ACC on verge of impressive QB harvest
Posted January 24
Football’s national signing day (Feb. 5) is more than a week away, but barring late defections, the ACC’s quarterback recruit harvest will be its most promising ever.
Recruit ratings for any and all football positions are well documented for being a hit-big or miss-big equation.
Nonetheless, it’s at least interesting that the usual middling posture of the ACC skill-position signees will ratchet up this signing day simply as a result of the quarterback group.
The recruit ratings services vary their judgments to some degree, but there’s little debate that the ACC has verbal pledges from at least five of the nation’s top 20 or so quarterbacks, and six if you mix in Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer.
The best of the group is expected to be Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who is being touted as the No. 1 overall all-purpose QB.
A 6-3, 190-pounder from Gainesville, Ga., Watson already has enrolled at Clemson and will compete with senior Cole Stoudt and sophomore Chad Kelly for the starting job being vacated by Tajh Boyd.
Stoudt, the son of former Pittsburgh Steeler standout Cliff Stoudt, played in eight games in 2013 and completed 47 of 59 passes for 415 yards and five touchdowns (no interceptions). Kelly was also effective in his five games.
The odds favor Stoudt, obviously, but Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris reportedly put more time and detail into Watson’s recruiting than any other player since he joined Dabo Swinney’s staff three seasons ago and started to develop Boyd.
Bridgewater, Lee exits add to drain
Whether Watson starts, only plays sporadically or even red shirts, the potential for freshmen quarterbacks to make an impact in the ACC may be the highest ever.
Nine of the 15 primary starters from 2013 have to be replaced, and that’s including UNC’s Marquise Williams as a primary starter even though Bryn Renner probably would have started all 13 games had it not been for injuries.
The quarterback drain increased recently when Teddy Bridgewater left Louisville early for the NFL draft and Georgia Tech starter Vad Lee (Durham Hillside) transferred to James Madison.
N.C. State, Wake Forest, Miami, Virginia Tech, Miami, Boston College and Pitt also will be basically starting from scratch.
At State, promising recruit Jalan McClendon (6-4, 200) from Charlotte was not among eight second-semester early enrollees, but still probably will arrive as No. 2 on the depth chart behind transfer Jacoby Brissett, a red-shirt junior who started three games over two seasons at Florida.
Carolina’s Williams was impressive in late season, led the Tar Heels to a bowl win over Cincinnati and is familiar with the offensive system. Even so, new coordinator Seth Littrell will welcome 4-star Caleb Henderson (6-4, 225, Burke, Va.) to a group that already includes former Ohio prep star Mitch Trubisky, a red-shirt freshman.
New Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson will have to replace Tanner Price. Millbrook’s Lemar Harris (6-2, 180) and John Wolford (6-1, 209, Jacksonville, Fla.) will join red-shirt senior Patrick Thompson and red-shirt soph Tyler Cameron in the competition.
Cameron (6-3, 220) and Thompson (6-2, 210) have limited game experience, but Cameron was mildly recruited by a few SEC teams as a prep player in Jupiter, Fla.
Miami, which has to replace Stephen Morris, signed two top-rated prospects – Brad Kaaya (6-4, 213, West Hills, Calif.) and Malik Rosier (6-2, 195, Mobile, Ala.).
Florida State, which needs no quarterback help immediately, will bring in heavily recruited Teron Harris (6-0, 180, Miami) to join the group behind Jameis Winston.
Other than the Seminoles, Duke seems best set at the position with returnees Anthony Boone (likely 2nd-team preseason all-league pick) and Brandon Connette plus Thomas Sink (returning from injury) and Parker Boehme (6-3, 220), who red-shirted in 2013.
Early football enrollments for area schools
The following players signed during the early period and have already enrolled, making them eligible for spring drills participation.
Johnathan Lloyd (ATH, 6-0, 195, Southern Alamance)
Co’Dondrea Purdie (DB, 5-11, 185, New Bern)
Curtis Burston (WR, 6-1, 215, Apex Middle Creek)
Blake Norwood (DB, 6-2, 195, Pensacola, Fla.)
Trevon Brown (WR, 6-3, 190, Wilmington N. Hanover)
Tony Adams (OL, 6-1, 327, Charlotte Independence)
Robert Brunstetter (C, 6-2, 225, Mocksville Davie)
B.J. Hill (DL, 6-3, 250, Oakboro West Stanly)
Bo Hines (WR, 6-1, 190, Charlotte Christian)
Ty Linton (LB, 6-2, 215, Charlotte Christian)
Stephen Louis (WR, 6-1, 190, Palm Beach, Fla. Lakes)
Kalen McCain (DB, 6-1, 175, Durham Hillside)
Terronne Prescod (OL, 6-4, 340, Decatur, Ga. Columbia)
Allen Artis (DB, 6-1, 190, Marietta, Ga. Wheeler)
Brandon Fritts (TE, 6-4, 215, Mentor, Ohio)
Elijah Hood (RB, 6-0, 220, Charlotte Catholic)
Bentley Spain (OL, 6-6, 285, Charlotte Providence)
M.J. Stewart (DB, 5-11, 190, Arlington, Va. Yorktown)