National Signing Day 2012: ACC Team Recruiting Rankings

With Players Like Mario Edwards, Florida State's Recruiting Class May Be the ACC's (and the Nation's) Best

We previously covered the top-ranked players successfully recruited by ACC schools on National Signing Day. Now, we take a closer look at each team’s haul and how it stacks up against their conferencemates, while also highlighting each school’s top recruit. Once again, we’ll be using ESPN’s rankings for consistency’s sake. Please don’t take that as us putting too much stock in these (or any) numbers, however.

1. Florida State Seminoles (19 commitments; 10 in ESPNU Top 150): Florida State cleaned house, going blow-for-blow with the SEC‘s top programs and ultimately landing either the nation’s best, or second-best recruiting class. With a focus on team speed, the Seminoles bolstered themselves on both sides of the ball with a frighteningly good batch of players — some of whom will jump right in to contribute. Top Recruit: Mario Edwards, DE (No. 1 overall, Grade: 90)

2. Miami Hurricanes (33 commitments, 6 in ESPNU top 150): It would appear that off-the-field issues matter very little to this incoming class, which is great for the Hurricanes. In spite of the threat of a multiple-year postseason ban, the ‘Canes lured in an enormous class, mostly based on tradition and their locale. If nothing else, it’s a PR victory for coach Al Golden and his staff. Top Recruit: Tracy Howard, CB (No. 18 overall, Grade: 83)

3. Clemson Tigers (20 commitments, 6 in ESPNU top 150): Either Clemson’s recruits didn’t tune in to their Orange Bowl thrashing last month, or they did, and see it as an opportunity. While offense was surely a big part of this class, the Tigers grabbed plenty of help on defense, too, with the hopes of improving an effort that appeared subpar more often than not (see 70-33 bowl beatdown). Top Recruit: Travis Blanks, S (No. 15 overall, Grade: 84)

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (30 commitments, 1 in ESPNU top 150): As always, Frank Beamer stressed going after athletes who could play football first of all, and then worry about plugging them into his system (especially on the defensive side of the ball). While lacking a huge star, it’s a deep class of quality guys (there’s an enormous concentration of players rated at a grade of 78) that will play where they’re needed. Top Recruit: Joel Caleb, ATH (No. 83, Grade: 81)

5. Virginia Cavaliers (26 commitments, 1 in ESPNU top 150): The Cavaliers 2012 class is all over the map — covering all positions, and most of the eastern seaboard. After a surprisingly successful season, it appears word spread quickly, and the result was a shockingly good group coming in, keeping the program on its apparent upswing. Top Recruit: Eli Harold, DE (No. 124 overall, Grade: 80)

6. Pittsburgh Panthers (16 commitments, 1 in ESPNU top 150): Yes, the Panthers’ incoming class may appear small, but from a quality standpoint, they couldn’t have asked for much better. Amidst coaching tumult and turnover, they landed one of the country’s best running backs, and four other four-star recruits. For the most part, they owned the Ohio Valley area — a huge boost for them, considering the depth of talent there. Top Recruit: Rushell Shell, RB (No. 26 overall, Grade: 83)

7. North Carolina Tar Heels (23 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): Facing their own pending off-field sentencing, the Heels are another team that could have potentially fallen flat on the recruiting front. Yet, UNC pulled in a deep, quality class consisting almost exclusively of four- and three-star players on the lines and at wide receiver. With a lot of seniors leaving the defense, these freshmen will get a chance to show something right away. Top Recruit: Caleb Peterson, G (NR, Grade: 80)

8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (17 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): Understanding where his team’s issues lied, coach Paul Johnson aggressively pursued defenders in the class of 2012 and came away with winners across the board. While they may take some time to acclimate into the system, Tech took the right steps toward building themselves into a complete team by targeting its biggest weakness. Top Recruit: Justin Thomas, ATH (NR, Grade: 80)

9. Maryland Terrapins (25 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): Beleaguered coach Randy Edsall at least managed to muzzle his critics briefly this recruiting season, bringing in a large class of eastern players whom all address specific needs. Given the defense’s general ineptitude in 2011, this class should be a breath of fresh(er) air, but the final test will be their on-field performances, not meaningless grades. Top Recruit: Mike Madaras, OT (NR, Grade: 80)

10. Syracuse Orange (24 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): While locking down many top New York recruits from both upstate and the NYC/Long Island area, this was a truly national class for Syracuse. The states of Georgia and California both have multiple representatives, plus grading is also a bit off with this crew due to its three non-rated JUCO transfers, who should jump in quickly. Top Recruit: Wayne Morgan, S (NR, Grade: 80)

11. NC State Wolfpack (23 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): NC State failed to pull down any over-the-top, amazing prospects in this class, but made up for that in quantity. It’s a mostly regional group, but spread completely across the board in terms of positions. Right off the bat, you can tell that rushing the passer and the running game (weaknesses in 2011) were among their biggest focuses. Top Recruit: Kenderius Whitehead, DE (NR, Grade: 79)

12. Boston College Eagles (16 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): Boston College managed to keep with a consistent style in their mostly local recruiting class. Going for tight ends, O-line help and linebackers, they’ll continue a grind-it-out methodology that has failed to generate much points, but plenty of defense for them in recent years. Top Recruit: Frank Taylor, G (NR, Grade: 79)

13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (19 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): One of just two ACC schools to fail to pull down a four-star recruit, Wake scoured the southeast and came up with a lot of offense — likely to treat their late-season scoring collapse in 2011. If the class of 2012 can come in and make a dent on offense, this team could make waves, given the returning starters on the other side of the ball. Top Recruit: Tyler Cameron, QB (NR, Grade: 78)

14. Duke Blue Devils (20 commitments, 0 in ESPNU top 150): Duke’s top-rated recruit was a kicker. That may be all we need to say about this class. As much as Blue Devils football has made strides in perception under David Cutcliffe, there’s still something missing when it comes to the talent front, and the class of 2012 may sit front and center at that point. Recruiting was all over the board geographically and position-wise, something we’ll hold a verdict on until the season starts. Top Recruit: Ross Martin, K (NR, Grade: 79)

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