• Travis Tyler

Players to Watch in the ACC in 2022

Boston College

QB Phil Jurkovec

Recent comments have surfaced about Jiurkovec's time at Notre Dame, but he's found a home at Boston College. He became the full-time starter in 2020 and threw for over 2,500 yards then missed most of 2021 with an injury. He's not as mobile as many quarterbacks tend to be these days, but there's plenty of upside in his game. He's one of the prospects I can see rapidly ascending on draft boards throughout the season.


WR Zay Flowers

Flowers is the number one weapon for the Eagles offense. He had the option to leave school for the NFL but decided to return. The senior is currently in the top 12 in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in program history. Many more will know his name by the end of the season.


WR Jaelan Gill


RB Pat Garwo III

Garwo appears to be the latest in a long line of star running backs at Boston College. The junior broke out last season as he became the 24th BC back to run for over 1,000 yards in a season. The Eagles like to run the ball quite often, so look for him to get plenty of touches.


RB Alec Sinkfield


TE George Tackacs


DL Khris Banks


DB Josh DeBerry

The second-team All-ACC nickelback will be one of the leaders for this secondary. He's improved each year, and another year of growth could make him one of the top defensive backs in the country.


S Jaiden Woodbey


Clemson

QB DJ Uiagaleilei

Uiagaleilei is one of the players who needs to have a bounce-back season. As a freshman, he started two games while Trevor Lawrence was injured--including an impressive showing on the road against Notre Dame. Many had dubbed him as a top NFL prospect after that season, but his play digressed in 2021 and the Tigers became a nonfactor in the ACC. His play this season is crucial, not only to his individual growth but to the overall success of the Clemson team.


TE Davis Allen


RB Will Shipley

Shipley was one of the big stories for Clemson last season. After Travis Etienne went to the NFL and Lyn-J Dixon decided to transfer, there were questions about the running backs. The freshman answered those with 739 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first collegiate season. That performance landed him on the Athletic's second-team All-America. He's clearly a key player for Clemson in 2022.


RB Kobe Pace


WR Joseph Ngata

The departures of Franks Ladson Jr and Justyn Ross leave holes in a passing game that was already underachieving. While he was not targeted often in 2021, Ngata finished with the second-most receiving yards on the team. He should be used more often this season.


WR Beaux Collins

Similar to Ngata, Collins did not have as much yardage but was targeted more often. The two of them seem to be in line to become the top two receivers on the team. We'll see how they can adjust to the increased responsibility.


OL Will Putnam


OL Jordan McFadden


DE Myles Murphy

Pick your poison. Clemson is extremely deep at defensive end with Murphy, KJ Henry, and sixth-year senior Xavier Thomas among others. It should be enough for the Clemson defense to be dominant once again. I chose to highlight Murphy out of this group because he led the team in sacks last season and has made the biggest impact in recent years.


DE Xavier Thomas


DE KJ Henry


DT Bryan Bresee

Bresee is one of the top defensive linemen in the country and has an NFL future-- possibly as a first-round pick. The former No.1 overall recruit in 2020 has been as advertised in his first two years at Clemson, becoming the second Clemson player to win ACC Defensive Rookie of the year. Another big year should be expected on a deep defense.

DT Tyler Davis


LB Trenton Simpson


P/K BT Potter

Potter enters his final season with the fourth-most points in team history and as the record holder for 40 and 50-plus-yard field goals. He's had an accomplished career and is one of the most reliable kickers in the country.


Duke

WR Jalon Calhoun

Duke's roster looks bleak, but Calhoun is one of the best players to come through the program. He has 141 catches and over 1,400 yards in his career. With Jake Bobo transferring to UCLA, Calhoun becomes Duke's best player.


RB Jordan Waters


Florida State

QB Jordan Travis


WR Mycah Pittman

Man, Mycah Pittman was fun to watch at Oregon, and football runs in his blood, His dad is former NFL running back Michael Pittman and his brother is Indianapolis Colts' receiver Michael Pittman Jr. He's not as big as his brother, but he makes up for it with his route-running and speed. Mycah Pittman will be one of the top players for the Seminoles this season.


RB Treshaun Ward

Ward earned a bigger role on the offense and finished 2021 with 746 all-purpose yards (515 rushing). He was one of the few bright spots on an offense that has struggled for a few years now. Although it was an easy game against Duquesne, it was good to see him start the season on a high note with 127 yards.


