How the ACC's best players would be rated in Madden
Around this time next year, EA Sports plans to re-release its popular NCAA Football game. So, there is no better time than heading into the season to grade the top 10 most valuable players in each conference according to Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney, with a Madden-like score.
This is not judging the overall 10 best players but those who would score best on the video game.
We move on to the ACC.
97 - Myles Murphy, Clemson
Clemson’s defensive line is going to be freakishly good this season and Murphy might be the best of them all. The former five-star defensive end who finished fourth in the 2020 rankings behind Bryan Bresee, Bryce Young and DJ Uiagalelei totaled 43 tackles with 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks (both team highs) and there’s a feeling Murphy is just getting started.
96 - Sam Hartman, Wake Forest
This comes with an asterisk based on Wednesday's news this week that Hartman is out indefinitely with a non-football related medical condition. Hartman is expected to return at some point this season and if he does, expect big numbers. Not only is he going to throw it all over the yard but he’s going to take some chances and has a little gunslinger mentality in him. It’s fun to watch - and the Demon Deacons have been lighting up the scoreboard because of it. Hartman threw for 4,228 yards with 39 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season and let’s not forget the former three-star also rushed for a team-high 11 scores.
96 - Brennan Armstrong, Virginia
Armstrong returned to Virginia to throw the ball, so it’s expected the lefty will let it fly this season - maybe more than ever. The former three-star quarterback threw it 500 times last season for 4,449 yards with 31 TDs and 10 picks. What’s funny is Armstrong also led the Cavaliers with 98 carries and nine rushing scores. More to come.
96 - A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
A two-star coming out of high school, Perry has not only become Sam Hartman’s favorite target but one of the best and most productive receivers in the ACC. Last season, Perry finished with 71 catches for 1,293 yards and 15 touchdowns on a team with Jaquaril Roberson, who also had 71 receptions. Roberson is now gone, so Perry should be an even bigger target in Wake Forest’s offense.
94 - Bryan Bresee, Clemson
When we look back later in the season a score of 94 might be drastically low for Bresee, who is back healthy and should dominate along Clemson’s loaded defensive line. In only four games last season, the former No. 1 overall prospect in the 2020 class had three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and four quarterback pressures. Knowing Bresee’s fierce focus, a major season is ahead.
90 - Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia
Wicks might not be a household name. After all, he was third on the Cavaliers' roster in receptions last season, but he blew away his teammates with 1,203 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. There are plenty of reasons to believe the former low three-star receiver will have even more opportunities to load up on stats this season with Brennan Armstrong returning at quarterback and Tony Elliott now as coach.
90 - Josh Downs, North Carolina
No one in the ACC had more catches than Downs last season. Not former Pitt (now USC) receiver Jordan Addison, not anyone. The former high four-star receiver finished with 101 receptions for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns last season, but Downs also had quarterback Sam Howell throwing the ball to him. Howell is now in the NFL, so even though Downs’ numbers could end up higher the talent at QB in Chapel Hill is lower this season than when Howell was in charge.
88 - Malik Cunningham, Louisville
The Louisville quarterback is a stat machine. And while his throwing ability is sometimes not perfect, the numbers he puts up cannot be discounted. The former four-star had 2,941 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and six picks last season. By far, Cunningham’s rushing numbers are much more impressive as he had better numbers than a majority of starting running backs in the ACC with 1,031 rushing yards and a conference-high 20 rushing TDs, not only for quarterbacks but for all players.
86 - Devin Leary, NC State
Leading receiver Emeka Emezie is gone and so are his 60 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns. But a lot of NC State’s top receivers are returning and that should only benefit Leary, who threw for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns and five picks last season. That yardage was more than UNC’s Sam Howell, and Emezie had four more TD passes than Brennan Armstrong and 10 more than Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke.
82 - Sean Tucker, Syracuse
The former three-star has emerged as one of the best running backs nationally on a team that had sketchy quarterback and wide receiver play last season. That could bode even better for Tucker this season as the Orange are basically forced to rely on his speed and playmaking ability to move the ball downfield. He led the ACC with 1,496 rushing yards last season and if he at least matches those numbers this season it would be no surprise.