ACC's best backups: No. 5

Last season, Florida State won a national championship, while its leader in takeaways (Nate Andrews), yards per carry (Karlos Williams) and yards per touch (Kermit Whitfield) combined to start just one game. In the current landscape of college football, talent at the top is crucial, but depth is often what separates the best teams. With that in mind, we're counting down the ACC's best backups -- players who weren't starters last year and aren't currently penciled in atop the depth chart, but who could make a major impact in 2014.

No. 5: Taquan Mizzell (RB, Virginia)

Career numbers: 45 carries, 184 yards, 1 TD; 29 receptions, 164 yards, 1 TD; 21 kick returns, 347 yards

Projected 2014 role: Backup to Kevin Parks. The Cavaliers return their top-two rushers from a year ago, in Parks (1,031 yards) and Khalek Shepherd (304). Still, Mizzell looks poised to have a much bigger role in 2014, especially as he is fully healthy after missing two games last season because of an ankle injury. He ran track this spring and has shown much more maturity going into his sophomore year. With yet another new quarterback taking the reins in Greyson Lambert, and with former starter David Watford and his mobility not currently in the picture, the running backs could help open things up early. This is a deep and capable backfield, and Mizzell would seem to have the brightest long-term future of anyone.

Why he matters: Mizzell is one of the many blue-chip in-state talents that head coach Mike London has landed in recent years. The four-star prospect from Virginia Beach was the Hoos' only recruit of their 22-man haul from 2013 to be ranked in the ESPN300. The No. 9 back in the nation and the No. 75 player overall, the man nicknamed "Smoke" starred in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl after rushing for more than 3,500 yards in his prep career. He is extremely versatile, as evidenced by his production last season in both the passing game and as a kick returner. London often ran Mizzell with the first-team during spring practices to see how he'd perform with a bigger workload. And the foray into track during his first college offseason definitely should not hurt, either. With Mizzell at full-speed, Virginia's offense has the chance to reach another gear.