National Signing Day 2019 is in the books, the last official stop until all rosters for the 2019 college football season is all but finalized (minus, of course, late de-commitments, transfers, and all that other hoopla). Each school has seen about 100 percent of the best of the nation’s uncommitted players make their decisions on where they will spend their collegiate years, and Wednesday’s signing period confirmed everyone’s intents to play football at their school of choice.
While Powerhouse schools like Alabama, Georgia, and Oklahoma dominate the leaderboard and discussions everywhere among the college football stratosphere as to who’s had the best recruiting process for the new year, much improvement and continuous competitive spirit exist in all power 5 conferences across the nation. Specifically, the ACC has shown major progression, with 9 of the 14 teams in the conference making it onto RecrutingNation’s 2019 Football Class Rankings list, according to ESPN. Clemson and Florida State are a mile ahead of the pack as the first and second-best ranked recruiting class in the ACC, but don’t sleep on schools like Virginia Tech and Duke, who had a pretty good turnout on Wednesday and also made the list.
Find out where your favorite ACC team lands on the top 14 list, and where they are positioned on the RecruitingNation’s top-50 list. Also, be sure to read about the best offensive and defensive signees going to each school, with synopses courtesy of 247Sports.com
Ranking the ACC Schools Who Didn’t make the RecruitingNation’s Top 50 Recruiting Classes
ICYMI: We added 16 student-athletes to the Cardinal family!
— Louisville Football (@UofLFootball) February 7, 2019
14. Louisville Cardinals (ESPN’s No. 68) – Finished 2-10 (0-8 in ACC), 5 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Joshua Black, OT
- School: Stephenson (Georgia).
- Ratings: No. 1,753 overall, No. 149 offensive tackle (three stars).
- Analysis: Black was previously committed to Georgia Tech but declined to commit after hearing from new Yellowjackets head coach Geoff Collins after his hiring, a consequence of a coaching change casualty in the transition of Paul Johnson to Geoff Collins. Black took to Twitter to air out his discontent for how his new head coach never even spoke to him. Second-year Cards coach Scott Satterfield and offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford pounced on the chance to pick him up.
Best Defensive Signing: Allen Smith, OLB
- School: Grayson (Georgia).
- Ratings: No. 1,059 overall, No. 73 outside linebacker (three stars).
- Analysis: Allen Smith can prove to be a developmental will back for Satterfield’s defense and comes from the state of Georgia, a state that Louisville has objectively prioritized in recruitment. Allen liked what he saw from the Louisville program and committed to Louisville on January 20, his first official visit to the campus.
13. Georgia Tech (ESPN’s No. 60) – Finished 7-5 (5-3 in ACC), 20 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Jamious Griffin, RB
- School: Rome (Georgia).
- Ratings: No. 369 overall, No. 25 Running Back (four stars).
- Analysis: A four-star prospect at tailback, Jamious Griffin possesses precise agility, quick thinking to burst through gaps in the trenches and juke-you-out-of-your-cleats cutability that allowed him to score 28 touchdowns and rush for 1,276 yards on 138 touches his Junior year. The numbers certainly stand out to any recruiter, and at 5’10, 205, he is equally a power runner and speed back.
Best Defensive Signing: Michael Lockhart, DE
- School: Huffman (Alabama).
- Ratings: No. 1,029 overall, No. 73 Defensive End (three stars).
- Analysis: Lockhart was a late bloomer on the recruiting scene but blew up in January after his first season playing football. Georgia Tech was lucky to land a 6’5, 264-pound athletic edge rusher with a good frame. A talented prospect, he’ll have to refine his craft as a pass rusher, but there is more reward than risk in having this kid in your program if you’re Georgia Tech.
12. Syracuse (ESPN’s No. 58) – Finished 9-3 (6-2 in ACC), 18 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Cooper Dawson, OT
- School: Hanahan (South Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 938 overall, No. 77 Offensive Tackle (three stars).
- Analysis: The South Carolinian, who received national applause for his signing day special announcement from the assistance of a friend with cerebral palsy, is a talent that has proven himself to be multifaceted on both sides of the ball. He was converted to an offensive tackle but during his sophomore and junior seasons, led Hanahan in sacks. He’s listed as an offensive tackle on the ‘Cuse depth chart, but he could possibly be an eligible receiver as a tight end next year.
