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10 Most Dangerous Players Clemson Will Face in 2018

Boston College Eagles RB AJ Dillon

Boston College Eagles RB AJ Dillon

Clemson will no longer have to tangle with Lamar Jackson or Derwin James. Wake Forest's John Wolford has moved on and so has nearly all of NC State's front seven. Needless to say, those departures do not break Dabo Swinney's heart.

NC State Wolfpack QB Ryan Finley

But the Clemson head man still has plenty of challenges facing him this fall. Several opponents return high-quality quarterbacks and the Tigers will have to contain game-changers on both sides of the ball.

Here is a list of the 10 most dangerous players on Clemson's upcoming schedule.

1. AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College

The sophomore out of Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, is not your traditional game-breaker with blazing speed. No, the 6-foot, 245-pound Dillon will punish defenses, wearing them down as the game goes on. In the last seven games of 2017, Dillon put up Heisman numbers, rushing for 1,256 yards and 12 touchdowns.

2. Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Akers was not as consistent as Dillon, but Florida State's running back had a 1,000-yard freshman campaign and is poised for bigger results in year two. The top running back in 2017 recruiting class, Akers' next step is to be more productive against top competition.

3. Ryan Finley, QB, NC State

In his two years in Raleigh, Finley (above, right) has been extremely productive with a 63 percent completion rate and 35 touchdown passes compared to just 14 interceptions. With key losses on both sides of the ball, the Wolfpack staff will ask more of the fifth-year senior and his favorite target, Kelvin Harmon.

4. TaQuon Marshall, QB, Georgia Tech

As a Paul Johnson quarterback, Marshall is not a huge passing threat, though Virginia Tech will attest that when he does connect with his receivers, big plays can occur. What Marshall does exceptionally well is run the Jackets' option-oriented attack and create offense on the ground. The senior had 1,146 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground in 2017.

5. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

There is some projecting with Francois, as he missed virtually all of 2017 with a knee injury after a solid freshman season in 2016. He has to prove that he has recovered but he showed enough promise in year one to make most believe that he will be one of the ACC's best signal-callers.

6. Zach Allen, DE, Boston College

Allen had 100 tackles in 2017, second among defensive linemen trailing only Stanford's Harrison Phillips. He is only the fourth defensive lineman in the last 10 years to register a triple-digit tackle season. The senior also had six sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss, meaning that he can put other teams in bad down and distance situations.

7. Jaylen Smith, WR, Louisville

The Pascagoula, Mississippi, product had a huge junior season, catching 60 passes for 980 yards and seven touchdowns in just 10 games. Smith's 98 receiving yards per game ranked ninth in the nation. It will be interesting to see how he responds as the main attraction in an offense now guided by Jawon Pass.

8. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

Despite missing most of 2017 with an injury, Athlon Sports tabbed Samuel as a first-team, All-SEC perfomer. As a receiver, he gives Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley a big-play option on every snap. As a kick returner, he's one of the nation's best.

9. Landis Durham, DE, Texas A&M

After compiling just six total tackles during his first two years in College Station, Durham blew up as a junior. His 10.5 sacks led the team and placed eighth nationally. He had three two-sack games, including the Belk Bowl against Wake Forest.

10. Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse

Dungey has had some injury issues during his time at Syracuse, but when he has been on the field he has been a force. Last year he averaged 277 yards passing in his nine starts, one of which was an upset of Clemson in the Carrier Dome on Oct. 13.

-- Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.