Today was not so much a bad day for Virginia Tech and the rest of the ACC as it was a really, really good day for Clemson.
The Tigers just landed the No. 1 overall recruit in the country (minutes ago), Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche, a strong-side defensive end, has been compared by some to Dallas Cowboys DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware – this doesn’t bode well for the rest of the ACC.
Nkemdiche is a beast standing at 6’5, 270 pounds while running a 4.56 40-yard dash. Clemson has been very good on the recruiting trail as of late, but their stealing of Nkemdiche might signify a changing of the guard in the ACC. Nkemdiche was by all accounts expected to land at one of the big SEC schools, but instead he will be playing for Dabo Swinney at Clemson.
Last season Clemson beat Virginia Tech twice, once in the regular season and once again in the ACC Championship game. The Tigers then proceeded to allow West Virginia to drop 70 points on them in the Orange Bowl (West Virginia just scored again, by the way). While the Orange Bowl result was certainly surprising, Clemson are still the reining ACC champions and still return a lot of talented players for this season.
What does this mean? Immediately, it doesn’t mean anything except that the top of the ACC is improving. Virginia Tech’s almost automatic claim to ACC Championships are likely going out the window with the emergence of Clemson football. Moreover, recruiting battles will certainly get more interesting with the addition of Shane Beamer to Virginia Tech’s staff.
As it stands, Virginia Tech and Clemson seem to be the teams to beat within the ACC. Florida State seems to always be in the conversation as well, and UVA is now on the rise.
Hokies need not be worried though, because now isn’t the time to overreact. Yes, Clemson just got a damn good player – but as we know at Virginia Tech, recruiting rankings don’t tell the whole story. Virginia Tech has overachieved with good, but not great recruiting classes. As Florida State will tell you, it’s not about the star rankings of the players you have, it’s how you coach them up once they’re at your school.
The Hokies have a good recruiting class planned for 2013 and it’s far from over with some big names currently sitting as Virginia Tech leans. Clemson’s gain might in fact turn out to be the entire ACC’s gain, because this recruiting win over the SEC speaks volumes. Now let’s see if the rest of the ACC can follow suite.