ACC Spotlight: Position battles to watch
Position battles in spring football are always of interest to fans. Here’s a look at six key position battles in the ACC.
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I would do wide receiver here but Justyn Ross is expected back and he will lead the way. The battle to replace Travis Etienne intrigues me more as Lyn-J Dixon is the expected starter but he’s being pushed by Kobe Pace and others, and of course you have coveted freshman Will Shipley in the mix. It will likely take more than one player to replace Etienne.
North Carolina RB
I was also tempted to go wide receiver here as well but how can you avoid the running back position? Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are both high draft picks and one of the best duos in ACC history. Ty Chandler enters the picture as the player expected to carry the torch and reports are good out of the spring for him. British Brooks and Josh Henderson were the leading rushers from the RB position after Williams and Carter but they only had 99 and 61 yards respectively.
The defensive end position will need addressing but I’m more intrigued by QB2 behind D’Eriq King as he returns from injury in the bowl game. N’Kosi Perry is gone so Tyler Van Dyke and incoming freshman Jake Garcia will be battling to see who backs up King, which will be important as he’s been injury prone.
Replacing TuTu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick will not be easy even coming off a horrible season. Braden Smith was very good last season and will try to fill Atwell’s shoes while Justin Marshall shows promise replacing Fitzpatrick.
Former Georgia Southern QB Shai Werts is an intriguing athlete who is adjusting to a move to wide receiver well. This is a work in progress and many will need to step up to replace the 89 catches Atwell and Fitzpatrick had last season.
Virginia Tech RB
Khalil Herbert stepped up last year and was a huge part of the offense. Now with Herbert gone players such as Raheem Blackshear, Jalen Holston, Keshawn King and Marco Lee will try to emerge as the lead guy.
Each brings a different skillset to the table and it will likely be running back by committee to replace Herbert, although Blackshear showed some great signs last season.
Florida State DB
Asante Samuel and Hamsah Nasirildeen are key pieces gone from the FSU defensive backfield but transfers will help. Jammie Robinson and Brandon Moore are expected to plug in the holes and the depth in the secondary looks promising. And keep an eye on freshman corner Kevin Knowles II, who is expected to pick things up quickly.