Over the past few seasons the gap between Clemson and the rest of the ACC has steadily grown. While some expect the ACC to be better in 2020, that remains to be seen. Right now, there is still as big a gap as ever.

There is a pretty simple explanation as to why there is such a gap, and everyone already knows what it is. Clemson just has better players. Period. And it isn’t even close.

Chip Patterson of CBS Sports recently ranked the ten best players in the ACC, and Clemson has two guys ranked in the top three. Unsurprisingly, Trevor Lawrence comes in at number one.

No individual player in the entire conference has a higher ceiling than Lawrence, who is somewhat lacking for accolades and hardware in comparison to his talent and production as he prepares to enter year three as the Tigers’ starter under center. High interception counts in the early stages of 2019 overshadowed an absurd tear over the second half of the season that saw 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions across Clemson’s last eight games with better than 70 percent passing in the final six pre-playoff games. When Lawrence was initially limited by Ohio State’s defense in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal, he showcased his ability as a runner in what became a difference-maker in the offense. LSU stymied Lawrence and handed him the first loss of his college career, which resets his own expectations for 2020. Lawrence is going to be one of the most scrutinized players in all of college football, but that’s because no one individually can have more of an impact on a game than the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.  

CBS Sports

Patterson absolutely nails it. There will be no player more heavily scrutinized in the 2020 season than Trevor Lawrence. He is a favorite to win the Heisman and the favorite to go number one in next seasons NFL Draft. Every throw he makes, good or bad, will be dissected like no other quarterback in the country.

Coming in at number three on the list is Travis Etienne. The Tigers running back is also a Heisman contender, and with Justyn Ross out for the season he could be looking at an increased workload. On the ground and in the air.

The argument can be made the that the back-to-back ACC Player of the Year deserves to be at the top of the list. However, as we all know, quarterbacks get all the love.

“Here we go again with the disrespect for two-time ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne. For all the time that I’ve dedicated to rolling out the resume of the ACC’s career rushing touchdown and total touchdown leader on CBS Sports HQ and the Cover 3 Podcast, you’d think that talk would be backed up with an appropriate ranking of the league’s top players. While Etienne gets overlooked because light work loads that hinder his ability to compile eye-popping rushing totals, he will prove to be the most important piece in Clemson’s pursuit of a national championship. As mentioned above, the Tigers have more uncertainty at the wide receiver position than what we’re used to from a group that has consistently reloaded with stars from Sammy Watkins to DeAndre Hopkins to Mike Williams to Tee Higgins, and that only puts more on the plate of Etienne, the most decorated star and proven commodity in the Tigers’ offense.”

CBS Sports

Ten Best Players In ACC (CBS Sports)

  1. Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson
  2. Sam Howell QB UNC
  3. Travis Etienne RB Clemson
  4. Jalen Twyman DL Pitt
  5. Marvin Wilson DL Florida State
  6. Gregory Rousseau DL Miami
  7. Andre Cisco DB Syracuse
  8. Brevin Jordan TE Miami
  9. Sage Surratt WR Wake Forest
  10. Caleb Farley DB Virginia Tech

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