1) Boston College: Junior Running back Montel Harris
He’s a durable back who can pound the ball between the tackles or bust it outside and take it the distance. Last season, Harris amassed 1243 yards and broke the century mark in each of BC’s last six games (he almost broke 200 yards in two of those games)! There were only 4 games in which Harris didn’t score for the Golden Eagles, and each one those resulted in a loss. BC has to keep giving this guy the rock. Harris will be a key contributor towards BC’s success in 2011. The BC running back needs only 1006 more yards before he can claim the ACC career rushing record.
2) Clemson: Sophomore Quarterback Tajh Boyd
QB Kyle Parker is gone, so now it’s time for Tajh Boyd to step up and produce. In scrub time last season, Boyd completed only 52.4% of his passes while also tossing in 4 TDs. Repetition will be the key, but Boyd should benefit from having 8 returning starters around him on offense. Look for Boyd to go to his big targets, DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown.
3) Miami: Senior Quarterback Jacory Harris
Jacory Harris is out to prove his doubters wrong in 2011. Statistically his completion percentages have been on a downward trend ever since becoming a starter at Miami. However Harris hopes to improve on those numbers under Al Golden’s new system. He’s been the leader of this team for a while now but last season he stumbled under all that pressure. A lot of the mistakes and INTs he made in ’10 weren’t from lack of skill, instead it was a result of him trying to do too much.
4) Virginia: The Defense
Despite this team surrendering close to 400 yards of total offense in ’10, I believe this group will be a much-improved squad. Senior DTs Matt Conrath and Nick Jenkins are not only big imposing forces, but they’re also experienced at their positions. The secondary is also deep and features ALL-ACC CB Chase Minnifield. The dude is a ball hawk; he pulled in 6 INTs last season.
5) Virginia Tech: Junior Running back David Wilson
I’m interested to see how tailback David Wilson handles the running back duties since Darren Evans decided to leave early for the NFL. Virginia Tech is widely known for its quarterbacks, but believe it or not VT has been home to some of the best rushers in college football for the past decade or so. Names such as: Lee Suggs, Kevin Jones, Mike Imoh, and Ryan Williams come to mind. Virtually the entire o-line returns this season and Wilson will definitely benefit from that. I believe Wilson is an effective enough runner to take the pressure off of new QB Logan Thomas. Look for Wilson to crack 1000 yards in 2011.