ACC recruiting notebook

There wasn’t much suspense with Clemson’s 2014 class on national signing day.

Top-ranked quarterback Deshaun Watson (Gainesville) is one of five players who enrolled last month, and the rest of the class of 22 signed by noon.

Coming off an 11-2 season and a 40-35 victory over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and his staff put together a signing class that ranks among the top 15 in the nation, according to recruiting services.

“This is just another step in being the consistent program that we want to be,” Swinney said. “The greatest asset we have are our players. When you lose good guys, you have to bring in good guys.”

Watson and fellow Georgians Demarre Kitt (Sandy Creek) and Kyrin Priester (Brookwood), both receivers, are among Clemson’s early enrollees and are expected to make immediate contributions. Clemson looks to replace record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd and top receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, who both left early for the NFL.

Watson, Kitt and Priester were joined Wednesday by three more Georgians — linebacker Korie Rogers (Buford), running back Adam Choice (Thomas County Central) and tight end Milan Richard (Calvary Day), who is Herschel Walker’s nephew.

“We signed five of the top 15 players in Georgia,” Swinney said. “We’re real excited about the young men who have chosen to come be a part of it.”

Watson is the highlight of the class.

He set several state passing records and is the top quarterback prospect in the country, according to several recruiting services. He’s been compared with Vince Young and Cam Newton, but at 6-foot-3 and 188 pounds, he’s smaller than those dual-threat quarterbacks, who each won national championships.

As an early enrollee, Watson will be able to gain experience during spring drills and will be in competition with Cole Stoudt, who was Boyd’s backup last season, Chad Kelly and Nick Schuessler (Grayson).

“The best guy is going to win the job, and (Watson) certainly is going to have the opportunity to roll with those other guys,” Swinney told ESPN.

Kitt, Priester, Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) and Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C.) will be expected to provide depth with the loss of Watkins and Bryant.

“With Clemson, they’ve done a really good job when you consider what they knew they were going to be missing and who they had to replace quickly,” ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill told the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier. “I think they’ve done it. They’ve done it at wide receiver; they’ve most certainly done it at quarterback with Deshaun Watson, who has been a very high-profile verbal commitment to them for almost two years.”

Next year’s class received a boost when North Gwinnett’s Mitch Hyatt, a top offensive lineman, committed to Clemson on Wednesday night, continuing the Tigers’ hold on the state.

Loading up: It's good to be the king, especially if you're Florida State, which signed 24 players.

The BCS champions continued to stock talent, signing a top-three class, which includes highly ranked running back Dalvin Cook, receiver Ermon Lane and linebacker Kain Daub. FSU also signed seven offensive linemen who combine to average 6-6 and 312 pounds.

Malique Jackson, a defensive back from Wayne County, was the only Georgia player to sign with the Seminoles.

Big signee for Duke: Duke's success was noticed by high school players.

Coach David Cutcliffe, who led Duke to a 10-4 record and a close loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, signed receiver Trevon Lee from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the first time Duke has signed an ESPN 300 player since the ratings began in 2006.

Also, Nicodem Pierre, who is from Miami, is a four-star quarterback who also was recruited by Nebraska, Wisconsin and Mississippi State.