By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
January 24, 2006
Less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 kickoff for college football's annual signing period, ACC recruiting results remained a mixed bag.
A quick, unscientific survey of national and regional recruiting gurus broke down the league into the following six tiers, with little or no difference between the two teams on each level: Florida State/Miami, Clemson/Virginia Tech, Maryland/North Carolina, Boston College/Virginia, Georgia Tech/N.C. State and Duke/Wake Forest.
Of course, those rankings could and likely will change significantly on signing day. In late January, some schools had commitments from only half the number of players they expect to sign. Another reminder: The top four teams in the above rankings, along with N.C. State, have lost more signees to academic deficiencies in recent years than the other seven teams in the conference.
Here are information capsules on the most recent Clemson pledges who were not included in previous editions of the Sports Journal:
Lake Butler (FL) Union County LB/DE Kevin Alexander, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, committed to Clemson over Louisville and Maryland. A younger brother of former Florida and NFL safety Bennie Alexander, Kevin also had offers from Central Florida, Illinois, Kansas State, Mississippi, N.C. State, South Florida and Temple. As a senior, he had 85 tackles and nine sacks. As a junior, he earned first-team Class 2B all-state honors after recording 96 tackles and four sacks. Alexander benches 365 pounds, squats 520 and runs the 40 in 4.75 seconds. He has a 2.5 core GPA and a 16 ACT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is receivers coach Dabo Swinney.
Port Orange (FL) Spruce Creek LB Jeremy Campbell, rated one of the top 150 seniors in Florida, picked Clemson over Kansas, Louisville and Purdue. He also had offers from Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi State and Southern Miss. Campbell had 85 tackles as a senior. As a junior, he had 43 tackles and three sacks for an 8-3 team. He benches 280 pounds, squats 350 and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 3.6 GPA and a 900 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is defensive ends coach Marion Hobby.
Fork Union (VA) Military WR Jacoby Ford, formerly of West Palm Beach (FL) Cardinal Newman, chose Clemson over Florida, Michigan State and Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. His brother Davy Ford played at Florida State. At Fork Union last fall, Jacoby had 56 receptions for 1,206 yards, and he scored 19 touchdowns -- 14 on receptions, three on kick returns and two on punt returns. As a high school senior, he was a state champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, with times of 10.32 and 21.25 seconds. On the gridiron in 2004, he caught 22 passes for 550 yards and 10 touchdowns as a wideout, and he earned second-team Class 2A all-state honors as a defensive back. A non-qualifier out of high school, Ford enrolled at Clemson in January after posting a qualifying SAT score at Fork Union in December. He's one of the rare prep prospects who really does run the 40 in 4.4 seconds. His main recruiter with the Tigers is running backs coach Burton Burns.
Winnsboro (SC) Fairfield Central DB Darius Gaither, rated one of the top 10 seniors in South Carolina, selected Clemson over N.C. State and Tennessee. He also had offers from Maryland, South Carolina and Wake Forest. As a senior, Gaither missed much of the season with a high-ankle injury, but he rushed for almost 500 yards and eight touchdowns on offense. As a junior, he had 87 tackles and seven interceptions, and he returned four punts for TDs. Projected as a safety in college, he benches 280 pounds, squats 420 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Tigers is assistant head coach Brad Scott.
Winston-Salem (NC) Carver OL Chris Hairston, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, opted for Clemson over Hampton and South Carolina State. Among Division I-A teams, Duke and East Carolina also showed interest. As a senior, Hairston was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl. He benches 350 pounds, squats 520 and runs the 40 in 5.2 seconds. He has a 3.6 GPA and a 1,660 (new version) SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is defensive ends coach Marion Hobby.
Orangeburg (SC) Orangeburg-Wilkinson OL Jamal Medlin, rated one of the top 25 seniors in South Carolina, picked Clemson over Maryland, N.C. State and South Carolina. He also had an offer from Central Florida. As a senior, Medlin was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl. He benches 340 pounds, squats 550 and runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds. He has a 2.7 GPA and an 880 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is running backs coach Burton Burns.
Lilburn (GA) Parkview TE Michael Palmer, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Georgia, selected Clemson over Virginia. Brandon Pilgrim, a sophomore guard with the Tigers, also played at Parkview. As a senior, Palmer had 21 receptions for 385 yards and five touchdowns, earning first-team Class 5A all-state honors. He benches 300 pounds, squats 400 and runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds. He has a 3.6 GPA and an 1,100 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is outside linebackers coach Ron West.
