The 1st day of college football’s early signing period is in the books, which means it’s time for the folks who follow recruiting closer than I do to determine which teams did the best and worst job of procuring talent from the Class of 2024.

Regardless of how the rankings shake out, it’s wise to remember that the real winners and losers won’t be known for at least a couple of years once this crop of players has time to develop and contribute, transfer to other schools or get recruited over.

There is, however, at least 1 immediate certainty.

Every coach in the country, regardless of how many players they sign or who those players might be, will be “excited” about this year’s class, will proclaim that their program “just got better” and will either call attention to or downplay their school’s recruiting ranking depending how many stars their incoming freshmen have next to their names.

Although the allure of signing day has been diminished somewhat by its new placement on the college football calendar and the loosening of NCAA transfer rules, there’s still plenty of anticipation and intrigue to go around.

There were plenty of both on Wednesday as the fax machines started buzzing and the athletes began putting their names on the bottom line of their National Letters of Intent.

Including a few who changed their minds and switched allegiances at the 11th hour.

Here are some random observations from around the ACC on a busy opening day of college football’s early signing period:

Another Seminole disappointment

The shine continues to come off Florida State’s magical 2023 football season.

Fresh on the heels of the Seminoles’ Playoff snub, coach Mike Norvell’s undefeated ACC champions received another painful 1-2 punch Wednesday when their highest-rated commitments both flipped to other schools.

Adding insult to injury, defensive end Armondo Blount ended up signing with in-state rival Miami. The other 5-star disappointment was provided by safety KJ Bolden of Buford, Ga., who ended up with Florida State’s Orange Bowl opponent Georgia.

It’s not as if either defection was a surprise.

Even though Bolden committed to the Seminoles in October and said as recently as last week that he planned to stick with them, he continued to field offers from other schools. In addition to Georgia, he is also known to have had contact with Auburn.

Blount gave even more of an indication that he was beginning to waver. The Fort Lauderdale native originally committed to Miami, but switched to FSU during the season. But instead of taking an official visit to Tallahassee last week, he instead went to Coral Gables, where he was seen flashing the Hurricanes’ “U” sign.

The double dose of bad news helped drop the Seminoles from No. 6 nationally in 247Sports’ recruiting rankings all the way down to 13.

It’s a bitter pill for Norvell to swallow, who seemed resigned to the recruiting losses even before Blount made his decision known publicly.

“Whether you come to Florida State or not,” he said during a press conference earlier in the day, “I know where we’re going.”

It’s not as if signing day was a complete bust for the Seminoles. They signed 27 players, including 10 ranked in the top 100 – the 1st time since 2016 they’ve inked that many. It also equals the number of top 200 prospects Novell had signed in his 1st 4 classes combined.

And yet, it could have been so much better.

Merry Flip-mas

Maybe it’s time to change the terminology we use when a recruit publicly announces his decision to play for a particular program.

Because commitment isn’t always accurate.

Pledges aren’t binding until a signed Letter of Intent is received by the school. In many cases, the earlier a player “commits,” the more of a target he becomes for other coaches. Especially in this age of name, image and likeness compensation.

When it comes to flipping recruits, no one has been more active than Miami’s Mario Cristobal.

In addition to Blount, he also pried 4-star linebacker Adarius Hayes away from another in-state rival, Florida, on Wednesday. That’s in addition to successfully luring 4-star running back Jordan Lyle away from Ohio State and 3-star defensive back Xavier Lucas away from Wisconsin earlier in the week.

The Hurricanes’ late surge bumped them all the way up to No. 4 nationally, according to 247Sports. Combined with Florida State’s loss of Bolden to Georgia, it helped Miami leapfrog past the Seminoles and claim the ACC’s top-rated class for the 2nd straight year.

But the news wasn’t all good.

Not only did Cristobal lose 4-star running back pledge Kevin Riley to Alabama and 3-star defensive lineman Kendall Jackson to Texas A&M, but he also swung and missed on his attempt to pick up the nation’s No. 1 recruit, wide receiver Jeremiah Smith. Norvell also made a late run at Smith. But he decided to honor his original commitment and sign with Ohio State.

Another flip of note involved Triangle rivals North Carolina and NC State.

Three-star receiver Keenan Jackson committed to the Tar Heels back in June. But on Wednesday, less than 2 weeks after scoring 3 touchdowns to help Weddington High of Charlotte win a state championship at Carter-Finley Stadium, he changed his mind and signed with the Wolfpack.

