Last spring, I wrote about the 5 ACC Newcomers for the 2019 season (read more here). Of the five I covered only one, Sam Howell, turned out to be worth the watch. Tate Martell, was a complete dud for the Miami Hurricanes while UVA’s Alex Gellerstedt missed the season with an knee injury and the Hokies J.R. Walker and Duke’s Tony Davis redshirted. UNC’s Howell threw for over 3,000 yards (8.6 yards per attempt) with 40 total touchdowns and only seven interceptions in Phil Longo’s offense.
This season hopefully I am a better predictor of success than a year ago.
D’Eriq King, Miami, Quarterback
Last year I said Tate Martell was a big signing because he could shake up the QB room in Coral Gables... boy was I wrong. King is an entirely different situation, thankfully. D’Eriq King has proven ability at kick returner, wide receiver, and more importantly the quarterback position. In 2018, King was a lights out talent and over his career he’s thrown 50 touchdowns, ran 28 and caught three, while also returning one kick off back for a touchdown.
More importantly than his ability is his documented work ethic. King has been lauded by quarterback gurus like Kendal Briles, Lincoln Riley and Major Applewhite as a hard worker who can lead the ‘Canes offense. A play-making quarterback who can lead the team? King checks all of the boxes. Miami just has to hope he can get back that magic from his 2018 season before his injury.
#biGTime pic.twitter.com/e0eCVNNNq6— 7 (@javondbaker7) January 30, 2019
Jeff Sims, Georgia Tech, Quarterback
The Georgia Tech offense sputtered its way through 2019 without a true quarterback to run the Jackets offensive system. The Jackets also struggled with offensive line injuries and a lack of talent there, too. That leads us to Sandalwood High School’s four-star quarterback Jeff Sims. Sims flipped from FSU late and will have a clear cut chance at the starting QB role by enrolling early.
Mixing a dual threat star in Sims with running back Jordan Mason and wide receiver Ahmarean Brown should see more production from the offense. Mason and Brown combined for 14 touchdowns as young budding stars. With a weak offensive line, an athlete like Sims can buy himself time much like King down in Miami.
BREAKING: Four-star DL Kedrick Bingley-Jones has committed to UNC. https://t.co/tsBR9wLAHD— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) August 3, 2019
Kedrick Bingley-Jones, UNC, Defensive Tackle
The SP+ ranked the UNC defense as 44th in the country. The Tar Heels have an infusion of young help coming on the defensive line led by early enrollee Kedrick Bingley-Jones. Bingley-Jones is a four-star prospect from Charlotte, NC who already has an ACC body at six-foot-five, 270 pounds.
Jay Bateman likes to run a multiple defense that brings pressure from different places and takes advantage of speed and athleticism. The Tar Heels defensive line was less than stellar in 2019 and with an influx of talent they should be much improved. Defensive tackles are rarely on the “must see” list but Bingley-Jones looks like a playmaker in argyle and Carolina Blue.
BONUS: Justin Hamilton, Virginia Tech, Defensive Coordinator
Hamilton isn’t a current player or new to Virginia Tech, but he’s new to the role of Defensive Coordinator of the Hokies. Virginia Tech’s long-time coordinator, Bud Foster, finally retired after 25 years in Blacksburg running the defense, and having been on the VT staff since 1987 as a young linebackers coach.
Hamilton is a former Hokie player who started his career at running back and moved across the ball to safety at the end of his career. A 7th round NFL Draft choice in 2006, Hamilton hung around the NFL until 2009. Hamilton has coached at UVA-Wise, VMI, and Virginia Tech before this promotion.
In 2019, the Hokies put up the 39th ranked defense in the country per SP+, up from 77th the year prior and a lot of that credit was given to Hamilton’s influence on Bud Foster.