The quarterback position has become the most important part of a team in college football and the ACC features several potential greats under center.
While many of the ACC quarterbacks have been overshadowed by flashy statistics coming out of pass-happy conferences like the Big-12, there are some gems in the making playing in the conference.
T.J. Yates—North Carolina
The buzz in Chapel Hill this summer has surrounded the return of junior T.J. Yates after a disappointing season in 2008. Yates shook up the ACC in 2007 when he passed for 2,655 yards as a freshman but sat out six games a year ago with an ankle injury.
While Yates has a lot of potential personally, the biggest question for the Tar Heels is who will he throw to? North Carolina had four of their receivers from last year graduate and all four were invited to the NFL Combine. With that much talent leaving, it will be hard to replace the weapons Yates needs to put up big numbers.
Yates has a decent offensive line around him and a great defense. The wins will come for the Heels but it could be another year before we see the big numbers produced from this offense.
Russell Wilson—N.C. State
In only one year of play, Russell Wilson has done something no other player in the history of the ACC has done. The N.C. State quarterback was the first freshman to ever be voted to the All-ACC first team. This came after a spectacular 1,955 yards passing and 17-touchdown season with only one pick thrown.
The offensive line and receiving corps for Wilson will both be solid and should contribute to him having a big year. The biggest problem could be depth on the line if an injury comes into play. As long as the Wolfpack stay healthy, Wilson will be looking to solidify himself as the best quarterback in the ACC.
Riley Skinner—Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons enter the 2009 season with a solid senior quarterback in Riley Skinner. For three seasons in a row, Skinner has led the ACC in completion percentage for quarterbacks with more than 50 completions.
While scouts predict that Skinner will not be a great quarterback at the next level, he has surpassed all expectations in Winston-Salem. The man has been a model of consistency producing 2,000 or more yards passing each of his three seasons so far, while posting quarterback ratings above 125 each time.
The offensive line comes back experienced for Skinner and he has a lot of speed on the outside to support him through the air. Even with both starters from last year gone, Wake Forest looks to reload the offense in 2009. Look for Skinner to post another great year at quarterback and have a solid season for the Demon Deacons.
The Maryland Terrapins adjusted to a great shock in the offseason with the loss of 30 graduates from their team that only won four games in the conference a year ago. While the offense was second to last in the ACC in points per game, they were third best in yards per game.
Quarterback Chris Turner was a big part of that offense with 2,516 yards passing. While the yards have moved the ball, Turner has struggled to put points up on the board. Turner posted 13 touchdowns last year but also threw 11 interceptions.
If the Terps are going to make a run at an ACC title, Turner needs to make better decisions. Interceptions have been his biggest struggle as he threw multiple picks in four games last year. Despite the loss of players from last year's team, Turner will look to take a step forward in 2009 and become a consistent threat to defenses.
The most constant player in recent Duke history has been Thaddeus Lewis with three seasons of over 2,000 yards passing. Like Skinner, Lewis is not expected to be a great NFL player, but he has proven to produce at the college level.
Last year saw a slight drop in his statistics from his career highs as a sophomore. Lewis put up impressive numbers in 2009, though, with 2,171 yards passing and 15 touchdowns.
He returns for his senior season after being voted to the All-ACC second team last year. Despite losing his favorite target at receiver Lewis will have great targets on the outside coupled with some speed from inside receivers. Duke completed the second most passes of any team in the ACC last year and they look to improve off that and become a dangerous team through the air.
Which quarterback will dominate the ACC in 2009?
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