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Five ACC Kickoff Storylines

By BJ Bennett
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Five themes as the 2017 ACC Kickoff starts in Charlotte.

1. Star Power
Thursday in Charlotte will feature the defending College Football Playoff champion Clemson Tigers, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and two of the four active head coaches, in Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher, with national title rings. Simply put, the start of the 2017 ACC Kickoff will be a cliff notes version of the 2016 season. The spotlight will officially be on the game's hottest league. 

2. The Rise of the ACC Atlantic
Some have asked the question recently: could the ACC Atlantic actually be better than the SEC West? Clemson, of course, defeated Alabama in the College Football Playoff Final and Florida State, after beating Michigan in the Orange Bowl, will get its chance in a high-profile week one pairing in Atlanta. Throw in Louisville and trendy pre-season pick North Carolina State and the division has both national powerhouses and depth.

3. The Crazy Coastal
Good luck figuring out the wacky ACC Coastal Division, which has been won by Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Duke in recent years. Miami is the summer favorite and the Hurricanes are still looking for their first trip to the conference title game. The division's top five teams are all replacing their quarterbacks from a season ago. Get ready for it to get weird....again. 

4. Getting Defensive
The ACC is stacked with defensive superstars, including leading All-American candidates like Clemson's Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, Florida State's Derwin James and Tarvarus McFadden, Virginia's Quin Blaning and Micah Kiser, Harold Landry of Boston College, Jaire Alexander of Louisville and Jordan Whitehead from Pittsburgh. James' Heisman Trophy candidacy will start at media days. Expect to see these stars all over the field this fall and, many of them, early in the NFL Draft next spring.

5. Local Homecoming
Five Charlotte-natives will be student-athlete representatives at the ACC Kickoff in their hometown: Jaire Alexander (Louisville), Bryon FIelds (Duke), Daniel Jones (Duke), Jaylen Samuels (NC State) and Bentley Spain (North Carolina).

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports