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Top 25 player countdown: No. 25

7/26/2011

It's that time of year again.

The time when you throw things at your computer screen, wondering how and why I could have possibly ranked this guy over that guy and left that guy off. The time when you argue amongst yourselves about who the best player in the ACC will be this year until it's finally revealed at the end of the countdown.

Let the anticipation begin today.

A reminder: These rankings are NOT based on NFL projections. They are based on past production and future collegiate potential. Period. Truth is, it's an impossible list. I started with a draft of about 40 players. We're comparing offensive linemen with corners. When you wonder how a player could have been left off of this list (and there are some big names you won't find here), do me a favor and make your own list and then tell me which player I have that you would bump. It's not easy, trust me. But after much consideration, here is your No. 25:

No. 25. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State

2010 numbers: He played in 10 games and started two and completed 65 of 93 pass attempts for four touchdowns, four interceptions and 861 yards. He also ran the ball 41 times for 170 yards and a touchdown. He led FSU in completion percentage (69.9) and passing efficiency (153.25).

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Manuel: There’s a very good chance that Florida State will win the ACC title and Manuel will be named the ACC’s Player of the Year. But given his limited playing time, he’s going to have to earn his way up this list. Manuel isn’t a true rookie, as he started four games in 2009, was the Gator Bowl MVP and led the Noles to a win over South Carolina last year in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. He also started against Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game. At 6-foot-5 he has a good pocket presence, and he can also run. He is 4-2 as Florida State’s starter, and he has earned the confidence of everyone within the program and has been an impressive leader off the field as well. But whether or not the Seminoles live up to the hype this season depends heavily upon how Manuel fares in his first season as full-time starter.