Five Most Interesting ACC Spring Practices
By BJ Bennett
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Five ACC teams set for fascinating spring practices.
Though it feels like the college football season just ended, 2017 spring practice in the ACC is almost here. The five teams below will have the five most interesting practice sessions;
Clemson -- With their dramatic triumph still fresh in the minds of the college football community, the defending national champions will experience a bit of a makeover in camp. Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper, Tucker Israel and true freshman Hunter Johnson will vie to replace Deshaun Watson, the greatest player in program history. Bryant will enter spring atop the depth chart. There are also opportunities at running back and wide receiver as the defensive front stands as the clear team strength. The new-look Tigers will debut with both the attention of the nation and the title everyone wants.
Florida State -- The arrival of five-star freshman Cam Akers will bring some heat to the running back competition. Replacing Dalvin Cook's production will almost certainly be a by-committee approach. At the line of scrimmage, the Seminoles must replace their best pass protecter and pass rusher from a year ago. Florida State will also have a depth chart to settle at wide receiver. Expect the Seminoles to practice with a sense of urgency as they open the 2017 season with Alabama at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Miami -- After five straight wins to end last season, the Hurricanes will open up with priority number one being settling on a replacement for quarterback Brad Kaaya. Malik Rosier has appeared in 13 career games and likely has the inside track on the starting job. His performances during practice sessions will be worth watching. Overall, Miami has a lot of talent returning and this could be a spring that results in even more momentum heading towards the fall.
North Carolina -- Linebackers coach John Papuchis steps in to take over the defense with Gene Chizik stepping down as coordinator. The Tar Heels had the fewest interceptions in the country, one, last season. The biggest questions, however, are on offense, where North Carolina will largely be starting from scratch. With some experience, Nathan Elliott may have the edge on Chazz Surratt and Logan Byrd on replacing Mitch Trubisky under center. New playmakers are needed at running back and wide receiver as well.
Pittsburgh -- Changes must be made offensively both in personnel and scheme. Veteran Shawn Watson is the new coordinator after recent stops at Indiana, Texas and Louisville. Southern Cal-transfer Max Browne, a former highly-touted recruit at quarterback, attempted 112 career passes with the Trojans and has some big-game experience. The Panthers also need to find a new go-to pass-rusher.