We’re less than two months away from the start of the 2013 college football season, and that means preview countdowns! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Miami’s passing game was a roller coaster ride last season, sometimes way up (see the ACC-record 566 yards through the air against NC State) and others, way down (just 155 yards two weeks later against North Carolina). So you’ll have to excuse Phillip Dorsett for a resume that wasn’t overly gaudy in 2012: 58 catches, 842 yards, four TDs. But just like the passing game overall, when Dorsett was at his best, it appeared the Hurricanes’ offense was as well. Miami was 3-1 when he had at least 100 yards receiving, and 4-1 when he caught at least six passes. In two separate games he amassed over 180 yards (both wins), plus had three different games where he averaged over 20 yards per reception. He may not be utilized to his full potential just yet, but Dorsett has the makings of being one of the conference’s top big play threats now as a junior.
Beyond a slightly erratic passing game that slows him down somewhat, Dorsett must also compete with the fact that he’s just 5’9″ — smaller than many corners and just about any safety. But he uses his speed (4.4-second 40-yard dash time) and strength (weighs in at a solid 187 pounds) to beat defensive backs off the snap when they play him a bit too close to the line of scrimmage. There’s a distinct possibility Dorsett could get shifted to a more distinct slot role this year — especially since he’ll be lining up opposite the 6’2″ Rashawn Scott — but that also may not be a bad thing. He’s got the speed to beat cornerbacks in confined spaces, and can outrun any linebacker in the conference. In sets where Duke Johnson is also in a pass-receiving role, defenses could end up with their hands full, even if one or both just serve as a decoy to get Scott into a one-on-one coverage situation down the field.
For 2013, there’s no mistaking the amount of talent MIami brings back on offense (all of last year’s main contributors except running back Mike James), so one would assume the only thing that could hold Dorsett back from even greater production (numbers-wise) is the necessity of ball distribution. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be any worse. He’s been working on his speed (as if he needed to be any faster) in the offseason with the Miami indoor track team and he’s got the support of the entire staff behind him. There’s also the possibility of some more dynamic play-calling now with former Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley now in the fold. If that’s the case, the ‘Canes (and Dorsett) could be in for a breakout season this fall.