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Pre-Spring Power Rankings: ACC Atlantic

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Early pre-spring power rankings for the ACC Atlantic.

1. Clemson -- The backfield duo of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne returns one of the best in college football history. Both superstars have lost only once as starters: last season's national championship game. Etienne's decision to turn down the NFL for another year was surprising to many. Defensively, tackle Tyler Davis is the new name to watch up from for the Tigers. Dabo Swinney's team has the talent, experience and track record to be college football's pre-season favorite. For good measure, Clemson just signed its highest-rated recruiting class ever.

2. Louisville -- With stars all over the field, the Cardinals are poised to have an offense that stacks up with the top units in the country. Quarterback Micale Cunningham, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions, running back Javian Hawkins and receiver Tutu Atwell form an elite big three; Hawkins is the ACC's leading returning rusher with 1,525 yards, while Atwell paced the league in receiving yards with 1,276. More experience on defense should result in improved consistency across the board. Scott Satterfield's program has a lot of momentum.

3. Florida State -- New head coach Mike Norvell got great news when All-American defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and standout wide receiver Tamorrion Terry decided to return to Tallahassee for another season. Norvell, coming in from Memphis, has good talent with which to work, but needs to stabilize the offensive line and create more big plays defensively. The Seminoles have playmakers and will benefit from the return of safeties Jaiden Lars-Woodbey and Hamsah Nasirildeen and receiver Keyshawn Helton from injury. 

4. Wake Forest -- Even without Georgia-transfer Jamie Newman at quarterback, there is a lot of talent and experience in Winston-Salem. Returning after saying no to the NFL are 1,000-yard receiver Sage Surratt and defensive end Carlos Basham, fresh off eleven sacks. Sam Hartman is an experienced signal caller who has scored 23 total touchdowns is less than a full season's worth of time as starter. After making 24-of-25 field goal attempts, Nick Sciba is clearly one of the nation's premier kickers.

5. North Carolina State -- A number of talented underclassmen from last season are ready to help move the Wolfpack forward. Running backs Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston, linebacker Payton Wilson and defensive lineman Alim McNeill are part of the emerging leadership core. Both sides of the line of scrimmage should be strong, with NC State returning all five starters along the offensive front. Dave Doeren needs to find consistency at quarterback, where multiple contenders will continue to vie for the starting job.

6. Syracuse -- Safety Andre Cisco, 12 interceptions through two seasons, is a national awards contender and the leader of the defense. Quarterback Tommy DeVito did a nice job in 2019, throwing 19 touchdown passes compared to just five interceptions. He gives Dino Babers, one of the top offensive minds is the game, a centerpiece. The Orange remain elite in the kicking game with former Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt, who has made numerous big kicks just a few years into his career.

7. Boston College -- Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, fresh off a trip to the College Football Playoff, takes over the Eagles. His linebackers, featuring all-conference candidate Max Richardson, John Lamont and Brandon Sebastian will help form the core of this Boston College team. Dennis Grosel and David Bailey are an emerging playmaking duo in the offensive backfield at quarterback and running back, respectively.