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ACC Football: 10 Toughest Players to Replace in 2020

ACC Football: 10 Toughest Players to Replace in 2020

ACC Football: 10 Toughest Players to Replace in 2020

Outside of Clemson, it wasn’t a stellar football season in the ACC. But the good news is that attrition will not hit the conference as hard as it will other leagues. Stars like Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Gregory Rousseau, and Jaylen Twyman will be back at their respective schools.

It's college football, so ACC programs will naturally have to deal with personnel losses. Here are the 10 ACC players whose departures will hurt the most.

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

We all know that Clemson recruits freakish athletes every year. But Simmons's level of freakdom is on a different level. No one player can replicate what he brought to the table, as this season's ACC Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus Award recipient developed into one of the most versatile defensive players college football has seen in several years.

Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia

The senior quarterback was the driving force behind Virginia’s run to the ACC Coastal title and the resulting Orange Bowl appearance. Brennan Armstrong will be given the first chance to claim the job during spring drills, and while he is a dual-threat option, it’s unlikely that he will be as electric as Perkins.

Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Louisville will return much of its skill position talent next fall, but the Cardinals are losing a huge portion of their offense with Becton heading to the NFL. The massive left tackle has top-five overall pick ability and the Cards will also need a replacement for right tackle Tyler Haycraft.

Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Despite serious issues along the offensive line over the past three years, Akers still ran for over 1,000 yards twice and had 18 total touchdowns in 2019. Plus, running back is not a position where FSU has knocked it out of the park on the recruiting trail, so they will now be relying on unheralded prospects and incoming freshman Lawrance Toafili.

Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami

And Michael Pinckney. The duo started for the Canes for all four years and combined for 623 tackles, 88.5 of which resulted in lost yardage, and 26.5 sacks. Quarterman had over 80 tackles in each of his four seasons, topping out at 107 this past fall. Zach McCloud, who entered Miami with Quarterman and Pinckney, redshirted this year due to injury and therefore has one more season of eligibility.

AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College

The Eagles will have David Bailey back, and that should ease the blow a bit. But it’s tough to expect a lot more from Bailey than the 844 yards he had in 2019. So somewhere they will have to make up for the 1,685 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns that are leaving with Dillon.

Tanner Muse, S, Clemson

Cornerback A.J. Terrell may go higher in the NFL draft, but the loss of Muse is more impactful. First off, fellow safety K’Von Wallace is also out of eligibility and so is reserve Denzel Johnson. Beyond Nolan Turner, there is very little experience in Clemson’s 2020 secondary.

Charlie Heck, OT, North Carolina

The Tar Heels' offensive line was very young in 2019, but Heck was there to lead the way. Now, after five years in Chapel Hill, Heck’s time is up. Despite constant battles with injuries, the Kansas City product was always a solid force at left tackle.

Tremayne Anchrum, OT, Clemson

John Simpson or any of the four departing Clemson offensive linemen could be the choice here. But there is more depth on the interior, and Anchrum was a first-team All-ACC selection at the offensive line’s most important position.

Joe Reed, WR, Virginia

The loss of Perkins is just part of the reason that the Virginia passing game could be slowed in 2020. Reed, along with fellow senior Hasise Dubois, will be gone. Not only was Reed a first-team all-league performer as a wide receiver, he achieved those honors as a return man too.

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

(Top photo courtesy of @ClemsonFB)