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ACC Class Rankings

By Carlos Pineda
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Wednesday’s signings proved Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles are still the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference in terms of recruiting.

A three-loss season couldn’t prevent Florida State from securing a top-notch recruiting class on National Signing Day. Wednesday’s signings proved Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles are still the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference in terms of recruiting.

Below is a breakdown of how ACC teams did on National Signing Day: 

1. Florida State

With the signing of four-star offensive tackle Landon Dickerson, four-star linebacker Dontavious Jackson and four-star defensive tackle Shavar Manuel, who FSU flipped from rival Florida, the Seminoles secured the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class, ahead of national champion Alabama, according to ESPN. FSU signed 18 recruits on Wednesday, earning its fifth top three finish in recruiting in seven years under Fisher. Fisher signed arguably one of the top offensive lines in the country, while reinforcing his team's defensive front and linebacker units. 

2. Clemson

A few weeks removed from playing in the national championship game, Clemson signed a 23-man class that included coveted four-star cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who picked the Tigers over Florida State and LSU. Despite missing out on the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country (defensive tackle Rashan Gary), Clemson “got better (Wednesday),” according to coach Dabo Swinney. Clemson signed 12 defensive players to help off-set the turnover, including three linemen and a pair of five-star linebackers in Tre Lamar and Rahshaun Smith. Five-star tackle Dexter Lawrence enrolled in January. The Tigers’ class was ranked fifth by Rivals.

3. Miami

The loss receiver of Latrell Williams and cornerback Tyler Byrd to Tennessee didn’t diminish Mark Richt’s inaugural 18-member class at Miami. The Hurricanes locked in longtime commits, four-star receiver Sam Bruce and three-star tight end Michael Irvin II, the son of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. In addition, Miami signed one of the top safeties in four-star Romeo Finley. Finley, along with Cedrick Wright, give the Hurricanes much needed help in the secondary. Miami successfully signed 16 players from the state of Florida. 

4. Pitt

In Pat Narduzzi’s first full recruiting cycle, the second-year Panthers coach was able to land all 20 players he expected to land heading into National Signing Day. He and his staff also added both of their uncommitted prospects. Three-star defensive tackle Keyshon Camp flipped from Southern Cal, and three-star defensive end Rashad Weaver winded up choosing Pitt over Penn State after Michigan pulled his scholarship. The Panthers won several recruiting battles against Penn State. 

5. Duke

Led by a pair of four-star recruits in receiver Scott Bracey and cornerback Dylan Singleton, the Duke Blue Devils concluded National Signing Day ranked higher (28th by ESPN) than any of the North Carolina schools, including Coastal Division champ UNC. David Cutcliffe said this class was “pure gold.” Duke helped fill the void along the front, adding four offensive linemen and three defense linemen. The Blue Devils are coming off an 8-5 season and their first bowl win since 1961.

6. North Carolina

Coastal Division champion North Carolina celebrated its first full recruiting class under Larry Fedora after the previous three were reduced by NCAA sanctions. The 26-man class is depth-heavy, addressing important needs on the defensive side of the ball. The Tar Heels signed four defensive backs and three linebackers. North Carolina is fresh off one of its best seasons in program history. UNC went 11-3, finished first in the Coastal and played in its first league championship game since the conference began division play in 2005.

7. Louisville

Louisville finished 2015 strong. The Cardinals went from 0-3 to winners of eight of their last 10. The momentum continued Wednesday as Bobby Petrino signed a 23-man class with an emphasis on defense. The Cards took 12 defensive players, including five linemen, among them end Mike Boynton. Adding to the fray, Louisville signed three junior college players (defensive back London Iakopo, linebacker Gary McCrae and running back Malik Williams) who Petrino expects to compete right away.

8. Virginia Tech

Justin Fuente finished up his first recruiting cycle in Blacksburg having signed 21 players. While most of the signees had committed to Virginia Tech before Frank Beamer announced his retirement, Fuente and staff did a great job holding onto those recruits. One of the highlights from this class is quarterback Jerod Evans. Evans, a junior college prospect who Fuente had been recruiting at Memphis, signed with the Hokies and enrolled in December. The staff signed nine players from the Commonwealth state.

8. NC State

For Dave Doeren, this year’s recruiting class has a different feel to it. Unlike previous years in Raleigh, Doeren won’t have to rush his new signees onto the gridiron. Depth will do that for a program. With an aerial attack that ranked in the bottom half nationally, along with a new quarterback, the Wolfpack focused on playmakers with this class, signing 12 players at the skill position. NC State is coming off a 7-6 year. 

10. Georgia Tech

When all was said and done, Paul Johnson felt he and his staff addressed all of their needs with this recruiting class. Georgia Tech signed seven linemen, including four-star defensive lineman Jordan Woods and three-star offensive lineman Parker Braun. Tech also signed two quarterbacks in Jay Jones and Lucas Johnson. The Jackets recruited the state of Georgia well, signing 11 of their 18 players from the Peach State.

11. Virginia

Bronco Mendenhall’s first National Signing Day in Charlottesville was a good starting point for the first-year Virginia coach and his staff. The Cavaliers signed 20 players, the majority of which were recruited by former coach Mike London. Mendenhall was able to keep those recruits in tow, including three-star receiver Cole Blackman. Blackman had committed to Virginia last June and in the end selected the Cavaliers over Virginia Tech, Penn State and Tennessee.

12. Wake Forest

Dave Clawson signed 22 players for this recruiting class. Clawson and his staff were able to recruit each position and were able to sign at least one player at each position. The Demon Deacons signed 12 offensive players and nine defensive players, including three-star defensive tackle Sulaiman Kamara, who adds major size to the defensive front. In total, the Decons signed four defensive linemen along with four defensive backs. On offense, Wake Forest added three linemen, three receivers, three tight ends and two running backs.

13. Syracuse

Dino Babers first recruiting class in New York saw 20 players sign with Syracuse. Babers and staff focused on size, signing eight offensive and defensive linemen, along with three linebackers. Three-star quarterback Rex Culpepper was one of six players Syracuse signed from the state of Florida. In total, the Orange signed players from 10 states, including Michigan, Ohio and Michigan. Culpepper, athlete Moe Neal and linebacker Kenneth Ruff enrolled in January.

14. Boston College

Boston College coach Steve Addazio was excited about his Signing Day haul as the Eagles picked up 18 freshmen and three graduate transfers. BC drew heavily from the northeast, attacking areas of need to build up the roster. Addazio landed five offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three linebackers and two tight ends. The Eagles are looking to improve from a 3-9 season last year. Boston College began the 2015 campaign hoping to build off of consecutive seven-win seasons but injuries decimated the Eagles.

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.