Best Defensive Signing: Lee Kpogba, OLB
- School: Parkland (North Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 432 overall, No. 23 Outside Linebacker (three stars).
- Analysis: An iron man during his days at Parkland, Kpogba took snaps at running back and linebacker during his time in high school and led Parkland to an 11-2 record and a deep playoff run. Dino Babers’ defensive line will continue to improve exponentially next season, so don’t be surprised if this kid ends up atop a depth chart at some point.
11. Boston College (ESPN’s No. 56): Finished 7-5 (4-4 in ACC), 18 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Sam Johnson, QB
- School: Walled Lake Western (Michigan).
- Ratings: No. 609 overall, No. 24 Quarterback (four stars).
- Analysis: According to ESPN, Johnson is the only four-star recruit to commit and sign with Boston College this year, and the 12th best quarterback to the network in this year’s recruiting class. As a Junior, he threw for 1,115 yards, 23 TDs, rushed for 263 yards and ran for five touchdowns. In a division awash with exceptional talent under center, the likes of which grant national attention and their name to arise on future mock draft boards, expect Johnson to challenge for the starting spot immediately.
Best Defensive Signing: Spencer Bono, DE
- School: Elder (Ohio).
- Ratings: No. 941 overall, No. 61 Defensive End (three stars).
- Analysis: Bono highlights a litany of 10 new defensive prospects ready to set foot on Boston College’s campus this summer. The versatile 6’4, 245-pounder is a weak-side pass rusher who wreaked havoc on offensive lines during his time at Elder High and proved that he can make a difference on the inside and outside, as Addazio’s defense continues to set itself apart from the pack in the hopes of garnering some street cred among the country’s top defenses.
10. Wake Forest (ESPN’s No. 54) – Finished 6-6 (3-5 in ACC), 21 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Donavan Greene, WR
- School: Mount Airy (North Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 271 overall, No. 39 Wide Receiver (three stars).
- Analysis: Standing at 6’2, Greene is a speedy outside threat and prospective talent that is lean and vascular with long arms and big hands. He actually has drawn early comparisons to that of a Devante Parker, who is around the same build. For an offense that posted numbers to declare them the 35th best offense in football, Sam Hartman could put up some equally impressive numbers with a new threat at receiver in 2019.
Best Defensive Signing: Shamar McCollum, WDE
- School: Dillon (South Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 459 overall, No. 31 Defensive End (three stars).
- Analysis: Dillon is a 6’4, 200-pound edge rusher with great speed. The Dillon native chose Wake Forest over growing Oregon and North Carolina and was an early signing at that, committing to the Deacons in July of 2018 and signing with them mid-December. He’ll provide depth for a defensive line that finished with only 22 sacks, and they can’t enough of that to match the increasingly talented offense next year.
Ranking the ACC Schools who made the RecruitingNation’s Top 50 Recruiting Classes
9. Pittsburgh (ESPN’s No. 48) – Finished 7-6 (6-2 in ACC), 19 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Davis Beville, QB
- School: Greeneville (South Carolina)
- Ratings: No. 557 overall, No. 22 Pro-Style Quarterback (three stars).
- Analysis: A 6’5, 200-pound pro-style quarterback who has the frame and ball placement skills of a future franchise quarterback, Beville earned MVP honors in his local in-state all-star game. Expect him to compete for the starting job right away.
Best Defensive Signing: Brandon Hill, S
- School: Wekiva (Florida).
- Ratings: No. 648 overall, No. 50 Safety (three stars).
- Analysis: Standing at 5’11, he was a former corner that will be switched to a safety spot once he laces up as a Pitt Panther. In a year where Pitt is trying to replenish their secondary depth, Hill’s signing does just that. Pat Narduzzi’s defense gets a hard hitter and equally skilled in pass coverage, making him an under-the-radar signing for the Panthers.
8. Duke (ESPN’s No. 42) – Finished 7-5 (3-5 in ACC), 21 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Jalon Calhoun, WR
- School: Southside (South Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 1,189 overall, No. 132 Wide Receiver (three stars).
- Analysis: This South Carolinian is among a group of defensive majority-favored signees, but among his peers, stands out as the highest offensive prospect. Though a former corner, Calhoun will get to exhibit his skills on the offensive side of the ball as a receiver for an offense that needs a regrouping, considering that their stud under center, Daniel Jones, is headed for the NFL.
