Trench Warriors and Vertical Athletes highlight the ACC
Clemson - Trenton Simpson (Linebacker)
Simpson played a hybrid role a season ago for the Tigers playing a spot that saw him in rotation at times with safeties and corners.
Simpson in that time had a season to put him on notice with 78 tackles and finished second amongst Clemson defenders in both tackles for loss (12.0) and sacks (6.0) while also adding three pass breakups over 556 snaps in 13 games.
Simpson should slide into the weakside linebacker role this season and full time reps.
Miami - Tyrique Stevenson (Cornerback)
I highlighted Stevenson in my national look at 5 Under The Radar Players.
It is worth mentioning again Stevenson's name since quarterbacks had a 39.4 passing rating when targeting Stevenson in man coverage.
Look for Stevenson to be challenged more in new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele's pressure scheme.
NC State - Payton Wilson (Linebacker)
Wilson has the capability of being amongst the elite in the country and his all out playing style is what lends him to get hurt.
Playing with All-ACC linebackers Drake Thomas and Isaiah Moore helps the Wolfpack be among the nation's elite defenses.
Wake Forest - Justice Ellison (Running Back)
Ellison had a coming out party last season when he had 3 touchdowns against one of the ACC's top scoring and rush defense in NC State.
Ellison has positioned himself to be the lead ball carrier for the Demon Deacons and poised to have a national breakout in Dave Clawson's explosive offensive offense that averaged 41 points per game a season ago, fourth in the nation.
Virginia - Brennan Armstrong (Quarterback)
I don't feel Armstrong is under the radar in the ACC or with Cavalier fans.
I feel on a national scene and for those looking in, Armstrong may get lost in the shuffle by Wake Forest's Sam Hartman, or seemingly new flavor for national prognosticators in Miami's Tyler Van Dyke, and even other ACC signal callers whether it is NC State's Devin Leary or Clemson's D.J Uiagalelei finding his potential, Armstrong seems to get lost a bit in the mix.
Armstrong last season averaged 436.1 yards per game against FBS opponents, the highest average of any college player since 2009.
For first year Cavaliers head coach Tony Elliott, he has an excellent foundation with this veteran signal caller.
Pitt - Habakkuk Baldonado (Defensive End)
Most of the national acclaim and most fans recognize junior defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, who I featured in my Top 8 Defensive Tackles, is supported by two defensive ends that ultimately both could be mentioned: seniors Deslin Alexandre and Habakkuk Baldonado.
Baldonado recorded 26 tackles, 5 assists, with 28 stops. In pass rushing situations, he produced 48 total pressures, with 23 QB hurries, 14 QB hits, and 11 sacks on the year.
Boston College - George Takacs (Tight End)
Having being stuck behind All-American and Mackey Award finalist Michael Mayer, Takacs who was a 4-star tight end out of high school himself, reunites in Chestnut Hill with a few familiar faces.
John McNulty who coached Takacs in South Bend is now the offensive coordinator in Boston College and with Phil Jurkovec under center, another Notre Dame transfer, who has comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger, Takacs should have the ingredients to break out.
North Carolina - Tony Grimes (cornerback)
Grimes reclassified in the 2020 Class and was the #1 player in the state of Virginia and started almost Day 1 at North Carolina.
Ever since he has been quietly played as a Day 1 or 2 NFL Draft pick and his ability to play physical at all levels, combined with the frame he has, and the ability to play stride for stride with receivers, Grimes will be a difference maker.
Florida State - Treshaun Ward (Running Back)
Entering the 2022 season, the Seminoles have an extremely talented yet inexperienced backfield with Ward being the only back to have started a game in college.
Ward himself finds himself on the Doak Walker Watch List has a total of 786 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns in 15 games played with FSU.
Syracuse - Sean Tucker (running back)
Hard to say a player is under the radar when he is credentialed as a dark horse for the Heisman, finished 4th in the 2022 Preseason ACC Player of the Year voting, and various award lists.
When you play for Syracuse you kind of get lost in the shuffle.
Tucker in 2021 played in 12 games. and rushed for 1515 yards on 247 carries, an average of 6.1 yards per carry, with 12 TDs, and one fumble. In the passing game he pulled in 18 receptions for 249 yards.
He will be the Syracuse offense this fall, and he will be the reason the Orange go bowling or not.
Rest of the ACC
Louisville - Malik Cunningham (Quarterback)
Dual threat quarterback was a catalyst for the Cardinals last season who as a team averaged 446.2 yards per game.
Cunningham had 2,941 yards passing and 19 passing touchdowns to go with 1,031 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.
The Cardinals win a few high profile games and Cunningham replicates his 2021 numbers he might be in award territory.
Virginia Tech - Dax Hollifield (Linebacker)
For new Hokies head coach Brent Pry, he will be relying on Hollifield to execute his complex defense.
Hollifield has always played at all conference levels, and expect his game to grow in Pry's system.
Duke - Jacob Monk (Guard)
Monk will be the foundation for first year head coach Mike Elko.
The senior guard will mentor a younger line as he contends with all conference honors and pro prospects.
Georgia Tech - Morris Joseph Jr. (Defensive Tackle)
The Memphis Tiger transfer hopes to mentor a young defensive line and give Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins a dynamic pass rush up the middle something missing from their defensive line for several years.