2015 ACC Preview Top Ten Players: No. 1 to 5

    2015 ACC Preview Top Ten Players: No. 6-10 1. RB James Conner, Jr. Pitt Conner is coming off a season for the ages at Pitt. And to think that he’s just

    July 21, 2015

    2015 ACC Preview Top Ten Players: No. 6-10

    1. RB James Conner, Jr. Pitt
    Conner is coming off a season for the ages at Pitt. And to think that he’s just two years removed from high school. The Panthers’ battering ram out of the backfield smashed Tony Dorsett’s single-season school rushing and scoring records, en route to being named the ACC Player of the Year. Conner was remarkably consistent, despite his offense’s lack of diversity, rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns on 298 carries. At 6-2 and 250 pounds, with excellent leg drive, he requires more than one tackler to drag him down, and he relishes opportunities to barrel over or stiff-arm opposing defenders.

    2. CB Jalen Ramsey, Jr. Florida State
    Ramsey is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the country entering 2015. And that’s a good thing, because the Seminoles might need him to play corner now that P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby have elected to enter the NFL Draft. Ramsey is a multifaceted, high-energy athlete whose instincts and football intelligence often go undervalued. A year ago, he parlayed 79 tackles, 9.5 stops for loss, three sacks, two picks and a team-high dozen pass breakups into the All-ACC First Team. This year, the 6-1, 201-pound star uses what will likely be his final year in Tallahassee to earn a first-round grade from NFL scouts.

    3. WR Tyler Boyd, Jr. Pitt
    Even in an offense that leans so heavily on the running game, Boyd’s next-level set of skills were once again impossible to miss. After a smashing debut in 2013, he took his game up a notch in 2014, earning First Team All-ACC with 78 receptions for 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-2, 190-pound Boyd is an ultra-consistent performer, with one of the best work ethics on the team. Plus, his advanced hand-eye coordination allows him to make difficult grabs look easy, effortlessly plucking the ball out of the air. It’ll be an upset if he remains on campus beyond the 2015 campaign, though he’ll first have to work through the challenges of June’s DUI arrest.

    4. QB Justin Thomas, Jr. Georgia Tech
    Thomas was thrust into the deep end of the water after starter Vad Lee unexpectedly transferred to James Madison. And he not only remained afloat, but he navigated choppy first-year waters like Michael Phelps. Thomas delivered arguably the best season ever for a Paul Johnson quarterback, showcasing his arm and athleticism in a Third Team All-ACC debut. Thomas rushed for a Tech-high 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns on 190 carries, while also completing 96-of-187 passes for 1,719 yards, 18 touchdowns and six picks. Plus, the 5-11, 189-pound wunderkind was instrumental in guiding the Jackets to the Coastal crown, an upset of rival Georgia and an Orange Bowl rout of Mississippi State.

    5. S Jeremy Cash, Sr. Duke

    Cash has been a revelation for the Devils since transferring over from Ohio State a couple of years ago. He’s been All-ACC in both of his seasons, First Team in 2013 and Second Team a year ago. Cash was NFL-ready in January, opting instead to play one final season in Durham. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, he’s the total package in a safety, a power puncher with the athleticism to contribute on blitzes and in pass defense. In a statistical representation of his diverse ability, Cash had 111 tackles, 10.5 stops for loss, 5.5 sacks, two sacks, seven pass breakups and four forced fumbles in 2014.

    2015 ACC Preview Top Ten Players: No. 6-10

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