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August 5, 2013
ACC: Newcomers who could make impact
Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
The newly aligned ACC signed five of the 33 prospects from the class of 2013 who were rated five-star players in the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour.
Now that fall camps are in full swing, it is up to players to shed the recruit ranking and earn their positions on the two-deeps. Only Florida State has multiple players from last year's elite list, and it will be difficult for either player to make an impact.
Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy defensive back Jalen Ramsey and Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas were the headliners of the Seminoles class, but with depth at both positions there are many who feel the two will have to wait their turn, play special teams or get mop-up time in early contests.
Despite a built talent bed, there are other newcomers to the roster who may have a more immediate impact.
Four-star receiver Levonte Whitfield from Orlando (Fla.) Jones is looking like he may gain time as a return man -- especially on punt returns. The Seminoles rotated in three players last season, and all struggled mightily.
Fellow four-star DeMarcus Walker could be in line to see playing time on the second unit. The No. 57 player in the country last season from Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood figures to benefit from the program losing three defensive ends to the NFL draft.
As the college football season approaches, Rivals.com will break down the conferences across the country to see which five true freshmen or junior college transfers could have the biggest impact.
ACC: NEWCOMERS WHO COULD MAKE AN IMPACT
Recruiting ranking: Four stars. No. 7-ranked cornerback and No. 42 overall in Rivals100.
Buzz: One of the biggest attributes that Alexander has always displayed is an incredible level of competitiveness to go with his obvious skill set. He has a real chance to earn a starting position in the secondary, and he could be one of the best young corners in the country. He separated himself during all-America game competition for his coverage skills and toughness. He understands the game well and will work off the field to improve his game.
Recruiting rankings: Three stars. No. 79-ranked wide receiver; unranked nationally.
Buzz: Barnes quickly has earned a reputation as a confident if not cocky player for the Blue Devils. He has been assertive in practice, and he wants the ball. He has explosiveness and quickness that has drawn the attention of quarterback Anthony Boone. The coaching staff has grown very high on Barnes, and there is trust growing across the board. He has a mentality that he wants to be the best and he wants to get better, which will serve him well.
Recruiting rankings: High School: Four stars. No. 45-ranked wide receiver. Prep: Four stars. JUCO: Five stars.
Buzz: Long has taken a winding road to surface with Maryland. From high school, he committed to West Virginia before going to Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. He went to New Mexico for a year before heading to Council Bluffs (Iowa) Iowa Western Community College. At Maryland, he is expected to be a major boost to the receiving unit alongside former five-star Stefon Diggs. The former No. 1 player in the class of 2013 JUCO Top 100 has been clocked with a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash time, and he totaled 100 receptions, 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns last season while playing in the fourth quarter only twice. He is the first JUCO player to earn a fifth star since Cam Newton did it in 2010, and his impact is expected to be tremendous on an offense that often needed another piece as it shuffled through injured quarterbacks last season.
Recruiting rankings: Five stars. No. 1-ranked all-purpose back and No. 29 overall in Rivals100.
Buzz: After Cavaliers running backs averaged an awful 3.87 yards per carry last season, there is plenty of anticipation that Mizzell will make a major and immediate impact. Former four-star Clifton Richardson transferred out of the program after spring practice, which will only clear the path for Mizzell. New offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild worked with Marshall Faulk at San Diego State and with the St. Louis Rams, and he figures to deploy the talented and elusive back in plenty of situations. If Mizzell isn't named the starter, he will see plenty of touches but will be asked to contribute on special teams, where he can be a gifted punt returner. With home games against BYU and Oregon to open the season, it could be a major jumping-off point to Mizzell's career.
Recruiting rankings: High School: Three stars. Prep: Three stars, No. 14-ranked prep school player.
Buzz: It is rare to have a true freshman start on the offensive line, let alone project do so at left tackle, but that may be the case for McLaughlin. After signing with East Carolina out of high school, McLaughlin went to prep school at Fork Union (Va.) Military and chose Virginia Tech. He has gained nearly 25 pounds of muscle since high school, and he has improved his footwork. While former five-star Kendall Fuller may work his way into the starting role at cornerback, it looks like McLaughlin will start from the opening game against Alabama.