Recruiting wins lead to field wins for Tar Heels, Tigers

With so much at stake in this year’s ACC Championship Game — North Carolina’s shot at the school’s first major bowl appearance since the Choo Choo Justice Era, and a shot at the College Football Playoff and the national championship for Clemson – it can be somewhat easy to forget the many collective victories that Dabo Swinney and Larry Fedora’s staffs have gotten on the recruiting trail the last few years.

With superior talent to the overwhelming majority of their opposition, North Carolina and Clemson played their way into this year’s ACC Championship Game in Charlotte after running the table and going undefeated in their respective divisions. Clemson finished the regular season unbeaten for the first time since Danny Ford’s national championship season of 1981, while the Tar Heels won 11 straight games in a regular season for the first time in school history. 

UNC and Clemson were unquestionably the ACC’s top two offenses this fall, with the Tar Heels and Tigers finishing 1-2 in the league in most offensive categories including total offense, total yardage, touchdowns, and pass efficiency. The schools finished second and third, respectively, in rushing yardage, and first and third in passing yardage. 

It’s fitting that the Tigers and Tar Heels meet for the ACC Championship in Charlotte, the hometown of numerous standouts on both squads. With Charlotte situated almost equally distance-wise between Chapel Hill and Death Valley, it’s only natural that both programs would work that particular area quite hard. And no two schools in America have recruited the city of Charlotte better over the last five years than UNC and Clemson. It’s a big reason why they were the top two teams in the ACC throughout the 2015 season. 

Several players on both the UNC and Clemson rosters picked either the Tigers or Tar Heels over the other. Key players such as Charone Peake, Germone Hopper, and Korrin Wiggins on Clemson’s side, and Desmond Lawrence, Juval Mollette, and R.J. Prince on North Carolina’s side, came down to one school or the other. [hr]