Hands down, this is the hardest piece I’ve written in my time here. The ACC is rebuilding, and the guys featured in my preview aren’t sure bets for success. So to pinpoint some deeper sleepers is will be like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The names that follow aren’t for the faint at heart.
If one of these guys ends up rosterable in a normal BCS league – I’m a genius. But thanks to U-Sports, and my passion for conference-specific leagues, my hope is that this article serves as the meat and potatoes as you head towards draft day. Disclaimer: I’m a projection guy. I run an ACC/SEC league that is heading into year six, and it’s a constant battle to roster a guy who is a year away from an impact.
I’ll do my best to refrain from making this a “keeper” article, but don’t email me with hate when no one here has stats at the end of September!
Boston College – TE Brian Miller
C’mon, this is too obvious. Kid is a beast, and is destined for stardom. Ah, the power of the pen! To be frank, if the Eagles have a breakout player, it’ll be a name you should already know. I had Shakim Phillips penciled in here…and thank goodness that was in pencil, since he’s no longer on campus! In my opinion, his departure locks in the Eagles skill position players. Colin Larmond and Bobby Swigert should be the best receivers, and maybe Ifeanyi Momah seems a bump in scoring chances.
Clemson – WR Charone Peake
The Tigers incoming class is simply loaded with skill position talent. Peake is the most likely to be ignored, while also being as physically ready to contribute as any. Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins are the only sure bets in upstate SC, and “veterans” are on notice that they need to earn their time. Peake is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and ready to climb the depth chart immediately.
Duke – RB Josh Snead
Brandon Baxton and Tyree Watkins are the next wave of wideouts in Durham. But again, this isn’t a keeper article; it’s a best case scenario piece. Desmond Scott might be the most talented player on the Blue Devils roster, but no one can match Snead’s speed. Duke has to establish a run game to have any shot at beating a real team, and Snead has been a bolt of lightning since arriving. If only there were pressure to win…because a forced ten touches per game could lead to some real highlights.
Florida State – WR Rodney Smith
I could have picked 15 different players from Tallahassee; they’re simply loaded. Smith probably isn’t as under the radar, but take a peek at his place on the depth chart. The 6-foot-6 beast is sandwiched between a 5-foot-11 Bert Reed and 5-foot-11 Greg Dent. Smith was unspectacularly great last year, and is the one player in this offense capable of explosion statistically.
Georgia Tech – RB Richard Watson
Wow. If selecting keepers really is what it’s all about, then maybe I really am a genius. A year ago, I apparently wrote what could have been copied as a preview for this season! One of the few “misses” to date is Watson. But if you can find one writer who thinks Preston Lyons starts 12 games this year, please let me know. Watson has the size and speed to be a mainstay in the Yellow Jacket backfield. Update: Even GT players think this is a committee backfield, but keeper league guys need to remember Lyons is a senior.
Maryland – RB D.J. Adams
I’m overdue to go on record on a Terrapin wide receiver. I personally like Kevin Dorsey, Quintin McCree seems safe, Ronnie Tyler isn’t anything special, the four-letter’s blogger likes Kerry Boykins, and I think Adrian Coxson is hiding behind the scenes ready to jump out like a mugger in Central Park. So yeah, I’m not picking any of them for a few more weeks. I simply love Adams, and think he has a shot to see more carries than Davin Meggett.
Miami – WR Allen Hurns
Sometimes, being biased can be a good thing. I bleed green and orange. I’m also tired of LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin. The former is certainly poised for a breakout, and the latter will be solid. But neither has shown the ability to dominate, and there is a glaring need for a receiver to emerge in Coral Gables. Tommy Streeter’s measurables are second to none, but a year from now, Hurns will be the “veteran” of this group. And you don’t get that label solely based on seniority.
North Carolina – QB/RB A.J. Blue
I’m really reaching here. Wide receiver is loaded in Chapel Hill – Dwight Jones is a stud, Jheranie Boyd oozes potential, Erik Highsmith is more than capable, and I love Joshua Adams. Running back is murky, but Ryan Houston will score ten times, and I think Giovanni Bernard provides some lightening to Houston’s thunder. That leaves me with Mr. Blue. Maybe, just maybe, Blue sees some time as a Wildcat QB. And that’s fun to speculate on, and it also keeps prized recruit Marquis Williams on the sideline for a redshirt. Sorry, the Heels are young, but the names have been around for a few years.
Update: Who on earth knows what to expect now that Butch Davis has been canned. Maybe Mike Leach shows up in Chapel Hill, Bryn Renner becomes Graham Harrell, and five wideouts have value here. Why not? UNC’s leadership seems clueless and unpredictable, may as well hire a guy as embattled as the one who just left.
North Carolina State – WR Jay Smith
The recent news on RB Mustafa Greene’s lengthy absence makes me feel even stronger about Smith. James Washington and Brandon Barnes will have some early season value in the ‘Pack backfield, but this news means new QB Mike Glennon won’t be eased into action. He’ll be pitching it around, and everyone seems to have latched on to T.J. Graham and George Bryan as the safest catchers in Raleigh. This offense has proven two receivers can be valuable, and Smith is that second option. 45-750-6 seem attainable.
Virginia – WR Tim Smith
A year ago, former Cavalier QB Marc Verica was the brunt of many of my preseason jokes, and he turned in a season decent enough to make two wide receivers in Charlottesville relevant. One of those (Dontrelle Inman) is gone and Smith is probably more talented. Bold prediction: Kris Burd is a top three wide receiver in the ACC, and Smith follows behind and finishes in the top ten. Even with three quarterbacks playing for UVA!
Virginia Tech – RB Tony Gregory
Can anyone tell me the last time the Hokies went through an entire season with just one running back? Neither can I. Gregory has been cleared for action after recovering from ACL surgery, and fall camp will be vital to proving his health. Assuming he’s 100%, he should be the number two back in Blacksburg; which is good for 8-10 touches, 40-60 yards and a handful of scores. This prognosticator also thinks this is David Wilson’s last year in western Virginia.
Wake Forest – WR Michael Campanaro
This is probably the wrong spot to list Campanaro. But I don’t expect anyone to read about Wake Forest. I’m also faced with a drastic conflict of interest, because I want this guy on my ACC/SEC dynasty team, and I don’t want anyone else to know about him! Keep an eye on fall scrimmages as it relates to Campanaro’s touches. He led the Deacons in receptions during their spring game, and also carried the ball 19 times late last year against N.C. State. His upside is that of former receiver Devon Brown.