The best returning players in the ACC


While Clemson has reigned supreme over the ACC, 2020 seems like things could be taking a turn. Yes, Clemson brings back a lot of talent, but several standout players return.

These players look to stamp their names on the All-ACC team and help their team finally de-throne Clemson. But, Clemson still has the best two players in the ACC.


There is no doubt who the best player is coming into the 2020 season. Trevor Lawrence is the best QB and overall prospect not only in the ACC, but the country. Lawrence is the prototypical quarterback prospect that NFL offenses dream about.

He stands at 6-6 with a 220-pound frame and a rocket arm. His passing IQ is already on par with QBs in the NFL. He proved last season he has speed for his size. An underrated part of Lawrence’s game is his ability to escape the rush. He was sacked 17 times in 2019.  Lawrence has passed for 66 TDs and 12 interceptions over the last two seasons and has rushed for ten TDs.


Etienne surprised the ACC by returning to Clemson and that has the Tigers jumping for joy. Etienne is in the rare group that holds significant value as a do-everything running back. He can block, run between the tackles, attacks the edge, and can catch out of the backfield. Etienne’s elusiveness is almost hard to believe and his best attribute. Etienne broke 90 tackles on 207 carries which led to huge gains for an already explosive Clemson offense.


Under Mack Brown, Sam Howell played 13 games and placed himself among the best quarterbacks in the ACC. Howell, a native of North Carolina, was the centerpiece of the first recruiting cycle in Chapel Hill.

Howell set an FBS freshman record throwing 38 touchdown passes, compared to seven interceptions. With a rocket arm, passing efficiencies, and ability to move in the pocket, Howell will be the best QB in the ACC when Lawrence leaves. Howell was tied for fifth nationally in completions of 40 plus yards with 17. Howell is a big strike waiting to happen.


TuTu Atwell comes off the bus already making big plays. This could be a big year for Atwell’s draft prospects. With the QB position secured Atwell must work on his route running.

But, Atwell’s athletic ability is unmatched by many. Atwell is a vertical threat, jet sweep speedster, and one of the best screen receivers in the nation. If he can build off last year’s success and show that he is a well-rounded receiver, he could push the Cardinals in the top 25. While he’s undersized at 5-foot-9 and 169 pounds, his speed and elusiveness make up for his shortcomings.


Caleb Farley made one of the biggest improvements of any ACC player this past season. When Farley forced receivers into a contested situation, more times than not he would win the matchup.

Farley was targeted 50 times allowing 18 catches, 257 yards, and only one touchdown. The missed tackles are still a concern, if Farley improves on his tackling in the run game at the point of attack, he will become one of the best DB’s in the country. Quarterbacks had 27 passer rating throwing Farley’s way.

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