War of words

Jackson’s surprise switch apparently didn’t sit well with UNC’s Mack Brown. Or maybe the Hall of Fame coach still hasn’t gotten over the sting of losing on the field for a 3rd straight year to his team’s rival.

Whatever it was, Brown felt it necessary to address an incident that took place after the Tar Heels’ 39-20 setback to NC State on Nov. 25, in which Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren was caught on camera in his postgame locker room using a derogatory term to describe Brown’s players.

“The head coach of that school called our players a piece of $#!t,” Brown said, avoiding using either Doeren’s name or the name of the school he represents. “I’ve never heard something like that before. I’m disappointed.”

Brown didn’t comment further on the incident. He uncharacteristically ended his availability without taking questions, deferring them instead to his recruiting staff.

When Doeren was informed of Brown’s comments during his own press conference later Wednesday afternoon, he said he called his UNC counterpart and apologized. He said he didn’t notice that there was a camera in the locker room and that while it’s not an excuse, he would have chosen his words differently if he’d known it was there.

Peaches rather than palmettos

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney has owned the state of South Carolina since his old nemesis Steve Spurrier stepped down from the rival Gamecocks midway through the 2015 season.

This year, however, the Tigers coach set his sights south.

Only one member of this year’s 22-member class, 3-star offensive lineman Watson Young from Pickens County neighbor Daniel High School, prepped in the Palmetto State. By contrast, Swinney picked up 8 new players from Georgia, including his highest-rated prospect – 5-star linebacker Sammy Brown.

That’s not unusual. According to the school, this is the 5th time in the past 6 years that Clemson has signed more players from the Peach State than anywhere else, And it’s not as if Swinney turned his back on in-state recruiting.

“Sometimes in this state, kids just grow up pulling for the other team,” he said.

That was particularly true in this cycle when it comes to offensive linemen. Swinney offered 3 in-state prospects. All of them – 5-star Josiah Thompson of Dillon, 4-star Kam Pringle of Woodland and 3-star Blake Franks of Greenville – all ended up signing with Shane Beamer in Columbia.

While South Carolina also got 4-star wide receiver Mazeo Bennett, Clemson still managed to land 2 higher-rated pass-catching recruits in 5-star Texas native Bryant Wesco Jr. and 4-star TJ Moore from Florida.

Ratings game

As previously mentioned, Miami ended up with the ACC’s top-rated recruiting class at No. 4 nationally with FSU falling to No. 13. Clemson was the 3rd-highest rated conference team at No. 15, followed by UNC at No. 27, NC State at No. 29 and Georgia Tech coming in at a surprising No. 30 in Brent Key’s 2nd full recruiting cycle.

New addition Stanford ranks 38 while Pittsburgh at No. 48 and Wake Forest at No. 49 round out the ACC teams in the 247Sports top 50. Placing in the top half of the conference rankings was a major boost for both the Panthers and Deacons, who finished at the bottom of the standings this season.

“I think it’s a really good group,” Clawson said. “We held off some people at the end for some key guys.”

Despite having to play catchup after being hired last month, new coach Fran Brown had Syracuse at No. 10 in the ACC, followed by Cal, Duke, Virginia Tech, Louisville at a disappointing 14th, Virginia, Boston College and SMU.

Odds and ends

Miami and UNC tied for the biggest signing classes with 27 new recruits each. NC State and Georgia Tech were next with 24, followed by Stanford (23), Florida State and Clemson (22 each), Wake Forest (21) and Pitt (20). …

SMU has had the fewest additions with only 10 while Boston College’s 12-man group is the smallest among the ACC’s existing teams. …

The conference landed 3 5-star prospects, 1 fewer than last year. Clemson had 2 of the 3. Miami had the other. Miami (14) and Florida State (10) were the only teams to score a double-digit haul of 4-stars. …

The state of Florida produced the most new ACC players with 60, followed closely by Georgia with 55. North Carolina (30), Texas (26) and Virginia (22) also had more than 20. …

Miami offensive tackle recruit Markel Bell, at 6-foot-8½, 340 pounds is both the tallest and heaviest player in the ACC’s Class of 2024. Stanford running back signee Cole Tabb is the shortest at 5-7½. Wake Forest cornerback prospects Tayshaun Burney and Devin Cook are tied for the lightest at 155 pounds each.