February 1, 2006

ACC Breakdown

With late closers like Bobby Bowden and Larry Coker on the scene for the ACC, anything can happen close to Signing Day.

The final days of the 2006 recruiting process definitely shaped the conference breakdown. On the other hand, even going into Signing Day, it was going to be tough for anyone to catch the Florida State Seminoles in the race for No. 1 in the conference. But the rest of the ACC made things interesting, pulling out some surprises at the end to boost their overall group.

Breaking down the ACC
1. Florida State National Rank: 3rd
It's no surprise that Florida State won the ACC recruiting title. This class is loaded with talent. The Seminoles targeted the trenches this year as they focused on offensive and defensive linemen. They have a foundation for both sides as well as some immediate impact players.
Biggest recruit: Defensive back Myron Rolle was an early five-star commitment for the 'Noles and should contribute right away as a January enrollee. But watch out for defensive end Justin Mincey as well. He could be special.
Sleeper: Linebacker Dekoda Watson is one of those undersized, athletic linebackers who could turn into something unexpected at FSU.
2. Miami National Rank: 14th
The Hurricanes were stung when they lost another quarterback late but filled needs almost everywhere else. The defensive backfield looks special, and they have three talented tailbacks. It is a solid class considering the loss of assistants in January.
Biggest recruit: It's hard to believe there isn't a five-star recruit headed to Miami, but prep school stud Richard Gordon is close enough. He has amazing speed off the edge for a big defensive end and has NFL written all over him.
Sleeper: How about the replacement quarterback, Daniel Stegall? He certainly looks too talented for Arkansas State. Maybe he surprises everyone and becomes the man.
3. Clemson National Rank: 15th
For a guy whose job always seems to be on the line, Tommy Bowden just keeps on ticking and certainly knows how to recruit. This is a strong class, especially on the defensive side of the ball where the Tigers should be tough to handle for years to come.
Biggest recruit: Clearly it's defensive end Ricky Sapp, a franchise rush end with awesome speed and quickness. He'll be a quarterback's nightmare in a couple of years, and the offense will have to account for him on each play.
Sleeper: Offensive tackle Jamal Medlin has a great frame and long arms. He's strong and has good feet as well. He could be a three-year guy at right tackle.
4. Maryland National Rank: 29th
Maryland lost the in-state battle, but the Terps did well making up for it in states they usually don't recruit hard like Colorado and Michigan. They got a marquee quarterback and some speed on offense while improving their outside pass rush and up the middle on defense. The only thing missing is a big defensive tackle.
Biggest recruit: Prep school star Melvin Alaeze is easily the top recruit in this class, but when it comes to high schoolers, Jeremy Ricker has the potential to be something special under the tutelage of Ralph Friedgen.
Sleeper: Watch out for Emani Lee. He's raw but he has good size and speed. Once he fills out he could do some damage.
5. North Carolina National Rank: 30th
The Tar Heels focused in state and came away with a solid class and one of the more athletic ones under John Bunting. There are a ton of players who could line up at multiple positions, which allows for a lot of flexibility. The skill position guys have good size and are very quick.
Biggest recruit: Linebacker Jarrell Miller is a huge get for the Heels. Not only does he come from a school that usually sends players to rival Virginia Tech, but he's physically ready to play early. He combines size and adequate lateral quickness, but his instincts and hitting set him apart.
Sleeper: Anthony Parker-Boyd might not end up at quarterback at North Carolina, but he should end up somewhere on the two-deep depth chart before long. He's a smooth athlete who makes things look effortless. If he can pick up a new position, he'll be a contributor.
6. Virginia Tech National Rank: 32nd
The Hokies struggled down the stretch a bit but still put together the nation's best defensive line class. They also helped themselves along the offensive line and at wide receiver but could have used a marquee tailback. Overall a nice class but a bit below their standards.
Biggest recruit: Jersey defensive end Jason Adjepong is a beast and could be the next great defensive lineman for the Hokies. He combines raw power and quickness with a great motor and should help fill the gap left by Darryl Tapp right away.
