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2019 ACC Secondary Rankings

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Southern Pigskin's ranking of the top five ACC defensive backfields for 2019.

1. Virginia -- After shutting out South Carolina in the Belk Bowl and pacing Power Five football with an opponent passer rating of 81.6 for the month of November, the Cavaliers finished the season proving they had one of the best defensive backfields in the game. Senior cornerback Bryce Hall, 22 pass breakups last fall, is a clear All-American candidate and a next level prototype at 6'1'', 200 pounds. Overall, Virginia has great size on the perimeter. Returning starters Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson are consistent forces at the safety positions.

2. Duke -- The Blue Devils have ranked in the top four in the ACC in pass defense in consecutive seasons. Moving forward, the return of star cornerback Mark Gilbert from injury takes this group to the next level. He ranked second in the league with six interceptions in 2017 and has the length to cover taller receivers at 6'1''. Clearly, Gilbert is an all-conference talent when healthy. Safeties Dylan Singleton and Marquis Waters combined for over 140 tackles a year ago and are a solid tandem on the back-end.

3. Clemson -- Three starters return for the defending national champions. Senior safeties Tanner Muse and K'Von Wallace have plenty of big game experience and are accomplished, veteran leaders for the Tigers with plenty of big game experience. At 6'2'', cornerback A.J. Terrell paced Clemson with three interceptions last year, including a pick-six against Louisville. He has the ability to pair off with other team's top receivers. Watch out for five-star true freshman cornerback Andrew Booth.

4. Florida State -- Linebacker-sized safety Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, now at safety with versatile senior Levonta Taylor, is an athletic playmaker who impressed with eight pass breakups and 4.5 tackles for loss as a true freshman. He and other big-time talents like Stanford Samuels III, four interceptions in 2018, and Asante Samuel, Jr. should only be better with experience. Highly-touted incoming prospect Akeem Dent could become a regular right away.

5. Miami -- Some retooling must be done after the Hurricanes led the nation in pass defense a season ago, allowing just 135.6 passing yards per game, the fewest in all of college football since 2014. Fiesty cornerback Trajan Bandy, three interceptions and eight pass breakups last fall, takes over the number one cornerback spot and he is already All-ACC good. Though there is plenty of talent, new names, maybe USC-transfer Bubba Bolden, must emerge by Bandy's side.