Heading into the 2018 season, you will not see many of these lists ranking defensive players and not see a Clemson Tiger listed, yet here we have one.
5. Reggie Floyd, Virginia Tech
At 6’0” 222 lbs, the rising junior is coming off of a 2017 season that saw him start 12 games and register 72 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 INT, and 2 forced fumbles. Bud Foster saw a lot of offseason attrition on that Hokie defense, but with Floyd, he has a solid, experienced option he can depend on to anchor the secondary.
4. Brenton Nelson, Virginia
The former walk-on is coming off of an excellent 2017. He tied for the team lead in picks with 4, which led all ACC rookies, had 58 tackles, 2 TFL, 6 pass breakups, and was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. With him and Juan Thornhill, the Wahoo’s have what might be the ACC’s best duo at the safety position.
3. Juan Thornhill, Virginia
After earning 3rd Team All-ACC honors in 2017, Cavs fans had to be thrilled when Thornhill decided to return for his senior season. The 6’0 200 lb SS is coming off a season in which he registered 53 tackles and tied for the team lead with 4 picks.
2. Lukas Denis, Boston College
The 5’11” 185 lb junior finished 2017 with 7 INTs, tied for second most in the nation. He has been named a preseseaon All-American by Sporting News, Phil Steele, and Athlon, and is projected as high as a 2nd round draft pick. Along with the 7 picks, he totaled 83 tackles and forced 2 fumbles in 2017.
1. Jaquan Johnson, Miami
He was named 2nd team All-American by Sports Illustrated and the AFCA in 2017, as well as 2nd team All ACC. The 5’ 11 190 lb senior had 96 total tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 4 INTs, and 3 forced fumbles last season. He is a consensus preseason All-American for 2018.
Check back with STS regularly for more preseason coverage.