No. 7. Sylvester Williams, DT, UNC
2012 stats: He finished with 42 tackles (21 solo), including 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and had six quarterback hurries.
Previous ranking: NR
Making the case for Williams: Williams, a first-team all-ACC selection by both the coaches and the media, was one of the ACC’s best stories of perseverance. He enrolled at Carolina in January 2011, after two seasons at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. Following high school, Williams thought his playing days were over. He got a job at Modine Manufacturing Company making radiator parts for large trucks before enrolling at Coffeyville. While at UNC, he established himself as one of the country’s best interior linemen and graduated in December. He was ranked among the top 50 players in the country in tackles for losses. He played through an ankle sprain midway through the season and still ended the year on a positive note. He had two tackles and a tackle for loss against Maryland in the season finale. A week earlier, in a nationally-televised Thursday night game at Virginia, Williams had a career-high eight stops, two tackles for losses and a 10-yard sack.