Virginia Tech Hokies

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 07:  (L-R) Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles talks to head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers before their game at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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ACC National Signing Day recap: Florida State, Clemson impress once again

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Few leagues have transformed their reputation on the field more than the ACC has the past several seasons and the biggest reason for that has been because Clemson and Florida State captured national titles. As a result, it should come as no surprise that those two programs once again paced recruiting for the league when all was said and done on National Signing Day.

The Seminoles remained among the national elite with another stellar class while the Tigers used their limited number of scholarships to land some top-notch talent, possibly including Deshaun Watson’s successor in five-star QB Hunter Johnson (who’s already on campus).

In addition to the league’s two powerhouses, Miami put together another solid class to help them close the gap under Mark Richt while other schools like Pitt and North Carolina pleasantly surprised with some good hauls. It should all make for an even more competitive ACC in the coming seasons and allow us to look back to Wednesday and see where it all began.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 2 overall Cam Akers (RB, Florida State), No. 6 overall Marvin Wilson (DT, FSU), No. 19 overall Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson), No. 28 Khalan Laborn (RB, FSU), No. 30 overall Hunter Johnson (QB, Clemson)

Top 25 classes: No. 7 Florida State, No. 13 Miami, No. 16 Clemson, No. 25 Virginia Tech

Biggest storyline: Florida State and Clemson continue to keep pace with college football’s elite, Miami closing the gap

Same ol’, same ol’ in the ACC when it comes to the recruiting rankings. The league’s past two title winners both turned in great classes full of impact players and continue to keep pace with the elite programs in the sport. The Tigers’ class wasn’t as highly rated as many expected coming off that championship down in Tampa but a lot of that has to do with the limited number of spots that the program had and nothing to do with the talented that signed with Dabo Swinney. The Hurricanes once again signed a quality group and even went outside the state to land speedy four-star receiver Jeff Thomas from Missouri.

Biggest surprise: Wilson heads to Tallahassee.

Wilson was one of the few recruits that had any drama surrounding his decision on Signing Day. While many expected it to come down to either LSU or Ohio State, it was the Seminoles who closed strong to add another top 25 player into the fold. The last five-star defensive tackle the team landed from the Lone Star State worked out well and history might repeat itself with the very talented Wilson.

Don’t sleep on: Louisville

It was a banner season in many ways for the Cardinals and that was true even if the ending was a bit rough on the field. After seeing quarterback Lamar Jackson capture the Heisman Trophy, Bobby Petrino’s staff really went after addressing needs along the offensive line while also adding size and speed on defense. It may not be as highly rated as the top tier ACC programs, but this a good effort on the recruiting trail for Louisville once again.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

The ACC is full of programs that are hard to peg when it comes to recruiting classes simply because they rely so much on developing recruits over several seasons. Duke landed a top 50 classes while Georgia Tech was right around the same area in most team rankings. We probably won’t know about those two or the Wake Forests of the world until a few years down the road so stay patient if you’re a fan of an ACC program that isn’t in the top 25.

Knee injuries force Virginia Tech RB Marshawn Williams to retire

SYRACUSE, NY - OCTOBER 15: Marshawn Williams #42 of the Virginia Tech Hokies carries the ball during the first quarter against the Syracuse Orange on October 15, 2016 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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If it weren’t for bad injury luck, Marshawn Williams wouldn’t have any at all.

A serious knee injury derailed the running back’s true freshman season at Virginia Tech in 2014… and in 2015… and then again in 2016.  All told, Williams underwent three different surgeries in less than three years in Blacksburg.

Not surprisingly, the school announced Tuesday, Williams will be forced to bring his collegiate playing career to a premature end because of the injuries.  Williams will remain at Tech on scholarship and in school, although the scholarship won’t count against VT’s limit of 85.

“I’d like to thank Coach (Frank) Beamer, Coach (Justin) Fuente and their staffs for giving me the chance to live out my dream of playing college football at Virginia Tech,” Williams said in a statement. “I’m also very appreciative of all my teammates for the chance to compete with them, as well as our trainers, medical and strength staff for helping me through the many ups and downs of this journey.

“While I’m disappointed that I can no longer sweat with my teammates on the football field, I’ll be a Hokie for the rest of my life.”

Despite the injury issues, Williams managed to rush for 719 yards and six touchdowns in 18 career games.  475 of those yards and four of the touchdowns came in the first nine games (eight starts) of his career with the Hokies.  That start came to an end thanks to a torn ACL in his 10th collegiate game in 2014.

