Three ACC players who posted double-digit sacks in 2015 return this season. So naturally, they make our list of players projected to get 10 or more sacks. Let’s take a look at who else has that potential, starting with the most likely first.
Devonte Fields, Louisville -- Fields posted 11 sacks in his first season at Louisville, getting them all in the final seven games after finally getting into football shape and completely grasping the defense. He turned down a chance to enter the NFL and now has an opportunity for an even bigger season.
DeMarcus Walker, Florida State -- Walker "quietly" posted 10.5 sacks for Florida State last season, emerging as one of the top defensive ends in the league with little fanfare. He also turned down a chance to enter the NFL draft to anchor what should be one of the best defensive lines in the ACC.
Ejuan Price, Pitt -- Price got a sixth season of eligibility, and that is great news for the Panthers given the way he flourished in Pat Narduzzi’s aggressive defensive scheme a year ago. Price finished third in the ACC with 11.5 sacks, and more of the same will be expected from the team’s veteran playmaker. Keep an eye on Matt Galambos too.
Ken Ekanem, Virginia Tech -- Ekanem did not have as many sacks in 2015 as he did the year before, and he was frustrated with the end result. So he rededicated himself in the offseason to improving his pass-rush skills and is eager to show he can post double-digit sacks to help out a young, inexperienced defensive line.
Christian Wilkins, Clemson -- It is rare to see defensive tackles rack up double-digit sacks (Aaron Donald and Jay Bromley were the last ACC players to do it, in 2013), but Wilkins is a rare combination of size, speed, athleticism and versatility. He played some end in the spring and will be used all along the Tigers’ front. If he doesn’t get there, Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell will no doubt be in the mix. Clemson has had at least one player reach double-digit sacks in five of the last six seasons.
Harold Landry, Boston College -- The Eagles no longer have defensive coordinator Don Brown, but it would be foolish to think they are going to go away from what they do best: attack. Landry ended up with 4.5 sacks last year, but has the capability of getting to 10-plus entering his junior season. Also keep an eye on Matt Milano.
Bradley Chubb, NC State -- The departed Mike Rose tied for fifth in the ACC with 10.5 sacks a year ago, and the Wolfpack are looking for somebody to fill those shoes. Enter Chubb, who had 5.5 sacks in 2015 in his first year playing defensive end, while ranking second on the team with 69 tackles.
Micah Kiser, Virginia -- Over the last few years, the Hoos have gotten major sack contributions from their linebackers. Kiser had 7.5 a season ago and will be relied upon to be a guiding force on the defense. One of the more intriguing players to watch could be Andrew Brown, now playing defensive end. He has one career sack, but the move outside should benefit him and the defense.
Quan Muhammad, Miami -- The last time the Hurricanes had a player reach double-digit sacks was in 2006, when they had two (Calais Campbell, Kareem Brown). Since then, they have struggled to get after the quarterback. I am going on a limb to say that changes this year under defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski will change that at least to some degree.