OTHERS SELECT ACC PROGRAMS
Carteret (NJ) High DE Jason Adjepong, rated one of the top 25 defensive linemen in the nation, committed to Virginia Tech over Michigan, Ohio State and Rutgers. He also had offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, UNC, Penn State, Purdue, South Carolina, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. As a senior, playing mostly middle linebacker, Adjepong had 107 tackles (16 for loss) and nine sacks, earning first-team all-state honors for a 9-2 team. He also had 483 rushing yards and five touchdowns as a fullback. As a junior, he had 85 tackles (20 for loss) and 11 sacks as a defensive end, earning first-team all-state honors for a 10-2 team. Projected as an end at Tech, he benches 340 pounds, squats 480 and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 2.8 GPA and a 1,410 (new version) SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hokies was quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers, who took a job with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings in January, so it's now defensive line coach Charley Wiles.
Homestead (FL) South Dade DB Darin Baldwin, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, picked N.C. State over Central Florida and South Florida. He also had conditional (on academics) early offers from Clemson, Michigan State, Mississippi and Syracuse, with Auburn, Florida, FSU and Miami also showing interest. Another South Dade product, defensive back Marcus Hudson, was a senior for the Wolfpack in 2005, and Marcus' brother Kevin Hudson is the defensive backs coach at South Dade. As a prep senior, Baldwin had 35 tackles, four interceptions and three kickoff returns for touchdowns, earning first-team honors in talent-rich Dade County. As a junior, he had five interceptions and earned second-team all-county recognition. Also an outstanding wrestler, he was an all-state selection (at 160 pounds) in that sport last year, and he's competing at 189 pounds this year. A projected safety for State, he benches 300 pounds, squats 400 and runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. He must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Wolfpack is defensive line coach Todd Stroud.
Fairfax (VA) Robinson RB/DB Lucas Caparelli, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, chose Wake Forest over Central Michigan and Virginia Tech. He also had early offers from Maryland, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Virginia. One of his former teammates at Robinson, Chip Vaughn, is a defensive back for the Demon Deacons. A three-year starter, Caparelli gained 1,475 rushing yards, posted 490 receiving yards and scored 29 touchdowns as a senior, when he earned first-team Group 3A all-state honors as a kick returner and second-team honors as a tailback for a 9-2 team. As a junior, he gained 1,910 rushing yards, posted 430 receiving yards and scored 28 TDs for a 13-1 team, earning second-team Group 2A all-state and district player of the year honors. A projected tailback at Wake, he benches 260 pounds, squats 400 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has an 800 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Deacons is wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman.
Atlanta (GA) Westlake DB Mario Edwards, rated one of the top 75 seniors in Georgia, selected Virginia Tech over Arkansas, Baylor, Central Florida and Georgia Tech. He also had offers from Mississippi State, Purdue and Tulane. As a senior, he had 75 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. He runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 2.8 GPA and a 1,440 (new version) SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hokies is defensive backs coach Lorenzo Ward.
Owings Mills (MD) New Town WR Douglas McNeil, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Maryland, chose Virginia Tech over James Madison. Virginia also showed interest. As a senior, he had 31 receptions for 687 yards and eight touchdowns, earning first-team all-state (small schools) honors. As a junior, as a member of the New Town track team, he captured the regional championship in the long jump. He benches 210 pounds, squats 350 and runs the 40 in 4.65 seconds. McNeil must improve his academic credentials to qualify, and he has discussed with the Tech coaches the possibility that he will have to delay his enrollment until January 2007. His main recruiter with the Hokies is wide receivers coach Tony Ball.
Highland Springs (VA) High LB Jarrell Miller, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, opted for North Carolina over Florida, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Alabama, Boston College, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska, NCSU, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple and West Virginia. Highland Springs has produced a large number of ACC signees in recent years, including defensive end Derek Bryant (Duke), defensive end Noland Burchette (Virginia Tech), cornerback Macho Harris (Virginia Tech), offensive lineman Wyatt Hicks (UNC) and offensive lineman Tony Willis (Clemson). A four-year starter, Miller had 99 tackles (17 for loss) and eight sacks as a senior, earning first-team Group 3A all-state honors. As a junior, he had 60 tackles and one sack, earning first-team all-metro honors. A projected middle linebacker at UNC, he runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. With a 2.7 GPA and a 720 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels is running backs coach Andre Powell, and he also developed a close relationship with linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen, a one-time prep All-American from Virginia who signed with UNC in 1989.