Rating the ACC Quarterbacks

The ACC loses three signal callers, its all time leading passer, and adds two teams for the 2004 season. CUTigers.com writer Justin Reynolds tries to sort it all out as he rates this year's ACC quarterbacks.

1. Clemson: Although Clemson might not have the best depth at the position; they do have the best quarterback in the ACC, hands down. Charlie Whitehurst is the top returning passer in the ACC after he threw for 3500+ yards in 2004, his first full season as a starter.

One might worry about depth, but the Tigers aren't expecting the rising junior to take too many breathers, as the schedule will be quite a challenge for a guy that is being mentioned on preseason All-American lists. In fact, if the Tigers start the season out 4-0, there won't be a Heisman Trophy watch list without the name Whitehurst on it.

2. North Carolina: Darian Durant is North Carolina's all time passing leader. Even so his all time record as a starter is a measly 5-17.

All records aside, Durant is the second best quarterback in the ACC. He hasn't had the talent around him that some of the other quarterbacks have had in the ACC, yet you'd never know it looking at his stat sheet. Not only is Durant the all-time passing yards leader at North Carolina, he also holds the record for touchdown passes and completion % for the Tar heels.

If fact, Durant is the best dual-threat quarterback in the ACC and will give defenses fits once again in 2004.

3. Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech has the best depth at quarterback in the ACC, but again, it's not a position that normally has a lot of rotation. For that reason, the Hokies will only go as far as quarterback Marcus Randall will take them. Randall completed over 60% of his passes last year and brings great leadership to the position.

But if the Hokies ever do have to go with the second team guy, it never hurts to have a guy named Vick waiting in the wings. In fact, many will argue that Vick is the best quarterback in a Hokie uniform. No doubt he knows how to make plays and will make noise given the opportunity in 2004.

4. Miami: So much for recruiting rankings. Hurricanes' quarterbacks Brock Berlin and Kyle Wright were both ranked the top quarterback of their respective signing classes, yet here the Hurricanes are at number four in the ACC.

Brock Berlin will be the starter in 2004, and as long as he is, the talented Hurricanes are beatable. Opposing fans can only hope that Berlin stays healthy and that Coker doesn't see the light as redshirt freshmen Kyle Wright is the best quarterback on the Hurricane team.

Berlin was anything but impressive in 2003, throwing 17 interceptions and just 12 touchdowns. In fact, the only reason Miami is here in the #4 slot is because I expect Wright to have the reigns by the third game of the season.

5. Virginia: That's right, Virginia. The pressure will be off Cavalier starter Marques Hagan. When he's not handing off to All-ACC running back candidates Wali Lundy and Alvin Pearman, he will be dumping it off to All-American tight end Heath Miller. Hagan, who as a freshmen beat out 2002 ACC player of the year Matt Schaub for a starting job, will be asked to take care of the ball and let his defense win ballgames. That's a role Hagan should excel in.

6. Florida State: Even though Chris Rix will put up gaudy numbers this year, I'm not going to be one to be fooled into thinking he is a top signal caller in the ACC. Rix will be surrounded by some of the best offensive weapons not only in the ACC, but in the nation, yet questionable decisions by Rix will keep them out of the national championship hunt.

No Florida State fans, you won't be as lucky as Miami, because there is no way that coach Bowden will bench Rix in favor of backup Wyatt Sexton or even future superstar Xavier Lee, who will be the best quarterback at Florida State since Charlie Ward!

7. Georgia Tech: Can you say sophomore slump? Why not? In 2003, the athletic yet sporadic Reggie Ball completed just over 50% of his passes and threw more interceptions than touchdowns. There is no doubting the play-making ability of Ball, but this year he won't have the luxury of having All-ACC receiver Jonathon Smith around to bail him out.

8. Wake Forest: Give the guy his due. At times Cory Randolph looked brilliant running the Demon Deacon offensive machine. But when things went bad, they went really bad and the Deacon offensive all but disappeared. This year Randolph will have talented Ben Mauk looking over his shoulder ready to play if the starter Randolph falters.

9. Maryland: Joel Stratham threw three interceptions in the first half of the Terp's Spring game, but came back to complete 5 of 5 passes for 94 yards in the second half. It's the kind of improvement we've come to expect from a Maryland quarterback since Freidgen took over the job in 2001. Freidgen will have production from his quarterbacks this year because, well, he's Freidgen. And for that reason, Maryland comes in at #9.

10. Duke: Last Year Mike Schneider started eight games, threw six interceptions and four touchdowns. His decision-making is expected to improve after the hiring of one of the most highly regarded high school quarterback coaches in the nation in Tom Knotts from Charlotte's Independence High School.

11. NC State: From the penthouse to the outhouse. That's what happens when you try to replace the ACC's all time leading passer with a guy who has thrown 29 passes in his career. Jay Davis will start the season off under center but will receive pressure from redshirt freshmen Marcus Stone who has a stronger arm and is more athletic. Actually NC State should probably be rated ahead of Duke, but I wanted to be able to say "From the penthouse to the outhouse", so we'll leave them here in last place.

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