Sleeper: Defensive back Rashad Carmichael has the physical skills to be a shutdown cornerback. With Tech's tremendous speed and strength program, he could develop into a good one.
7. Boston College National Rank: 37th
Ironically, Boston College ended up with a class largely from New England despite its first year in the ACC. The move to the new conference was supposed to broaden the Eagles' reach, but the talent close to home was too good to pass up. This class is very fast and will help them keep up in the speedier ACC.
Biggest recruit: Tight end Jordon McMichael is a matchup nightmare tight to the tackle or in the slot. His 6-foot-6 frame and ability to stretch the field will make him a go-to option for BC quarterbacks down the line.
Sleeper: Bill Flutie is listed as a quarterback, but he can play tight end, wide receiver or defensive back. He's also an excellent kicker and should help the BC special teams. Plus, his name is Flutie, so don't bet against a surprising career.
8. Virginia National Rank: 39th
Things certainly didn't end well for Virginia, and the coaching defection following the season didn't help either. However, the Cavs did well at linebacker and might have found their next great tight end. A lot of recruits will have to surprise in this class, though, as it doesn't quite compare to previous years.
Biggest recruit: Virginia likes to pass to the tight end. New Jersey stud Joe Torchia likes to catch the football. It seems like a match made in heaven. The 6-foot-5 target could follow Heath Miller off to the NFL in four or five years.
Sleeper: Plenty of candidates here, but linebacker Almondo Sewell has the size and quickness to roam the middle for Virginia for the next few years.
9. Duke National Rank: 55th
This is a good class by Duke standards, and plenty of these guys should see early playing time. The Blue Devils' running game should improve with the addition of two strong tight ends and one of the nation's top fullbacks, but a lack of speed is once again a big question.
Biggest recruit: Fullback Brandon King had an offer from Oklahoma but decided that academics and the chance to play early were more important. He's a bulldozer and Ted Roof will be tempted to run some one-back sets with him.
Sleeper: Wide receiver Sheldon Bell has a long frame and can go up and get the football. If he can improve his speed a tick while adding weight, he'll catch a lot of balls.
10. N.C. State National Rank: 56th
Chuck Amato continued to do what he has been doing since he arrived in Raleigh, landing some good players in state and some good players from Florida. The problem this year is that the good ones from both places are a notch below what he's been able to do in the past. There are some fast players in this group, and quarterback Justin Burke could be a good one. But overall this has to be a disappointing class for Wolfpack fans.
Biggest recruit: Darrell Davis is their best get from Florida and he is a good one. He has size and speed and could play strong safety, linebacker or wide receiver. He's a very physical player.
Sleeper: Wide receiver Owen Spencer needs to fill out, but he's tall and he can run. Once he gets to a training table and in the weight room, he could be a starter in a few years.
11. Georgia Tech National Rank: 57th
The Yellow Jackets always seem to reel in a class with a couple of top players and a bunch of potential sleepers. This year is no different. Georgia Tech lost a couple of coaches late, which hurt down the stretch a bit, but most of this class was filled before January. A small class hurts the ranking a bit, and it's not too deep. However, there are a few impact guys here.
Biggest recruit: Running back Jamaal Evans is the one guy who stands above the others despite his lack of size. He's super fast, physical for his size and hard to hit. He'll give linebackers fits with his quick feet.
Sleeper: Defensive tackle Ben Anderson is short and squat, but that's what makes him effective. He plays with excellent balance and leverage and is super strong. He's also a motor guy.
12. Wake Forest National Rank: 75th
A small class, like Georgia Tech's, but one that should increase team speed. There are some guys who can scoot here although size is a big concern at nearly every position. Wake did its best work at running back.
Biggest recruit: Running back Josh Adams is quicker than he is flat-out fast, but he's also very shifty, which makes for a good combination. Size is a concern for him, but he's been durable for the most part. He'll likely be the starting tailback in a couple of years.
Sleeper: Linebacker Hunter Haynes is solid, he simply makes tackles and can be a stalwart in the middle down the road for Wake.

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Photo Gallery: Signing Day 2006

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