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The State of the Coastal

The Cavaliers are the cream of the Coastal in 2019.

Miami v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

It’s a shame that the ACC has gotten to this point. The Clemson Tigers are still a playoff team at 13-0 but the rest of the conference has hit hard times. The second best record in the ACC is the Coastal Champions the Virginia Cavaliers, with a 9-4 record. Virginia Tech finished the regular season 8-4, as did Wake Forest, and Louisville rounds out the “top five” at 7-5. Sadly, the Hurricanes 6-6 record doesn’t quite make the top 5 of the conference, or even top 2 of the Coastal.

In the SP+, Clemson is the clear favorite there, too, as they’re ranked 4th. Miami is the second highest ranked team per Bill Connelly’s SP+ at 26th. They’re followed by Virginia Tech at 40 and Virginia at 45.

The Coastal is once again the loser of the ACC Championship Game and of course left out of the College Football Playoff. Let’s take a look at the season and potential early signing classes of the ACC Coastal, which can hopefully boost the division back into ACC Championship Game contention versus an also-ran status it currently holds.

Virginia Tech v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Virginia Cavaliers

The Coastal’s recruiting prowess takes a dip when talking about the Virginia schools. The Cavaliers are 72nd in the nation, which lands at 13th in the ACC. They have two four-star players lined up for early signing in linebacker Brandon Williams and safety Bud Clark. Both of these blue chippers are from Louisiana. Another safety from Louisiana, Donovan Johnson, is a three-star recruit.

Remember, the Hoos are coming off of their first win over Virginia Tech since the 2003 season, and they could have their best team since Ronde and Tiki Barber who played in Charlottesville in the mid-90’s. Virginia loses all 27 of Bryce Perkins 2019 touchdowns but Bronco Mendenhall has built quite the program in a short amount of time.

Way too early 2020 prediction: 7-5

Virginia Tech v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Virginia Tech Hokies

Everyone is all excited about Justin Fuente and the Hokies late season run, but they lost the Coastal race to their arch-rival. That same arch-rival the Hokies had beaten every year since 2003, which doesn’t sit lightly with boosters no matter how strong of a UVA team 2019 has been. The Hokies also boast a horrible recruiting class. They have the 78th ranked class in the country, which is good for dead last in the ACC behind even the Duke Blue Devils who have some intense recruiting limitations.

As of this point, Virginia Tech doesn’t have a four-star prospect lined up and their top rated recruit is a three-star community college transfer. That JUCO transfer is running back Marco Lee, a three-star from Coffeyville CC in Kansas. After Lee, the class is driven by three-star players from New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina and Maryland. Athlete Tyreem Powell, WR Tyree Saunders, and RB Jalen Hampton could provide an offensive spark the Hokies need. Don’t forget Bud Foster will no longer be the defensive coordinator in Blacksburg for the first time since the 1986 season.

Way too early 2020 prediction: 5-7

Virginia v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Miami Hurricanes

Miami had a disappointing first season under Manny Diaz. However, the 6-6 Hurricanes currently have the 14th ranked recruiting class per 247 sports. The ‘Canes are 2nd in the ACC, and will benefit from many of these expected signees to come in as early enrollees. The signing class is headlined by running back Don Chaney Jr, a four-star prospect who is the 34th ranked player in the country.

Miami also signs DE Chantz Williams, RB Jaylan Knighton, and much needed OT Jalen Rivers. The ‘Canes return QB Jarren Williams, TE Brevin Jordan, and DE Gregory Rousseau but lose two starting inside linebackers, DE Jonathan Garvin, and running back Deejay Dallas will probably be heading to the NFL, too.

Way too early 2020 prediction: 8-4

North Carolina v Pittsburgh Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

North Carolina Tar Heels

The 17th ranked recruiting class in the country belongs to the Tar Heels. UNC has the 3rd best class in the ACC in Mack Brown’s first full year of recruiting. The Heels expected class is led by five-star defensive end Desmond Evans. Evans is already 6-foot-6, 265 pounds and ready to start right away for Jay Bateman’s defense.

He’s joined by four-star defensive end Myles Murphy, DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones, and safety Ja’Qurious Conley. Apparently Mack Brown thinks the Heels top 50ish defense needs a bolstering in order to win the Coastal division.

UNC returns QB Sam Howell, WR Dyami Brown (20 yards per catch as a sophomore) and potentially both running backs who combined for over 1700 yards and 8 scores.

Way too early 2020 prediction: 8-4

Boston College v Pittsburgh Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Pitt Panthers

The Panthers finished the season 7-5 and with another Pitt type of season (read: boring). Pitt currently has the country’s 35th ranked recruiting class, good for 7th in the ACC. The Panthers have lined up two four-star prospects in running back Henry Parrish and WR Jordan Addison. Parrish is a Miami, FL native that could come back to bite Miami in the butt in Coastal play.

Pitt’s recruiting class is a nice effort of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida prospects. Not a bad formula to build a hard-nosed squad in the ACC. Three-star defensive lineman Dayon Hayes is already 6-foot-3, 250 pounds which is a great size for Pat Narduzzi’s 4-2-5 spill defense.

The Panthers have one more season with Kenny Pickett at quarterback, and lineman Jaylen Twyman returns for his junior season with 11 career sacks.

Way too early 2020 prediction: 7-5

Georgia Tech v Duke Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils finished the season 5-7 but they did knock off the Hurricanes, Yellow Jackets, and Hokies while playing the Tar Heels tight in a three point loss. Duke has the 71st rated recruiting class in the country, which is good for 12th overall. The Devils will be replacing their starting QB for the 3rd time in three years after losing Daniel Jones to the NFL and Quentin Harris to graduation.

The Devils don’t currently have a four-star prospect lined up, and their top recruit is dual-threat QB Luca Diamont out of California. David Cutcliffe is a quarterback guru and always seems to find his guy in Durham. Diamont is joined by three-star guard Graham Barton, and two three-star WR’s in Malik Bowen and Nicky Dalmolin.

Way too early 2020 prediction: 5-7

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 21 NC State at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Geoff Collins first year in Atlanta went about as expected. The switch from Paul Johnson’s triple option offense took a toll on the Jackets and they finished 3-9 overall. However, The Ramblin’ Wreck never gave up and beat Miami and NC State in 2019. Collins squad has the 23rd ranked class in the country, which is 5th in the ACC.

Tech’s supposed class is led by running back Jahmyr Gibbs, a four-star out of Georgia. After Gibbs is CB Miles Brooks, and four-star WR Bryce Gowdy. Three-star WR Nate McCollum adds more depth to the position. Tech is also signing almost a half dozen offensive lineman and Tampa Plant QB Tucker Gleason, all three-stars, to try to convert the offense from flexbone to spread-to-run in a hurry.

Georgia Tech returns just about everyone who made a play this season, and they’re rumored to possibly have a recruiting shocker on early signing day.

Way too early 2020 prediction: 6-6