2023 Atlantic Coast Conference Quarterback Power Rankings


Aug 29, 2023

The Atlantic Coast Conference is not the strongest college football conference year in and year out, but the league does have a few terrific quarterbacks and several other players who could take a step up and become all-conference caliber signal-callers. Making a power ranking of quarterbacks for the conference does not just factor in the talent of each quarterback. The surrounding cast, the scheme, and past production all have to factor in to determine who slots in from number 14 to number one. 

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2023 ACC Quarterback Power Rankings

1. Drake Maye – North Carolina

Former North Carolina Tar Heel quarterback Sam Howell is set to become the Washington Commanders starting quarterback for the 2023 season. The man who replaced Howell in Chapel Hill tops this list: Drake Maye. The former five-star recruit led North Carolina to an appearance in the ACC Championship Game (a loss to Clemson) as UNC topped the ACC in total offense with 358 yards per game. He threw for a remarkable 4,321 yards with 38 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Maye has a new offensive coordinator as Phil Longo left for Wisconsin. Chip Lindsay does not have the best track record, but Drake Maye can beat teams with his arm or legs, and he’s a clear top-five draft pick in the next NFL Draft and a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender.

2. Jordan Travis – Florida State

The Florida State Seminoles have made a quick climb under head coach Mike Norvell, and the improvement of Jordan Travis is a crucial reason why. The veteran first started in 2020 and is now entering his fourth season as the starting quarterback for Florida State. The Noles are ranked in the top ten, and Travis has a new primary receiving threat as Keon Coleman transferred in from Michigan State. The 2022 conference leader in passer rating and yards per attempt, if Travis takes another step forward, Florida State could reach the College Football Playoff this season.

3. Cade Klubnik – Clemson 

There is some projection here as Klubnik has limited experience, but with potent weapons and a new scheme with offensive wiz Garrett Riley in as coordinator, you don’t have to stretch too far to make the case for the Clemson quarterback at number three. Klubnik is quick, and his legs are a weapon. He doesn’t have a rocket launcher for an arm, and stretching the field with deep vertical passes will probably not be a strength, but he is very accurate and should thrive with Riley calling plays. The Tigers have a tough opening test at Duke, so we should see what Klubnik is made of very quickly.

4. Brennan Armstrong – North Carolina State

Placing Armstrong at number four requires you to forget about last season and focus on what he does with offensive coordinator Robert Anae in charge. Turn back the clock to 2021. Armstrong threw for 4,449 yards, ran for 251, and had 40 total touchdowns. Last year was a disaster, but that was without Anae and while playing quarterback for a horrific squad in Charlottesville. Dave Doeren hired Robert Anae and convinced Armstrong to transfer to North Carolina State to lead the Wolfpack. He may not reach the heights of his 2021 season, but Armstrong will be much closer to that than he will be to his 2022 production.

5. Riley Leonard – Duke

Leonard, much like the rest of the Duke Blue Devils program, benefitted greatly from the arrival of Mike Elko. The offense rose from 14th to fifth in the ACC in scoring, and Riley Leonard used his arm and legs as weapons to propel the offense forward. Leonard ran for 699 yards and 13 touchdowns, making him one of the best dual-threat players in the country. He also completed 64 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns. For Leonard to take the next step, he’ll need to increase production through the air, but it won’t be easy in 2023 as the Blue Devils face a much tougher schedule this season than last. It begins with Clemson on September 4.

6. Phil Jurkovec – Pittsburgh

Another transfer within the conference, Phil Jurkovec, left Boston College and will finish his collegiate career with Pat Narduzzi at Pittsburgh. The biggest question mark for Jurkovec is his health. He only played in 14 games over the past two seasons for Boston College. The hope is that he’ll be playing behind a better offensive line at Pitt than at Boston College, and the increased protection will help him stay healthy. If he can, he’s very capable and could be an all-conference quarterback.

