We are counting down the top players in the ACC every day this week.
Up today: 6-10.
6. Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander
It might not be a stretch to say Clemson wins it all if Alexander doesn’t hurt his hamstring. His numbers don’t exactly tell the entire story — he had 23 total tackles (two for loss), five breakups and five passes defended. But that is because offenses rarely tested the third-team All-American. Alexander did not surrender a touchdown all season long. He shut down Notre Dame standout Will Fuller. And he helped key a unit that finished second nationally in completion percentage defense (.484). He is off to the NFL.
7. Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd
Dodd may have improved his stock more than anyone in the nation through his postseason play. He tallied a combined 8.5 tackles for loss in the two College Football Playoff games, including a ridiculous five TFLs in the finale against Alabama, whose offensive line had won the Joe Moore Award as the nation’s best. Dodd finished the season with 23.5 TFLs — second nationally to only teammate Shaq Lawson. He had 12 sacks, six quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a blocked kick as well. He will be missed in Death Valley after declaring for the NFL draft.
8. Boston College linebacker Steven Daniels
Daniels was the best player on the nation’s best defense. He recorded a team-best 82 total tackles — including 16 for loss and six sacks — to go with one interception, two pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. Daniels was second-team All-ACC, and he won the George H. “Bulger” Lowe Award as the most outstanding player in New England. Daniels keyed a BC attack that ended the regular season with a nation-best 114 tackles for loss, a number that Clemson eventually eclipsed by tallying 18 TFLs in its two playoff games.
9. North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams
UNC set more than 60 school records in a renaissance 2015 campaign, and Williams was the biggest reason why. His 4,020 yards of offense this fall marked a school single-season record, as did his 948 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns this season (by a quarterback). Williams keyed an offense that averaged a nation-best 7.28 yards per play. He finished his final college season by completing 61.3 percent of his passes for 3,072 yards and 24 touchdowns and 10 picks. UNC matched a school-record 11 wins this season and went a perfect 8-0 in ACC play.
10. Clemson running back Wayne Gallman
Gallman posted a historic season for the 14-1 Tigers, rushing for a school-record 1,527 yards, along with 13 touchdowns. He caught 21 balls for 213 yards, and he put the rest of the nation on notice by rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl. Gallman’s return for 2016 is a huge plus for a Clemson offense that should be among the nation’s best.