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Another Fast Finish Lifts Florida State

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

By Dave Glenn

February 7, 2006

Long ago, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden earned his reputation as one of the greatest closers in the history of recruiting. This year, even at 76 years old, he proved that he's not slowing down even a little bit in that regard.

After the Seminoles sat uncomfortably perched on the edge of a potentially disappointing class on the eve of signing day, they watched with glee on Feb. 1 as an incredible number of prominent late decision-makers faxed their letters of intent to FSU.

"There were 12 of them that went into the final day, and we did not know where they were going to go," Bowden said. "We got eight of them."

Thus bolstered, FSU again finished atop the ACC Sports Journal's rankings of the league's recruiting efforts, as indicated below. In parentheses are the teams' 2006 post-signing day national (Rivals, Scout) rankings.

  1. Florida State (3, 12)

  2. Miami (14, 14)

  3. Clemson (15, 21)

4t. North Carolina (30, 25)

4t. Virginia Tech (32, 31)

  1. Maryland (29, 27)

7t. Boston College (37, 44)

7t. Virginia (39, 53)

  1. N.C. State (54, 41)

10t. Georgia Tech (57, 49)

10t. Wake Forest (75, 64)

  1. Duke (56, 36)

The NCAA's annual letter of intent period for gridiron prospects actually stretches for a full two months beyond signing day, so it's likely that there will be a few player additions over the next several weeks. Historically speaking, though, more than 97 percent of the results are complete by this point in the recruiting cycle.

Every conference team except Wake Forest placed at least one of its signees onto one or more of three major prep All-America teams, those from Rivals, Scout and SuperPrep. FSU topped the list by a wide margin this year, and Clemson and North Carolina ranked as pleasant surprises. Meanwhile, Virginia and especially N.C. State delivered results that represented significant dropoffs from their recent performances.

In the calculations below, each time an ACC program put one of its commitments onto one of the above-mentioned teams – meaning four- or five-star players in the case of the on-line services – it received one "star-power point." If a single prospect was on all three teams, the school received three points for that player. If he was on only one of the teams, the school received one point, etc.

Here are the results, again based only on the just-for-fun "star power" formula:

  1. Florida State (44 points): Butler (KS) Community College DT Paul Griffin (3), Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown WR Damon McDaniel (3), Leesburg (GA) Lee County QB D'Vontrey Richardson (3), Princeton (NJ) Hun DB Myron Rolle (3), Tampa (FL) Jefferson OL Daron Rose (3), Tallahassee (FL) North Florida Christian RB Marcus Sims (3), Alcoa (TN) High TE Brandon Warren (3), Tyler (TX) Junior College OL Shannon Boatman (2), Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military OL Matt Hardrick (2), Tallahassee (FL) North Florida Christian DB Ochuko Jenije (2), Miami (FL) Gulliver DB Anthony Leon (2), Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military DT/DE Justin Mincey (2), Land O' Lakes (FL) High TE Caz Piurowski (2), Miami (FL) Gulliver DB Patrick Robinson (2), Sanford (FL) Seminole DE Doug Thacker (2), Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson LB Marcus Ball (1), Kingsland (GA) Camden DE Kevin McNeil (1), Delray Beach (FL) Atlantic WR Preston Parker (1), Prattville (AL) High LB Tim Rawlinson (1), Butler (KS) Community College LB Toddrick Verdell (1), Aiken (SC) South Aiken DE Dekoda Watson (1), Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips LB Recardo Wright (1).

  2. Miami (28): Crowley (TX) North Crowley OL Jason Fox (3), Tallahassee (FL) Rickards DB Ryan Hill (3), Immokalee (FL) High RB Javarris James (3), Sarasota (FL) Booker WR Sam Shields (3), Delray Beach (FL) Atlantic OL Orlando Franklin (2), Miami (FL) Washington DB Chavez Grant (2), Tampa (FL) Chamberlain RB Kylan Robinson (2), Houston (TX) St. Pius OL Ian Symonette (2), Bartow (FL) High DE Steven Wesley (2), Jupiter (FL) High PK Matt Bosher (1), Richmond (VA) Huguenot TE Dedrick Epps (1), Milford (NY) Prep TE/DE Richard Gordon (1), San Diego (CA) Point Loma DT Josh Holmes (1), Miami (FL) Monsignor Pace DB Tervaris Johnson (1), Clearwater (FL) Central Catholic LB Colin McCarthy (1).

  3. Clemson (20): Asheville (NC) High DB Crezdon Butler (3), Morris (IL) Community DT/DE Jamie Cumbie (3), North Charleston (SC) Ft. Dorchester DB Byron Maxwell (3), Bamberg (SC) Bamberg-Ehrhardt DE Ricky Sapp (3), Lake Butler (FL) Union County RB C.J. Spiller (3), Winnsboro (SC) Fairfield Central DB Darius Gaither (2), Tallahassee (FL) Godby DB DeAndre McDaniel (2), Fork Union (VA) Military WR Jacoby Ford (1).

  4. North Carolina (14): Highland Springs (VA) High LB Jarrell Miller (3), Jacksonville (NC) White Oak WR Deunta Williams (3), Wendell (NC) East Wake DT Aleric Mullins (2), Charlotte (NC) Independence WR Hakeem Nicks (2), Havelock (NC) High LB Bruce Carter (1), Tarboro (NC) High DB Shaun Draughn (1), Charlotte (NC) Providence Day TE Vince Jacobs (1), Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military DT/DE Darrius Massenburg (1).

