The ACC renaissance must come at QB 

August, 13, 2009
08/13/09
7:20
AM ET

ACC football is an interesting study: You look at the list of programs and see so many elite schools that often don't live up to their hype (Clemson Tigers) or just aren't what they used to be (Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes). When Miami and the Virginia Tech Hokies joined FSU in the conference, lots of folks -- myself included -- figured the ACC would surpass all other leagues. (If Miami and FSU were now what they were at the beginning of this decade, it would have.)

So what happened? I think you attribute the underachieving to shaky quarterback play. In 2008, no ACC quarterback was ranked in the top 40 in passing efficiency nationally. (NC State's Russell Wilson came in at No. 41.) And that wasn't just a one-year thing. The league just hasn't had much solid quarterback play -- let alone great. Drill down a bit further, and you'll see that aside from Matt Ryan having a solid run with the Boston College Eagles, the conference hasn't produced many -- OK, any -- elite QBs in recent years.

It's not as though they haven't recruited highly touted quarterbacks; it's just that for a variety of reasons (injury, coaching instability, bad evaluations) those guys have not panned out. Ryan did, of course, although he wasn't deemed a blue-chip recruit by the online recruiting sites. Rivals had him as the 25th rated drop-back QB in the 2003 recruiting class.

To find out who Bruce thinks could be the breakout ACC QB this year, learn why the Miami recruiting sales pitch may have backfired in recent years, read about a player about to break out at Wyoming and learn not one but two amazing stats about college football, you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider
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