ACC Official Sponsors
Tickets & Travel
Legal & Advertising
(Editor's Note: Jeff Fischel, Max Skinner, Jacob Dennis and Patrick Ronan are the contributors for the "Top 25 Players to Watch" list. Names at the end of each sub piece delineate that writer's contribution.)
Here at the ACCDN, we are counting down the top 25 ACC football players to watch heading into the 2015 season. We've ranked the league's best players based on past success and what we expect to see from them this upcoming season.
After going through the entire list of impressive student-athletes throughout the ACC, here are numbers 15 through 11.
Bucky Hodges has a unique, particular set of skills that would make Liam Neeson run for his life.
I decided to do a Google search for “Bucky Hodges freak” just to see what popped up.
“He is a freak among freaks.”
“He’s a true freak..”
There were more but I decided to stop there. You get the idea.
And you could tell the Hokies coaches knew what they had by how they used him in a key moment of his first college football game--last year vs Ohio State.
I love how after he catches it, he’s referred to on the broadcast as “the other tight end.”
Every other tight end in the nation is “the other tight end” now..because Bucky Hodges is as good as you’ll see. – Jeff Fischel
After transferring from Florida to NC State in 2013, Jacoby Brissett took full advantage of his new opportunity in Raleigh. The 6-4, dual-threat QB from West Palm Beach, Florida, made quite a name for himself in 2014.
Brissett completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,606 yards and 23 TDs with only 5 interceptions. In fact, Jacoby ranks 7th in ACC history for most consecutive passes (187) without an interception. Wolfpack nation, guess who’s numero uno on that list? Hint: he dates Ciara.
WPN can only hope Brissett continues to play with the same amount of poise he displayed in 2014. After all, NC State’s offense was one of the nation’s most balanced, totaling 2,659 yards on the ground and 2,652 through the air. – Max Skinner
It’s like Nuk & Sammy, Part 2.
The Clemson Tigers have their new dynamic duo at wide receiver: Artavis Scott and Mike Williams.
Scott had a Sammy Watkins-like freshman season in 2014, catching 76 balls and scoring 8 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Williams established himself as Clemson’s most dangerous deep threat since Deandre Hopkins, going over 1,000 yards receiving and 18 yards a catch. Both Scott and Williams are pre-season All-ACC selections. When I spoke to Don Munson, the voice of the Clemson Tigers, he told me keeping the receivers healthy is the number one key for this team.
I truly have no idea how defenses will stop Scott and Williams. – Jeff Fischel
Quin Blanding was Coach London’s first pledge for the 2014 class, and the former five-star prospect may be London’s last hope. Blanding finished 2014 ranked no. 2 in the ACC and no. 12 nationally with 123 tackles. Blanding led the nation’s freshmen in tackles and broke UVa’s freshman record, previously held by Ahmad Brooks.
For someone who was just “learning the defense” last season, those numbers are a scary anecdote for opposing coaches. Blanding has been named preseason first-team All-American by Athlon Sports, and the 6-1 sophomore is also on the watch list for the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Award, and the Jim Thope Award.
Blanding’s mother, Corey Lee, must have known her kid was special when she named him after the folk-rock song, “The Mighty Quinn.” Match that foretelling birthright with Quin’s affinity for colorful socks, and the Hoos have a superstar on their hands.
Virginia’s difficult non-conference schedule (@UCLA, vs ND, @Boise State) will get Quin Blanding the national exposure he deserves. Everyone should expect the exact opposite of a sophomore slump for The Mighty Quin in 2015. – Max Skinner
The formula for UNC is simple – the Tar Heels’ offense will go as far as Marquise Williams takes them. In an injury-riddled 2014 season, Williams put up some impressive numbers, throwing for 3,068 yards, running for 788 yards and accounting for a combined 34 touchdowns. While his stats were exciting, they’re a bit misleading. Williams struggled to stay consistent and had trouble with his decision-making, especially in the Tar Heels’ losses.
Williams has a couple of key advantages over other ACC offenses. The fifth year senior is the most experienced quarterback in the conference and with all five starters in front of him returning, UNC by far has the most experienced offensive line. The Tar Heels are loaded with veteran skill position players as well. The Tar Heels return their top four receivers from 2014 as well as a pair of once highly touted high school recruits in T.J Logan and Elijah Hood in the backfield.
The biggest improvement for Williams leading up to the 2015 season is his health. He’s finally back to full strength and says he hasn’t felt this good since his sophomore year in high school. At ACC media days, he didn’t shy away from sharing his budding excitement and confidence. “Now I’m healthy and it’s going to be scary.” – Patrick Ronan