ACC Football: Power Ranking Top 10 Players Heading into 2014 Season
The ACC is filled with talent on both sides of the ball. As we count down the days until kickoff later this month, here's a look at the top 10 players in the conference.
The basis of this list is both talent and value to the team. Some may have to carry their offense or shut down an opposing passing attack to cover up a weak front line. Others just have too much talent to keep off an All-ACC list.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of players who can challenge the man shown above for the conference's best offensive player, not to mention a defensive group that will light up the stat sheet.
10. Denzel Perryman, Miami
Miami's Denzel Perryman will move this year from the weak-side linebacker spot to the middle, so expectations are that his 108 tackles from last year will only go up.
He's also added weight to get to 242 pounds. Given that he's already known for his durability and big hits, the senior will be even more of a bruiser this year with the added strength.
One of Perryman's biggest concerns will be limiting big plays, which hounded the Hurricanes defense all of last year.
He'll likely play downfield more often this season to defend the run, leading to more tackles, forced fumbles and another appearance on the All-ACC Team.
9. Rashad Greene, Florida State
Rashad Greene has a lot of things going for him this season at Florida State: talent, experience and a quarterback who will be throwing at will behind a formidable offensive line.
Add all of those up, and you have the potential for a monstrous year on the stat sheet for Greene.
With the loss of Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, Jameis Winston will target Greene even more than last season.
That's concerning for ACC defenses, considering he caught 76 passes for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns.
What's more, Greene has shown an unwavering commitment to blocking, adding even more value to his complete game.
8. Karlos Williams, Florida State
The defensive back-turned-running back proved he can be more than just the big-play back for the Seminoles last season.
With Devonta Freeman and James Wilder gone, Karlos Williams will carry more of the load this year, and at 6'1" and 225 pounds, he's physical enough to take the wear and tear of that job.
With largely inexperienced though talented backs behind him this year, Williams should far surpass his totals from 2013 of 91 carries for 748 yards and 11 touchdowns.
That's over eight yards per carry, so he can turn any play into six points.
7. DeVante Parker, Louisville
DeVante Parker may not have Teddy Bridgewater to throw him the ball this year, but the Louisville Cardinals will make the wideout more of a focal point of the passing game as Will Gardner steps into the starting quarterback role.
Parker high-points the ball exceedingly well, and he's physical with corners coming off the line.
His 55 catches for 885 yards and 12 touchdowns last year may not jump off the page, but look for Louisville to target him more in the middle of the field this year and not just the red zone.
6. Tre' Jackson, Florida State
Tre' Jackson will anchor one of the best offensive lines in the nation this year as the Seminoles look to repeat as national champions.
Matt Brown of Sports on Earth sees no problem with the Seminoles running with ease again this year.
The Seminoles scored an offseason coup when their junior All-ACC offensive linemen all decided to return. Jackson forms the nation's best guard duo with Josue Matias, and at 330 pounds, his powerful blocking helped pave the way for one of the most explosive running games in college football.
Given Jackson's progress with footwork last season, the FSU passing game should have plenty of time to break down secondaries as well.
5. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
Kendall Fuller made the All-ACC Second Team last season as a true freshman, and the cornerback won't have to sit in the shadows of older brother Kyle Fuller, who will be playing on Sundays this fall.
Injuries allowed Fuller to get significant playing time last season, and he burst onto the national scene with six interceptions.
This year, opposing quarterbacks will throw away from him more. With another year of experience, though, Fuller could easily make the first-team squad and lead the conference in interceptions.
4. Cameron Erving, Florida State
Tired of seeing Seminoles? They are the defending national champions after all, and defensive linemen will get tired of seeing OT Cameron Erving running over them this season.
Erving actually came to Tallahassee as a defensive lineman, but he's started every game the last two seasons at tackle and was an All-American during his junior campaign.
As a senior this year, he could be the nation's most coveted offensive lineman by the time the 2015 NFL draft rolls around.
3. Duke Johnson, Miami
Duke Johnson earned the title as one of the nation's best big-play threats last season, rushing for 920 yards and six touchdowns before a season-ending injury.
Durability remains the biggest question, as Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com explains.
The biggest key for Johnson this season is staying healthy. He has yet to play an entire season as the unquestioned starter. If he does that this year, he should be a virtual lock for 1,000 yards; then Miami fans will have to worry about losing him to the NFL.
As long as the Hurricanes get a full year of production from Johnson, I don't think fans in Coral Gables will complain about at a 1,000-yard year.
2. Vic Beasley, Clemson
Gone are the days when Clemson had an offense that could only win a shootout.
Vic Beasley will anchor a defensive line that should be able to pressure ACC quarterbacks consistently.
The defensive end's speed off the edge is remarkable, and though he has a lot to improve on in run defense, Beasley will be one of the front-runners for every defensive line award this season.
After 23 tackles and 13 sacks last season, he'll likely lead the conference in sacks and will highlight almost every All-ACC first-team defense projections heading into 2014.
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
Well look who it is. After throwing for 4,057 yards with 40 touchdowns and taking home the Heisman Trophy last year, there's really no doubting Winston as the conference's best player.
What's scary is that he'll yet again have a bevy of talent surrounding him this year, so those numbers could even go up.
With another year of experience, Winston will get better at hitting the long routes in stride after a couple spurts of sailing the ball last year.
He's still one of, if not the, best player in college football at keeping his eyes downfield and making a play when things break down.
Given that poise and the talent around him, no one would be surprised with another Heisman in Winston's sophomore season.
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