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ACC Secondary Rankings

By Southern Pigskin Staff
SouthernPigskin.com
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Southern Pigskin's top five ACC defensive backfields for 2018.

1. Miami: Expect to see more of the "turnover chain" as the Hurricanes boast a great one-two punch in the defensive backfield in safety Jaquan Johnson and cornerback Michael Jackson. The two seniors combined for eight interceptions last season. Johnson, who added 96 total tackles and three forced fumbles, sets the tone as the leader of the unit and could push for All-American honors. Add in safety Sheldrick Redwine and there are three senior starters returning for Miami. Slot cornerback Trajan Bandy, who can match up with quicker receivers, is a talent on the rise.

2. Florida State: The starting cornerback tandem is very good with Levonta Taylor, who appears to the Seminoles' next superstar defensive back, and Stanford Samuels III. Both players are strong one-on-one defenders. Taylor had two interceptions, including a key pick-six, in Florida State's win at rival Florida. Safety A.J. Westbrook is heady veteran with 80 total tackles and eleven pass break ups the past two years. Keep an eye on true freshman early enrollee Jaiden Woodbey, a five-star recruit from California who was impressive during spring practice.

3. Virginia: The Cavaliers ranked 7th in the nation in pass defense in 2017, allowing just 165.8 yards per game. Three starters return in the secondary, most notably all-conference candidates Bryce Hall at cornerback and Juan Thornhill at safety. After playing cornerback, Thornhill is moving back to his natural position of free safety and should be an impact defender. Strong safety Brenton Nelson was last season's ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. Veteran cornerback Tim Harris has also returned from injury, only adding to the depth Virginia has in the defensive backfield.

4. Clemson: At 6'2'', 190 pounds, Trayvon Mullen is the prototype on the perimeter and has the skills to back such a distinction up. He had interceptions in the Tigers' final two regular season games and has everything you look for in a shutdown cover corner. Clemson has good depth at the cornerback position with the likes of Mullen, senior Mark Fields and A.J. Terrell. Safety Tanner Muse, who took a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown at Syracuse, is ready for a leadership role after a 57-tackle effort.

5. Wake Forest: Cornerbacks Essang Bassey, one of the premier defenders in the ACC, and Amari Henderson give the Demon Deacons a pair of reliable cover corners. Bassey was incredibly productive a season ago as he ranked in the national top ten with 16 pass break ups and 19 passes defended. He is a name to watch league-wide. Senior safety Cameron Glenn has 171 career tackles and compiled seven pass deflections, 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions this past year.