Early period makes for calm national signing day around Clemson, ACC

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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Signing day was a lot less frantic than usual around the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Schools mostly topped off their recruiting classes Wednesday, roughly two months after most programs took care of refilling their rosters during the inaugural early signing period.

ACC schools added nearly 300 recruits this offseason, a typical number. But the vast majority of them signed during the December signing period while only 49 of them — 17 percent — waited and signed Wednesday.

Reigning division champions Clemson and Miami also were widely considered the winners on signing day, ranking in the top 10 nationally by several recruiting services. The Hurricanes brought in four more players Wednesday while the Tigers added just two.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson — who signed two players after adding 18 in December — called the changes to the signing period “a win-win for everybody.

“I think it helped the players and certainly it helped us. It was so much easier to hit your number,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be dead on our (scholarship) number of 85 and I think that’s the first time we’ve been able to do that. There was a lot less drama here at the end and when you have the drama in December it gives you time to recover from it and find somebody to replace.

“And it’s good for the players as well because I think they know of all the schools that come in and throw out a million offers, if they don’t send the papers in December they know the offers weren’t very good.”

No question the busiest ACC school was Florida State — which made a significant late push up the rankings with 13 more signees after a league-low seven signed in December. New coach Willie Taggart was hired from Oregon 15 days before the start of the early period.

“I thought our coaches did an unbelievable job of going out on the road, and getting out and working it,” Taggart said. “I felt like it would be hard for anyone to say no.”


Some things to know about Wednesday’s national signing day:

OVER THE TOP: Clemson overtook Miami in 247sports.com’s conference rankings after WR Justyn Ross, the top-rated player in the state of Alabama, signed with the Tigers, giving them yet another top-10 class. He’s the highest-ranked recruit to leave the state of Alabama since Jameis Winston picked Florida State in 2012. “It’s very rare that the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama leaves, but I’m thankful for this,” coach Dabo Swinney said.

BUSY TAGGART: The Seminoles’ new coach “relied big-time on previous relationships” while putting together his first Florida State recruiting class on the fly after taking over for Jimbo Fisher. He said the priority was “getting the coaching staff on board, and them working to build relationships.” Florida State’s class was considered outside the top 30 after the early signing date but made a quick ascent up the rankings once the second signing period started.

TOP SIGNERS: Aside from Florida State, the busiest schools Wednesday were North Carolina (six) and Pittsburgh (five), followed by the Hurricanes and North Carolina State with four each. Syracuse and Virginia Tech brought in three players each.

LATE HEELS: North Carolina picked up a couple of late signees on an otherwise drama-free day for the four Tobacco Road schools. The Tar Heels added four-star WR Antoine Green and three-star DT Gavin Lewis on Wednesday afternoon, and those late additions were enough to push UNC’s class to fourth in the ACC in 247sports.com’s rankings.

FAMILIAR NAMES: Florida State signed CB Asante Samuel Jr., the son of the former NFL cornerback. Miami added DB Al Blades Jr., whose late father played for the Hurricanes and in the NFL before his death. Virginia Tech signed OT Luke Tenuta, the son of well-traveled assistant Jon Tenuta. And Boston College kicker John Tessitore is the son of ESPN play-by-play man Joe Tessitore.


AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta and Associated Press writer Joe Reedy in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.

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