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Is Clemson the ACC's Surprise Team for 2011?


By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Defining what is a surprise team is no easy task. Before the season kicks off, Athlon will take a look at a team from each of the BCS leagues that could be a surprise contender in their conference. Each of the candidates to surprise will be ranked fifth or worse in Athlon’s 2011 predictions.

Is Clemson the surprise team in the ACC? Here are four reasons to like and four to doubt the Tigers.

Reasons the Tigers will surprise:

1. In each of the last six seasons, Clemson has ranked in the top 25 of Athlon’s top 50 recruiting classes. The Tigers ranked ninth last season, which included one of the top linebacking classes (Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony) in the nation. Clemson has consistently recruited among the top teams in the conference, with nine players earning a spot on Athlon’s 2011 preseason All-ACC team. Although the results on the field haven’t been what Clemson fans have wanted to see, the talent is in place to contend for the ACC title every year.

2. The hire of Chad Morris as coordinator should produce instant results for Clemson's offense. Morris called the plays at Tulsa last season, leading the Golden Hurricane offense to an average of 505.6 yards and 41.4 points per game. The Tigers want to r