ACC Football Positional Rankings 2013: Running Backs

Devonta Freeman and Florida State Headline the ACC's Running Backs for the 2013 Season

Devonta Freeman and Florida State Headline the ACC’s Running Backs for the 2013 Season

While we’re still over two months away from the season, it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off till July and August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.

This week, we’re on to the running backs (you can check out last week’s feature on quarterbacks, too). Though there’s not a whole lot of experience at the position — just one returning back (Syracuse’s Jerome Smith) rushed for 1,000 yards last year — this group makes up for a lot of that in potential. Many of the most talented runners this year will be sophomores or juniors, so that aforementioned experience will come with time. As for those who are seniors, many possess a significant leg-up, which you’ll find reflected here as well.

Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual quarterback is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of passers is. Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.

ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Running Backs

1. Florida State Seminoles: Injuries ravaged the Florida State backfield in 2012. But because of that, the team’s top two returning rushers, Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr., actually have quite a bit of experience under their respective belts (221 carries between them last year). They’re both vertical runners for the most part, doing most of their work in the middle of the line, but Wilder, in particular, also has some pass-catching ability out of the backfield (19 catches for 136 yards and two scores last year). Expect that role to expand this year, while also incorporating Mario Pender, who’s the quickest back on the roster and anxious to contribute after red-shirting last season.

2. Miami Hurricanes: Miami’s ranking here is purely on the strength of sophomore Duke Johnson, and his success is likely to decide how far the ‘Canes go this season. Despite splitting carries with Mike James last year, Johnson still ran for 947 yards and 10 scores, while tacking on another 1,133 yards from receiving and kick returns. With that on his resume in just one season, he’s now being listed among the most dynamic players in the country and will be the focal point of every gameplan against Miami. He won’t be acting alone in the backfield, but there’s no telling what to expect from backups Dallas Crawford or Eduardo Clements either.

3. Syracuse Orange: SU’s offense was largely seen as a pass-first attack in 2012, but its success in the season’s second half was heavily reliant on the running game. The Orange bring back everybody this year, and arguably have one of the deepest backfields in the country. The group will be guided by Jerome Smith (1,171 yards last year), but this will be a multi-back, run-first system. Expect Prince-Tyson Gulley to approach the 200-carry mark as well, while the team gets additional contributions from short-yardage specialist Adonis Ameen-Moore and jack-of-all-trades Ashton Broyld in hybrid WR/RB slot role.

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National Signing Day 2013: ACC Team Recruiting Rankings

Matthew Thomas and Florida State Are the Class of the ACC's 2013 Recruiting Classes

Matthew Thomas and Florida State Are the Class of the ACC’s 2013 Recruiting Classes

Earlier today, we covered the ACC‘s top 15 recruits from National Signing Day. Now, we take a closer look at each team’s haul and how it stacks up against their conferencemates (plus Louisville), 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 (22 commitments, 12 in ESPN300): FSU underwent a bit of a crisis a few weeks back, losing offensive coordinator James Coley to rival Miami, and possibly a ton of their recruits in the process. And yet, the collateral damage didn’t turn out all that bad. The ‘Noles still pulled down a boatload of top recruits from all across the south (especially Florida), filling most needs on both sides of the ball. This team will be forced to reload a bit in 2013, and this class helps them do that — most notably at linebacker, with five commits at the position. Top Recruit: Matthew Thomas, OLB (No. 6 overall, Grade: 90)

2. Clemson Tigers (23 commitments, 10 in ESPN300): Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney continued his recruiting hot streak, scoring another strong class packed with athletic defenders as he and D-coordinator Brent Venables fix this squad’s biggest weakness. While he wasn’t the most heralded member of the star-studded class, New York DE Ebenezer Ogundeko could end up being the hidden gem here, though he’ll need to bulk up a bit for the college game. Top Recruit: Mackensie Alexander, CB (No. 4 overall, Grade: 91)

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (22 commitments, 4 in ESPN300): Tech took advantage of a strong 2013 class coming out of Virginia, nabbing 14 in-state recruits. Overall, the group appears heavy on defense, which stays in line with what Frank Beamer’s staff has done consistently over the past two decades. Granted, that won’t help the team’s current offensive woes, but given some defensive issues this past season, bolstering that side can’t be a bad thing. Top Recruit: Kendall Fuller, CB (No. 18 overall, Grade: 88)

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National Signing Day 2013: Top 15 ACC Football Recruits

Clemson Signee Mackensie Alexander Headlines a Strong Class of ACC Recruits

Clemson Signee Mackensie Alexander Headlines a Strong Class of ACC Recruits

Without a doubt, National Signing Day 2013 was a bloodbath in favor of the SEC. Eight of the top 20 classes (per ESPN). Eleven of the top 25 recruits overall (again, per ESPN). And yet, the ACC still put up a pretty good fight (and a much better one than most are willing to give credit for). Unlike the top-heavy classes of the Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten — largely buoyed by two programs apiece atop the rankings — the ACC saw four different programs finish among ESPN’s top 20 classes, and carried six of the nation’s top 30 players. And that’s not even counting Notre Dame.

