• 8 Slides

All-ACC: Talented backfield with Watson, Conner, Cook

Could a Heisman winner emerge from the ACC? It's possible with Deshaun Watson, James Conner and Dalvin Cook. The league is overflowing with potential postseason award winners.
  • QB Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson

    RB James Conner, Jr., Pittsburgh

    RB Dalvin Cook, So., FSU

    Could one of these three emerge as a serious Heisman candidate in 2015? We think so and it starts with Watson, who is one of the game's most dynamic playmakers when he's healthy. Conner could make a push for 2,000 yards and Cook looked unstoppable at times as his workload increased last season.

    MORE: SN's post-spring Top 50 players

  • Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State

    Dorian Johnson, Jr., Pittsburgh

    Matt Skura, Sr., Duke

    Landon Turner, Sr., North Carolina

    Bryan Chamberlain, Sr., Georgia Tech

    In 2013, Johnson became the first freshman to start on the Pitt offensive line since 2006. Starting at left guard last season, he was a big reason James Conner had an All-American season and broke some of Pitt legend Tony Dorsett's rushing records.

    MORE: Top 25 conference games for 2015

  • WR Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pittsburgh

    WR Artavis Scott, So., Clemson

    TE Bucky Hodges, So., Virginia Tech

    Boyd quietly has put together two 1,000-yard seasons at Pitt and has risen up the charts as one of the top WR prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, with a healthy Deshaun Watson all season, Artavis Scott could be in store for a monster season.

    MORE: Top WRs for 2015

  • Dadi Nicolas, Sr., Virginia Tech

    Adam Gotsis, Sr., Georgia Tech

    Corey Marshall, Sr., Virginia Tech

    Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville

    Not a bad problem to have in Blacksburg for coach Frank Beamer. Nicolas led the Hokies with 18.5 tackles for loss last season and 9.0 sacks from defensive end. Marshall, playing tackle, recorded 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and intercepted a pass.

    MORE: Preseason Top 25

  • Terrance Smith, Sr., Florida State

    Kelby Brown, Sr., Duke

    Keith Kelsey, Jr., Louisville

    Brown was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing all of 2014 after a knee injury in a preseason scrimmage. Last month, he endured a fourth injury that ended his career. That he was returning from three significant injuries and didn't play in 2014 should tell you the talent he is — and the quality player Duke is losing. Smith was third on the Seminoles in tackles last season with 87, recorded 4.5 tackles for loss and intercepted two passes.

    MORE: Top 25 front seven defensive players for 2015

  • Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State

    Kendall Fuller, Jr., Virginia Tech

    Jeremy Cash, Sr., Duke

    Quin Blanding, So., Virginia

    Ramsey has everything you want in the ideal corner:size, speed and strength. An All-American last season, he tallied 79 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and 12 pass breakups. He's a first-round pick in 2016.

    MORE: SN Preseason All-Americans

  • K Roberto Aguayo, Jr., Florida State

    P Alexander Kinal, Sr., Wake Forest

    Aguayo is the best kicker in college football. How good? He could have left school early for the NFL — not something kickers do. He's missed just four of his 52 career field goal attempts and connected on all of his 144 PATs. Kinal has led the nation in punts two of the past three seasons. He averaged 43.6 yards on his 81 punts last season. With Wake's struggling offense, Kinal needs to be on his game every Saturday.

    MORE: The 10 best football programs, from top to bottom

  • QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson

    The sophomore underwent ACL surgery in December, so it's possible he isn't fully healthy in time for preseason camp. But when he's cleared, he will provide a jolt to a Clemson offense that often sputtered when he wasn't on the field last year. The Tigers need him if they harbor playoff aspirations.

    Ken Bradley contributed

Latest News

Big Ten predictions 2021: Conference standings, Heisman hopefuls and best games
Bender: Big Ten predictions - Is it the 'Big One' and 'Little 13' now?
Quinn Ewers explains decision to forgo senior high school season, join Ohio State: 'This is not just a financial decision'
Quinn Ewers explains decision to forgo senior high school season, join Ohio State
ACC predictions 2021: Conference standings, Heisman hopefuls and best games
Bender: ACC predictions - Can anyone catch Clemson?
Dabo Swinney-Nick Saban-123018-GETTY-FTR
With Texas, Oklahoma on board, SEC should target these schools next
Bender: Why SEC should entertain more expansion
Who is Quinn Ewers? Five-star QB could change NIL, Ohio State and more with decision
Bender: How Quinn Ewers could change Ohio State, NIL and more