OL Dillan Gibbons


DL Fabien Lovett


DE Jared Verse


DE Leonard Warner

The former linebacker has made the switch to defensive end. If his play at linebacker is any indication, he should thrive in the new position. When healthy, he is one of the most consistent players the Seminoles have and is constantly among the team's top tacklers.


LB Amari Gainer


S Jammie Robinson

Robinson was a standout in the South Carolina secondary and helped his case even more in his first year in Tallahassee. The safety finished as the team leader in both tackles and interceptions, proving to be one of the better defensive backs in the country.


S Akeen Dent


Georgia Tech

Jeff Sims

Sims became the starter as a freshman in 2020 and finished the year with over 2,000 total yards in 10 games. Despite the somewhat pedestrian numbers, he was instantly the most exciting quarterback Georgia Tech has had in a long time, and hopes were high entering 2021. After an injury-filled season, Sims should be determined to show he can still be the player many expect him to become.


RB Hassan Hall


WR Malachi Carter


Louisville

QB Malik Cunningham

Cunningham has been the Lousiville offense for much of his career and will be facing more pressure in 2022. If you've watched the Cardinals, you know he's an electric player. A true dual-threat quarterback, Cunningham has thrown for almost 8,000 yards and run for an additional 2,200 with the second-most career rushing touchdowns.


FB/TE Marshon Ford

Ford will likely be Cunningham's go-to target after leading g the team with 49 catches. Plus, they no longer have WR Tyler Harrell. Although some list him as a fullback Ford is one of the top tight ends in the ACC and presents matchup problems for defenses in the passing game.


WR Tyler Hudson


RB Jalen Mitchell


RB Tiyon Evans

Evans played one year at Tennessee and ran for 525 yards and six touchdowns on 81 carries. He was part of a Tennessee running game that led an offensive revival in Tennessee. Louisville needs to replace Hassan Hall, and Evans is a prime candidate.


DL Jermayne Lole

I really like Lole as a defensive lineman. He's a big, powerful guy with an explosive first step and impressive speed and agility. He missed last year with an injury, but his career at Arizona State was tremendous. As a junior in 2020, Lole was one of PFF's top-rated interior linemen. Plus, he can play a variety of positions on the line.


OL Bryan Hudson


OL Adonis Boone


DE YaYa Diabi


LB Momo Sanogo

Sanogo was in and out of the starting lineup at Ole Miss, but always made an impact when he got on the field. At Lousiville, he'll be the starting middle linebacker and become the leader of the defense. It's a great chance for him to show what he can do with more responsibility.


LB Yasir Abdullah


S Kenderick Duncan


Miami

QB Tyler Van Dyke

Few come into this season with more hype around them than Van Dyke. The sophomore took over for D'Eriq KIng after three games last season and was named Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year in the ACC. Expectations have now escalated as a result.


WR Frank Ladson Jr


WR Xavier Restrepo


TE Will Mallory

Mallory is one of the more balanced tight ends you'll find and one of the most reliable targets Miami has. Some see NFL potential in him but he'll have to prove it.


RB Henry Parrish Jr

Parrish took a backseat to Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner at Ole Miss but made the most of the touches he got, leaving the program with over 1,000 all-purpose yards. Obviously, he's a capable runner, but he may affect the game even more as a receiver. Regardless, he'll get a shot to become a featured player for the Hurricanes.


RB Jaylan Knight


OL Zion Nelson


LB Corey Flagg Jr

Flagg became a star as a freshman last season, The former five-star recruit took hold of the starting middle linebacker spot and lead the lead with 60 tackles. Any player who can make that kind of impact as a freshman has a chance to be special.


CB Tyrique Stevenson


CB Al Blades Jr

Blades is one of the more talented players on this team but has yet to build on a breakout sophomore season. He only played in four games in 2021 before dealing with health issues that cost him the rest of the season. Now that he returns to the lineup, we'll find out if he can take the next step.

P Lou Hedley


North Carolina

QB Drake Maye

Maye was named the starter over Jacolby Criswell and dazzled in his debut with 294 touchdowns in a win over Florida A&M. Following Same Howell, even after a down year, will be no easy feat. He's off to a great start and could have an excellent career.


WR Antoine Green


WR Josh Downs

Downs enters the year as the Tar Heels' top receiver and has the potential to be drafted early in April. Downs made some impressive plays in the opener and should be an All-ACC player once again.


OL Corey Gaynor


OL Spencer Rolland


LB Cedric Gray


LB Noah Taylor

Taylor was one of the best players on the Virginia defense and becomes a welcome addition for North Carolina. He's a three-year starter who uses his length and athleticism on the edge-- both in coverage and as a pass rusher. Taylor is coming off a career year and will help UNC.


