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ACC 2014 Recruiting In Georgia

Monday, February 3, 2014 9:39am
By: Adam Van Brimmer

As National Signing Day approaches, we're cranking up our football recruiting coverage. We're going through the ACC's six key states (for this year at least, we still consider Maryland to be one of those six) checking in on how the league's schools are faring in the race to bring in top talent.

We started last week with South Carolina and  Maryland. We're continuing today with Adam Van Brimmer's look at ACC recruiting in Georgia in this cycle.  

NOTE: Obviously some of this is - particularly the On The Table section - subject to change over the next few days.

 

The Atlantic Coast Conference's toehold on the Georgia recruiting rock wall is now more of a foothold.

ACC programs expanded hard-won inroads this recruiting season. Clemson was arguably the state's biggest winner, topping even Alabama and Georgia, while Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State and North Carolina expect to snag blue chippers come signing day.

Southeastern Conference schools still dominate numbers-wise, with at least 14 of the top-25 recruits committed to SEC programs. But the ACC is starting to once again steal a few of Georgia's gems.

To prep everyone for signing day 2014, here's our take on the big hits, misses and potential late additions from Georgia for the ACC.

MAJOR ACC GETS

Deshaun Watson, QB (6-3, 188 pounds) Gainesville

The player hailed as the best quarterback recruit in program history arrives at Clemson just as one of the most celebrated quarterbacks in program history, Tajh Boyd, departs. Watson set the Georgia high school record for passing yards, passing touchdowns and total touchdowns during his junior season and finished his career with more than 13,000 passing yards and 215 scores. Watson is already enrolled at Clemson and will compete for the starting job in spring practice.

Korie Rogers, LB (6-2, 220 pounds) Buford

Called "perhaps the most underrated linebacker in the nation" by a scouting director of a national high school all-star game, Rogers is versatile enough to play inside or outside linebacker at Clemson. He was an early Tiger commitment, choosing Clemson over Georgia because he liked the campus' small-time feel that reminds him of his hometown of Buford, located on the edge of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Demarre Kitt, WR (6-1, 195 pounds) Tyrone Sandy Creek

Georgia's "Wide Receiver High" turns out another potential star in Kitt. He didn't follow Calvin Johnson to Georgia Tech or Alex Chisum to Cincinnati, choosing Clemson instead. Kitt was particularly effective gaining yards after the catch at Sandy Creek and fits the mold of another wide receiver great, Clemson's Sammy Watkins.

Justin Jones, DE (6-3, 275 pounds) Austell South Cobb

N.C. State pulled a recruiting coup by moving decisively on Jones while other programs hedged due to his standing as a "tweener." Many recruiters question whether Jones' burst off the ball is good enough to play defensive end while at the same time express doubt over his potential to be effective inside at defensive tackle. The Wolfpack and coach Dave Doeren will take the risk.

Andrew Marshall, OL (6-4, 267 pounds) Cumming West Forsyth

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson's run-heavy triple-option offense has cost him some recruits over the years, particularly along the offensive line. Marshall is the type of lineman Johnson covets, a player with a combination of size and agility who could play center, guard or tackle.

Kenderius Whitehead, DE (6-5, 230 pounds) Georgia Military College

Georgia Tech got a second chance at one of the state's top recruits from two years ago. Whitehead signed with N.C. State out of high school only to end up in junior college. He recorded seven sacks and 19 tackles for loss in Juco action last fall. He brings the speed off the edge Yellow Jacket Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof covets and he is be eligible to play this fall academically

MAJOR ACC MISSES

Demarquis Gates, LB (6-2, 217 pounds) Hampton Lovejoy

A serious knee injury cracked open the door for new Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson to woo the blue-chip linebacker. Gates missed his entire senior season while recovering from knee surgery. But he's sticking with the school he committed to early, Ole Miss.

Dyshon Sims, OT (6-5, 270 pounds) Valdosta Lowndes

Florida State has a well-established pipeline into South Georgia power high schools Lowndes County and Valdosta. And Sims is a close family friend of former Florida State star Greg Reid. Yet Georgia outmaneuvered the Noles for the prized recruit, with a little help from Sims' cousin, Bulldog Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Evan Berry, CB (5-11, 195 pounds) Fairburn Creekside

Clemson was a long-shot to sign Berry, given his family ties to Tennessee. His father James played for the Volunteers, as did his older brother Eric, now with the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. But the Tigers recruited Berry along with his twin brother Elliott in hopes that the brothers were a package deal. The Vols tried -- and succeeded -- using the same strategy.

STILL IN PLAY

Lorenzo Carter, DE (6-5, 235 pounds) Norcross

Defending national champion Florida State is among the favorites for the latest Georgia schoolboy to carry the mantle of the nation's top recruit. The Seminoles' defensive coordinator, Charles Kelly, lived in Carter's backyard for years while working as an assistant at Georgia Tech and is working to leverage that familiarity and the Seminoles' title run to woo Carter away from SEC powers Florida, Georgia and LSU.

Myles Autry, WR (5-10, 175 pounds) Norcross

Georgia Tech's class would go from good to very good if Autry chooses the Yellow Jackets over Florida State. The younger brother of current Georgia Tech wide receiver Anthony Autry, Myles Autry started slow his senior year while recovering from knee surgery. He showed his play-making abilities late in the season and could be the type of all-purpose offensive weapon Johnson has been looking for -- unless he decides to go catch balls from Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston instead.

Wesley Green, DB (5-10, 168 pounds) Lithonia Martin Luther King

Virginia Tech and North Carolina didn't let Green's size scare them off the way it did the more active Georgia recruiters. The Hokies and Tar Heels are drawn to his ball-hawking approach. Missouri and Arkansas are also among Green's frontrunners and Alabama is considering a late push.

Andrew Williams, DE (6-4, 245 pounds) McDonough Eagle's Landing Christian

Clemson scored early in recruiting Georgia and beating Auburn for Williams on signing day would complete Dabo Swinney's Peach State domination. Williams averaged more than a sack a game his last two seasons and prides himself on being an "all-around" player like Houston Texans lineman J.J. Watt and the San Francisco 49ers' Alden Smith.

THE ACC WINNER IS ...

Clemson.

The Tigers are set to sign four of the state's top-10 players, including Georgia's top quarterback, running back and wide receiver. The haul one-ups the Tigers' recruiting success in Georgia a year ago as head coach Dabo Swinney and his star coordinators, Chad Morris on offense and  Brent Venables on defense, expand their reach into the Peach State.

A more subtle winner in Georgia was Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets' in-state recruiting has slipped in Paul Johnson's tenure, one reason why the coach added personnel to his recruiting staff last spring. The Jackets missed on the blue-chippers again in 2014, but securing late commitments from safety/tailback Michael Rogers and defensive end Kenderius Whitehead boosted the class. Johnson also laid inroads in Lowndes County by recruiting linebacker Tre Jackson, an early enrollee.