Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer 497d

Who will be ACC's 1,000-yard rushers in 2016?

Seven 1,000-yard rushers from last season return to the ACC in 2016, making this one of the strongest, deepest positions in the league.

But they are not the only players with the potential to hit 1,000 yards. Here is a look at the players who could hit that mark, starting with the most likely.

1. Dalvin Cook, Florida State: Cook led the league in rushing last season with 1,691 yards despite missing parts of several games with various injuries. Cook had offseason shoulder surgery but is expected to be completely healthy when 2016 season begins. With Heisman buzz starting to swirl, an even bigger year is anticipated. Perhaps 2,000 yards could be in the cards.

2. Wayne Gallman, Clemson: Gallman set a school season record for rushing last year with 1,527 yards. He turned down an opportunity to leave school for the NFL draft to return for one more season. It should be worth it.

3. Elijah Hood, North Carolina: Hood finished with 1,463 yards last season and averaged 6.7 yards per carry -- second in the league behind Cook. With one of the strongest offensive lines in the ACC returning, Hood should be a shoo-in for a second consecutive 1,000-yard season.

4. Deshaun Watson, Clemson: No distinction on this list between running backs and quarterbacks: just going with potential 1,000-yard rushers. Given the way Watson finished the season (719 of his 1,105 yards rushing came in the final seven games), it's not a stretch to imagine he'll do it again.

5. James Conner, Pitt: Conner won ACC Player of the Year honors in 2014 after rushing for 1,765 yards but missed last season with a knee injury, then spent the offseason fighting cancer. Conner has set his return for the season opener, and the anticipation is that he will quickly return to the form that allowed him to dominate.

6. Travon McMillian, Virginia Tech: McMillian became the first Virginia Tech running back to clear 1,000 yards since David Wilson in 2011. There is no reason to believe he will fall below that mark in 2016, considering the revamped offense and what should be an improved offensive line.

7. Joe Yearby, Miami: New Miami coach Mark Richt has gotten the most out of his running backs at Georgia, so seeing Yearby rush for 1,000 yards last year builds faith that he can do it again. But the Canes might rely more on Gus Edwards in the backfield, and that could end up leading to more split carries among the backs. Mark Walton, who remains suspended indefinitely, could be a factor as well.

8. Matt Dayes, NC State: Dayes came close to reaching 1,000 yards last year before a foot injury ended his season with five games left. The Wolfpack are deep and talented at the position, but Dayes is the veteran leader of the group and could finally hit the mark he has wanted to reach since he arrived on campus.

9. Lamar Jackson, Louisville: Jackson ended up with 960 yards rushing and 11 rushing touchdowns as a true freshman quarterback. He had 412 yards on the ground alone in the final two games of the season. Now entering 2016 as a starter, it's pretty easy to imagine Jackson will be able to find an extra 40 yards somewhere to get to 1,000.

10. Jon Hilliman, Boston College: The Eagles had 1,000-yard rushers in each of Steve Addazio's first two seasons but injuries took a toll on the backfield last year. Hilliman only played in four games after breaking his foot, but he is healthy and will have a great shot at 1,000 yards in the type of run-offense Addazio favors.

11. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech: Thomas had over 1,000 yards rushing in 2014 when the Jackets made the Orange Bowl. But last season was a step back for him, the Jackets and the offense thanks to youth and injuries. The supporting cast will be much more experienced. If the offensive line can return to form, Thomas could get back to 1,000 yards.

12. Qadree Ollison, Pitt: The ACC's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 replaced Conner in the lineup and ran for 1,121 yards -- fourth in the league. There's nothing that says Conner and Ollison can't each get to 1,000 yards in 2016. Gallman and Watson both got there last season. With the returning offensive line and the run-first mentality, there should be plenty of opportunities to go around.

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