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National Signing Day 2015: Where Did Syracuse Stack Up in the ACC?

We know what Syracuse's class looks like; what about everyone else's?

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2015 is over for most schools at this point, so why not take this time to assess what others have. We've already summarized Syracuse's recruiting class (which was finalized pretty early today), but it's also worth seeing just how well we stack up with our ACC cohorts' respective classes.

First, the raw numbers. Keep in mind that we're not endorsing stars or anything like that -- they're not as useful for prospects outside of the top-300. Just including them here for you guys as a reference (all numbers from 247Sports):

School Ranking Total Top Recruit (National Rank)
Florida State 3 20 S Derwin James (5)
Clemson 8 25 WR Deon Cain (19)
Miami 26 21 RB Mark Walton (83)
North Carolina 28 19 DE Jalen Dalton (57)
Virginia Tech 29 24 DT Tim Settle (101)
NC State 30 23 RB Johnny Frasier (75)
Louisville 32 24 OLB Darius Smith (315)
Georgia Tech 43 27 WR Christian Philpott (504)
Virginia 47 23 LB Jahvoni Simmons (150)
Duke 50 18 OLB Ben Humphreys (164)
Wake Forest 53 22 QB Kyle Kearns (519)
Boston College 55 25 G Wyatt Knopfke (487)
Pittsburgh 61 14 CB Jordan Whitehead (106)
Syracuse 62 26 RB Dontae Strickland (460)

Get down about that "last-place" finish if you really need to, but in reality, it doesn't mean much. The Orange grabbed a solid class that addressed glaring needs on the roster, and also managed a full class (yes, there are still two spots left). The difference between these subjective rankings is minimal for the bottom third of the conference, so there's really very little separating us from Virginia at nine, other than a four-star recruit (which again, is subjective). Rivals listed us in the top-50 because they see a couple four-stars in this class. All of that is fine. We know we have talented kids here, regardless of how many "stars" they have. If they're not in the top 300, stars don't mean nearly as much.


On top of a better-than-those-numbers-let-on showing above, Syracuse WAS able to lock up top players at their respective positions. Sure, they may be special teams guys, but that's progress. Not included below is Matt Keller, who committed in December and is the top-ranked long snapper in the country. The list here shows the top ACC recruit at each position on the field:

Position Recruit School
QB Deondre Francois Florida State
RB Jacques Patrick Florida State
WR George Campbell Florida State
TE Garrett Williams Clemson
OT Mitch Hyatt Clemson
OG Kendrick Norton Miami
C Tommy Hatton North Carolina
DE Josh Sweat Florida State
DT Christian Wilkins Clemson
OLB Ben Humphreys Duke
ILB Jahvoni Simmons Virginia
CB Tarvarus McFadden Florida State
S Derwin James Florida State
K Sterling Hofrichter Syracuse
P Austin Parker Duke

See? TWO different Syracuse players in this recruiting cycle were the best at their position. For those fans who sat through the GERG era, that wasn't happening then. It wasn't when Doug Marrone was here either, honestly. It's been a building process, and it continues to be a building process. This year, we hang our hat on this. Next, we hang our hat on something bigger. Rinse, repeat, and repeat again...


Some additional takeaways, which pertain to Syracuse to varying degrees:

  • The 26-man class was the second-largest in the conference -- only Georgia Tech (who really swung and missed last offseason) had more.
  • Florida State was about one more stud prospect from the second overall spot in the national recruiting rankings. Want to know why this team's a national title contender every year? That's why.
  • For all the talk about Virginia's recruiting, you can see that four years of diminishing on-field returns have taken their toll. Mike London can't work miracles when kids are seeing losing records. Bowl games -- no matter how bad -- matter. I could go off on a scheduling tangent here, but will spare you...
  • Clemson pulls in yet another top class. If we're going to catch them the 'Noles, we're going to need to start getting closer to that caliber of athlete. Otherwise, third place in the Altantic is SU's ceiling.
  • Wake Forest's late push gets them out of the basement, but that shouldn't discourage 'Cuse fans. Tyler Cross sticking with SU after visiting the Deacs means a whole lot more.
  • We're going to circle back on scheduling one more time. LOOK AT NC STATE RIGHT NOW. That has little to do with George McDonald, honestly, and much more to do with scheduling. The Wolfpack beat up on a garbage slate each year and in return they get to bounce up in the recruiting rankings (and had two top-100 guys this year). Let's do that!


Other takeaways? Anything worrisome on the horizon based on what we see here? Share below.