ACC Spotlight: How has pandemic impacted recruiting?
They say all politics are local and the same adage might be true in recruiting, never more than during a global pandemic. Commitments are coming off the board at a rapid pace this offseason, and an argument could be made it’s because of the NCAA's moratorium on in-person recruiting.
With so many pledges already done, the expectation is there could be a massive decommitment season coming as well and that could change the scope of every recruiting class. Here is a look at each program in the ACC and how they have recruited locally and away from home as the summer continues into an uncertain fall.
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
MORE: Rivals Transfer Tracker
Staying home: Clemson has no in-state commitments yet, but so many players from Georgia and North Carolina have already pledged to the Tigers - and they’re from so close by - it feels like they’re right down the road. The state of Georgia - once again - has been raided by Clemson as the Tigers have four pledges from there, led by LB Barrett Carter. DB Jordan Hancock was penciled in as a fifth pledge from Georgia, but he decommitted Tuesday night. Four-star RB Will Shipley is a big commitment from North Carolina. Outside of those two states, the only player within a seven-hour radius of campus is four-star TE Jake Briningstool out of Brentwood (Tenn.) Ravenwood.
Hitting the road: Coach Dabo Swinney and his staff have proven they can go anywhere for anybody - and the Tigers have hit talent pools very hard so far this recruiting cycle. Clemson already has three pledges from the state of Florida, with WR Troy Stellato and OL Marcus Tate up top. High four-star receiver Beaux Collins from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco is committed and that’s the same school that freshman QB D.J. Uiagalelei attended. The Tigers have also gone to Maryland and Pennsylvania for players.
Farrell's take: Few teams recruit better nationally than Clemson, but with that comes a challenge during the pandemic. The Tigers took a rare hit with a decommitment from No. 1 overall prospect Korey Foreman from California. Clemson recruits sparingly in state and have made states like Georgia and North Carolina feeder states for their program and that continues. Florida has also been good to them and continues to be. Clemson is putting together another great class and there is little to worry about here for fans.
Staying home: Coach Mack Brown and his staff have done a phenomenal job wrangling the 2021 recruiting class - and he’s done it almost exclusively at home. Fourteen of 17 commitments are from the state of North Carolina and then five-star cornerback Tony Grimes from Virginia Beach (Va.) Princess Anne and JJ Jones from Myrtle Beach, S.C., are a little more than three hours away. The Tar Heels have commitments from four of the top eight players in the state, and that’s especially impressive since national powers are coming in for top recruits.
Hitting the road: North Carolina has been so busy loading up with prospects close to home that the only pledge outside that seven-hour threshold of Chapel Hill is Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy’s Eli Sutton, who picked UNC over Michigan, Penn State, Auburn and others. He lives 7 hours and 38 minutes from campus.
Farrell's take: Has anyone recruited better during the pandemic than Brown? The local recruiting has been off the charts and you could argue that the Tar Heels are the school that has been helped the most by players deciding to stay local. UNC can also recruit a bit nationally, but the focus has been on in-state and local recruiting and Brown is hitting a home run.
Staying home: Sixteen of 17 commitments are from the talent-rich state of Florida with coach Manny Diaz and his coaching staff putting a tremendous emphasis on winning a lot of battles in South Florida, and four-star DB Kamren Kinchens is the newest one. There are still some outstanding defensive back prospects uncommitted in the state, with Corey Collier, James Williams and Jason Marshall leading the way, but Miami has made local recruits a big priority in this class and a lot have stayed home.
Hitting the road: The single commitment from outside the state of Florida is four-star tight end Elijah Arroyo from Frisco (Texas) Independence. The four-star who’s rated No. 12 at the position is originally from Miami but moved to Texas when he was a kid. He said Miami was his childhood dream school.
Farrell's take: Miami is also doing a great job of keeping local players home during the pandemic and Diaz needed to make that a priority. Schools still come in and poach but the Canes are getting very good in-state players in this class and there are many on the board. James Williams and Leonard Taylor are two key players who could also stay home during this shutdown.
Staying home: The Cardinals have no commitments from the state of Kentucky - but three-star OL Zenuae Michalski lives about only 15 minutes away from campus in Floyds Knobs, Ind. Louisville has three players from Georgia under the seven-hour threshold from campus, led by DE Victoine Brown. There are also two pledges from Illinois and then one each from Missouri and Pennsylvania.
Hitting the road: It’s far from home, but coach Scott Satterfield and his staff have made the state of Florida a priority, and the Cardinals are having some success there with four pledges, with DB Rance Conner topping the list. North Carolina is also a hot spot for this Louisville class with DB Bralyn Oliver one step away from a four-star ranking. The Cardinals have also gone to South Carolina and south Georgia on multiple occasions and Washington state for pledges.
