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Ask Farrell: Which ACC freshmen will impress in 2020?

Bryan Bresee
Bryan Bresee (Nick Lucero/

No player from the 2019 class had a better first season in the ACC than North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell.

The former four-star quarterback who had been committed to Florida State before flipping to the Tar Heels when coach Mack Brown got the job threw for 3,641 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Howell, who starred at Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley, has set himself up as one of the best quarterbacks in college football next season and a bona fide Heisman Trophy contender if he can continue to put up such impressive numbers.

Although neither five-star receiver Joe Ngata nor four-star Frank Ladson put up huge numbers in Clemson’s offense as freshmen, the two are clearly the future stars in the Tigers’ passing attack. On the defensive side, defensive tackle Tyler Davis had an outstanding showing with 51 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

At Florida State, former five-star defensive back Akeem Dent was tied for second-place on the team in pass breakups.

MORE ASK FARRELL: Which Big Ten freshmen will impress in 2020?

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Across the conference, players from the 2019 class had a huge impact in the ACC. And so now we turn to 2020 and this upcoming season.

Clemson was the only team in the conference with any five-star commitments and the Tigers loaded up with five more. Defensive linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy, linebacker Trenton Simpson, running back Demarkcus Bowman and quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei could all be future stars.

But Clemson is not the only team that recruited well in the conference.

Miami had 13 four-stars to finish second in the ACC team rankings with safety Avantae Williams being the highest-ranked one as he was a National Signing Day shock when he picked the Hurricanes over Florida.

North Carolina did another excellent job in the 2020 class and four-star defensive ends Desmond Evans, Clyde Pinder and Kedrick Bingley-Jones among others lead the way.

We ask Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell to take a look across the 2020 class in the ACC and make predictions on some players who could have huge first seasons at their school and break down why he picked them.


"Any ACC talk has to start with Clemson and the Tigers have a ton of players who will make an immediate impact starting with the defensive line. Bresee and Murphy are too talented to sit on the bench. Offensively, I like EJ Williams, a polished receiver who will help the passing game.

"At Miami defensive back Avantae Williams will certainly make an impact and on offense one of the running backs — Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney — will be a key.

"Florida State will have one of its quarterbacks make an impact, most likely Chubba Purdy, while North Carolina will get a boost from defensive linemen Desmond Evans, Clyde Pinder and Kedrick Bingley-Jones, and wide receiver Joshua Downs will catch a ton of passes. Jahmyr Gibbs at Georgia Tech is another one to watch."