In past years, we've come up with some creative ways to rank ACC players, Syracuse Orange football opponents and more, in the lead-up to the new season. This year, we're going position by position, ranking the top five players SU faces at each. These are obviously just pulled from the 12 scheduled opponents, and only those. So when you ask "where is ACC player X?" or "how can you skip ACC player Y?"... that's how.
Top Five Opposing Wide Receivers
1. Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech Hokies
Surprised? Despite the glut of talent at Clemson and Florida State (see below), just one ACC wide receiver topped 1,000 yards last year, and it was Ford. The sophomore hauled in 75 passes for the Hokies last year, with a 15.5 yards per catch average and 11 scores. The only ACC player who equaled him in yards per catch (min. 50 receptions) was speedy FSU wideout Travis Rudolph. And remember, all of this was in a Virginia Tech offense that really wasn't much to brag about last year. With Justin Fuente in the fold now... Ford could really blow up in 2016.
2. Mike Williams, Clemson Tigers
Williams was primed for a big 2015 following a standout sophomore campaign. But a neck injury in week one ended his season far too early. The fact that the Tigers were still able to put up the numbers they did without him is a testament to the talent in the offense and recruiting's ability to continue to plug in elite athletes. Williams is a very capable deep threat, with quickness and great hands. Clemson lacked a true deep threat this past fall, but now they'll get back a definitive one in Williams. The NFL-ready talent will be eager to return to the field and make up for his lost season. Everyone in the Tigers' offense is going to put up big numbers, but his may be the biggest this fall.
3. Travis Rudolph, Florida State Seminoles
We mentioned Rudolph above too, and for good reason. Florida State's most capable deep threat returns, much to the horror of Syracuse fans who probably remember the 191 yards and three scores he put up against them this past year. His quickness is obvious, and despite some inconsistency, he's a force within this offense and one of the motors that will power it this season, no matter who's at quarterback. Though Rudolph fell short of 1,000 yards in 2015, he did come pretty close. The Seminoles' attack is likely going to push him toward that number again.
4. Artavis Scott, Clemson Tigers
Without Mike Williams around, Scott still managed just fine as Clemson's leading receiver. He pulled in a conference-leading 93 catches to pair with 901 yards and six touchdowns. While the yardage and scoring numbers were down slightly, it's at least a bit understandable that Scott would have to change his game as the focus of the passing attack, sans Williams. While playing a multitude of roles as a receiver, he was also the picture of consistency. Scott caught at least five passes in all but three games and you can really only categorize one game as less-than-great (the Miami game where he caught one pass... but the Tigers won 58-0, so who cares?). He's primed to see numbers pick back up with Williams back in the fold.
5. Kermit Whitfield, Florida State Seminoles
To start, Kermit's speed is devastating. And while he certainly had some of the same consistency issues as Rudolph for FSU, when he was on, it was incredibly difficult to stop him. Standout games against Louisville, NC State and Chattanooga showed glimpses of his greater abilities a a receiver -- a player who can gain large chunks of yardage and find the end zone. The 2015 season was his first as a regular contributor, however. With that under his belt, Rudolph returning and a glut of additional playmakers at the Seminoles' disposal, there's a pretty convincing case to be made that Whitfield's number are going up.
Receiver's a tougher position to really nail down a top five, because there's a lot of players to look at (much more than quarterbacks and running backs, anyway). But this is who we've settled on. Agree or disagree? Feel free to weigh in below.