After a 2008 season filled with youth at quarterback, the Atlantic Coast Conference returns a wealth of experience at the position. Even though most of the names at QB won't grab your attention, guys like Riley Skinner and Thaddeus Lewis constantly get the job done come Saturday.
However, like any college football season there are newcomers and also unresolved battles headed into the season, like Willy Korn and Kyle Parker at Clemson.
A relative unknown to the rest of the ACC and Boston College for that matter, David Shinskie is going to be taking over the reins at Boston College. The 25 year old ex-minor league baseball player turned college-football player is going to try to lead a team that has lost quite a load of talent over the past couple of years. However, Shinskie was a talented quarterback coming out of high school with several offers and has the tools to be a serviceable player for Boston College.
Senior Maryland QB Chris Turner
Coming off an 8-5 season with an experienced quarterback, one would think Maryland would be in a favorable position. However, the terribly inconsistent play of Chris Turner has cost Maryland some games that should not have been lost. One example is Turner's three-interception performance against Middle Tennessee State that ended up costing Maryland the ball game. Turner has a lot of potential and could be a lot better than expected this year; however, another season of throwing 13 touchdowns against 11 interceptions is not going to help save Ralph Friedgen's job.
Senior Virginia QB Jameel Sewell
Virginia is entering their 2009 campaign not knowing who their starter at quarterback will be. Is it going to be 2007 starter Jameel Sewell, who was academically ineligible to play in 2008, converted cornerback Vic Hall, or 2008 starter Marc Verica? The two most likely candidates emerging from the battle are Hall or Sewell, who will be the quarterback in a new spread offense for Al Groh. Whether it is to be Sewell or Hall, one has to think that the use of either in this spread offense will be an improvement over Marc Verica's 2008 season where he led the Cavaliers to a 5-7 record and threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.
Former QB Cullen Harper
Clemson is also entering the 2009 campaign without an obvious starter at quarterback. Willy Korn, Kyle Parker, and Tajh Boyd, all Elite 11 Quarterbacks coming out of high school, are vying for the first-string position on the depth chart. Korn, a highly-touted sophomore, who has been less than impressive at Clemson so far, has the only game experience of any of the candidates. Parker, a freshman with a cannon for an arm, is figured to be in the lead by many sources, but not by far. Boyd is a longshot to be quarterback, being a true freshman and is also just coming off of ACL surgery, but could still figure in. Head Coach Dabo Swinney has said that he will play multiple quarterbacks, so any of these three could figure in to a spot that should improve from Cullen Harper's disappointing senior season.
Junior Florida State QB Christian Ponder
Christian Ponder is a quarterback that is very talented and has all the necessary tools to success around him. However, Ponder's outlook for next season depends upon whether he elevates his game to another level or continues his interception-laden performances in critical games. In the four games the Seminoles lost, Ponder threw for only ONE touchdown and threw a combined NINE interceptions. If Ponder can cut down on some poor decision-making, he will be a very improved quarterback for the 2009 season.
Sophomore Miami QB Jacory Harris
Miami figures to be much better with a more experienced QB in Jacory Harris at the helm. Harris has only displayed a little of what he could do in his freshman season. The Hurricane QB was limited in his passing attempts last year, but is probably going to be entrusted with a lot more of the offense this year. Harris certainly has plenty of targets to hit with most of the WR corps returning intact including Aldarius Johnson and Thearon Collier. Harris will be a QB to watch for a surprise season.
Junior Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt
Although the stats of Josh Nesbitt's 2008 season would not really predict a successful 2009 season, he is poised for a breakout year. Nesbitt has now had time to fully digest Yellow Jacket Head Coach Paul Johnson's complicated triple option offense, which will definitely pay dividends in the coming year. The good part for Nesbitt is that the offense will involve more passing instead of being so one-dimensional as last year and will help him lead Georgia Tech into ACC championship contention. Nesbitt will be a true dual-threat quarterback that could look to shatter marks set by Clemson QB Woody Dantzler at the start of the decade for yards thrown and run for in the same season.
Junior Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
For those who might argue with my rankings, this one is based purely on potential. Taylor has had less than stellar freshman and sophomore years, which were not helped by having to split time with now graduated QB Sean Glennon. Look for Taylor to finally lead an ACC team into serious BCS contention for the first time in the decade. Taylor is a great runner, but also possesses a good enough arm to make things happen through the air. Whether he does this successfully or not will determine the role the Hokies play on the national scene.
Junior North Carolina QB T.J. Yates
If T.J. Yates returns to the form he showed prior to his injury sustained against Virginia Tech, he will be in the running for first or second team All-ACC quarterback. However, what Yates displayed after his return was nothing but mediocre, maybe hinting toward only a partial recovery. For the 2009 season, one question that has to be asked about Yates is how will he deal with all the losses in the WR corps? Brandon Tate, Hakeem Nicks, and Brooks Foster were all pretty high draft picks, which just goes to show what Yates will be missing. This year we will find out whether Yates is truely a good quarterback or was just the beneficiary of great wide receivers.
Senior Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis
A model of consistency at a team that can supply him with few weapons, Thaddeus Lewis is definitely one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC. His completion rate has increased every year with it eclipsing 60 percent last year. Lewis will definitely help out a team that will is still in the stages of being built by Blue Devil Head Coach David Cutcliffe. However, Lewis will definitely miss his go-to target, Eron Riley, who he lost to graduation last year. We will have to see how bad this will hurt Lewis in his senior season, who has shown nothing but greatness otherwise.
Sophomore North Carolina State QB Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson is definitely going to be one to watch for the 2009 season. How could one not after the show he put on last season? Wilson threw for approximately 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns (only ONE interception) and also rushed for 400 more. There is good news and bad news for Wilson's 2009 season. His WR corps comes backly virtually untouched, bringing back proven receivers in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams, and T.J. Graham. However, Andre Brown, a key weapon that would keep defenses distracted, graduated, leaving a void that must be filled to keep NC State more than just one-dimensional. Wilson is the key part of a team that is being speculated to be in ACC contention for the first time since Phillip Rivers was under center.
Senior Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner
One of the best quarterbacks in Wake Forest history, Riley Skinner will sing his swan song this year. A seasoned veteran who has already led the Demon Deacons to an ACC title, Skinner looks to finish his career with a bang. Skinner, who has thrown for over 2,000 yards every season, is definitely the best quarterback in the ACC. He will look to try to build another great season even though he is missing a key wide receiver, D.J. Boldin. But Skinner has performed well under the great coach Jim Grobe every year and there is no reason to think he will not have a grand finale this year.