ACC: Andre Levrone

Second-year stars: Virginia

May, 16, 2014
May 16
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 true freshmen, but are poised for a breakthrough in 2014.

See our previous projections here.

[+] EnlargeTaquan Mizzell, Nick Miles
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsRunning back Taquan Mizzell is a breakthrough candidate for Virginia.
Class recap: Virginia coach Mike London brought in the nation's No. 34 recruiting class in 2013, the sixth-best among ACC schools. The highlight of that class was four-star running back Taquan Mizzell of Virginia Beach. The 22-man haul also featured four other four-star prospects, in addition to three-star receiver Keeon Johnson, who made his presence felt last season by catching 20 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown in eight games. The Cavaliers played 12 true freshmen in 2013.

Second-year star: Mizzell (5-foot-10, 190 pounds)

Recruiting stock: Mizzell was the only member of Virginia's class who was in the ESPN 300. He was the nation's No. 9 running back and No. 75 overall prospect, and he starred in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, returning a kickoff 72 yards to set up the winning score for the East team. Nicknamed "Smoke," Mizzell rushed for more than 3,500 yards during his high school career and accounted for more than 2,000 all-purpose yards during his senior season.

2013 in review: Mizzell played in 10 of 12 games, rushing 45 times for 184 yards and a touchdown. He caught 29 passes for 164 yards and another score. He also tallied 347 yards on 21 kickoff returns. Mizzell missed two games with a lower extremity injury.

2014 potential: Potential is the perfect word to use when talking about Mizzell. He embraced comparisons to Miami's star tailback, Duke Johnson. Things didn't go so smoothly for Mizzell early on, but he is optimistic that he can take off in 2014, especially now that he is healthy. He ran track this spring, and the football staff raved about his attitude. Can he become one of the best running backs in the ACC? Life could be a little bit more difficult without tackle Morgan Moses, whom the Washington Redskins drafted in the third round last week. And with the Cavaliers returning their top-two rushers from last season in Kevin Parks (1,031 yards) and Khalek Shepherd (304 yards), the big numbers might not be as easy to come by. But Mizzell has taken all of the right steps going into his second season, and is, by all accounts, well on his way to reaching his potential.

Also watch for: You cannot overlook Johnson, who had a reception in all eight games he played in last season and had the most receiving yards by a Virginia true freshman in 14 years. Three-star receiver Andre Levrone could also see some opportunities after redshirting last year, as he impressed on the scout team. Also keep an eye on three-star, 6-foot-6 offensive lineman Eric Tetlow, who appeared in five games in 2013 and emerged this spring as Virginia's front-runner to start at center.

ACC notable signings on NSD: Coastal

February, 15, 2013
Everyone has a story to tell. It’s simply impossible to highlight all of them on national signing day. After a quick scan of every recruit’s bio in the Coastal Division, there were plenty of notables to revisit -- a Hokie who wants to be a heart surgeon, a Blue Devil whose dad is on the staff at ACC newcomer Syracuse, Yellow Jackets whose pedigree includes the NBA and NFL.

The list goes on, check it out ...

