the only team in the ACC to boast two five-star prospects. Clemson is the only other program in position to land a top-25 class among the Atlantic teams, but NC State could also contend for a spot. Although the division hasn't made a big impact as a whole, the ACC Atlantic does have some promising quarterback prospects coming in.

Boston College

Boston College

Commits: 20 | ESPNU 150: 0

The Eagles have never landed a top-25 class in the Scouts Inc. era but have still managed to win and play in bowl games. Boston College has been able to identify talented players who fit its system and coach them up when they arrive. It looks as though once again they will fall short of posting a top-20 class, but despite that, there is some promising talent on board. In addition to landing one of the top 10 quarterback prospects in the class, the Eagles have also landed several receiver prospects led by Shakim Phillips (Wayne, N.J./DePaul Catholic) and Bobby Swigert (Louisville, Ohio) to help a passing attack that ranked No. 93 nationally. Having produced some good college linebackers, the Eagles are bringing in a pair of good linebacker prospects in Kevin Pierre-Louis (Stamford, Conn./King Low Heywood Thomas) and Steele Divitto (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco).

Top prospect: The quarterback position was an area of concern for Boston College heading into the 2009 season, but former minor league baseball player Dave Shinskie did a solid job after taking over the position. While Shinskie will remain a presence, the Eagles are smartly bringing in a talented quarterback prospect in Chase Rettig (Sierra Madre, Calif./San Clemente). The Under Armour All-American from the West Coast has very good raw tools and a big arm. He could use further development and more consistency, but has the ability to develop into a good quarterback for BC.

Don't be surprised if: Boston College tries to bring in more help at running back by national signing day. Depth was lacking last season at the position, and this class has only one running back currently on board. While Montel Harris did a good job carrying the load last year, it remains a position of need.


Clemson

Clemson

Commits: 21 | ESPNU 150: 2

The Tigers have not been able to reach the same heights that they did with their 2008 class when they finished ranked No. 2, but under Dabo Swinney they have continued to assemble top-25 classes. After finishing with the No. 19-ranked class a year ago, they currently sit in that same spot. The class has only two ESPNU 150 prospects and lacks some of the big names they have been able to lure in the past but is still solid and features five four-star prospects.

Three talented athlete prospects, Garry Peters (Conyers, Ga./Heritage), Vic Beasley (Adairsville, Ga.) and DeAndre Hopkins (Central, S.C./D.W. Daniel), highlight this class. While we believe Peters and Beasley will fit best on defense, all three can play on either side of the ball and offer Clemson versatility. A recent addition was defensive end Tavaris Barnes (Jacksonville, Fla./Battery Creek) who decommitted from Florida State to join the Tigers' class.

Top prospect: Martavis Bryant (Anderson, S.C./T.L. Hanna) is an excellent combination of size and straight-line speed at wide receiver, and the ESPNU 150 receiver can use that speed to help present a vertical presence. He will also use his size and reach to help shield defenders and attack the ball at its highest point. Bryant is a good in-state pickup and could help a passing offense that ranked No. 88 this past season.

Don't be surprised if: The Tigers make a run at a higher ranking next year, because they are already off to a hot start with their 2011 class by landing five ESPNU 150 Watch List prospects.


Florida State

Florida State

Commits: 21 | ESPNU 150: 7

It was not a great year for the Seminoles: They won only seven games and parted ways with Bowden. Florida State did finish the season well, winning three of four, including sending Bowden out with a win in their bowl game against West Virginia. The new era under Jimbo Fisher got off to hot start, as he took an already solid class and elevated it by bringing on board two five-star prospects soon after his transition to head coach. The class, which currently sits on the cusp of the top 10, recently added Terrence Mitchell (Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough) and has eight prospects committed who rank among the top 15 at their respective positions.

A familiar name to some in this class will be Clint Trickett (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian), son of Seminoles offensive line coach Rick Trickett. He may be related to one of the coaches, but he is also a good quarterback with promising upside. He needs to add bulk to his lean frame but plays the position well and has a competitive nature.

Top prospect: There is not much distance between the Seminoles' top two prospects: Lamarcus Joyner (Miami/St. Thomas Aquinas) ranks No. 6 nationally, and Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Treasure Coast) ranks No. 11; both are No. 1 at their position. Luc, the top inside linebacker, should get a chance to make an impact early as the Seminoles try to improve their run defense, which ranked No. 108 last year. A physically impressive and aggressive player, Luc is very good playing downhill and is stout between the tackles.

