Leading up to what promises to be an exciting 2019 college football season, we will be picking a breakout player from every power-five team. Additionally, a series of breakout players will be determined from the group of five programs. Some of these players have already shown promise while others have hardly seen the field. Either way, this group should become household names this season. Let’s continue with the ACC breakout players.
A breakout player for every ACC team
Boston College – Brandon Sebastian – Cornerback – Sophomore
Boston College certainly has had a recent history of stellar defensive backs. Brandon Sebastian is the next man up on the list as he looks to be this year’s breakout player for BC. In 2018, Sebastian started seven games, played in 12 and made an impact as a redshirt freshman. He accumulated 49 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack along with two interceptions. Additionally, he deflected 10 passes while forcing a fumble. Sebastian is an incredible athlete who played on both sides of the ball in high school. Look for his production to increase as a full-time starter. Also, expect to see Sebastian’s name on the 2019 All-ACC team.
Clemson – Xavier Thomas – Defensive End – Sophomore
Despite having four high profile NFL draft picks ahead of him, Xavier Thomas made an immediate impact as a freshman. The explosive Thomas steps into a full-time starting role and will become Clemson’s breakout player in 2019. Thomas was a consensus top-five ranked player coming out of high school, ranking as the number one defensive end. He made those rankings look good coming off the bench with 43 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups. In fact, he earned Freshman All-American honors. Thomas will elevate his game and production this year while becoming a household name.
Duke – Victor Dimukeje – Defensive End – Junior
Six-foot-two-inch defensive end Victor Dimukeje is looking to take his game to the next level this year. Certainly, he has already made a nice impact for Duke. In two seasons, the athletic end has totaled 80 tackles, with 5.5 sacks and an interception along with two forced fumbles while recovering two fumbles. Expect his production to increase drastically in 2019 as he ascends into All ACC status while becoming Duke’s breakout player.
Florida State – Joshua Kaindoh – Defensive End – Junior
Joshua Kaindoh came to Florida State as a five-star prospect out of IMG Academy in Florida. So far, he has been unable to grab hold of a starting role during his two years on campus. Kaindoh has the opportunity this season to finally become a breakout player for the Seminoles and live up to the hype he came into college with. He has the talent, the size (six feet seven inches, 261 pounds) and the intelligence to do it. Kaindoh has 11 tackles for loss along with seven sacks during his two years in Tallahassee. Look for Joshua Kaindoh to put up strong numbers in 2019.
Georgia Tech – Tre Swilling – Cornerback – Sophomore
Tre Swilling certainly has good bloodlines to back him up. His Dad, Pat Swilling, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame following a stellar career at Georgia Tech. Additionally, he was a decorated NFL player. Meanwhile, son Tre is set to be a breakout player for the Yellow Jackets in 2019. He was a four-star prospect coming out of high school in New Orleans. Swilling is a top-notch athlete who possesses good ball skills as well as great coverage skills. He picked up 24 tackles along with an interception last year as well as a forced fumble. Expect his production to increase mightily this season.
Louisville – Dez Fitzpatrick – Wide Receiver – Junior
Dez Fitzpatrick is a six-foot-two-inch tall, playmaking, athletic receiver who is poised to become a breakout player for Louisville in 2019. Fitzpatrick has already shown signs of what he can do, despite a less than ideal quarterback situation last year. In 2018, he finished second on the team with 31 catches for 422 yards along with three touchdowns. That is an average of 13.6 yards per reception. During the 2017 season, Fitzpatrick caught 45 balls for 699 yards along with nine touchdowns. As long as the Cardinals find consistent quarterback play, expect Dez Fitzpatrick to do big things this year!
Miami (FL) – Jeff Thomas – Wide Receiver – Junior
Jeff Thomas undeniably is one of the most talented players in college football. However, he has had a tumultuous start to his college career. Former UM coach Mark Richt kicked him off the team last year due to off the field issues. He then left to go to Illinois but came back to Miami when new head coach Manny Diaz offered him a spot on the roster. Now, Thomas will become a breakout player for Miami as he has put his issues behind him and is working hard towards being a star in the ACC. Thomas has caught 52 balls for 937 yards along with five touchdowns so far in his career while showing big-play ability at times. 2019 will be a big year for Jeff Thomas.
