Former Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor was a game-changer -- his ability to scramble in the final two minutes of the game is the reason the Hokies beat Nebraska, 16-15 in 2009. Former North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates almost single-handedly beat Florida State last year. And former NC State linebacker Nate Irving caused the fumble that changed the Florida State game -- and the Atlantic Division race.
Those were only a few of the ACC’s 2010 impact players.
Out with the old, in with the new.
With more than half of the conference introducing new quarterbacks, the ACC’s biggest impact player could be a first-year starter. Defensively, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is a wrecking ball and has the ability to disrupt the passing game, force fumbles and instinctively find the ball. Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel has already proven to be an impact player, as he was the 2009 Gator Bowl MVP, and he led the Noles to a win over South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. But can he do it in the ACC championship game this year? Miami running back Lamar Miller was arguably the ACC’s impact performer of the entire spring, and Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has little choice but to fill the role if the Hokies are going to defend their Coastal Division title. North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples was one of the best linemen in the ACC last year, and should be even better playing his natural position this fall. He could be this year’s version of Da’Quan Bowers.