Farrell's take: I like the Louisville class because of the geography. The Cardinals have done a very good job recruiting Georgia and North Carolina, among other talent-rich states. In-state recruiting is still key as well, but I like the Southeast footprint and some of the players they are getting. They are doing a standout job during the shutdown.
Staying home: The state of Georgia is such a hotbed for talent and coach Geoff Collins and his staff are doing a good job landing local prospects. Six prospects from there are committed to the Yellow Jackets, led by ATH Kaleb Edwards and defensive ends Noah Collins and Joshua Robinson. Georgia Tech has also landed local commitments from two players in North Carolina, one in Florida, one in Alabama and one in Tennessee.
Hitting the road: Georgia Tech has stayed closer to home for most of its recruiting class so far but also hit up talent hot spots in Florida, Texas, California and … Australia? Quarterback Chayden Perry is from Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon, WR James BlackStrain and LB Gavin Barthiel are from Florida, TE Ben Postma is from Texas and kicker David Shanahan is from Melbourne at Prokick Australia.
Farrell's take: Georgia Tech will never be the top option in the state of Georgia but it’s important to keep some kids home and beat teams trying to come in and poach — especially in the Atlanta area. I like the local attention being paid here, and this is a solid class. A couple of big in-state wins down the line are needed, but Collins will likely come through.
Staying home: Pittsburgh has had some success with three in-state prospect commits in DBs Stephon Hall and Javon Mcintyre and DE Nahki Johnson, but the Panthers have had to go far and wide for players, even within a seven-hour distance of campus. Virginia has been a successful state for Pitt, even if the players committed are right outside that seven-hour threshold with RBs Malik Newton and Rodney Hammond, WR Myles Alston and LB Trevion Stevenson committed from that state. Two commits from Michigan and then one from Maryland and Ohio round out the commits closer to home.
Hitting the road: Florida has been targeted by Pitt’s coaching staff with a good deal of success as three players have committed, along with two from Georgia. Three-star QB Nate Yarnell and TE Trey Andersen from Utah - who’s been on his Mormon mission - have also pledged.
Farrell's take: The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) has been down in talent for a bit now and that hurts Pitt, especially during the pandemic when kids might be more likely to stay home. Florida has been very good to Pitt and the Panthers have done a nice job even with kids not allowed to travel and coaches not hitting the road. But Virginia has been especially good and assistant coach Chris Beatty has been excellent with his ties there.
Staying home: Florida State has six in-state commitments but the Seminoles’ coaching staff has gone all across the state for those players, whether down the road in Havana, Fla., for DE Joshua Farmer or Jacksonville, Ocala, the Tampa area or South Florida as well. Others within a seven-hour radius of Tallahassee include Bryson Estes from Georgia, Jackson West from Alabama, Joshua Burrell from South Carolina and even QB Luke Altmyer from Starkville, Miss.
Hitting the road: Only three of 13 commitments come from outside the region, with Texas being in focus with pledges from four-star DB Hunter Washington and three-star LB Jordan Eubanks. JUCO TE Kolby Gross from Northern California is also committed.
Farrell's take: Mike Norvell hasn’t been able to hit the ground running as new Florida State head coach, and it’s shown. The in-state recruiting has been solid, but there have been some reaches from his old stomping grounds as he tries to establish himself more in the Southeast. This will be shown more in the 2022 class, but the shutdown has really hurt Norvell and his staff.
Staying home: First-year coach Jeff Hafley and his staff have a big opportunity, especially in-state, because only one of the top four prospects in Massachusetts is committed at this point. The only in-state pledge is three-star LB Owen McGowan out of West Roxbury (Mass.) Catholic Memorial. The Eagles also have commitments from two New Jersey prospects and one from Maryland.
Hitting the road: With 17 commitments already in the class, Boston College’s coaching staff has had to go far and wide to land prospects, hitting up and down the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest quite hard. Two players are from Virginia, three are from Illinois, two from Georgia, two from Ohio and then one each from Florida, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Many from the DMV area were just outside the seven-hour radius from the Chestnut Hill campus.
Farrell's take: I like the job Hafley is doing in his first year with limitations as a first-year guy. Michigan has been a problem in New England, but BC needs to get back to recruiting New Jersey and the Midwest Catholics as well as other areas. Maryland has been, and will be, key as well. The recruiting at BC will go up two or three notches under Hafley.
Staying home: Just about half of Virginia’s current recruiting class is from a seven-hour radius of the Charlottesville campus, including local receiver Malachi Fields and DB Jonas Sanker, who just flipped from Boston College. Five players in the class are from the state of Virginia, two are from North Carolina including three-star WR Jesiah Davis, and then one each from Tennessee and Maryland.
Hitting the road: The state of Georgia has been of particular interest to Virginia this recruiting class and the Cavaliers have had great success with five commits from there, more than their home state. Linebacker West Weeks leads the way. Virginia’s coaching staff has also gone to Alabama for three-star DB Micah Gaffney, Texas for three-star QB Jacob Rodriguez and even Washington state for four-star DE Josh McCarron, who committed without ever visiting.