Best Defensive Signing: DeWayne Carter, DT
- School: Pickerington Central (Ohio).
- Ratings: No. 526 overall, No. 39 Defensive Tackle (three stars).
- Analysis: The son of former Buckeye receiver DeWayne Carter Sr. is taking his talents to Durham to join the Blue Devils who are establishing a winning culture, much like their basketball peers. Carter visited Ohio State in April last year but decided to commit and sign with Duke, ultimately bolstering their depth at the position.
7. Virginia (ESPN’s No. 40) – Finished 7-5 (4-4 in ACC), 24 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Dorien Goddard, WR
- School: Greeneville (Tennessee).
- Ratings: No. 1,518 overall, No. 176 Wide Receiver (three stars).
- Analysis: Size and speed are fortunately two big benefits Goddard provides. He caught 73 passes for 1,264 yards in his Senior season alone and provides not only depth but a challenge to the Hoos’ receiver core’s starting spots in 2019.
Best Defensive Signing: Antonio Clary, S
- School: Sandalwood (Florida).
- Ratings: No. 937 overall, No. 47 Safety (three stars).
- Analysis: Clary is a 6’1, 185-pound safety who committed to Virginia last year and has shown a variety of football IQ and ball skills in his time at Sandalwood. His solid build makes him a pretty capable run defender and is very much so confident in one-on-one coverage when asked to do so against inside receivers.
6. North Carolina (ESPN’s No. 37) – Finished 2-9 (1-7 in ACC), 19 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Sam Howell, QB
- School: Sun Valley (North Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 93 overall, No. 3 Dual Quarterback (four stars).
- Analysis: A school that’s competed with the likes of Mitch Trubisky on their field down in Chapel Hill, expect Sam Howell to be a force unreckoned with in the future. Howell competed in Nike’s The Opening Final (which has produced a bunch of Collegiate talent and NFL stars in his history) and though slightly undersized, was named First-Team All-American and could be the single cornerpiece Mack Brown needs to legitimize his program in the ACC.
Best Defensive Signing: Khadry Jackson
- School: Windermere Prep (Florida).
- Ratings: No. 862 overall, No. 45 Safety (three stars).
- Analysis: A Pittsburgh de-committee, Jackson finished his senior season with 40 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and two sacks. North Carolina’s defense is provided some extra bodies in the secondary with some secondary help that is much needed after an abysmal 1-7 season, where they were one of the least effective pass defenses in the country.
5. NC State (ESPN’s No. 31) – Finished 9-3 (5-3 in ACC), 22 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Zonavan Knight, RB
- School: Southern Nash (North Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 371 overall, No. 27 Running Back (four stars).
- Analysis: Knight rushed for 2,054 yards and 26 touchdowns for Southern Nash High School in his senior season, and even with all of that, was only named the 26th best player in the state of North Carolina. Crazy. NC State is getting an elusive back that extends runs farther than they should be, as he averaged a gaudy 16.5 yards per carry.
Best Defensive Signing: Savion Jackson, DE
- School: Clayton (North Carolina).
- Ratings: No. 168 overall, No. 11 Strong Defensive End (four stars).
- Analysis: The edge rusher out of North Carolina decided to stay in-state instead of going to other schools like Alabama, South Carolina or Auburn, schools he all got offers from. Jackson is a combination of speed, power, and bend on the edge and at 6’3 and 260 pounds, he can only get stronger and faster as he continues to put on weight.
4. Miami (ESPN’s No. 30)- Finished 4-4 (7-5 in ACC), 16 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Larry Hodges, TE
- School: St. Thomas (Texas).
- Ratings: No. 589 overall, No. 26 Tight End (three stars).
- Analysis: At season’s end, Miami was extremely thin at Tight End, with only one being healthy on the depth chart. Larry Hodges provides some immediate depth and can challenge for a starting job as soon as he steps foot on campus. He might be a little undersized at 6’2, 253 pounds and isn’t the most productive blocker, but makes up for it with his ability to become a deep target that uses his size to high point balls and bring them in.
Best Defensive Signing: Christian Williams, CB
- School: Daphne (Alabama).
- Ratings: No. 160 overall, No. 20 Cornerback (four stars).
