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PFF Preseason 2019 All-ACC Team

Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive lineman Xavier Thomas (3) stands on the sidelines during the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

After grading and analyzing every player on every play of every game during the 2018 college football season, it’s time we unveil the 2019 Preseason PFF All-ACC first team, second team and honorable mention for every position on offense and defense as well as for the first time ever, specialists.

The Preseason All-ACC list may differ a bit from any year-end look back at the previous season as we project to the 2019 season ahead of us. Find out which of these athletes made the PFF All-American team as well.

First-Team Offense


Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Lawrence peppers the field with top-notch throws as he beautifully navigates the Clemson offense on their National Title defense. He's the highest-graded true freshman quarterback we've ever seen at PFF.

Second Team: Bryce Perkins, Virginia
Honorable Mention: James Blackman, Florida State


Travis Etienne, Clemson

The highest-graded running back from the past two years, Etienne is a threat with the ball in his hands and averages over 8.0 yards per carry.

Second-Team: Cade Carney, Wake Forest
Honorable Mention: Moe Neal, Syracuse


AJ Dillon, Boston College

Dillon is eighth among active Power-5 running backs with 717 yards after contact a season ago and he's now forced 117 missed tackles over the past two seasons.

Second-Team: Deejay Dallas, Miami
Honorable Mention: Lyn-J Dixon, Clemson


Justyn Ross, Clemson

Ross is arguably the best receiver in football, in a stacked receiver class we haven't seen the likes of in some time. Lawrence to Ross for the next two years, please.

Second-Team: Jeff Thomas, Miami
Honorable Mention: Joe Reed, Virginia


Tee Higgins, Clemson

Higgins has forced nearly as many missed tackles after the catch (16) as he has brought down contested catches (17) and has averaged the nation’s second-highest yards per route run since 2017.

Second-Team: Thayer Thomas, NC State
Honorable Mention: K.J. Osborn, Miami


Damon Hazelton, Virginia Tech

Hazelton averaged 15.7 yards per catch last season and 36 of his 51 receptions moved the chains or scored a touchdown in the Tech offense.

Second-Team: Maurice Ffrench, Pittsburgh
Honorable Mention: Sage Surratt, Wake Forest


Brevin Jordan, Miami

Jordan forced seven missed tackles after the catch, third-most among active tight ends in the Power-5 and he'll be a vital component over the middle for Jarran Williams in 2019.

Second-Team: Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech
Honorable Mention: Carl Tucker, UNC


Charlie Heck, UNC

Heck possesses the 10th-highest pass-blocking grade among returning Power-5 tackles as he allowed all of 14 pressures across 433 pass-blocking snaps last year.

Second-Team: Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Honorable Mention: DJ Scaife Jr., Miami


Joe Sculthorpe, NC State

The fifth highest-graded guard in the Power-5, Sculthorpe also holds the third-highest run-blocking grade in that same group.

Second-Team: John Phillips, Boston College
Honorable Mention: John Simpson, Clemson


Sean Pollard, Clemson

Pollard kicks inside to center for his final season with the Tigers as he's allowed all of 10 career combined sacks and hits along 877 snaps in pass protection.

Second-Team: Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh
Honorable Mention: Dillon Reinkensmeyer, Virginia


Gage Cervenka, Clemson

While he didn't allow a single hit or sack on the quarterback last year, it's Cervenka's run-blocking that vaults him here as he owns the Power-5's second-highest run-blocking grade at the position.

Second-Team: Navaughn Donaldson, Miami
Honorable Mention: Joshua Fedd-Jackson, NC State


Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson

Anchrum gets it done solidly across the board, both in pass protection and in run-blocking where the latter is a top-25 mark among Power-5 tackles.

Second-Team: Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
Honorable Mention: Zach Quinney, Georgia Tech


First-Team Defense


Xavier Thomas, Clemson

Thomas earned 318 snaps as a true freshman, with great success. He recorded 26 pressures (four sacks, five hits, 17 hurries), on just 150 pass-rushing snaps and his 17.3% pressure rate is the third-highest among returning Power-5 edge defenders

Second-Team: Charles Snowden, Virginia
Honorable Mention: Kendall Coleman, Syracse


Alton Robinson, Syracuse

Robinson was a sack away from the pass-rush triple-double last season but still ranks third among Power-5 edge defenders with 56 total pressures last year.

Second-Team: Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest
Honorable Mention: Victor Dimukeje, Duke


Marvin Wilson, Florida State

Returning with 34 total pressures and 23 defensive stops to his name, Wilson is fully entrenched in the top interior defender in the entire country discussion.

Second-Team: Nyles Pinckney, Clemson
Honorable Mention: Jason Strowbridge, UNC


Larrell Murchison, NC State

Murchison holds a top-15 pass-rush grade among active Power-5 interior defensive lineman and the ACC's top-third marks in pass-rush and run-defense grade.

Second-Team: Trevon McSwain, Duke
Honorable Mention: Tanner Karafa, Boston College


Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

Excelling at all facets in the game, Simmons is a dominant college linebacker in coverage. On 59 targets a season ago, he allowed just 1 touchdown and forced nine incompletions.

Second-Team: Dontavious Jackson, Florida State
Honorable Mention: Justin Strnad, Wake Forest


Michael Pinckney, Miami

Pinckney's strong suit is in coverage where he earned the highest coverage grade among Power-5 linebackers. He allowed just 47 yards on 225 snaps in coverage and just 36 of those after the catch.

Second-Team: Shaq Quarterman, Miami
Honorable Mention: Isaiah Moore, NC State


Bryce Hall, Virginia

The top defensive player returning to college football, Hall excels when covering the intermediate to deep levels of the field. On 44 targeted passes of at least 10 yards downfield, Hall forced 18 incompletions compared to just 14 receptions allowed.

Second-Team: Michael Carter II, Duke
Honorable Mention: Levonta Taylor, Florida State


Trajan Bandy, Miami

Bandy allowed fewer than 50.0% of the passes thrown his way to be caught, hauling in three interceptions and six more pass breakups in the process.

Second-Team: Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh
Honorable Mention: Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State


Joey Blount, Virginia

The Power-5's fifth highest-graded safety, Blount does it all. He has plus grades in run defense, pass-rush and in coverage where he really shined a season ago.

Second-Team: Denzel Johnson, Clemson
Honorable Mention: Tanner Muse, Clemson


Andre Cisco, Syracuse

The freshman sensation from 2018, Cisco led active safeties with seven interceptions last year. His 88.8 coverage grade is the seventh-highest among that same group.

Second-Team: Romeo Finley, Miami
Honorable Mention: K'Von Wallace, Clemson


Essang Bassey, Wake Forest

Bassey's coverage grade of 84.9 is the seventh-highest among all Power-5 cornerbacks as he allowed just 53.7% of the targets thrown his way to be caught.

Second-Team: Brandon Sebastian, Boston College
Honorable Mention: Patrice Rene, UNC

First-Team Specialists


Andre Szmyt, Syracuse

Szmyt was a perfect 61-for-61 on extra points a year ago and went 3-for-3 from 50+ yards. No kicker made more field goals from 30 or more yards out than Szmyt did a year ago.


Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse

Hofrichter punted 67 times last season for a net average of 39.2 yards while pinning the opponent's inside the 20-yardline on 34 occasions, second-most in the Power-5.

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