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: Virginia Tech.
Class recap: The Hokies pulled in the No. 20 recruiting class in the nation, with four commitments from ESPN 300 players and 10 overall four-star prospects. Defensive backs Fuller and Brandon Facyson made an immediate impact, combining for 11 interceptions to help solidify the secondary. Fuller was the ACC Rookie of the Year and a first-team Freshman All-America selection; Facyson was a second-team Freshman All-America pick. Jonathan McLaughlin became the first true freshman to start the season opener at left tackle under Frank Beamer, and ended up starting all 13 games. But of the four ESPN 300 players signed, only two were with the team last season. Safety Holland Fisher went to Fork Union last year and will enroll at Virginia Tech this summer; Cequan Jefferson went the prep route and will now go to Temple.
Second-year star: OG Wyatt Teller.
Recruiting stock: ESPN Recruiting Nation rated Teller a four-star recruit out of high school, where he played on the defensive line. Teller started his Virginia Tech career on that side of the ball, but quickly moved to the offensive line during fall practice last year to help with depth concerns. He stayed on the offensive line and ended up redshirting.
2014 potential: Teller ended the spring as the starting left guard, as coaches were impressed with the athleticism he brings to the position. It's no secret the Hokies are in desperate need to shake up their offensive line after subpar results in the run game the last several seasons. Whether Teller ends up in the starting lineup remains to be seen, but it seems pretty clear Teller will provide much-needed help to this group.
Also watch for: DT Woody Baron played in all 13 games last year as a true freshman and will be expected to make major contributions this season at the spot Derrick Hopkins leaves behind. Baron missed spring after ankle surgery, but will be ready for fall practice. TE Kalvin Cline started seven games last season with 26 catches for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Coaches said this spring that tight end will be a much bigger point of emphasis in the offense this season. WR Carlis Parker is a speedster still learning the position, but he has great potential.