- Analysis: Miami, LSU, Texas A&M, and Alabama were just some of the few offering Williams an opportunity to play college football at their university, but Williams ultimately chose to take his talents to South Beach and play for Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes. He is long-limbed with the build and burst of a receiver and that spells trouble for all ACC offenses if he is to line up against a team’s No. 1 deep threat. He’s drawn comparisons to current Detroit Lions corner Teez Tabor which isn’t the best thing to be compared to, but in Diaz’s defensive system, the 6’1, 182-pound corner could go well above expectations.
3. Virginia Tech (ESPN’s No. 27) – Finished 6-6 (4-4 in ACC), 20 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Jesse Hanson, OG
- School: Lord Botetourt (Virginia).
- Ratings: No. 657 overall, No. 38 Offensive Guard (three stars).
- Analysis: Aside from his humongous 6-foot-5, 296-pound frame, what will familiarize himself with the Blacksburg faithful will be, ironically, his warrior face paint. Hanson received offers from a variety of schools across the landscape of all Power 5 conferences but chose to play for Hokie nation. He is laterally gifted with the footwork skills and strength to open run gaps, potentially being a fixture in Virginia Tech’s improving run game.
Best Defensive Signing: Nyquee Hawkins, S
- School: Orange (New Jersey).
- Ratings: No. 394 overall, No. 33 Safety (three stars).
- Analysis: Hailing from the Garden State, Nyquee Hawkins has tape on him as a tailback, but it’s in the defensive backfield where he signs. He’ll line up as a Free Safety in Justin Fuentes’s defense, but as a corner at Orange High school, he displayed exceptional ball skills in open space and footwork in tight man-on-man coverage.
2. Florida State (ESPN’s No. 19) – Finished 5-7 (3-5 in ACC), 19 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Dontae Lucas
- School: IMG Academy (Florida).
- Ratings: No. 167 overall, No. 9 Offensive Guard (four stars).
- Analysis: Florida State is most definitely in need of providing dom extra beef up front, and signing the 6’3, 323-pound guard out of IMG Academy is the best choice for the Seminoles. They say that connections are the way to make it in the world and for Lucas, close ties with FSU Tight Ends Coach Telly Lockette made it an easy decision to sign in Tallahassee.
Best Defensive Signing: Akeem Dent, CB
- School: Palm Beach Central (Florida).
- Ratings: No. 50 overall, No. 7 Cornerback (four stars).
- Analysis: Previously committed to his local Miami Hurricanes, Dent decided to head out of Palm Beach and flock to Tallahassee to resolidify the Florida State name, otherwise dubbed as “DBU”. Names like Deion Sanders, Jalen Ramsey, and Derwin James come to mind when you think of DBs that don the Garnet and Gold, and Dent can live up to that name. A solid, all-around athlete that’s drawn comparisons to Panthers corner Bashaud Breeland, his average height at 6’1 and weight at 185 pounds could be a red flag, but his hands as the line of scrimmage as well as footwork to prevent big deep ball plays will benefit Willie Taggart’s defense greatly.
1. Clemson (ESPN’s No. 10)- Finished 14-0 (7-0 in ACC), 27 Signees
Best Offensive Signing: Frank Ladson, WR
- School: South Dade (Florida).
- Ratings: No. 39 overall, No. 7 Wide Receiver (four stars).
- Analysis: National Championship Offensive MVP Trevor Lawrence, who in the past six months has been largely appraised for his diverse skill set at Quarterback enough to be the first overall pick whenever he becomes draft eligible, just keeps stacking up on an offensive arsenal. Teammates like Tee Higgins, Travis Etienne, and Justyn Ross make that so with their playmaking. Adding the 7th best receiver in the nation might help with that too. Ladson’s body frame resembles a DeVante Parker build and though he could stand to put on some pounds, he still brings great length and depth to the position.
Best Defensive Signing: Sheridan Jones, CB
- School: Maury (Virginia).
- Ratings: No. 130 overall, No. 15 Cornerback (four stars).
- Analysis: For a defense that’s been decimated by graduating seniors and guys opting to enter the NFL Draft, Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brett Venables is still very optimistic about his eleven on the field. A majority of His and Dabo Swinney’s secondary will all return next year but like always will have position battles at some key spots. Take corner for example. Sheridan Jones provides a challenge for a starter or two with his quick feet and strength to press at the line. He reminds scouts of Jacksonville Jaguars Cornerback A.J. Bouye with his well-developed skill of jumping short crossing routes as well.