The ACC’s class of 2019 played out a lot like the 2018-19 season did. Clemson entrenched at the top, with everybody else fighting for scraps. Teams like NC State, Miami and Virginia Tech made some headway but ultimately not enough to be considered realistically capable of knocking off the reigning champs. But still, there were plenty of winners and losers in the ACC this season after a roller coaster ride to signing day.
No, Clemson did not have as big a signing day as they could’ve, especially considering the regular season and title game performance they just had, but they still ended up with a rich class of freshman. Their best recruit is, of course, a quarterback. 4-star QB Taisun Phommachanh may wind up being the best from this crop, especially under Dabo’s tutelage and a year to redshirt. They stole WR Frank Ladson Jr. from Miami’s backyard and also helped replace some of the defensive stars leaving for the NFL with 4-stars CB Andrew Booth and DT Tyler Davis. The Tigers are once again winners in the ACC.
The Hurricanes’ 2019 class wasn’t exceptionally strong heading into the 2018 season and, on the heels of a four game losing streak, it looked ready to fall apart. Then Mark Richt retired, Manny Diaz replaced him and things got rolling. No, the Hurricanes didn’t have enough time to make up the ground they had lost with a subpar recruiting effort and nightmarish season of football, but Diaz and his new staff did a great job to stem the bleeding. They added super athlete 3-star DT Jared Harrison-Hunte, two offensive linemen to help depth and even flipped 4-star DB Christian Williams from the SEC. Not bad for a month of work.
Tech had a similar year as Miami, struggling at QB and taking a step back in 2018 after showing promise in 2017. But Tech had a very solid recruiting class, grabbing two 4-star offensive linemen and several playmakers at offensive skill positions. Flipping OSU commit, 4-star WR Doug Nester was also a major coup for Justin Fuente & co.
UNC’s new head coach came in like gangbusters, showing he isn’t worse for wear on the recruiting trail despite being out of football. Brown crippled FSU by flipping 4-star QB Sam Howell and flipped WR Emery Simmons from Penn State. Brown’s class had solid depth and included two promising defensive recruits, 4 stars LB Eugene Asante and DT Wisdom Asaboro. With his recruiting class for North Carolina over, Brown ought to be a force to be reckoned with, as long as he can produce wins to go with successful classes.
FSU had a solid recruiting class on it’s face, especially considering it came on the heels of their worst season since 1976(!). They signed 13 4-star players, including some uber-talented DBs like Akeem Dent and Brendan Grant. They also greatly improved their atrocious offensive line with Dontae Lucas, one of the nation’s best guards. However, for all the good, confidence in Head Coach Willie Taggart is shaky, to say the least. The Seminoles’ QB situation is on Defcon 1 level. 25-game starter Deandre Francois is out, Bailey Hockman transferred last fall, and promising redshirt sophomore James Blackman was in the transfer portal briefly, but is now the only eligible scholarship QB on the Noles’ roster (unless Lousiville transfer Jordan Travis gets an immediate eligibility waiver, which is highly unlikely). Recruiting wise, two signal callers that seemed like locks for FSU went elsewhere this cycle. While Mack Brown stole one away, 5-7 Maryland made the best pitch to 4-star Lance LeGendre, somehow signing him despite FSU’s heavy interest. The Noles will have to desperately find a transfer option and/or try to convince Blackman to stay.
While the Cardinals 2019 class could’ve been much worse, it still wasn’t very good. The 68th ranked class in the nation managed 4-star DE Ja’Darien Boykin and a couple of talented offensive linemen, but much of the cupboard was left bare. The worst team in the ACC fired their pricey head coach and paid for the messiest season during a year of messy ACC seasons. Only 14 players signed on to refill a Cardinals roster that needs as many fresh faces as possible.
That’s right, the entire ACC had a very so-so recruiting cycle after a very so-so 2018-19 season. Clemson helped keep sheen of the usually-sparkly conference after 2018 competitors like Miami, Virginia Tech and FSU mostly fell apart this past year. Pittsburgh and Syracuse were unlikely risers but all of this mayhem and disappointment meant the entire league’s recruiting classes were subpar compared to the big boys in the SEC and even the Big 10.