We're counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this week -- five players per day -- ranking the league's elite based on a combination of what they've done already and what we expect to see from them in 2015.
We've gone through the entire list, with some impressive names already showing up. Now, it's time for the top five.
There’s no part of the job of running back that Conner didn’t do well last season. He was a workhorse (23 carries per game). He was a big-play machine (51 runs of 10-plus yards). He thrived near the end zone (26 TD runs). He rarely got caught in the backfield (12.8 percent runs for loss/no gain, 11th in Power 5). He was exceptional on third down (71.9 percent conversion rate, sixth in Power 5). He opened things up for his quarterback (7.8 YPA, fourth in ACC). Conner was the complete package, and he’s a worthy recipient of the top spot in our countdown.
There might not be a player in college football with as much potential this year as Watson, but three serious injuries in his first year at Clemson have tempered the enthusiasm. Still, project his 2014 stats (68 percent completions, 19 TDs, 2 INT, 10.7 yards/attempt) over a full season, and he'd easily be in Heisman Trophy contention. He insists he's healthy now, and Watson has myriad weapons at his disposal in what could be one of the nation's best offenses in 2015.
In his college debut, Ramsey became the first FSU true freshman to start at cornerback since Deion Sanders, and while he's stylistically a much different player, his talent warrants those comparisons. Last season at safety, he was the leader of FSU's defense, and he finished with 80 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 14 passes defended -- the only Power 5 defender to hit each of those marks.
In his two seasons at Virginia Tech, Fuller has racked up eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups, putting him among the elite corners in college football. While coordinator Bud Foster puts plenty of pressure on his corners, Fuller responded by helping Virginia Tech's secondary to allow the lowest completion percentage (47.7) of any team in the country.
It's not that coach Paul Johnson's offense didn't hum along nicely during his first six years at Georgia Tech, but once Thomas was added as the conductor in 2014, the Yellow Jackets' option reached a new level. With Thomas at the helm, Tech ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing, yards per play and TD rate. And while the ground game was tremendous as usual, Thomas helped Tech to its best passing season under Johnson, throwing 18 TD passes -- seven more than any other Yellow Jackets quarterback since 2008.