CB Tony Grimes


CB Storm Duck


North Carolina State

QB Devin Leary

One of the top quarterback sleepers for this season one of the reasons people think NC State can be a sleeper team. Leary is currently the seventh-best passer in team history with the sixth-most touchdown passes and lowest interception rate. He's also coming off a year in which he broke Philip Rivers's single-season record for touchdown passes and was one of the most efficient passers in the country.


WR Thayer Thomas

Thomas will have to step up with Emeka Emezie moving on. Thankfully, he's a more than capable player and all he does is score touchdowns. He's third in team history in touchdown catches and has over 150 catches and 1,800 yards in his career. Plus, he's a dynamic punt returner.


DL CJ Clark


DL Corey Durden


LB Isaiah Moore


Pittsburgh

QB Kedon Slovis

Kenny Pickett's successor has already made an impact as a college player. The senior made 26 starts at USC and has over 7,500 yards and 58 touchdown passes in his career. The interceptions are a little too high, but he clearly has some capabilities. It will be up to the Panthers staff to get the best out of him.


WR Jared Wayne


RB Israel Abanikanda


OL Marcus Minor


DL Habakkuk Baldonado

2021 was by far his best season. Baldonado became an impact player and led the panthers with nine sacks. His play reminds me of a more violent Rashad Weaver, who was a standout pass rusher at Pitt and now plays for the Tennessee Titans. Baldonado is one of the top defenders for Pitt this season.

DL Deslin Alexandre

Surprise! Another Pitt d-lineman. Alexandre is an efficient defensive end who earned Honorable Mention All-ACC a year ago and will look to build on that success. He needs to become a better pass rusher to stick at defensive end but there's potential here.


LB SirVocea Dennis


LB Shayne SImon


CB AJ Woods


Syracuse

QB Garrett Schrader


RB Sean Tucker

Easily Syracuse's best player. Tucker finished 2021 as one of the top running backs in the country and broke Syracuse's single-season rushing yards record with 1,496. In just two years, he has become one of Syracuse's top career rushers and he has the potential to shatter more records.


TE/FB Chris Elmore

Elmore is one of the more versatile and interesting players you'll find. He's listed as a fullback but the 289-pounder also plays tight end, defensive tackle, and offensive line. It's an unusual combination, but he's been productive at each spot. As a fullback, he should be an advantage in all facets of the offense.


CB Garrett Williams

One of the better players you may not know yet. Williams burst into the scene as a Freshman All-American in 2020 and has led the ACC in pass breakups the last two seasons. He's only played 25 games and is quickly becoming one of the best there is.


S Alijah Clark


K Andrej Szmyt


Virginia

QB Brennan Armstrong

Since taking the starting job, Armstrong has thrown for over 6,000 yards in 20 games. Last season, he amassed 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. That was good enough for fourth-most in college football. You don't think of Virginia as a dynamic passing team, but Armstrong is doing his best to stand out and change that.


WR Billy Kemp

Virginia's top receiver is a smaller player who uses his speed to help the offense. Kemp has more than 1,300 receiving yards over the last two years and enters this year as WR1. Watch for him and Armstorng to have a big year together.

WR Keytaon Thompson


DE Kam Butler


LB Nick Jackson


Virginia Tech

QB Grant Wells

I like Wells because he always stood out for Marshall. He definitely has the talent to play in the FBS and a successful year would do wonders for his career. He threw for over 5,000 yards for the Thundering Herd, so it will depend on the approach the offense chooses to take. I think he could officially break out this season.


RB Jalen Holston


WR Jadan Blue

Blue is an All-AAC player who set the Temple record for receptions in 2019. At Virginia Tech, he quickly becomes the top target for Grant Wells as they try to revive a pedestrian passing game


LB Dax Hollimon


Wake Forest

QB Sam Hartman (injured)

Hartman's injury is unfortunate because he was in a prime position to become one of the best players in the conference (if not the country). The senior has 9,266 passing yards with 72 touchdowns in his career and was poised to break records this season. He may not even get the chance as his injury has knocked him out indefinitely.


**Update: Hartman will return this weekend vs Vanderbilt after missing just one game.


WR Donovan Greene


WR AT Perry

At 6'5", Perry is a nightmare for opposing defenses. After earning the starting role last season, he was named first-team All-ACC with 15 touchdown grabs (5th most in ACC history) and 1,200 receiving yards. AT Perry will be an important player for this offense in Hartman's absence.


RB Christian Turner



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