  5. Virginia Tech (14): Carteret (NJ) High DE Jason Adjepong (3), Cincinnati (OH) Princeton OL Aaron Brown (3), Richmond (VA) Meadowbrook DE John Graves (3), North Arlington (NJ) Queen of Peace DE Mike Gee (2), Fork Union (VA) Military WR Todd Nolen (2), College Park (GA) Banneker DT Ladi Ajiboye (1).

  6. Maryland (11): Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military DE Melvin Alaeze (2), Hamden (CT) Hyde OL/DE Bruce Campbell (2), Chesapeake (VA) Smith LB Brian Whitmore (2), Wheaton (MD) Good Counsel TE Drew Gloster (1), Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military RB Morgan Green (1), Harrisburg (PA) Bishop McDevitt QB Jeremy Ricker (1), Plymouth Meeting (PA) Whitemarsh RB Da'Rel Scott (1), Waldorf (MD) Westlake DB Pha'Terrell Washington (1).

  7. Boston College (5): Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers DB Chris Fox (1), Amherst (NH) Souhegan OL Richard Lapham (1), Billerica (MA) Memorial LB James McCluskey (1), Minneapolis (MN) Breck TE Jordan McMichael (1), Kingston (MA) Silver Lake RB Jeff Smith (1).

  8. Virginia (4): Glen Allen (VA) Deep Run DE Sean Gottschalk (1), Vienna (VA) Oakton RB Keith Payne (1), North Arlington (NJ) Queen Of Peace TE/DE Joe Torchia (1), Winston-Salem (NC) Mt. Tabor QB O.C. Wardlow (1).

  9. Duke (3): Doylestown (PA) Central Bucks West FB Brandon King (2), Boca Raton (FL) High LB Tyler Rice (1).

  10. Georgia Tech (2): Irving (TX) High RB Jamaal Evans (1), Key West (FL) High DB Laurence Marius (1).

  11. N.C. State (1): Lexington (KY) Catholic QB Justin Burke (1).

  12. Wake Forest (0): none.

One more reminder: In recent years, academic attrition typically has claimed about 10 percent of ACC football signees. (That number is higher in the SEC and other major conferences.) That means, in some cases, the lists of players who show up on campus this summer will be significantly different – and, obviously, less impressive – than the lists the schools announced on signing day.

In order, the ACC schools most affected by non-qualifiers over the last five seasons have been N.C. State, Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech. Each of those programs has averaged losing three or four signees per season to academic shortcomings. At the other end of the spectrum, Duke, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest very rarely have signed players who ended up as non-qualifiers. 


The following high school seniors were among those who announced their decisions for ACC schools in the week leading up to signing day:

Cary (NC) High RB Josh Adams, rated one of the top 20 seniors in North Carolina, committed to Wake Forest over Maryland and N.C. State. Earlier in the recruiting process, he also had offers from Clemson, Georgia, LSU, UNC, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Virginia, but many schools backed off, some after getting commitments from other players. A Shrine Bowl pick and first-team all-state selection, Adams rushed for a state-best 2,688 yards and scored 29 touchdowns as a senior. As a junior, he gained 2,888 yards on the ground and scored 26 TDs. For his career, he posted 8,631 all-purpose yards and a school-record 6,842 rushing yards. Similar in size, speed and style to record-setting Wake tailback Chris Barclay, Adams benches 280 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. With a 2.3 GPA and an 830 SAT score, he must slightly improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Demon Deacons was quarterbacks coach Jeff Mullen.

Hialeah (FL) Miami Lakes QB Thaddeus Lewis, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, chose Duke over Pittsburgh, South Florida and Texas Christian. He also had early offers from Kansas State, Michigan State, Rutgers, Texas A&M and West Virginia. Some schools wanted him for other positions, but he played only quarterback in high school and wants to remain behind center in college. Lewis, who previously attended Miami (FL) Washington, led Miami Lakes to a 7-3 record as a senior, earning second-team all-county honors despite modest statistics in a run-oriented offense. As a junior, he threw for 1,237 yards, with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions, for a 9-4 team. He runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds, and he has a 3.5 GPA and a qualifying SAT score. His main recruiter with the Blue Devils was associate head coach David Kelly.

Wendell (NC) East Wake DT Aleric Mullins, rated one of the top 10 seniors in North Carolina, picked UNC over Auburn and Tennessee. He also had offers from Arkansas, ECU, Florida, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, NCSU, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, plus late interest from FSU, LSU and Southern Cal. A Missouri native, Mullins played at Caruthersville (MO) High as a sophomore, then completed his prep career at East Wake after his family moved to North Carolina. As a senior, he had 92 tackles (22 for loss) and 9.5 sacks for an 8-4 team. As a junior, he had 70 tackles and six sacks. Mullins benches 340 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds. He must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels was defensive tackles coach Ken Browning.

Lake Butler (FL) Union County RB C.J. Spiller, rated one of the top 10 tailbacks in the nation, chose Clemson over Florida, Florida State, Miami and Southern Cal. He also had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio State, Tennessee and many others. His decision was a signing-day surprise for most, in part because his childhood favorite was FSU, and Union County is only 30 miles from the campus of Florida, which recently has landed most of Union County's top prospects. Spiller's teammate, linebacker Kevin Alexander, also signed with the Tigers. A two-time Class 2B first-team all-state selection, Spiller rushed for 1,840 yards and scored 31 touchdowns as a senior. For his career, he compiled 5,511 yards and 93 TDs. He has a 3.5 GPA and a 21 ACT score, and he runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds. His main recruiter with the Tigers was wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney.