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ACC Front Seven Rankings

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Southern Pigskin's top five ACC defensive fronts heading into 2018.

1. Clemson: There is no comparison to the Tigers' first two lines of defense in the game today. Quite literally, this front four is positioned to be in the conversation for the greatest in college football history. All four starters, tackles Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins and ends Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell, are All-American candidates and will be first round picks, with even more talented depth behind them. The aforementioned quartet along the defensive front combined for 45 tackles for loss for the nation's number two scoring defense a season ago. Specifically, Wilkins, who contributes a variety of different ways, is one of the most dynamic talents around. Veteran senior linebacker Kendall Joseph returns as Clemson's leading tackler and has 204 total stops over the past two years.

2. Miami: The Hurricanes paced the ACC and ranked in the top five nationally with 111 tackles for loss in 2017. A notable core of talent has established itself with playmakers like linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney and edge-rusher Joe Jackson at defensive end. In two underclassman seasons, Quarterman has compiled 167 total tackles and 17 tackles for loss and Pickney has amassed 129 total tackles and 18.5 tackles for loss. They form one of the top linebacker duos in the country. Jackson is an active, athletic prototype off the edge at 6'5'', 250 pounds.

3. Florida State: It looks like Brian Burns is poised to be the next star pass-rusher for the Seminoles. He is fresh off a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss last yea and also doubles as a top kick-blocking threat on special teams. The combination of Burns and veteran tackle Demarcus Christmas, who has three seasons of starting experience, gives Florida State a strong base in the trenches. Hopes are high for former five-star recruit Marvin Wilson as well. Among the linebackers to watch are Alabama-transfer Adonis Thomas and DeCalon Brooks, son of football legend Derrick Brooks.

4. Virginia Tech: Redshirt senior Ricky Walker is one of college football's elite defensive tackles. He burst onto the national scene last fall with 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries. Walker will set the tone for the Hokies' fast, aggressive style. Up front, he and fellow senior tackle Vinny Mihota pair nicely with emerging defensive end Trevon Hill, who recorded 5.5 sacks in 2017. Houshun Gaines is poised to be another Virginia Tech edge rusher to watch.

5. Duke: A compelling argument can be made that junior Joe Giles-Harris is the best linebacker in the country. His stat-line from last fall speaks for itself: 125 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, 4.5 sacks, four pass break ups, a forced fumble and an interception. He leads the Blue Devils' defensive charge. Fellow linebacker Ben Humphries has over 200 career tackles.