All that aside, however, this is about the best players the ACC brought in the door this National Signing Day. Below are the top 15 recruits of the class of 2013, using ratings by ESPN for consistency’s sake:

1. Mackensie Alexander, CB/Clemson (No. 4 overall, Grade: 91)

2. Matthew Thomas, OLB/Florida State (No. 6 overall, Grade: 90)

3. Jalen Ramsey, CB/Florida State (No. 14 overall, Grade: 89)

4. Kendall Fuller, CB/Virginia Tech (No. 18, Grade: 88)

5. Dorian Johnson, OT/Pittsburgh (No. 29, Grade: 88)

6. Ryan Green, ATH/Florida State (No. 30, Grade: 88)

7. Demarcus Walker, DT/Florida State (No. 40, Grade: 87)

8. Stacy Coley, WR/MIami (FL) (No. 47, Grade: 87)

9. Al-Quadin Mohammad, DE/Miami (FL) (No. 58, Grade: 85)

10. Artie Burns, CB/Miami (FL) (No. 70, Grade: 85)

11. Levonte Whitfield, ATH/Florida State (No. 74, Grade: 85)

12. Taquan Mizzell, RB/Virginia (No. 75, Grade: 85)

13. Ben Boulware, ILB/Clemson (No. 78, Grade: 84)

14. James Quick, WR/Louisville (No. 79, Grade: 84)

15. Kevin Olsen, QB/Miami (FL) (No. 87, Grade: 84)

No one would argue that Florida State and Miami (along with Clemson) carried the flag for the conference this year, though at the same time, there was also plenty of recruiting diversification. Seven different schools are represented among these top 15; which is half the league. You go a little bit further down the list, and you’ll find many of the other schools too. Even one like North Carolina — largely a “basketball school” and without a recruit until number 118 on ESPN’s list — still finishes 20th overall, despite a class of just 17 players total.

Want to see a full breakdown of every ACC team’s class? Check back in an hour for our team-by-team rankings.

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ACC Football Recruiting Class of 2013 Rankings Update (December 20)

Jimbo Fisher and Florida State Continue to Win Big on the Recruiting Trail

Jimbo Fisher and Florida State Continue to Win Big on the Recruiting Trail

As we pointed out back in October, we’ve revamped recruiting coverage a bit. While in-season recruiting has slowed up some, we still saw movement over the past month, with the ACC taking its fair share of lumps and losing a handful of solid recruits. You’ll notice this dip in the overall numbers across the board.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of ACC recruiting rankings from Rivals, 247Sports and Scout, as well as a breakdown of ACC players currently ranked in the ESPN 300.

ACC Football 2013 Recruiting Rankings (December 20)

Each service compiles rankings with a different scoring system, using the total number of points accumulated per school to decide their rank compared to all other classes. However, this also provides an unfair advantage to larger classes, emphasizing quantity over quality. With that in mind, we also included averages, to account for high-quality, smaller classes. For schools like Louisville and Syracuse, looking at smaller overall classes, the total score hurt quite a bit. For schools with larger recruiting classes, like Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, saw their rankings get a boost. Also note that while Scout and Rivals use the standard “stars” system (1-5), 247Sports has an algorithm out of 100 that they explain on their site. Under “composite” below, you’ll find the average ranking score for each school (using both total score and average score), so we can get a much fuller picture on the quality of respective classes using a variety of methods.

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ACC Football Recruiting Class of 2013 Rankings Update (October 26)

Rumors Swirl Around Robert Nkemdiche, but Clemson’s Class Continues to Rank Among Country’s Best

We’ve revamped recruiting coverage since last month’s update, now showing more in-depth comparisons from several services, as opposed to just one. While in-season recruiting has slowed up some, we still saw movement over the past month, with some of the top teams adding to their stockpile of solid recruits. The speculation around number-one recruit Robert Nkemdiche also continues, as Clemson fans hold their breath and hope he remains committed.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of ACC recruiting rankings from Rivals, 247Sports and Scout, as well as a breakdown of ACC players currently ranked in the ESPN 300.

ACC Football 2013 Recruiting Rankings (October 26)

Each service compiles rankings with a different scoring system, using the total number of points accumulated per school to decide their rank compared to all other classes. However, this also provides an unfair advantage to larger classes, emphasizing quantity over quality. With that in mind, we also included averages, to account for high-quality, smaller classes. For some schools, like Miami, numbers jumped up considerably under this guidance, while schools like Maryland and Pittsburgh saw their rankings plummet when emphasizing averages. Also note that while Scout and Rivals use the standard “stars” system (1-5), 247Sports has an algorithm out of 100 that they explain on their site. Under “composite” below, you’ll find the average ranking score for each school (using both total score and average score), so we can get a much fuller picture on the quality of respective classes using a variety of methods.

TEAM Total Players Scout (pts) Scout (avg) Rivals (pts) Rivals (avg) 247 (pts) 247 (avg) Composite
Clemson 19 12 13 (3.53) 11 13 (3.47) 9 16 (89.26) 12.33
Florida State 16 16 18 (3.38) 14 15 (3.44) 16 12 (90) 18.20
Virginia Tech 19 26 23 (3.19) 16 18 (3.33) 12 17 (89.11) 18.67
North Carolina 19 18 25 (3.11) 17 24 (3.21) 17 19 (88.26) 20.00
Miami 11 27 6 (3.80) 42 12 (3.55) 40 14 (89.64) 23.50
Virginia 20 29 33 (2.94) 19 23 (3.22) 18 24 (87.05) 24.33
Maryland 17 44 51 (2.71) 40 59 (2.76) 28 41 (84.12) 43.83
Georgia Tech 13 50 41 (2.85) 49 33 (3.08) 54 44 (83.77) 45.17
Pittsburgh 19 38 44 (2.78) 37 70 (2.58) 41 56 (81.89) 47.67
NC State 20 54 67 (2.39) 29 49 (2.89) 43 57 (81.65) 49.83
Boston College 17 61 77 (2.31) 50 64 (2.69) 51 59 (81.24) 60.33
Duke 16 58 68 (2.38) 53 72 (2.56) 56 62 (80.75) 61.50
Syracuse 9 74 73 (2.33) 80 60 (2.75) 86 60 (81.11) 72.17
Wake Forest 11 70 63 (2.46) 72 75 (2.55) 81 84 (78.45) 74.17

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