- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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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-America 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 look at the best candidates for second-year stardom in the conference -- the players who didn’t quite hit the big time as freshmen, but are poised for a breakthrough in 2014.
See our previous projections here.
Class recap: Despite extenuating circumstances, Al Golden brought in a terrific haul to Miami, landing the No. 15 recruiting class in the country, third overall in the ACC. The Hurricanes' class included eight ESPN 300 prospects and 10 four-star prospects. Coley made the biggest impact, scoring 10 touchdowns and totaling 1,461 all-purpose yards as a rusher, receiver and return man.
Second-year star: QB Kevin Olsen (6-foot-3, 210 pounds)
Recruiting stock: Olsen, the younger brother of former Hurricanes and current NFL tight end Greg Olsen, was Miami’s fifth-highest-rated recruit from the Class of 2013. He was a four-star prospect and the No. 5 overall quarterback among pocket-passing signal callers. He comes from Wayne Hills, New Jersey, where his father, Chris, coached for 26 years before retiring in 2013.
2013 in review: Olsen redshirted during his first year at Miami, working with the scout team as Stephen Morris manned the starting role under center for the Hurricanes.
2014 potential: Few second-year players in the ACC will get the kind of opportunity Olsen will next season. Starter Ryan Williams went down with an ACL tear during the spring, leaving Miami scrambling to find his replacement for the top job. Neither Olsen nor Gray Crow impressed during the spring game, but it will come down to them with the 2014 season approaching, with Olsen being the presumed front-runner. Olsen showed flashes of maturity issues as a rookie in Coral Gables and was left at home for the Russell Athletic Bowl in December. But he has to grow up fast now. His pedigree suggests he can do that, as he was the No. 3 player in the state of New Jersey for the Class of 2013 and possesses a strong pocket presence, capable of taking off on the run when things break down.
Also watch for: Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, another Jersey prospect, showed flashes of potential in 2013, notching two sacks and two quarterback hurries. Miami Northwestern prospect Artie Burns made his presence felt last year as a defensive back, picking off a pass, forcing a fumble and blocking a kick, and he returned 10 kicks for 261 yards.
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-America honors on special teams.