The 2013 signing class has already made its mark on the ACC, from Tyler Boyd and Stacy Coley shining on offense to Jalen Ramsey and Kendall Fuller starring on defense to Ryan Switzer racking up All-American honors on special teams. But for most players, the transition from high school to college takes a little time, and it’s not until Year 2 that they truly shine. With that in mind, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the best candidates for second-year stardom in the conference -- the players who didn’t quite hit the big time as true freshmen but are poised for a breakthrough in 2014.
First up: Boston College
Class recap: Steve Addazio’s first signing class at Boston College didn’t crack ESPN’s top 75, and no member of the signing class earned a starting job as a true freshman.
Second-year star: RB Myles Willis (5-9/192)
Recruiting stock: Willis was a three-star prospect rated as ESPN’s No. 94 athlete in the 2013 class and was the top-ranked member of BC’s signing class.
2013 in review: The backbone of Boston College’s 2013 season was running back Andre Williams, and his 2,177 yards rushing didn’t leave much room for Willis. Still, the true freshman carried 60 times for 346 yards (both second on the team) and his two best rushing performances (77 yards vs. NC State, 70 yards vs. Syracuse) came in BC’s final four games.
2014 potential: Williams is gone to the NFL, but Boston College still wants to run the ball. That’s good news for Willis, who figures to be in line for a sizable increase in carries. He’s not alone in the backfield competition, but his speed and ability to catch the ball make him a dynamic weapon. BC’s offense will undergo a major overhaul from a year ago, but Willis has the tools to be a major part of the new-look Eagles.
Also watch for: Willis’ backfield mate Tyler Rouse projects to see more work this year, too. And on defense, Matt Milano played in all 13 games a year ago, largely at safety. He had a strong spring practice, and Addazio said Milano could be a great fit this year in a nickel/strongside linebacker role.