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Pre Spring Power Rankings: ACC Coastal

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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An early look at the ACC Coastal

1. North Carolina -- Mack Brown has led a remarkable resurgence for the Tar Heels, who will continue to get national attention. Quarterback Sam Howell returns after 7,227 passing yards and 68 passing touchdowns through his first two seasons. Consider him one of the pre-season Heisman Trophy favorites. All five starters along the offensive line are back as well. Hybrid edge defender Tomon Fox has 20.5 career sacks.

2. Miami -- There is a lot of returning experience, including star quarterback D'Eriq King as soon as he is healthy. In addition to King, the offense brings back running back Cam'Ron Harris, receiver Mike Harley and adds former Oklahoma standout Charleston Rambo via the transfer portal. Defensively, tackle Nesta Silvera and safety Bubba Bolden turned down the NFL for another season with the Hurricanes. .

3. Pittsburgh -- Kenny Pickett is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in college football and could top 8,000 yards passing for his career as soon as his next completion. The Panthers led the nation in tackles for loss a year ago and the return of linebackers Cam Bright, Phil Campbell III, SirVocea Dennis and Chase Pine should result in more of the same. Pittsburgh may have college football's best collection of linebackers. .

4. Virginia Tech -- Turnover continues to be the theme in Blacksburg. Quarterback is the top pre-season priority after the transfer of multi-year starter Hendon Hooker to Tennessee. Veteran Braxton Burmeister is the favorite to step in under center. Defensively, there are key foundational pieces in the likes of edge Amare Barno, cornerbacks Dorian Strong and Jermaine Waller and safety Chamarri Conner.

5. Virginia -- Quarterback Brennan Armstrong was productive last season, throwing for over 2,100 yards and rushing for over 500 more. There are playmakers at the skill positions, including Lavel Davis, Jr., who who averaged over 25 yards per reception and caught five touchdown passes in 2020. Some retooling must be done defensively, though Noah Taylor returns as a proven playmaker.

6. Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets were one of the youngest teams in college football a season ago, starting, among other true freshmen, Jeff Sims at quarterback. That talent now has some experience. Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs are ready for more consistency in year two. Standout safety Tariq Carpenter is an all-conference candidate who brings considerable experience to the defense.

7. Duke -- Mataeo Durant is the ACC's leading returning rusher with 817 yards from this past season. He will be the offensive centerpiece, especially as a potential quarterback competition ensues. The good news is that there is a lot of returning production on the perimeter, in addition to Durant. Shaka Heyward is an active and disruptive linebacker to lead the defense. .