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September 21, 2005

ACC Blitz: Tigers on the rise

It looks as if Tommy Bowden is about to make something big happen at Clemson.

His Tigers are off to a 2-1 start and played host to several unofficial visitors of note during a thrilling 36-30 triple overtime loss to Miami (Fla.) last Saturday. Perhaps the first time during Bowden's tenure, the program appears to be clicking on all cylinders as the on-field performance, facilities upgrades and recruiting look to be running smoothly.

In the last three seasons, Bowden's team has defeated Texas A&M (2005), Miami (2004), Florida State and Tennessee (2003). There is a massive expansion/renovation/facilities upgrade occurring at Death Valley, putting Clemson on par with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference teams it recruits against.

It could be said that last Saturday, even though it ended in a loss, helped Clemson's cause with four star safety Darius Gaither of Winnsboro (S.C.) Fairfield Central, four-star defensive end DeAntwan Whitehead of Birmingham (Ala.), who committed to Clemson briefly during the summer and perhaps even made an impression on Rivals100 linebacker Brandon Spikes of Shelby, N.C.

As it stands now, the Tigers' class of 2006 certainly will be in the top 25, but start adding guys like Gaither, Whitehead and Spikes and it could climb into the top 10 or even the top five, which would make Clemson a contender for the ACC's top class.

What could Brown do for Tech?

If Georgia Tech can continue to play well, it looks as if the Yellow Jackets have a real shot at some solid Peach State talent in this year's class. This likely would be a welcome change for most Tech fans as the Jackets have only signed approximately 35 percent of their players from in-state during the Chan Gailey era.

Perhaps the top in-state target is running back Carlos Brown from Heard County. Brown, a Rivals100 selection and the state's No. 3 overall prospect, has consistently listed Tech, Georgia, Auburn and Florida State as the schools he has high interest in.

If you look closely, the Jackets could be the team to beat here.

There are reasons why a talented running back would not want to sign with the Bulldogs in this year's class. UGA has a trio of talented sophomore tailbacks in Thomas Brown, Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin.

Auburn already has a commitment from Rivals100 tailback Benjamin Tate and Lovejoy (Ga.) athlete Mario Fannin, who the Tigers coaches have sold on the idea of being the next Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Florida State is the wildcard here and while the Seminoles do have a talented young running back in Antoine Smith, he is a different type of running back than Brown.

As the Terps turn

Sarasota (Fla.) cornerback Marquis Johnson has had Alabama at the top of his list for quite some time. In fact, it was once thought that Johnson's commitment to the Crimson Tide would be imminent.

But that is not the case now. While there were times that he favored Bama strongly, he always has had Maryland on his mind and a visit to College Park for the Terps' 31-19 loss to West Virginia last Saturday may have put Maryland on top.

Johnson mentioned that he "loved" the Maryland coaching staff and expressed a preference for living in the state of Maryland as opposed to Alabama. He also mentioned that he could take further visits to Clemson, Miami, Florida or Ohio State.

At least one source feels like he still is a lock for the Crimson Tide, however, while another close to the situation feels like he is anything but. Johnson will visit Tuscaloosa the weekend of Oct. 1 for Bama's home game with the Gators.

Stay tuned.

Bell a UVA lock?

Based on Norfolk (Va.) Granby wide receiver Chris Bell rating his visit to Florida this past weekend a "6 or a 7" and the nation's No. 41 overall prospect nearly eliminating the Gators in an interview, it's looking better and better for Virginia with regards to landing the state's second ranked prospect.

If Bell visits Penn State and comes back with a less-than-glowing review of State College, barring something unforeseen, he is headed to Charlottesville.

Border battle for Campbell

It's looking like a Maryland-Virginia battle is shaping up for New Haven (Conn.) Rivals250 offensive tackle Bruce Campbell.

Adding Campbell, who at 6-foot-7, 272 pounds has the prototypical NFL frame for a tackle, would add yet another elite player to both offensive lines. Virginia signed Eugene Monroe, the nation's top offensive lineman in the class of 2005 (he currently is a second team offensive guard as a true freshman) and Maryland already has a verbal commitment (albeit a shaky one) from five star offensive lineman Antonio Logan-El.

Ellis sort of has Cane offer

Talented defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis from Lake Worth, Fla., has to be the biggest mystery of the recruiting season so far. The nation's No. 5 defensive tackle prospect only has an official offer from Florida among the Sunshine State's big three schools and recently told CaneSport.com that he had an offer from Miami "if he wanted to come to Miami."

Given the Canes interest in Ellis and the fact that Oklahoma City defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the nation's top player at his position, has already set up an official to Coral Gables, Miami has put itself in position to haul in another top-notch defensive line class. Four-star defensive tackle Josh Holmes of San Diego already has verbally committed.

Don't count the Noles out

Even though it was reported that Virginia Beach Landstown wide receiver Percy Harvin, the nation's top player, had cancelled his planned visit to Tallahassee, don't count Florida State out of the running just yet.

The nation's No. 3 prospect, Myron Rolle was said to be deciding between Florida and Oklahoma with Michigan third in the days leading up to his Sept. 1 announcement in Atlantic City, N.J. Rolle, however, committed to Florida State.

Simply put, the Seminoles are the best recruiting closers in college football and it would be premature to count them out of the race for any prospect. After all, Harvin didn't exactly close the door. He merely said he "might" still visit.

While last year's Florida State class was outstanding, this year's could be special as there is a chance the Seminoles could sign the top three players in the nation. FSU is in the game with Harvin and offensive lineman Andre Smith, the nation's second-ranked player and already has Rolle committed.

More Recruiting Blitzes:
SEC: Big weekend for Gators
Pac-10: Bruins rolling along
Big Ten: Irish stockpiling talent
Big East: Pitt trying to hold on
Big 12: Texas wins early battles

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