Farrell's take: UVa recruits all over the map under Bronco Mendenhall, but the Cavs need to do a better job keeping kids at home and they know it. And I’m talking about elite players. However, Mendenhall is such a good coach that he elevates the play of three-stars, and for now that works. As the winning continues more locals will be staying home.
Staying home: NC State has taken a completely local approach to this recruiting class so far, as all 15 commitments are from within the seven-hour threshold of its campus in Raleigh. Eight commitments are from the state of North Carolina, led by four-star wide receiver Micah Crowell, the lone four-star in the class so far. Even players from New Jersey and Florida are within a seven-hour radius of campus.
Hitting the road: There are no players that fit this criteria so far in NC State’s recruiting class.
Farrell's take: UNC is getting the headlines while NC State does a solid job recruiting locally. In fact, the Wolfpack are one of only a few schools that haven’t gone outside a seven-hour radius, which is both good and bad. The good news is that locals are interested, but the bad news is that UNC is getting the big names and NC State has to have more appeal away from home.
Staying home: Three of Wake Forest’s first four commitments came from in-state prospects, but since then there has been a significant dry spell as the Demon Deacons went up and down the East to land prospects. Jacksonville (Fla.) Bartram Trail QB Santino Marucci comes in just under the seven-hour threshold to campus and then there are six pledges from Georgia, Virginia and Maryland (two each).
Hitting the road: Wake Forest’s coaching staff has found some success in New England of all places, with commitments from Wilton, Conn., offensive guard Matt Gulbin and Dorchester (Mass.) Boston College High three-star offensive tackle Erik Russell. The Demon Deacons also went to Alabama for DT Bernard Gooden and New Jersey for high three-star RB Will Towns.
Farrell's take: Wake needs to spot recruit up and down the East Coast and it has done a solid job of that this year. In-state recruiting will be tough even with the shutdown and always has been, so finding diamonds in the rough in places like New England or Alabama or Florida is key.
Staying home: A majority of Virginia Tech’s recruiting class is from Virginia or surrounding states with five in-state players committed, led by DB Jalen Stroman, among others. There are also two pledges from Maryland and two from South Carolina, and the highest three-star among that group is DE Mattheus Carroll out of Baltimore (Md.) Gilman School.
Hitting the road: New Jersey has been a hot spot for the Hokies’ coaching staff with two commitments in QB Tahjamell Bullock and DB Jalen Hoyle, Virginia Tech’s first commit in this recruiting class. The Hokies just landed three-star ATH DJ Harvey out of California and went to Germany for OL Danijel Miletic and most recently pulled in three-star WR Tray Curry from Tennessee to get out of the ACC basement.
Farrell's take: There was a time when the Hokies were a real player for the best in the state, but that time was long ago and Frank Beamer isn’t walking back in the door. Justin Fuente isn’t known as a great recruiter, and the Texas experiment early in this class didn’t go well with two big decommitments. Bottom line: Things need to change in state, and even in the shutdown they haven’t.
Staying home: The Syracuse coaching staff started this recruiting class locally with four prospects within a seven-hour range of campus, but since that time the Orange have gone all over the country to round out this group. Defensive end Terry Lockett from Springfield (Mass.) Central leads the way, and then three-star LB Malik Matthew from Bronx (N.Y.) Lehman is the only other commit among a surge of out-of-region pledges in recent months.
Hitting the road: Upstate New York is not a huge recruiting territory filled with elite prospects, so coach Dino Babers and his staff must go all over the country to land top players. The Orange went to California for three-star QB Justin Lamson, South Carolina for two players, Hawaii for an offensive lineman and then across the Midwest as well.
Farrell's take: Syracuse has trouble recruiting locally because there isn’t a ton of talent, but New Jersey and New England used to be very good for them and they aren't anymore. That’s a big problem.
Staying home: Duke’s first three commitments were from in-state prospects and since then there has only been one other one from DB Brandon Johnson in early May. The Blue Devils have had a lot of success in Georgia with four pledges from that state, led by mid-three-star DB Dylan Merrell. Prospects from Maryland and Pennsylvania are also committed.
Hitting the road: Only two prospects are from outside the seven-hour radius from campus - and both are from Alabama. Three-star QB Riley Leonard is from Fairhope, Ala., and Duke’s newest commit is three-star OL Almarion Crim out of Adamsville (Ala.) Minor, who had 19 total offers.
Farrell's take: Duke has taken it on the chin a bit with UNC’s resurgence. It’s the ecosystem effect, as UNC is keeping bigger fish in state, which means the smaller fish are falling to others like NC State and so on. Duke needs to adjust, but it’s hard with its academic standards. However, those academics have come in handy during the shutdown at times.