<
>

Roundtable: Which ACC freshmen are we most excited to watch?

Miami quarterback Jack Allison could be poised to break out this spring. Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

All week, ACC reporters Andrea Adelson, David Hale and Jared Shanker are discussing the most pressing spring storylines for teams across the conference. Up next for debate: Which ACC freshmen are we most excited to see?

Andrea Adelson: Louisville S C.J. Avery

Avery was the top-rated player to sign with the Cards in February, an ESPN 300 talent with the potential to be a playmaker right away. Certainly all eyes will be on the incoming freshmen who will be charged with improving the offensive line, but coaches also have raved about their defensive back class.

Earlier this month, head coach Bobby Petrino said, “We wanted to do a great job of recruiting for the secondary, and I think we brought in bigger and longer guys, and they’ll come in and try to compete for reps and see how they can get in the depth [chart]. But I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. I think it will be the first time where we have the type of competition and competitiveness for starting jobs in the secondary.”

At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Avery fits the bill. As an early enrollee, he will get an opportunity to fight for reps once spring practice begins. Louisville has to replace Josh Harvey-Clemons at one safety spot and build depth across the board.

David Hale: Miami QB Jack Allison

There’s so much to like about Miami’s roster this year, but the looming question at quarterback is a big one. Who fills the void left by Brad Kaaya?

The answer most Miami fans seem to be counting on is Allison, one of last year’s top recruits who, despite ample talent, never separated himself from Kaaya’s other backups in 2016 to earn any playing time. But a year of waiting and watching can often make a big difference, and with the weapons Allison will have at his disposal, he could be poised to break out this spring.

With veteran Malik Rosier and highly touted freshman N’Kosi Perry in the mix, the job isn’t exactly Allison’s to lose at this point, and coach Mark Richt won’t simply hand Allison the starting role on sheer talent alone. Still, Allison’s upside is obvious, and with a strong spring, he could assert himself as the odds-on favorite to win the job and potentially lead Miami to that long-awaited Coastal title.

Jared Shanker: Florida State RB Cam Akers

I posted a picture to Twitter last week of Akers in his new No. 3 jersey, and about half of the replies were to inform me I accidentally misidentified Derwin James. But the picture was of Akers, the true freshman who tips the scales at 213 pounds already. Coach Jimbo Fisher said that after three spring practices, Akers and the rest of the early enrollees look the part of elite Power 5 players.

Junior Jacques Patrick is talented, but so was former five-star running back Karlos Williams. Yet by the end of the 2014 season, it was true freshman Dalvin Cook who was getting the bulk of the team’s carries. If I’m being asked who I’m picking at Florida State to finish with the most rushing yards in 2017, I’ll put my money on Akers.