  • Gabe Brandner, OT: His mother played tennis at West Virginia; His father lettered two seasons (1974-75) as an offensive tackle under Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden at West Virginia, helping the Mountaineers to a two-year record of 13-10, including a 13-10 win over NC State in the 1975 Peach Bowl.
  • Phillip Carter, S: His cousin, Darnell Jackson, lettered four seasons (2005-06-07-08) in basketball at Kansas, helped the Jayhawks to the 2008 NCAA championship and was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA draft by the Miami Heat. He also played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings. His cousin, Adam Jennings, lettered four seasons (2002-03-04-05) in football at Fresno State University, helped the Bulldogs to 35 wins and four bowl game appearances. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft by the Falcons and also played with the Lions and Giants.
  • T.J. Douglas, ATH: His cousin, Jammi German, lettered three seasons (1994-95-96) as a wide receiver at Miami, and was selected in the third round of the 1998 NFL draft by the Falcons and also played with the Browns. His cousin, Melvin German, plays football at FAU. Another cousin, Joel German, plays football at Western Kentucky University.
  • Evrett Edwards, CB: His father played football at Southern University, and his uncle, Benny Guilbeaux, lettered four seasons (1995-96-97-98) as a safety at Notre Dame. Guilbeaux led the team in interceptions as both a sophomore and junior while helping the Fighting Irish to a four-year record of 33-15 with three bowl game appearances.
  • Jake Kite, S: His father, Christopher, was a defensive back and wide receiver at Virginia from 1984-87, helping the Cavaliers to a four-year record of 25-19-2 with Peach Bowl and All American Bowl victories following the 1984 and 1987 seasons, respectively.
  • Deondre Singleton, S: His father, Cedric, lettered three seasons (1989-90-91) in football at Louisiana Tech, helping the Bulldogs to a three-year record of 21-8-4 including an appearance in the 1990 Independence Bowl.
  • Ryan Smith, WR: His dad, DeAndre, is the running backs coach at Syracuse.
  • Chris Griffin, OL: His uncle, Eddie Metcalf, played football at Florida A&M.
  • Donovan Wilson, AB: His father, Kenny, played basketball at Davidson and later with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.
  • Kevin Robbins Jr. DL/LB: His father, Kevin Sr., played football at Michigan State and four years in the NFL from 1989 to 1993 with the Browns, Falcons and Rams.
  • Ray Lewis III, ATH: He is the son of former Miami Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens great and two-time Super Bowl champion Ray Lewis.
  • Kevin Olsen, QB: He is the brother of former Miami Hurricane and current Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen.
  • Jordan Fieulleteau, WR: He scored 25 touchdowns as a senior and 24 as a junior -- the most touchdown catches in the nation in past two seasons.
  • Jeremiah Taleni, DL: He became "the first Pitt football scholarship signee out of Hawaii in memory," according to the school's site. His recruitment originated with defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield's relationship with the staff at Kailua High School, located on the island's East Coast.
  • George Adeosun, OL: A native of Nigeria, Adeosun didn’t start playing football until he got to high school. He started his junior season on the junior varsity team and an injury forced him to make his varsity debut blocking ESPN’s No. 2 recruit and Auburn signee Carl Lawson. Holding his own, he remained on varsity for the remainder of his career.
  • Zack Jones, WR: He is the brother of former UVa captain Perry Jones.
  • Andre Levrone Jr., WR: His brother, Jonathan, served a tour in Iraq as a tanker in the U.S. Army. His father, Andre Sr., played linebacker for his base team while serving in the Marine Corp. His cousin, Kevin Levrone, is a IFBB Hall of Fame body builder, four-time first-runner-up to Mr. Olympia.
  • Jack McDonald, OL: His uncle, Cliff McDonald, played offensive tackle at New Hampshire and held the New England Heavyweight boxing title. His cousin, Cliff McDonald, Jr., played football at Dartmouth.
  • Eric Tetlow, OL: His father, Peter, who was born and raised in Australia, was a world-class swimmer, won national championships and qualified for the Olympics before coming to the United States to swim at Harvard. His father was ranked as high as seventh in the world in the 1,500-meter freestyle.
  • Kyle Chung, OL: His father, Eugene, was an All-American offensive lineman at Virginia Tech and an NFL player who now coaches in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Andrew Motu'apuaka, LB: He was born in Auckland, New Zealand. His parents, Siaosi and Manu Motu'apuaka, are from Tonga, and went to school in New Zealand. His family migrated to the U.S. and his father joined the U.S. Army.
  • Kendall Fuller, CB: He has three older brothers, all of whom played or play football for Tech -- Vincent, Corey and Kyle.
  • Brandon Facyson, DB: His mother and stepfather (Karen Riggins-Taylor and Frederick Facyson) are currently principals in Dubai. His contemplated major is pre-med, with a goal of becoming a heart surgeon.