Ranking the ACC's Quarterbacks for 2015

Deshaun Watson tops the 2015 ranks.

The ACC may not have a playoff contender with Florida State and Clemson each losing several key pieces off last season’s team, but this league will be intriguing with a solid group of quarterbacks returning to the conference in 2015. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson projects as the top passer in the ACC this season, as the talented sophomore is set to take control of a high-powered offense after shining in limited action last year.

 

Miami’s Brad Kaaya and Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas take the next two spots after Watson, but North Carolina’s Marquise Williams and NC State’s Jacoby Brissett aren’t far behind. And there’s some intrigue with the other quarterbacks on this list, especially in Tallahassee as Everett Golson is expected to replace Jameis Winston, and Duke’s Thomas Sirk in David Cutcliffe's offense.

 

To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2015. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, 2015 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the ACC for 2015.

 

Ranking the ACC Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Clemson will miss Chad Morris calling the plays, but the offense is in good hands with Watson and a deep group of skill players. Watson ranked as the No. 41 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite and threw for 1,466 yards and 14 touchdowns in eight appearances. Watson is recovering from a torn ACL but should be at full strength by this fall.

 

2. Brad Kaaya, Miami

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

There’s not much separating the No. 2 and No. 5 quarterbacks in the ACC this year. Based on pure talent, it’s hard to pick against Kaaya in this spot. He started all 13 games for Miami as a true freshman and threw for 3,198 yards and 26 scores. Kaaya’s supporting cast and offensive line is a question mark entering 2015, but he’s poised to take a step forward with another year to develop.

 

3. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Thomas is the perfect fit in Georgia Tech’s option offense. In his first year as the starter, Thomas led the team with 1,086 rushing yards and eight scores. In guiding the Yellow Jackets to a Coastal Division title, he averaged 5.7 yards per carry and finished the season with back-to-back 100-yard efforts. Thomas wasn’t asked to throw much, but he tossed 18 touchdowns to just six scores and connected on nine passing plays of at least 40 yards.

 

4. Marquise Williams, North Carolina

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Hip surgery sidelined Williams this spring, but if he’s 100 percent healthy by this fall, don’t be surprised if the senior ranks as high as No. 2 on this list. In eight ACC games last year, Williams passed for 2,021 yards and 14 scores to just five interceptions. Williams also led North Carolina with 783 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns last season. 

 

5. Jacoby Brissett, NC State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Brissett is another quarterback that could easily rank higher on this list by the end of the 2015 season. In his first year as the starter at NC State, Brissett threw for 2,606 yards and 23 scores and rushed for 529 yards and three touchdowns. The Florida transfer will have a rebuilt receiving corps to work with in 2015 but is poised to improve off his solid 2014 campaign.

 

6. Everett Golson, Florida State

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

The outlook for Florida State’s 2015 quarterback situation changed when Golson decided to transfer to Tallahassee. As a graduate transfer, Golson is eligible immediately and will push Sean Maguire for the starting job. In two years of playing time with the Fighting Irish, Golson threw for 5,850 yards and 41 scores and added 581 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Picking up Florida State’s challenging offense will be Golson’s toughest task. Can he learn the complex Seminoles’ attack by September?

 

7. Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Voytik was steady in his first year as Pittsburgh starter, throwing for 2,233 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Tennessee native played better as the season progressed and threw only one interception over the final six games. Voytik has two of the ACC’s top skill players at his disposal in running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd and one of the league’s best offensive lines. Voytik should take another step forward in his development under new coordinator Jim Chaney.

 

8. Reggie Bonnafon, Louisville

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Three quarterbacks received starts for Louisville last season, and the Cardinals will open the fall with four players vying for the top spot. Penn State transfer Tyler Ferguson is a name to watch, and Will Gardner is returning from a knee injury this fall, but all signs point to Bonnafon taking the first snap for Louisville in 2015. As a true freshman last year, Bonnafon completed 61 of 120 passes for 864 yards and five scores. The Kentucky native’s athleticism could be a huge asset for a Louisville offense replacing three starters on the line. With Bobby Petrino calling the plays and tutoring the quarterbacks, whether it's Bonnafon, Ferguson, Gardner or Will Bonnafon, Louisville's offense should be fine at quarterback in 2015.

 

9. Michael Brewer, Virginia Tech

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Brewer experienced his share of ups and downs in 2014. After leading Virginia Tech to an upset win over Ohio State with 199 passing yards and two scores, Brewer tossed seven picks in the next three games and threw for less than 200 yards in four out of his last six contests. Quarterback play isn’t solely to blame for the Hokies’ offensive woes, as the offensive line has struggled, and young skill players were thrown into the mix last year. Brewer should benefit from another offseason to learn coordinator Scot Loeffler’s offense. But can the senior cut down on the interceptions and add more big plays (only nine completions of 30 yards or more)? If he can, Brewer will move up this list in 2015.

 

10. Thomas Sirk, Duke

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

Intriguing. That’s the first word that comes to mind when examining Sirk’s potential in 2015. Coach David Cutcliffe is a noted quarterback guru, and Sirk played well in limited action last year. In 12 appearances, Sirk showed no ill-effects from an Achilles injury that ended his 2013 season, rushing for 238 yards and eight scores. He also completed 10 of 14 passes for 67 yards and three touchdowns. Considering Cutcliffe’s history and Sirk’s promising performance so far, he’s a quarterback to watch closely in 2015.

 

11. Terrel Hunt, Syracuse

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

 

Hunt’s 2014 season was cut short by a leg injury in Syracuse’s 28-6 loss to Louisville in early October. Prior to the leg injury, Hunt was off to a slow start and only had one touchdown pass on 83 completions. He also completed 57.2 percent of his passes and finished with 983 yards. Hunt’s mobility is a good asset for Syracuse’s offense, and the senior has 792 yards on the ground over the last two years. The Orange has to find a spark on offense, and Hunt’s return could be what this unit needs after averaging just 17.1 points per game in 2014.

 

12. Matt Johns, Virginia

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

 

In a bit of a surprise, Johns edged ahead of Greyson Lambert for Virginia’s starting quarterback spot this spring. Johns played in all 12 games and recorded three starts in 2014 and finished with 1,109 passing yards and eight scores. It’s a limited sample size, but Johns added some punch to the passing attack last year by connecting on seven plays – one more than Lambert had in nine starts – of 30 yards or more.

 

13. John Wolford, Wake Forest

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

Wolford was thrown into the fire as a true freshman last season. And all things considered, it wasn’t a bad debut for Wolford. The supporting cast was a huge question mark for the Demon Deacons last year, as the rushing attack averaged just 1.3 yards per carry, while the line allowed 48 sacks (the most in the nation). Wolford finished 2014 with 2,037 yards and 12 touchdowns and completed 58.3 percent of his passes. The supporting cast remains a question mark, but the sophomore should be better in his second as a starter.

 

14. Darius Wade, Boston College

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

 

With only eight career pass attempts and experience in three games, Wade enters 2015 at the bottom of the ACC quarterback rankings. However, there’s plenty of promise with the sophomore in his first year as Boston College’s starter. Wade earned Delaware’s 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year honors and was a three-star recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite. Wade is a good fit in Boston College’s offense, but he is also working behind a line that lost all five starters and throwing to a receiving corps that needs more playmakers to emerge.  

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