The 2013 signing class has already made its mark on the ACC, from Tyler Boyd and Stacy Coley shining on offense to Jalen Ramsey and Kendall Fuller starring on defense to Ryan Switzer racking up All-America honors on special teams. But for most players, the transition from high school to college takes a little time, and it’s not until Year 2 that they truly shine. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at the best candidates for second-year stardom in the conference -- the players who didn’t quite hit the big time as true freshmen, but are poised for a breakthrough in 2014.
See our previous projections here.
Next up: Syracuse
Class recap: After coach Doug Marrone left for the NFL, the 2013 signing class stumbled to the finish line and wasn't ranked among ESPN's top 75. Only a handful of true freshmen played regularly last season, including safety Darius Kelly and wide receiver Brisly Estime. Both started for the Orange in their Texas Bowl victory over Minnesota.
Second-year star: WR Brisly Estime (5-foot-9, 170 pounds)
Recruiting stock: A three-star speedster from Delray Beach, Fla., Estime was ranked as the No. 105 cornerback in the country by ESPN after playing both sides of the ball in high school. Syracuse recruited him as a receiver.
2013 in review: After a slow start to the season (eight catches through seven games), Estime found some traction down the stretch, including a nine-catch performance in a win over Wake Forest and five receptions in Syracuse’s bowl victory over Minnesota.
2014 potential: Estime’s speed was his strength as a freshman, but he might have become even faster this spring. He impressed enough during spring practice that Ashton Broyld was moved to the outside full time to make room for Estime in the slot. His route-running clearly improved as 2013 went along, and an offseason of reps with QB Terrel Hunt matched with Syracuse’s desire to run a more uptempo style in 2014 should mean big things for the diminutive receiver moving forward.
Also watch for: With Marquis Spruill gone, sophomore Marqez Hodge is in line for a starting role in the Syracuse linebacking corps this season, while redshirt freshman cornerback Chauncey Scissum could get playing time in the secondary, too.