Stanton Truitt calls move on to North Carolina after leaving Auburn a ‘no-brainer’

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Wide receiver Stanton Truitt #10 of the Auburn Tigers looks to run the ball by safety Quincy Mauger #20 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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In moving on from Auburn, Stanton Truitt, at least in his own mind, really didn’t have much of a decision to make on a new landing spot.

Over the weekend, Truitt revealed that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at North Carolina. In an interview with 247Sports.com, the transferring running back stated that the Tar Heels, it’s top two backs needing replacing, were “a no-brainer” destination.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Truitt told the recruiting website. “The opportunity is there. I saw the film and saw everything I can do.”

Kansas State, Miami and Virginia Tech were among the other contenders for Truitt’s services after the back left Auburn earlier this month.

As a graduate transfer, Truitt will be eligible to play immediately in 2017. He will have another year of eligibility that he could use in 2018 as well.

A three-star 2014 recruit, Truitt missed most of his true freshman season because of a shoulder injury and received a medical redshirt. He reinjured the same shoulder the following season, then moved from receiver to running back this season.

In 2016, Truitt ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. He also caught seven passes for 100 yards and another touchdown.

ACC unveils 2017 football schedule

SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 12:  Detail view of ACC logo on Syracuse Orange uniforms before the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on November 12, 2016 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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The ACC ended this past football season as the home of the 2016 national champion as well as the best bowl record of any FBS conference as well.  Tuesday, the league turned its attention to next season as the conference released its schedule for 2017.

Wake Forest will kick off the ACC’s 2017 season with a home date against FCS Presbyterian on Thursday, Aug. 31.  The first game against an FBS program comes one day later as Boston College travels to Northern Illinois.  The first conference games will be played in Week 2, and includes Boston College-Wake Forest and North Carolina-Louisville.  Both of those games will be played Sept. 9.

ACC teams will play five neutral site games on the opening weekend of the season: Florida State-Alabama (Sept. 2) and Georgia Tech-Tennessee (Sept. 4) at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as part of the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games; Virginia Tech-West Virginia at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland; Louisville-Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; and North Carolina State-South Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in the Belk College Kickoff Game.

As has been the case the past couple of seasons, there will be five games against Notre Dame: Boston College (Sept. 16), North Carolina (Oct. 7) and Miami (Nov. 11) all will play host to the football independent. NC State (Oct. 28) and Wake Forest (Nov. 4) will both travel to South Bend.

College Football Playoff champions Clemson will open defense of its title with a home date against Kent State.

“Our ACC football programs are coming off a record-setting season that was capped off with nine postseason wins, including Clemson’s National Championship and Florida State’s Orange Bowl Title,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Our football success over the last few years has helped put the ACC in one of the strongest positions we have ever enjoyed as a league. As we look ahead to 2017, conference games will continue to be extremely competitive and our schools are once again playing what is arguably the top non-conference schedule in the country. This is a great tribute to our schools and programs, and it will be exciting on a weekly basis for our fans.”

For a complete look at the ACC’s 2017 football schedule, click HERE or HERE or HERE.

Shai McKenzie details restrictions Virginia Tech placed on transfer

BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Shai McKenzie #22 of the Virginia Tech Hokies breaks a tackle against the Western Michigan Broncos in the second half at Lane Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech defeated Western Michigan 35-17. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
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Right or wrong, but unsurprisingly, Shai McKenzie‘s departure from Blacksburg comes with some strings attached.

Nearly two weeks ago, McKenzie took to Twitter to announce his decision to transfer from Virginia Tech and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  On the same social media site Monday, the running back revealed that his future elsewhere won’t include any ACC schools as well as none of the teams on the Hokies’ 2017 and 2018 non-conference schedules.

The latter group includes Notre Dame, West Virginia, East Carolina, Old Dominion, Delaware and William & Mary.

A four-star 2014 recruit, only one signee was rated higher than McKenzie in Tech’s class that year.

The Pennsylvania native’s career actually began with promise as he was second on the team in rushing as a true freshman when he went down with a torn ACL in the fifth game of the season.  At that time, McKenzie had 269 yards on the ground; in the two years since, he ran for a combined 126 yards.  His 2015 season was limited to two games because of the lingering effects of the ACL injury.