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  • Writer's pictureThe ACC Guru

ACC Preview- QB Rankings

It's officially August, which means we're only 1 month away from the Thursday kickoffs of Week 1 (although North Carolina and Florida State open in Week 0). Week 1 is full of ACC actions with teams playing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and even Monday, headlined by Florida State at LSU on Sunday night in New Orleans. This isn't even a prediction, the ACC will be the be the best quarterback conference in all of college football this year. You can't find a top ten or Heisman watch list that doesn't have 3 or 4 ACC signal-callers on it. In my opinion, there's 9 guys that would be worthy of at least 3rd team All-ACC in a normal year. The league is loaded in talent, and that means there's going to be some upset fan bases when the awards come out at the end of the year.

Today I'm going to rank all 14 starters (or competitions) in the conference. Keep in mind, these rankings reflect the season I expect these guys to have this year, not what they've done in the past, or NFL hype, or anything like that. Follow all month long, as I continue to preview the upcoming football season.

1. Sam Hartman- Wake Forest

Hartman was 2nd team All-ACC last year and will look to improve on that now that Kenny Pickett is in the NFL. Hartman led the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship game last year with 4228 yards and 39 touchdowns. I expect him to lead the league in passing touchdowns this year with help from A.T. Perry, one of the best receivers in the country.

2. Tyler Van Dyke- Miami

TVD replaced injured D'Eriq King in the 4th game of his Freshman season last year, and while it took him a few games to get used to the college game, once he did, he looked like a future star. Over Miami's last 6 games, he averaged 365 yards per game and threw for 20 TDs with only3 interceptions while leading the team to a 5-1 record. If he can replicate that success for an entire year, the U might actually be back.

3. Brennan Armstrong- Virginia

Armstrong finished 4th in the country in passing yards last year with 4,449 while only playing 11 games. He also added 40 total TDs to those yards, and while new head coach, Tony Elliott, once to be more balanced this year, Armstrong should still be able to put up massive numbers. UVA might have the best WR group in the country with Dontayvion Wicks, Keytaon Thompson, Billy Kemp, and the return of Lavel Davis. If their newly formed offensive line can give Brennan some time this year, records are going to be shattered in Charlottesville.

4. Devin Leary- NC State

It might be considered bold to have the ACC preseason POY at 4th on this list, but I really see the top 4 guys more like 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D. Even if Leary is the 4th best QB in the conference, he's still a top 10 QB in the country. Leary was probably the most efficient QB in the conference last year. He averaged 286 yards per game while having a 7:1 TD to Interception ratio. If he can replicate that efficiency, the 9-3 record that NC State had last year should almost be worst-case-scenario for the Wolfpack this season.

5. Malik Cunningham- Louisville

To have a guy that has accounted for over 10,000 total yards and 100 touchdowns over his career 5th on this list sounds insane, but that's how good the ACC QBs are this year. Malik is the best dual-threat quarterback the ACC has seen since another Louisville QB, Lamar Jackson (maybe you've hear of him) and will be the most electric player in the league this year. Louisville has a pretty manageable schedule this year, and if they're able to win their toss-up games, Cunningham will not only be high on All-ACC lists, he'll have an outside shot at a Heisman.

6. Jordan Travis- Florida State

Florida State attempted to play both Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton last year early on, and the results showed that that was a poor decision. FSU started out 0-4 including a loss to FCS Jacksonville State. The Noles were a much better team once Travis became the main QB. They were 5-2 in games started by Travis to finish the year (with losses to Clemson and Florida) and almost made a bowl game. Milton is now gone and this is 100% Jordan Travis' team now. I'm expecting much bigger things from the dual-threat star in Tallahassee this season.

7. Kedon Slovis- Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh might have the 2nd best roster in the ACC behind Clemson this season, but has a big question mark at QB after Heisman finalist, Kenny Pickett, is now in the NFL. Enter Kedon Slovis. Slovis was very impressive in his Freshman and Sophomore years at USC. He threw for 3500 yards and 30 TDs as a true Freshman and then added 1900 yards and 17 TDs in the Covid-shortened 2020 season as a Sophomore. He battled injuries and a 5-Star recruit all of last season (where USC finished 4-8) before deciding to transfer at the end of the year. With this great supporting cast around him, and without having to look over his shoulder at a 5-star recruit, I think Slovis has a big year and tops the 3500 yard mark.

8. DJ Uiagalelei- Clemson

Uiagalelei burst onto the scene 2 years ago filling in for Trevor Lawrence in 2 games as a Freshman, throwing for 781 yards, 4 TDs, 0 interceptions, and rushing for 2 more TDs. This lead to Heisman hype, Dr. Pepper commercials, and huge expectations for the 2021 season. Well... that did not work out. DJ ended up throwing more picks than TDs and the shocking stat from last year is that he didn't throw a single TD in the 4th quarter the entire season. Clemson brings in #1 QB recruit, Cade Klubnik, this year, and if DJ doesn't play like he did in 2020, Cade will end up being the starter for this talented Tigers team.

9. Phil Jurkovec- Boston College

I hate having Jurkovec this low on this list, because he's one of my favorite guys to watch in the ACC and an amazing football player, I'm just not so sure he's an amazing quarterback. His completion percentage is under 60% for his career and has also struggled with injuries. He is an incredible runner though, and throwing to Zay Flowers can't hurt. I just hope to see more plays from him like this one.

10. Garrett Shrader- Syracuse

Shrader forms half of the leagues best running duo along with Sean Tucker. He ran for 4.5 yards per carry (including sacks) on 173 carries last year and 14 TDs. His passing needs some work, but Syracuse went out and got one of the best QB coaches in the country in Jason Beck. I'm excited to see what Beck and new OC Robert Anae can come up with for Shrader, after proving they can come up with unique looks during their time at UVA.

11. Grant Wells- Virginia Tech

Wells comes in from Marshall where he was the Conference USA Freshman of the year in 2020 and then had a stellar 2nd season for the Thundering Herd throwing for 3500 yards and 23 total TDs. He's not guaranteed to win this job yet, but I'm giving him the leg up on South Carolina transfer, Jason Brown, due to being with the team since last semester.

12. Drake Maye or Jacolby Criswell- North Carolina

This is probably the best QB competition in the ACC this August. I actually think either of these guys could end up being a very solid starter in the league, but they just don't have any experience at this point. They've combined for 23 career pass attempts, but they both were highly rated recruits. Should be an interesting battle.

13. Jeff Sims- Georgia Tech

Sims is in a tough situation. Georgia Tech just isn't that good, and once again, they've got one of the toughest schedules in the country. Sims has shown flashes, but the consistency hasn't been there for him. He had a pretty solid Freshman campaign, but failed to make much improvement last year. His dual-threat ability could easily move him up this list by the end of the year, but I just don't see it happening.

14. Riley Leonard or Jordan Moore- Duke

Mike Elko is now the head coach at Duke and has to decide between 2 guys that were used more for their rushing ability than their passing ability as Freshman last year. Both of these guys grades at this point would have to be TBD, and unfortunately someone has to be last on this list.

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