7. Tyler Van Dyke – Miami

The Miami Hurricanes had a rotten 2022 season, and the regression of Tyler Van Dyke was a big part of that. The Hurricanes limped to a disappointing season under Mario Cristobal, and Van Dyke was worse in 2022 than he was in 2021 in every major statistical category. Significant changes were made as Miami brought in help from the transfer portal and hired Shannon Dawson as the new offensive coordinator. Dawson is a disciple of the Hal Mumme Air Raid scheme, so Van Dyke should have every opportunity to show he has what it takes to lead a successful team. This is a make-or-break year for the junior. 

8. Jack Plummer – Louisville 

Another transfer quarterback, Jack Plummer, is at number eight largely because of the offensive system he’ll be playing in at Louisville. The Cardinals hired Jeff Brohm from Purdue. Brohm needed a veteran who knew his system, and he turned to Plummer. The two originally worked together at Purdue before Plummer played for California last season. The senior is not going to be a threat at all to run the ball, and he tends to throw too many interceptions, but the system, weapons around him, and his experience with Brohm’s offense should set him up for a successful season.

9. Mitch Griffis – Wake Forest

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons run a very unique “slow mesh” offensive system, and Sam Hartman ran it to near perfection. However, Hartman transferred to Notre Dame, and the job now belongs to Mitch Griffis. Wake Forest did get a little bit of experience last season when Hartman was injured, and head coach Dave Clawson is an extremely bright offensive mind that should aid in the transition. The biggest question marks would be whether or not the pass catchers and offensive line at Wake Forest are good enough to elevate Griffis and whether he can operate this offense when plays break down, something Hartman was quite adept at.

10. Garrett Shrader – Syracuse

Shrader transferred from Mississippi State and started the 2022 season for the Syracuse Orange with Robert Anae as the offensive coordinator. He is a good runner (781 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2021), but the passing numbers leave a whole lot to be desired, and that was with a terrific offensive coordinator in his corner. Shrader completed only 52.6 percent of his passes in 2021 and 64.7 percent in 2022, with a relatively low yard-per-attempt number. This is not a major knock against Shrader, the ranking has more to do with the absence of Robert Anae and the uncertainty of how this offense will look in 2023. 

11. Emmett Morehead – Boston College

We are firmly in the area of the unknown now as Emmett Morehead and the Boston College offense is a mystery. Morehead played last season after Jurkovec was injured and played well in the starter’s absence. In total, he had 1,254 yards with ten touchdown passes, admirable numbers for a freshman. He’s ranked at eleven because star wide receiver Zay Flowers is now with the Baltimore Ravens, and the Eagles don’t appear to have a ton of high-quality options to help Morehead. In addition, the offensive line has yet to show it can be anything but a weakness, and Morehead is not a threat at all to beat teams with his legs. 

12. Haynes King – Georgia Tech

King was a highly-touted recruit who began his career in College Station for the Texas A&M Aggies. He was the starter for the first two games of the 2021 season before losing his season to injury and then was in and out of the lineup in 2023. The good news is that he has some experience and clearly possesses some talent. The bad news is that he is no longer playing with a group of four and five-star receivers and running backs around him and will have to do more with less as the starter for the Rambling Wreck. 

13. Grant Wells – Virginia Tech

Things are rough in the state of Virginia, and the bottom two spots on this list belong to both starting quarterbacks in the state. Wells started at Marshall before transferring to Virginia Tech to start in 2022. He did not perform well, and there are really no signs that he will dramatically improve in 2023. Kyron Drones transferred in from Baylor and might see the field as well, but he has yet to show he’s much of an upgrade.

14. Tony Muskett – Virginia

There can really only be one answer here. Virginia had one of the worst offenses in major college football in 2022, and second-year head coach Tony Elliott is already under pressure to get things fixed. Muskett starred at FCS Monmouth and was a two-time Big South Conference player in his three years there. The jump up from Monmouth to the ACC is a gigantic leap, though. The Cavaliers only averaged 17 points per game in 2022 and have to make progress in 2023 to keep Elliott off the hot seat.

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