Joyner is listed as the No. 1 cornerback, but he is an overall good athlete, a fine football player and could help Florida State in numerous ways. He lacks ideal size, but does have a good wingspan and excellent speed and is tough. He has a bright future in the secondary as a corner or safety, but could also make an impact as a return man.

Don't be surprised if: Joyner eventually gets some reps on offense, because he could bring some big-play presence to that side of the ball. In addition, don't be surprised if Florida State adds No. 2-ranked outside linebacker Christian Jones (Oviedo, Fla./Lake Howell) to its class by national signing day. Jones is considering several schools, but his father and brother played at Florida State.


Maryland

Maryland

Commits: 20 | ESPNU 150: 0

It was not a good year for the Terrapins, who were able to notch only two wins. While their season didn't help to build any momentum on the recruiting trail, Maryland has landed some good prospects including the recently added Javarie Johnson (Washington/Dunbar) who decommitted from Miami to join the Terps' class. Johnson is an athletic prospect who could offer Maryland some options in how they use him on defense and should be able to contribute quickly as a pass-rusher. A strength of this class is the defensive line because they have several good prospects committed, in addition to Johnson, including Andre Monroe (Washington/St. John's College) -- an undersized but quick and active defensive tackle.

Top prospect: A huge get for Maryland was quarterback Tyler Smith (Easton, Pa./Wilson Area), who is the No. 8-ranked quarterback. He has a good frame, which he needs to keep developing, as well as a rocket arm and deceptively good athleticism. His delivery is compact and very quick. Plus, he is a good ball handler. Smith has a lot of ability and upside and could become the face of this offense over the next few seasons.

Don't be surprised if: Smith contends for the starting quarterback position this fall. The Terrapins have several young quarterbacks on the roster, but Smith will arguably be the most talented and could push the rest of the pack.


NC State

NC State

Commits: 22 | ESPNU 150: 1

Tom O'Brien and his staff have been busy within their own recruiting base landing several players from the Carolinas, including their top two prospects. The defensive line has some good talent incoming, led by Fre'Shad Hunter (Cary, N.C.). Hunter is a defensive end with good size who plays the position well. He had some off-field issues in his senior year, but if he can stay focused, he could be a very good defender for the Wolfpack. Thomas Teal (Bennettsville, S.C./Marlboro) is a good big man who can be disruptive in the trenches. A good pickup in the secondary was David Amerson (Greensboro, N.C./Dudley), who is a promising defensive back. He is a tall, fluid and physical player who had a strong showing in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

Top prospect: The Wolfpack were able to land one of top offensive tackle prospects in this class in Robert Crisp (Hillsborough, N.C./Cedar Ridge). The in-state prospect is a big player with good athleticism and quickness for his size. He should be a welcome addition for an offense that struggled to run the ball and protect the quarterback in 2009. We see Crisp fitting well at right tackle for NC State, especially early on.

Don't be surprised if: NC State lands a running back prospect before signing day, because the Wolfpack recently found out that their leading rusher from 2009, Toney Baker, is opting for the NFL draft. A prospect to keep a close eye on is Mustafa Greene (Columbia, S.C./Irmo), for whom the Wolfpack are in the running.


Wake Forest

Wake Forest

Commits: 18 | ESPNU 150: 0

The Demon Deacons fell short of a bowl this season but look poised to remain competitive with a solid 2010 class. Jim Grobe and his staff currently have six prospects on board who rank among the top 35 at their position, including Zachary Allen (Pahokee, Fla.). He is listed as the No. 25-rated outside linebacker but is also a talented tight end and is a nice pickup for Wake Forest. There is also a pair of top-30 quarterback prospects on board in Eddie Sullivan (Boca Raton, Fla./Community) and lefty Tanner Price (Austin, Texas/Westlake).

Top prospect: A good in-state pickup for Wake Forest was A.J. Marshall (Durham, N.C./Southern Durham), the No. 19-rated cornerback. He is a savvy player with excellent quickness and awareness in coverage. He needs to add bulk, but he has good ball skills and comes across as a smart player at the position.

Don't be surprised if: Wake Forest falls short of bowl eligibility again next season but its recruiting has it back in bowl contention soon after that.

Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has more than a decade of coaching experience. Gerry Hamilton contributed to this report.