ACC football preview 2011: Top QBs, rushers and predicted order of finish


Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien ranks as the ACC’s best returning passer, with Florida State’s E.J. Manuel and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas next in line. (John McDonnell/Washington Post)
August 28, 2011

The top three ACC quarterbacks.

1) Danny O’Brien, Maryland

With an advanced mental acumen and a tireless work ethic, O’Brien is poised to improve after a redshirt freshman season in which he threw 22 touchdown passes, the second most in a season in school history.

2) E.J. Manuel, Florida State

An elusive runner, Manuel takes over the job full-time after the departure of Christian Ponder. The junior has completed 67 percent of his passes in 14 game appearances.

3) Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

The ACC has its share of uncertainty at the quarterback position. But Thomas, an athletic specimen, gives the Hokies an X-factor as they navigate a somewhat soft schedule.

These three defensive players are the biggest threats to ACC quarterbacks.

1) Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

The senior could be the nation’s most dominating defensive end after moving back to his natural position. Coples ranked third in the league in sacks per game while playing tackle last season.

2) Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

Jenkins ranked third nationally in total sacks as a true sophomore. His 13.5 sacks tied for fifth-best in school history. With blazing quickness of the ball, Jenkins is one of the nation’s elite rush ends and a nightmare for quarterbacks.

3) Kenny Tate, LB, Maryland

The senior should excel after moving from safety to Star, a hybrid outside linebacker-safety position. The combination of size and speed makes Tate a ferocious tackler.

Eric Prisbell’s predicted ACC standings.

Atlantic Division

1) Florida State

2) Maryland

3) North Carolina State

4) Clemson

5) Boston College

6) Wake Forest

Coastal Division

1) Virginia Tech

2) Georgia Tech

3) Miami

4) North Carolina

5) Virginia

6) Duke

Championship game

Florida State over Virginia Tech

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