National Signing Day: Biggest win for each ACC team
Shed a tear. Or don’t, dependent on your feelings on a day that keeps the fax machine makers in business.
National Signing Day as we know it is — potentially — about to change, with reforms expected to be approved this spring that would add an early signing period in mid-December.
So Wednesday’s edition of the February three-ring circus may be the last of its kind, and it was one that had its key moments for the ACC.
The conference that claimed the national championship — via Clemson — and the Heisman Trophy — courtesy of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson — landed two of the nation’s top six players and four top 25 classes in all.
There were wins up and down the league’s membership. Here is the biggest win for each team on Signing Day, in order of their 247Sports class ranking.
• Florida State (6th): Four-star linebacker Levi Jones trolling the Seminoles (along with Florida) with his shirt stunt stung, but Jimbo Fisher had to feel better as he landed defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. The No. 1 player at the position and sixth overall, Wilson, along with five-star running back Cam Akers (an early enrollee), lead a class that is ranked sixth in the nation and is the seventh top-10 group in Fisher’s eight recruiting Signing Days.
• Miami (13th): The Hurricanes’ win was in delivering a statement kind of a class under Mark Richt in Year 2. One year after bringing in the 21st-ranked class Miami was 13th, which was it’s highest since coming in 12th in ’14 (when it added a group that included Brad Kaaya and Joseph Yearby). Richt did it with a strong presence in the Sunshine State, as 15 of the 24 players are Floridians.
• Clemson (16th): The defending champions signed 14 players in the smallest class of Dabo Swinney’s tenure, and its headliner, five-star wide receiver Tee Higgins, has been committed since July 4. Meanwhile, five-star quarterback Hunter Johnson enrolled last month. The best story, though, was the signing of a preferred walk-on, Swinney’s son Will, a wide receiver.
• Virginia Tech (25th): Justin Fuente lost out on four-star Tahj Capehart, a Virginia native who backed out of his verbal commitment to the Hokies and signed with Maryland. Still, the win was in this class standing as the program’s best since 2013 and includes a defensive back in Devon Hunter that could make an immediate impact in Blacksburg.
• North Carolina (27th): Four-star RB A.J. Davis could have challenged for serious carries given the turnover at the position in Chapel Hill. Instead, he landed with Pitt, but Larry Fedora still put together a strong class and landed three-star run athlete Dazz Newsome who chose the Tar Heels over Virginia Tech and Maryland after months of waffling.
• Louisville (32nd): Based on Rivals.com’s rankings, running back Colin Wilson out of Clay (Fla.) is the highest-ranked high school player the Cardinals have signed under Bobby Petrino. With Brandon Radcliff gone and L.J. Scott transferring to Eastern Kentucky, Wilson is a major threat to get the brunt of the handoffs from Jackson.
• Pitt (33rd): As previously mentioned, Davis joined the Panthers and gave Pat Narduzzi another weapon in his backfield along side 1,000-yard rusher Qadree Ollison. He was one of four four-star recruits and safety Paris Ford was the gem of the class, spurning the likes of Notre Dame, Ohio State to stay in-state and provide a likely lift to a pass defense that was next to last in ’16.
• Georgia Tech (46th): Paul Johnson brought in a pair of legacies in Bruce Jordan-Swilling and Tre Swilling, the sons of Yellow Jackets All-American Pat Swilling. Both were heavily recruited and Swilling committed to the Jackets first and Jordan-Swilling received a strong push from USC over the last month before Signing Day. “With very careful consideration I have decided to commit to Georgia Tech and continue the Swilling Legacy that my father and uncles started,” Tre wrote on Twitter.
• Duke (47th): A class of 22, stunningly, did not include a single in-state player. Twelve of those were on the defensive side of the ball, where the Blue Devils were 67th in yards allowed in ’16. Among those new pieces on D, David Cutcliffe brings in a player that could see serious time early with four-star end Drew Jordan.
• NC State (51st): Dave Doeren brought in a massive class of 27 players, with 18 of them of the three-star variety. Junior college All-American DT Larrell Murchison (Louisburg College) had originally committed to Ole Miss, but the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder also considered Georgia and Texas before giving the Wolfpack a boost.
• Virginia (54th): QB Marvin Zanders, who was a backup at Missouri and will head to Charlottesville with two years of eligibility is an intriguing piece to put in a derby that includes ’16 starter Kurt Benkert. But after allowing 36 sacks, Bronco Mendenhall had a focus on beefing up the Cavaliers offensive line. He did that, adding six O-linemen with the highest-ranked of the bunch being tackle Ryan Nelson from Buena Park, Calif.
• Syracuse (55th): JUCO transfer Ravian Pierce could be a serious weapon for QB Eric Dungey, with the four-star tight end joining the Orange after receiving offers from SEC schools Florida, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee. The position was a non-factor last season, as Cam MacPherson had just five receptions for 34 yards. Expect Pierce, who had 50 catches for 426 yards and two TDs for Southwest Mississippi — and who is already on campus — to change that.
• Wake Forest (64th): It was a low-key day for the Demon Deacons. As coach Dave Clawson noted in his recruiting luncheon “We sent out 19 national letters of intent, and got 19 back by 8:30 (a.m.).” Clawson lost QB Taylor Powell (Missouri) and safety Avery Showell (Georgia Tech), though the line will get a lift from three-star guard Allan Rappleyea out of Millbrook, N.Y.
• Boston College (66th): The Eagles landed the top player in the state of Massachusetts with three-star RB A.J. Dillon, who ran for over 1,722 yards and 23 TDs. But we may look back at the overall standing of this class being for one of its strangest footnotes. The QB play hasn’t been great under Steve Addazio, at least not since former Gator Tyler Murphy’s lone season at Chestnut Hill, and the coach addressed it by adding a whopping four in this class.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.
- A.J. Davis
- Florida State Seminoles
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- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
- Lamar Jackson
- LSU Tigers
- Mississippi State Bulldogs
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Virginia Tech Hokies
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons