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Pre Spring Power Rankings: ACC Atlantic

By Southern Pigskin Staff
SouthernPigskin.com
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An early look at the ACC Atlantic.

1. Clemson -- Get ready for much more of the same. A dominant defense that tied for the national lead in sacks and ranked second in tackles for loss returns almost completely intact, with a two-deep on the defensive line, featuring Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy, overflowing with NFL talent. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is the next-in-line under center after starring in his one start at Notre Dame in 2020. There is talent and experience everywhere.

2. NC State -- Winners of four straight to end last regular season, the fast-rising Wolfpack are set to have great balance this fall. Quarterback Devin Leary has playmakers in running back Zonovan Knight and receivers Emeka Emezie and Thayer Thomas. Linebackers Payton Wilson and Isaiah Moore, a combined 202 total tackles and 22.5 tackles for loss in 2020, are one of the top defensive tandems in all of college football.

3. Boston College -- The Eagles will have one of the game's best offensive lines, returning the likes of Zion Johnson, Chris Lindstrom and Tyler Vrabel at the line of scrimmage. Out wide, the Phi Jurkovec-to-Zay Flowers connection is a prominent one in the passing game. It was an impressive debut season for Jeff Hafley, who has Boston College poised for another step forward in year two.

4. Wake Forest -- In quarterback Sam Hartman, running back Christian Beal-Smith and receiver Jaquarii Roberson, the Demon Deacons have proven playmakers all over the field. Wake Forest needs to fine-tune some things up front offensively and develop some new pass rushers defensively. Kicker Nick Sciba is a remarkable 57-of-64 for his career. 

5. Florida State -- Roster turnover has been considerable in Tallahassee and the Seminoles were very active in the transfer portal. Among others, Mike Norvell added standouts like former UCF star quarterback McKenzie Milton, highly-touted Georgia pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson and accomplished South Carolina defenders Jammie Robinson and Keir Thomas. Continued progress along the offensive line will be key.

6. Louisville -- Relatively-quietly, quarterback Micale Cunningham has scored 55 touchdowns the past two seasons. He will be the offensive centerpiece as the Cardinals develop some new playmakers at running back and wide receiver and should help the unit remain productive. Keep an eye on Georgia Southern-transfer Shai Werts. Kei'Trel Clark is one of the nation's best cover corners, though much of the defensive production must be replaced.

7. Syracuse -- There is offensive talent to build around like running back Sean Tucker and receiver Taj Harris. A quarterback competition could be a pre-season theme as veteran Tommy DeVito and Mississippi State-transfer Garrett Shrader vie for the starting job. It's fair to expect improvement from what was a very young defense last year, with linebacker Mikel Jones emerging.