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: Louisville
Class recap: Charlie Strong’s final recruiting class at Louisville was a solid one, the No. 43 class in the country. The class included seven four-star recruits, but none saw any regular playing time as freshmen. The biggest impact came from linebacker Keith Kelsey, who finished 10th on the team with 24 tackles.
Second-year star: WR James Quick (6-foot-2, 171 pounds)
Recruiting stock: A hometown signee from Louisville’s Trinity High, Quick was the top-rated player in the Cardinals’ 2013 class. Quick was ranked No. 79 in the ESPN 300 and was the No. 10 receiver.
2013 in review: In spite of his recruiting pedigree and Louisville roots, Quick didn’t immediately win much support from the previous coaching staff. He appeared in nine games, caught just six passes for 73 yards and was, for the most part, a non-factor despite the fact that Louisville threw routinely and had 10 different players record at least 14 receptions.
2014 potential: There’s no question Quick has talent, but last season, he was both underutilized and underprepared. He couldn’t win over his coaches in Year 1, but there’s a new staff at Louisville for 2014. Quick has had a year on the sidelines to both refine his game and get a taste of just how big the jump from high school to college can be for a receiver -- even a hometown kid with star potential. New coach Bobby Petrino may be the perfect antidote to Quick’s freshman-year struggles. Petrino has made a career out of designing big-play offenses, and the first hints of what could be in store came this spring, when Quick excelled in the new system. He ran with the first-team offense in Louisville’s spring game, caught a 62-yard TD pass from Will Gardner early and finished the day with five receptions for a game-high 152 yards. With an established veteran in DeVante Parker around to hog the attention of defenses, there figures to be ample room for Quick to emerge in 2014 and meet the lofty expectations he arrived with a year earlier.
Also watch for: Louisville lost both starting safeties, but Chucky Williams appears ready to step in and fill some of the void. He had a strong spring, culminating with an interception in the spring game. Stacy Thomas will be in the mix for one of the starting outside linebacker positions as the Cardinals adapt to new coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme. Grantham made stars of Justin Houston and Jarvis Jones in similar roles at Georgia.