NC State – Ricky Person Jr. – Running Back – Sophomore
Ricky Person is an explosive back who is ready to take the reigns for a new look N.C State team this year. In fact, last season he ranked third on the team with 17 explosive plays of 10 plus yards, despite missing four games due to injury. Person finished the season with 471 yards rushing. As a local North Carolina product in high school, he produced 2,230 yards rushing on 262 carries along with 38 touchdowns in 11 games as a senior. Look for Ricky Person to become a breakout player in 2019 not only for N.C State but also nationally.
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North Carolina – Michael Carter – Running Back – Junior
Michael Carter has yet to grab hold of the full time starting role for the Tar Heels, although he has shown promise during his two years on campus. However, this year presents an opportunity for Carter to become a breakout player for North Carolina. The incredibly athletic and elusive back has played in 20 games so far for UNC. He has rushed for 1,156 yards along with 10 touchdowns. He is a threat to catch passes out of the backfield as well. Additionally, Carter was highly decorated out of high school. In fact, he posted 3,345 all-purpose yards with 45 touchdowns as a senior on his way to winning the 6A Mr. Football Award in Florida. Look for Carter to finally break out in 2019.
Pittsburgh – Paris Ford – Safety – Sophomore
Certainly, there is not much to go by at Pitt thus far to indicate that Paris Ford is ready to become a breakout player. However, his highly decorated high school career would indicate that he is ready. The tape shows that he is a tremendous athlete who can cover the run and pass effectively. Additionally, he is a sure tackler, which makes him a prime candidate to break out. He excelled on both sides of the ball in high school. In fact, his senior year at Steel Valley High School in Pennsylvania, he scored 22 touchdowns in five different ways. Those include rushing, receiving, interception return, punt return, and a fumble return. Ford is ready to join the long list of highly successful Pitt defensive backs in 2019.
Syracuse – Taj Harris – Wide Receiver – Sophomore
The incredibly talented outside receiver, Taj Harris, became a starter halfway through his freshman season. In fact, Harris started seven games, grabbing 40 balls for 565 yards along with three touchdowns. In high school, he displayed his athleticism by playing as a dual-threat quarterback as well as a wide receiver throughout his career. Interestingly, Harris became just the second South Jersey football player to pass for 1,000 yards in one season while having at least 1,000 receiving yards in another. Expect that Taj Harris will become the breakout player this season for Syracuse.
Virginia – PK Kier – Running Back – Junior
PK Kier is slated to become the starting running back for Virginia this year. To this point, he only has 32 carries for 112 yards in his two years on campus. Despite that, he is still the pick to be the Cavaliers breakout player in 2019. During his high school career, Kier averaged over seven yards per rush while scoring 50 touchdowns on 501 carries. Certainly, that gives an idea of what he is capable of. Expect PK Kier to latch onto the starting role and take off into All-ACC honors this season.
Virginia Tech – Dax Hollifield – Linebacker – Sophomore
Dax Hollifield is the definition of a playmaker at the linebacker position. His ability to make plays sideline to sideline with his speed and vision is uncanny. Hollifield will be a breakout player in 2019 for the Hokies and become a star in the ACC. Last year, as a freshman, he clearly made an immediate impact. In fact, he tallied 62 tackles with eight tackles for loss and two sacks. Additionally, he broke up a pass, picked up a quarterback hurry, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Want more numbers? At Shelby High School in North Carolina, Hollifield accumulated 150 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and recovered a fumble as a senior. For his career, he had a whopping 629 tackles with 139 tackles for loss.
Wake Forest – Sage Surratt – Wide Receiver – Sophomore
The six foot three inch 220-pound Sage Surratt came into Wake Forest as a record-setting receiver. He broke North Carolina’s receiving records with 366 receptions for 5,926 yards along with 80 touchdowns. Additionally, he further displayed his athleticism by playing defense as well as lettering in basketball all four years of high school. Surratt only played in one game last season, grabbing 11 balls for 150 yards in that game. Look for Sage Surratt to become the Demon Deacons breakout player in 2019.
There you have it, a breakout player from every ACC program for the 2019 season. Keep checking back for more college football content as the season edges closer.
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