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Most Overrated, Underrated and More

CHARLOTTE — The ACC held its annual media days on Wednesday and Thursday, which means the college football season is getting closer. Projections, predictions, pre-season squads and watchlists have been and will continue to pour in over the next month.

As part of the ACC kickoff, the USA TODAY Network interviewed 11 ACC players on everything from the conference’s most overrated players to its best lore.

Here’s what players had to say:

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Most Overrated Player: DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson Quarterback

The rising junior has built high expectations after two dominating starts as a rookie when replacing Trevor Lawrence in 2020. As a full-time starter last season, however, he struggled.

“He kind of got exposed last season,” an ACC player said.

Others mentioned: NC State quarterback Devin Leary

ACC Most Underrated Player: Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham

Despite back-to-back losing seasons, the Cardinals’ starting signalman hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the conference, which is brimming with talent in the position. For some, Cunningham stands out and deserves more attention.

“He’s not always considered a great passer, but he’s got a really, really strong arm and I think he’s got great control of that offense,” an ACC defensive player said. “He is always a challenge, a nightmare of confrontation.”

Others mentioned: Louisville linebacker Yasir Abdullah, Syracuse running back Sean Tucker, Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers, Clemson defensive lineman Myles Murphy, Wake Forest running back Justice Ellison , Miami running back Jaylan Knighton and Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson.

Favorite ACC stadium: Carter-Finley Stadium

NC State’s 57,583-capacity stadium was the source of both frustration and admiration from opponents, with crowd noise never an issue.

“Everybody’s screaming your name, everybody’s calling you,” said another ACC player. “They call your mother’s name and things like that.”

Others mentioned: Pittsburgh, Clemson and Virginia Tech

Rowdiest ACC Fanbase: Clemson

As one player said: “They don’t get very cold there.” Another player noted that he couldn’t hear anything when playing it. Fan turnout appears to be playing a part for the Tigers, who haven’t lost a home game since 2016 to the country’s longest current winning streak at 34 games.

Others mentioned: Pitt, NC State and Virginia Tech

ACC player to add to squad: Multiple

Wolfpack linebackers Drake Thomas, a 2021 ACC first-team selection, and Isaiah Moore were two of the players some wanted to add to their current teams.

“I love our linebackers. I wouldn’t trade them with the world,” an ACC offensive player said. “But playing (Moore), he’s a guy you don’t always want to play against, like, he’s a great linebacker. It would be a lot of fun to play with him.”

Others Mentioned: Flowers and Florida State defensive tackle Robert Cooper

ACC Championship Favorite: NC State

The Wolfpack were close to getting there last year, but a loss to Miami broke the tie with Wake Forest to earn the Demon Deacons the Atlantic Division title. NC State has been good enough to earn the respect of its peers, however, as one of the favorites to win it all this season.

“They have a lot of guys coming back,” one player said. “They’ll be good this year so think outside of us, it’s probably them.”

Others mentioned: Clemson and Boston College

Best traditions: Clemson and Virginia Tech

Clemson’s overall experience at Memorial Stadium has yet to leave an impression on his opponents, who relish the Tigers’ tradition of running down the hill.

“It’s kind of cool to get that sprint down the hill,” an ACC quarterback said. “It just makes your blood flow. I kinda like that.

Playing “Enter Sandman” at Virginia Tech has been a fixture on the program since 2000 and one of the most notable traditions not only in the ACC but also in college football.

“Being a rookie going out there and hearing Enter Sandman how the stadium moves, it’s a special place to play,” an opposing ACC player said. “So I really think they have a lot of good traditions.”

David Thompson is an award-winning USA Today Network reporter covering NC State and Duke athletics. He can be reached at [email protected], 828-231-1747 or on Twitter at @daveth89.