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National Signing Day 2013: ACC football recruiting preview

Several ACC programs are set to bring in strong recruiting hauls, and they can get even better depending on the decisions made by some elite uncommitted prospects on National Signing Day.


As National Signing Day nears, the usual suspects in the ACC are poised to bring in the league's best recruiting hauls. Florida State, which signed a top-10 class last year, is ranked in Rivals' top 20 for 2013 (UPDATE: the Jalen Ramsey flip has FSU up to No. 13); Virginia Tech and Clemson are also in the top 20.

Keep up with all the developments on National Signing Day with SB Nation's recruiting hub.

The Seminoles and Tigers continue to fight for control of the Atlantic Division, and their strong recruiting has put them on a tier above the other teams in the division. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is trying to bounce back from a 7-6 season and re-establish its status as the Coastal's best program.

Elsewhere in the league, both Virginia and North Carolina could end up with top-25 classes, depending on how things shake out. Miami is well out of that range primarily because it has a small class so far, but it has commitments from several four-star recruits.

The rest of the league probably won't be making many headlines on National Signing Day. N.C. State and Boston College have new coaching staffs, which created some problems for this recruiting cycle. The Pack do currently have the sixth-best class in the league in Rivals' estimation. Boston College really could use a boost after a dismal 2-10 season, but the Eagles' 2013 class may end up being the league's worst.

Wake Forest and Duke are, as usual, not bringing in top-tier prospects, and Paul Johnson's Georgia Tech staff is struggling this year. Maryland has picked up a few blue-chip commitments, including one of the few five-star players among the ACC's classes, WR Deon Long.

Top three classes: No. 17 Virginia Tech, No. 18 Florida State and No. 21 Clemson, per Rivals. The Seminoles continue to recruit well under head coach Jimbo Fisher, and despite a lot of staff turnover this offseason, they've put together a strong class that might help them build on the ACC title they won in 2012. Clemson also has had a lot of success under Dabo Swinney, and this class should help keep them in contention with Florida State for Atlantic Division titles for the foreseeable future.

Virginia Tech has made some changes to its coaching staff, adding a new offensive coordinator, following an atypically average season, though these developments haven't hurt much on the recruiting trail. The Hokies are re-stocking in an effort to get back to the top of the Coastal Division and back into legitimate competition for another ACC championship. This past season was a struggle for the Hokies just to earn bowl eligibility, but that could change with this 2013 class as a foundation for the future.

Top three players to know:

Kendall Fuller (CB; Virginia Tech commitment) -- Fuller is the ninth-best player in the class of 2013, according to Rivals, and the second-best cornerback. He could make an impact for the Hokies in 2013, and the team may need the help considering that Antone Exum recently suffered a torn ACL. Fuller is 5'11 and weighs 189 pounds.

Deon Long (WR; Maryland commitment) -- The Terps snagged the player considered the top junior-college prospect in the class of 2013. Long stands 6'1 and weighs 205 pounds, and he's coming off a dominant 2012 season -- he caught 100 passes for 1,626 and 25 scores for Iowa Western Community College. Long produced those impressive numbers despite playing in just two fourth quarters all season.

Taquan Mizzell (RB; Virginia commitment) -- Mizzell is the top all-purpose back in the class, and the No. 29 overall prospect. He could make an instant impact for Mike London and the Cavaliers, whose offense could use a shot in the arm. Mizzell is 5'10 and weighs 183 pounds. He did recently run into some trouble, as he was arrested and charged with underage drinking during a visit to UVa.

National Signing Day drama to watch:

Much of the signing day drama will take place in Florida, where Florida State and Miami are battling it out for several blue-chip players. Stacy Coley, a wide receiver from Northeast High School (FL), is one of them. Coley is considered by Rivals to be the 13th-best receiver in the 2013 class and the No. 111 player overall

They're also fighting for the services of Keith Bryant and Matthew Thomas. Byrant is a four-star defensive tackle out of Delray Beach, Florida. He is regarded as one of the 20 best players in the class at his position. Thomas is a five-star linebacker from Miami and one of the top overall prospects in this year's class. We're expecting FSU to land all three.

Notes from SB Nation blogs:

Clemson endured a rough stretch of recruiting recently:

First we are officially out of it with WR James Clark. Dabo is not even doing an in-home visit. Clemson was leading and Clark told coaches after his visit to Clemson that he was likely to sign with the Tigers. Enter Urban Meyer. I have a feeling we are going to continue to hate Urban (who has a keen interest in the Carolinas and Georgia) on the recruiting trail in 2014. There is a block of players (many visiting this weekend) in the 2014 class that have either the Tigers or the Buckeyes at the top of their lists.

Tomahawk Nation has a thorough breakdown of all the players that Jimbo Fisher has signed as FSU's head coach and wonders if the retention rate might be too high for an elite program. But the Seminoles have been hobbled in that department by the previous coaching staff:

Of course, as we've previously discussed, FSU's APR score was seriously damaged by the nonsense under the Bowden regime, and those bad years are just now coming off the rolling, multi-year calculation. That meant that FSU could not process out as many kids as it wanted in previous years. The APR has improved a lot because kids are going to class much more often now and the cheating scandal from 2007 is coming off the books. Kids are graduating at a much higher frequency.

Maryland missed out on some top wide receiver prospects, but Testudo Times is excited about the addition of Long and what that will mean for its wide receiving corps going forward:

The Terps heavily pursued three big time receivers, each local; Taivon Jacobs ended up at Ohio State, and Paul Harris at Tennessee, but the crown jewel - Deon Long - will suit up in College Park next year, giving Maryland as good a receiver set as there'll be in the conference.

Virginia endured some staff turnover this offseason, including the departure of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. But Streaking The Lawn doesn't think Lazor's absence will affect UVA's recruiting in any significant way.

Of all the coaches on the staff, Lazor was the least dynamic in terms of recruiting. He went out on the road sparingly, covering parts of Central Virginia, and areas like Ohio and Illinois. But Virginia rarely pulls a player from any of those areas, ever. That's not because Lazor is a bad recruiter, but those areas just aren't as important as others, like Maryland, New Jersey, etc.

New N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren has made a few additions to the program's class since taking the job, and his best get so far might be Johnathan Alston:

Johnathan Alston, a 6-3, 200-pound athlete from Bunn High School, has pledged to the Pack over UNC, Notre Dame, and a host of SEC schools. Alston's future position is somewhat in flux, but Scout and 247sports both love him as an outside linebacker, where he ranks 30th and 31st respectively in the national rankings at that position. 247sports says Alston is the 11th best prospect in the class of 2013 from North Carolina. If he indeed ends up at linebacker, Coach Dave Doeren and staff have once again moved quickly to fill a position of need in a short recruiting window, and they have done so with highly sought after recruits. Impressive.

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