ACC Positional Rankings – QB

With the new look ACC ready to kick off it's season in just a few short weeks, TDD begins a preview of the nation's top conference with a position breakdown. First up is the crop of signal callers.

1. Clemson – Charlie Whitehurst might be the ACC's best overall player in 2004. Tommy Bowden's offense maximizes his abilities, and he has a good cast of receivers to help him. If the ground game becomes more effective, the Tiger offense will be tough to stop.

2. Virginia Tech – Despite Bryan Randall getting most of the snaps in 2003, he is always looking over his shoulder at Marcus Vick, the younger brother of Michael Vick. Both are perfectly capable of leading the offense, and both are very elusive, Randall seems to be the better decision-maker. No matter who takes the snaps, this is a position of strength for the Hokies. Having two starting quality QBs puts the Hokies high on the list.

3. Florida State – Perennial all-ACC tease Chris Rix returns for his 4th season under center. Despite his unpredictability, he might have the best skill set of any QB in the ACC (or the country for that matter). The Noles should be right at the top of the heap this year, and Rix has the motivation to prove his doubters wrong in his final season.

4. North Carolina – Darian Durant has been the core of UNC's football team for the past two seasons, and has held up his end of the bargain despite Carolina's poor record. After 3 seasons he already holds almost every UNC passing record in the book. With an improved running game and young, talented receivers, look for Durant to have another stellar year.

5. Georgia Tech – Sophomore Reggie Ball will line up under center again for the Jackets. He is still finding his comfort zone with Chan Gailey's offense, and still has to work on getting the ball down the field more. He has great physical tools, and is as dangerous running with the ball as he is passing.

6. Miami – Brock Berlin goes into the fall as the Hurricanes signal caller. He must find a way to stop pressing for the big play. It cost the Canes last year, as Berlin threw more interceptions (17) than he did touchdowns (12).

7. Wake Forest - Despite returning their 2003 starter, Cory Randolph, there seems to be a bit of a QB controversy brewing in Winston-Salem. Freshman Ben Mauk has been turning heads since his arrival on campus. No matter who plays QB, the Deacs should be able to get solid play out of the position.

8. Duke – What appeared to be a 3-way QB battle going into the spring turned out to be a one-man show. Sophomore Mike Schneider sits atop the depth chart after an impressive spring. He showed promise in limited 2003 action, throwing for over 1200 yards and displaying a cannon arm. With new QB coach Tom Knotts on the staff (high school coach of current college QBs Chris and CJ Leak), expect Schneider to improve dramatically in his sophomore season. Nebraska transfer Curt Dukes is a physical marvel who is still learning the nuances of the new offense. 5th year senior Chris Dapolito, who took over 100 snaps last year, will also compete for playing time.

9. Maryland – Despite losing 2-year starter Scott McBrien, the Terps have a bevy of talented signal-callers vying to take the reigns. Right now, it appears that Joel Statham will be under center when the 2004 season commences. Incoming freshman Jordy Steffy might also play into the mix.

10. Virginia – Gone is 3-year starter Matt Schaub. His 2003 injury replacement, Anthony Martinez, did not impress in limited duty. He will need to improve his coverage reading and his accuracy to make Cavalier fans and coaches comfortable. Super-utility player Marques Hagans could also contend for the QB job. He is super elusive and a good enough player to moonlight as a wide receiver when not under center. However, he must become a better thrower to reside under center full-time.

11. NC State – Unfortunately, the Philip Rivers era at NC State is officially over. The Pack will be hard pressed to find a replacement half as productive as the ACC's all-time leading passer. Junior Jay Davis or freshman Marcus Stone will get the first crack at replacing Rivers. Davis has limited experience in game situations, but Stone is breathing down his neck.

Best player: Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson – After exploding onto the scene in 2002, Whitehurst picked up right where he left off in 2003, almost single-handedly securing Tommy Bowden's future at Clemson (temporarily at least). He could be a darkhorse Heisman candidate if Clemson pulls an upset in Tallahassee on September 25th.

Best chance to surprise: Reggie Ball, GT – Ball's inconsistency made for an up-and-down 2003 for the Jackets. With a year's experience under his belt, the athletically gifted Ball has tremendous potential to break out in 2004. He showed the ability to avoid big mistakes, and can make things happen with his feet when no one is open. If he gains consistency and confidence, he has the chance to be one of the best in the ACC this season.

Possible disappointment: Brock Berlin, Miami – The former high school all-american struggled in his first season at Miami. Some predict that the starting experience will carry him forward to a better season in 2004. However, at schools like Miami, there are always talented players behind you that are hungry to get on the field. He could get a quick hook if he struggles early.

Other superlatives:

Best Runner: Reggie Ball – GT
Best Arm: Chris Rix –FSU, Mike Schneider – Duke (tie)
Best Pocket Presence: Charlie Whitehurst – Clemson
Most Accurate: Charlie Whitehurst – Clemson
Most Potential: Chris Rix – FSU
Underrated: Darian Durant – UNC, Bryan Randall- VT (tie)
Overrated: Brock Berlin - Miami
Boom or Bust: Chris Rix - FSU


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