I rated all of the quarterbacks in the ACC in the preseason and this is how I have them ranked after the season is over.
14. North Carolina: The quarterback transfer from LSU did not work out so well and after several seasons of being one of the ACC’s best, the Tar Hills slumped to a 3-9 record. Brandon Harris threw 8 interceptions and only 1 touchdown pass which is about as bad as anything we all have seen. Chazz Surratt was a freshman and just not ready for the job. Sophomore Nathan Elliott finally took over and performed about as well as could be expected. Tar Heel coach Larry Fedora’s reputation took a huge hit this season after many successful years. Nathan Elliott looks like their quarterback for next season. Brandon Harris was ranked only under Deshaun Watson coming out of high school and so much more was expected out of him.
13. James Blackman – Florida State: The Seminoles’ season was destroyed when starting quarterback Deondre Francois went down against Alabama on opening day. That seems so long ago, but true freshman James Blackman from Belle Glade, Florida took a severe beating from opponents and from his coach on the sideline. Blackman has excellent potential, but as of now he is 6-5, 170 and that might be a stretch as far as his weight goes. He is tall and really skinny. He can fling that ball, but he’s so green and the Seminoles finished 6-6 before their coach Jimbo Fisher took another job.
12. Pittsburgh: The Panthers started with USC transfer Max Browne, but he was lost for the season after struggling in his first 6 games. He was replaced by Ben Dinucci and he also struggled. By the last game, they probably found their quarterback of the future in Kenny Pickett. He led Pitt to a stunning upset over previously unbeaten Miami. But, the Panthers finished with a 5-7 record and missed a bowl game so we will have to wait until next year to see more of Pickett.
11. Boston College: The Eagles of Boston College were up and down this season. They gave Florida State a severe beating on national television and they beat Louisville. But, they lost to Wake Forest, Notre Dame and North Carolina State among others to finish an improved 7-5. They came into the season with Darius Wade at quarterback, but settled on redshirt freshman Anthony Brown who looked pretty good at times. He only threw for 1,367 yards and ran for over 200.
10. Daniel Jones – Duke: The Blue Devils have had some success in recent years under head coach David Cutcliffe. But, not this season. Both quarterback Daniel Jones and his Devils struggled this year to finish up with a 6-6 record. Jones is mobile and ran for 432 yards and 6 touchdowns, but he threw 11 interceptions compared to only 12 touchdowns. Daniel Jones showed lots of promise as a true freshman and had something of a sophomore slump this year.
9. TaQuan Marshall – Georgia Tech: Marshall took over at quarterback as the Yellowjackets lost senior Justin Thomas. It wasn’t the best of seasons, but Marshall did run for over 1,000 yards. He didn’t even break the 1,000 yard barrier as a passer. Marshall does run that option pretty well, but the Jackets finished with a 5-6 record.
8. Eric Dungey – Syracuse: The Orange only won 4 games, but one of the wins was against Clemson in maybe the upset of the season. Dungey is a tough kid that’s bulked up and strengthened up. He is
6-4, 225 and physically tougher than before. He threw for just under 2,500 yards and ran for just under 500 yards. Dungey is a junior now and he really needs to come back for another season and he could be much improved.
7. Josh Jackson – Virginia Tech: Redshirt freshman Josh Jackson won the job over a Junior College transfer and a true freshman. There were comparisons between Jackson and Michael Vick by some, but they aren’t even close. Hokie coach Justin Fuente is something of a quarterback guru and for the second year in a row had to deal with a brand new quarterback. Jackson was good and threw for over 2,700 yards and 19 touchdowns. He is a freshman All American with a bright future.
6. Malik Rosier – Miami: The Hurricanes won 10 straight games before being upset by Pittsburgh. Then, Clemson stomped them in the ACC Championship game. Part of the reason for their success was quarterback Rosier’s development. Rosier did it with his arm and with is feet and also with leadership. He threw for just under 3,000 yards and he ran for 427 yards
5. Ryan Finley – North Carolina State: It’s hard to believe that the Boise State transfer is still only a junior. This season, Finley led the North Carolina State Wolfpack to an 8-4 record. Throwing for over 3,200 yards and running for just under 200 yards. North Carolina State was mostly about defense, but Finley and Jaylen Samuels improved the offense considerably.
4. John Wolford – Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons finished 7-5, but a few breaks here and there and they could have had a really great season. Wolford is a good quarterback, too. He threw for right under 2,800 yards and 25 touchdowns with 6 picks. Showing his mobility, he ran for 615 yards and 10 more touchdowns. Unfortunately, Wolford is a senior.
3. Kurt Benkert – Virginia: The Cavaliers were well on their way to having a great season with a 5-1 record. But, then they lost 5 out of their last 6 games. The good news is they qualified for a bowl game. The 6-4, 220 Benkert was instrumental in qualifying for a bowl game while throwing for over
3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns.
2. Kelly Bryant – Clemson: The Clemson Tigers are in the playoffs for the third season in a row and Bryant had a tough job replacing Deshaun Watson. While, he’s not on the same level as Watson, he’s done enough to get his team to this level along with an excellent offensive line and skill position players, plus a great defense the Tigers are rolling right along. Bryant isn’t a great deep ball thrower, but he has the arm and he has the feet to make things happen. He threw for over 2,600 yards. But, he only had 13 touchdown passes. Watson had 41 touchdown passes last year. Bryant ran for over 600 yards, but he needs to throw the ball deep more. He’s got the weapons.
1. Lamar Jackson – Louisville: Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner is also in the finalist this season. The Cardinals had a worse season this year and nobody is talking about Jackson. But, he actually had a good year. So far, he’s thrown for nearly 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s also run for over 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns. His stats are every bit as good as his Heisman winning season, but it’s been decided by the powers that be that he’s not going to win again. Part of the problem is the team is 8-4 this season.