There are plenty of rising stars to watch in the ACC this year, but based on past performances, some have a better chance of actually making an impact this fall than others. You know who the veterans are. Here’s a look at some of the ACC’s top underclassmen and true freshmen to watch this year:
Underclassmen to watch
1. Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State: Joyner was a reserve cornerback as a true freshman last year, but coach Jimbo Fisher has been raving about Joyner’s move to safety, which was his natural position in high school. Some thought Joyner was a bit undersized to play safety, but he excelled at it this spring and emerged as the starter heading into the fall.
2. D.J. Green, LB, NC State: The true sophomore moved from safety to strongside linebacker during spring practices and earned the starting job heading into summer camp. Last year he was one of the Wolfpack’s top playmakers on special teams, but also played in eight games as a safety. Against Boston College, Green scored a touchdown when he fell on a blocked punt.
3. Tre Boston, S, North Carolina: He was forced to play as a true freshman last year, and this spring moved from corner to free safety. He played in 10 games last year and started four, but his season was derailed when he sprained his ankle against Miami and missed the next three games. Still, he finished the season with 32 tackles, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and an interception. Three starters must be replaced in the secondary this fall, so there’s plenty of opportunity for Boston to make a name for himself.
Impact freshmen to watch
1. Mike Bellamy, RB, Clemson: This true freshman is one who could definitely have an immediate impact, especially with the early departure of Jamie Harper to the NFL. Bellamy was ranked the No. 72 player in the nation by ESPN Recruiting, and the No. 6 running back in his recruiting class. He had 7,329 rushing yards and 110 touchdowns in his high school career. He averaged 8.7 yards per carry in high school.
2. Thomas Finnie, CB, Miami: The Miami Central grad enrolled in January and was good enough this past spring to be listed as a starter on coach Al Golden’s first two depth charts. He had 45 tackles and one interception as a high school senior. He originally committed to South Carolina, but switched to Miami after meeting Golden and the staff. He entered the summer No. 2 on the depth chart behind senior JoJo Nicolas.
3. Karlos Williams, S, Florida State: There’s no telling how much playing time he might actually see as a true freshman, but the Seminoles’ top recruit from the 2011 class is certainly talented enough to make an immediate contribution. He's a proven run-stopper who can hit like a linebacker and cover like a DB. At 6-foot-2, he can cover a lot of ground.