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ACC position rankings: Secondary

With the start of college football season just weeks away, now is as good a time as any to unveil our preseason position rankings.

Today, we rank secondaries.

1. Florida State: The only question about Derwin James might be if he even falls under the limitations of the term "secondary," given his defensive versatility. Add in seasoned guys like Nate Andrews and Marquez White and you’ve got the best group of defensive backs in the ACC.

2. Louisville: Josh Harvey-Clemons leads a unit that brings back plenty of starting experience from a year ago, when the Cards tied for the ACC lead with 17 interceptions. Don’t sleep on junior college transfer Ronald Walker.

3. Boston College: The ACC’s best passing defense from 2015 brings back three starters, led by Isaac Yiadom and Will Harris. With a new coordinator and position coach, can the unit pick up where it left off?

4. Clemson: So much turnover keeps Clemson from rising higher here. Recent history keeps the Tigers from falling lower. Cordrea Tankersley could be an All-American cornerback. Safeties Jadar Johnson and Van Smith have earned praise in camp.

5. North Carolina: The combination of Des Lawrence and M.J. Stewart gives UNC arguably the best starting cornerbacks in the ACC. A second year under coordinator Gene Chizik should mean bigger things after a strong showing from the defensive backs in 2015.

6. Virginia Tech: A little bit of clarity to spring questions (Adonis Alexander, Brandon Facyson) boost the Hokies up a spot since then. The versatile Terrell Edmunds has by all accounts impressed plenty in fall camp.

7. Pitt: Having three starters back is helpful -- especially when one of those three is do-it-all safety Jordan Whitehead. Having a great coach back there in coordinator Josh Conklin is especially beneficial, too.

8. Miami: The Canes get a bump up a couple of spots since the spring, as the defensive backs have impressed Mark Richt during fall camp. Miami struggled against the pass last season, but has enough promising underclassmen -- combined with several returning senior starters like Corn Elder and Rayshawn Jenkins -- to make some early improvements under a new staff.

9. Duke: The Blue Devils really struggled in the back end last season, but with so much experience returning -- led by DeVon Edwards -- it is reasonable to expect a jump in 2016.

10. Virginia: Cornerback is a concern, but any group that has to play alongside a safety as good as Quin Blanding (along with returning starter Kelvin Rainey) is prone to questions. The Hoos need to force more turnovers, though.

11. NC State: A solid season from the Juston Burris-led secondary last year sets a high bar for this group, but Dravious Wright and Jack Tocho provide a nice start back there.

12. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets get a slight bump here from the spring as well, if only because Paul Johnson doesn’t sound too harsh right now on a group breaking in four new starters. It also helps that four of the five expected regulars are upperclassmen with reserve experience.

13. Wake Forest: The Deacs ranked sixth in pass defense in the ACC last season, and though that might be a tough feat to duplicate, they do have this going for them: Ryan Janvion is really, really good.

14. Syracuse: A new coach and a new scheme should mean improvement for a young unit that struggled last season. One big difference from now since the immediate aftermath of the spring? Corey Winfield and Chauncey Scissum are back at it for the Orange.