- Louisville – Lamar Jackson JR – What’s left to say about the All-American, Heisman Trophy winning junior quarterback who was recently picked as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year? The only thing left to determine is if Jackson can will and lead an entire team to a successful season. The Cardinals 2016 season started off with four straight wins until they were halted by national champion Clemson. Jackson and the Cardinals followed up that loss with a five game win streak until Houston, Kentucky and Louisiana State all beat the Cardinals. Jackson struggled in those games, only completing 49% of his passes, throwing for three touchdowns and interceptions, and only averaging 3.33 yards per rush.
- Florida State –Deondre Francois RS SO – The ACC Rookie of the Year had his ups and downs in his first season as a fulltime signal caller for the Seminoles. Francois, who helped the Seminoles end their season on a 7-1 run, showed flashes of brilliance last year but also showed that he could get lost in the middle of a game. Francois completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,350 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. With one year of experience under his belt, we will see Francois develop until a full-fledged college football superstar.
- Duke – Daniel Jones RS SO –6’5’’ quarterback Daniel Jones knows how to overcome adversity. Jones, a former walk-on at Duke, redshirted in 2015 but worked his way to QB1 in the 2016 season for the Blue Devils. Jones started 12 games in 2016 but only came away with 4 wins (at Notre Dame, versus Army, versus North Carolina and season opener against North Carolina Central). Jones went through some growing pains and accumulated 8 interceptions and only 6 touchdowns in his first five games including a five interception game against the Virginia Cavaliers. However, for the rest of the season, Jones only threw one interception (spanning 233 pass attempts) and 10 touchdown passes while throwing for over 300 yards twice. Jones turned that corner after game five and the Blue Devils are hanging their hats on the fact that he continues to improve during his sophomore season.
- Pittsburgh – Max Browne RS SR/ TRANSFER – Browne, a graduate transfer from USC, is expected to take the reins of the Pittsburgh Panthers offense. The former Gatorade National Player of the Year completed 61.6% of his passes at USC for 650 yards. Browne is the former number one quarterback prospect from the 2013 class but he never panned out at USC due to a multitude of reasons including a head coach being fired and enormous competition at his position from Cody Kessler and Sam Darnold. Browne will be playing with the proverbial chip on his shoulder during the 2017 season in an attempt to prove his number one ranking from four years ago.
- North Carolina – Brandon Harris SR / TRANSFER – Although not officially named as the starter, LSU transfer Brandon Harris is expected to be the day one starter for the Tar Heels. Despite injuries, Harris appeared in 22 games for the Tigers over three seasons. During his sophomore year in 2015, Harris played in 12 games completing 53.8% of his passes for 2,165 yards and a 13/6 TD/INT ratio. Harris may not be the most talented or experienced of ACC quarterbacks but he will function as a suitable one-year starter for the Tar Heels.
- Georgia Tech – Matthew Jordan RS JR — Jordan only made one start last year and it was against Virginia Tech. In that game, Jordan ran for 121 yards on 32 carries in head coach Paul Johnson’s option offense. Jordan’s problem will not be gaining an understanding of the offense. His biggest hurdle will be executing the offense and following in the footsteps of quarterback Justin Thomas. Thomas, currently with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent, won the 2014 Orange Bowl and has defeated Georgia twice. Jordan has some big shoes to fill and it will begin against the Tennessee Volunteers in the Yellow Jackets season opener.
- Syracuse – Eric Dungey JR – Dungey is headed into his third season as the starting quarterback for the Orange. Dungey has shown a big arm in passing for over 2,600 yards during his 2016 campaign. However, questions remain about his durability with his last two seasons ending early due to injuries. Despite that, Dungey was named to the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List, along with 29 other quarterbacks as one of the best quarterback’s in the nation. Dungey, with a big arm, will need to see some play makers develop around him in the Orange offense if Syracuse wishes to have any success this year.
- NC St. – Ryan Finley RS JR / TRANSFER – Ryan Finley is expected to remain the starter with the Wolfpack after a successful 2016 – in terms of statistics. Finley won 7 of his 13 starts and threw for over 3,000 yards with an 18/8 TD/INT ratio and a good completion percentage of 60.4%. Don’t be surprised to see NC St. as the surprise team of the year within the ACC. They have talent and a quarterback that has one year under his belt with the team. It’s a recipe for success.
- Clemson – Kelly Bryant JR – Kelly Bryant has some big shoes to fill after Deshaun Watson’s departure from the Clemson football program. The junior also has redshirt freshman quarterback Zerrick Cooper and highly touted recruit Hunter Johnson biting at his coat tails for a chance to lead the Tigers offense. No matter which quarterback is behind center for the Tigers in the fall, quarterback will be a glaring weakness for the defending national champions. Bryant has been limited to less than 10 pass attempts in each of the last two seasons due to playing behind Deshaun Watson. In those two years, Bryant has completed 13 of 18 passes for 75 yards which is good for a 72.2% completion percentage.
- Miami – Malik Rosier RS JR / N’Kosi Perry FR / Evan Sherrieffs RS SO – One thing is certain; the Hurricanes have yet to name a starting quarterback. Despite this, the media has picked Miami to win the Coastal division of the ACC without having a lead play-caller publicly named. The assumption is the media assumed it would be Rosier leading the Hurricanes but Perry and sophomore Evan Shirreffs have a lot of people excited. Either way, the Hurricanes have some time. They will open their season against Bethune-Cookman on September 2nd and may use that game as a real-time tryout for Rosier, Perry, and Sherriefs.
QB TO WATCH
Boston College – Darius Wade RS FR –Wade is coming back from a broken ankle in 2015 and was kept away from playing in 2016 in order to develop his mental game and physical health. Wade had to beat out redshirt freshman Anthony Brown in a spring competition in order to earn the starting nod for the Eagles in 2017. Wade, a senior, saw the field sporadically in 2016 and completed only 9 of 19 passes including an interception. After being named the starter and playing in three games before his ankle injury in 2015, Wade completed 50% of his passes for only 232 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The 6’2’’, 183 pound dual threat quarterback from Middletown, Delaware hopes to improve on his numbers as he is as healthy as he’s been since 2015 and more mature. However, Wade must prove himself to critics and his own coaching staff.