Which 2013 recruits will hit the field early in the Atlantic Coast Conference?
Myles Willis is a big-play back headed to Boston College.
Well, it might not be who you think.
In fact, the highest-rated prospects aren't always the ones that make the biggest impact early.
That's because early playing time arguably is based more on need than it is on someone's ability.
Looking at the ACC, here's the 247Sports list of the 2013 signees we believe could have the greatest impact for their team next season.
Myles Willis, RB, Atlanta (Ga.) Marist School -- Willis arguably is among the two or three most athletic players in the 2013 Boston College class. He played quarterback in high school, but projects as a running back in college. He has outstanding speed, accelerates extremely well and is more powerfully built that you'd expect from someone listed at 5-feet-10, 180 pounds. The Eagles were among the worst rushing teams in the country last year and they will be looking for playmakers to emerge in the backfield.
Shaq Lawson, DE, Hargrave Military (Va.) -- Ability and need should make Lawson a factor in 2013. In Lawson, Clemson probably has someone that can contribute from the day he arrives. He signed with the Tigers in 2012 but didn't qualify. At Hargrave, he impressed his coaches with his play and attitude. Size wise, the 6-feet-4, 265-pound Lawson is ACC ready. And he not only has been good against the run, but might be able to provide a decent pass rush as well. We also expect five-star cornerback MacKensie Alexander to play a lot, but Lawson already is on campus.
Evrett Edwards, CB, Woodbridge (Va.) -- Duke had one of the country's worst pass defenses in 2012, and Edwards is someone capable of helping change that. The Blue Duke had a great need at cornerback, and Edwards probably will be the most ready to contribute early of the corners signed in February. The three-star prospect and No. 53 corner in the 247Composite chose Duke over a lot of other BCS programs. He adds excellent size and very good speed to the Blue Devils secondary. And, he is practicing this spring, which is another positive.
DeMarcus Walker, DE, Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood -- This was a solid -- and much-needed -- pickup for the Seminoles, who flipped Walker from Alabama in early January. FSU has a great need at defensive end, having lost three of them to the NFL draft. Physically, the 6-feet-3, 265-pound Walker is ready. And, he is an early enrollee, so he'll have this spring to get his feet wet. Walker was hand-picked by new Seminoles defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who had been secondary coach with the Tide.
FSU lost some quality defensive ends. That should help DeMarcus Walker get on the field early.
Travis Custis, RB, Hampton (Ga.) Lovejoy -- One thing we know is that Georgia Tech likes to run the football. And because of that, the Yellow Jackets can never have too many good backs. Custis, the No. 38 player nationally at his position, is a big, powerful player that can get the tough yards and also break long runs. And even though Georgia Tech isn't a big passing team, the 6-feet, 200-pounder has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield well. The Jackets fought off several top-flight programs to keep Custis. We expect this signing to pay good dividends, and possibly early.
Derwin Gray, OT, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Academy -- Gray not only is the highest-rated member of the Maryland class, he also probably has the best chance to contribute early. During a 4-8 season in 2012, Maryland didn't get great play from its offensive line. While the Terrapins will have several returning starters up front, some of them might be replaceable if improvement isn't made. In Gray, Maryland gets a 6-feet-5, 300-pounder that could become the team's most physically impressive lineman as soon as he arrives. The No. 93 overall prospect and No. 7 offensive tackle in the 247Composite for 2013, he should make the two-deep right away. Becoming a first-year starter isn't out of the question.
Beau Sandland, TE, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Pierce College -- Miami returns most of its offense from 2012, including its tight end. But tight end was a spot where the play was inconsistent and the Hurricanes would like more production there this upcoming season. Sandland is a big guy that has the skills to add another dimension to the offense. He has the size and toughness to be a solid in-line blocker and the hands and route-running skills to be a threat in the passing game. He's also an early enrollee in Coral Gables.
Josh Mercer, APB, Guyton (Ga.) South Effingham -- The Wolfpack returns two pretty good young running backs, but both are bigger-bodied players. Mercer is a little smaller, a little faster and a little more elusive. He ended up as the No. 23 all-purpose back in the 247Composite for the 2013 class. Mercer, who also is good in space, has the potential to be a homerun threat, something N.C. State lacked from the running back position last season. The team's leading rusher had a long run of only 27 yards in 2012.
T.J. Logan, APB, Greensboro (N.C.) Northern Guilford -- The timing of Logan's arrival in Chapel Hill should be perfect. With star back Gio Bernard entering the NFL draft, the Tar Heels were dealt a big blow. But that move gives Logan a great opportunity to play a lot in 2013. The 5-feet-11, 175-pounder, ranked as the No. 9 player nationally at his position in the 247Composite, Logan is a speedy, shifty back that would seem to be an ideal fit for North Carolina's wide open offense. Like Bernard, Logan has big-play potential. He rushed for 3,146 yards and 47 touchdowns in 2012.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Clairton (Pa.) Clairton -- The No. 126 overall prospect in the 247Composite, Boyd was an outstanding pickup for the Panthers, who have a major need at the receiver position. Pitt lost two of its three top receivers from 2012 and Boyd should help fill the void. He's a big receiver that has playmaking skills the Panthers have lacked of late. Boyd can do a little bit of everything and that versatility will make him an early factor. He has a chance to earn a starting spot at some point in 2013. At the very least, he'll be on the two-deep.
Luke Arciniega, ILB, Rocklin (Calif.) Sierra College -- The 6-feet-3, 240-pound Arciniega isn't the highest-rated member of the 2013 Orange class but it would appear he has an excellent opportunity to see significant playing time -- and possibly start. Gone is Siriki Diabate, the team's middle linebacker in 2012. Arciniega has the ideal body to play that position, and he already has a good bit of seasoning. Arciniega was the No. 10 recruit at his position among junior college prospects.
Cory Helms, OL, Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton -- Wake Forest was not a good running team in 2012, and Helms is a quality young center that can help turn that around. The 6-feet-3, 300-pounder, the No. 16 player nationally at center, not only has a good chance to play a lot in 2013, he could crack the starting lineup. Helms' specialty is run-blocking. In high school, he anchored a line that helped produce one of the better rushing attacks in the entire state of Georgia. He has a solid, stout frame, and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
The Cavaliers are getting a dynamic -- and speedy -- back in Taquan Mizzell.
Taquan Mizzell, APB, Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside -- Mizzell almost certainly will contribute in 2013. With the Cavaliers having to replace versatile running back Perry Jones, the team's second-leading rusher and receptions leader, the window is open for Mizzell, a versatile -- and speedy -- four-star prospect that was the country's No. 60 overall recruit. The 5-feet-10, 180-pounder is a dynamic back that can do all the traditional running back things -- and be a big part of the team's passing game. As we mentioned, Mizzell is fast, and because he also has great one-cut ability he is particularly dangerous in the open field. He's a big play waiting to happen.
Kendall Fuller, CB, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel. The Hokies need corners, and particularly difference-makers at that position. Enter Fuller, who certainly has that type of potential. A five-star recruit and No. 17 overall prospect in the 247Composite, Fuller is the country's No. 3-ranked cornerback for the 2013 class. The 6-feet, 175-pounder will need to add some bulk, but he has the ideal frame and length you want in an elite corner. Fuller also has outstanding speed and extremely fluid hips. We expect him to make a major contribution this fall.
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