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August 27, 2012

ACC: Top prospects who need to step up

MORE: Rivals100 | Rivals250

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

If fans of the University of Miami football program are frustrated with the development of offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, each and every one of them will need to line up behind coach Al Golden to express it.

The second-year head coach has not spared the feelings of the once-prized recruit.

"He started two games for us and played 200 plays for us last year. That's like a lost year," Golden said. "We're trying to improve on what he did last year."

Rivals.com takes a conference-by-conference look back at former highly rated prospects from each team who need to start justifying their hype.
TuesdayBig 12
WednesdayBig Ten, Pac-12
FridayBig East/ND/Others

Miami needs Henderson to become the player they expected him to be when he arrived on campus. Henderson needs the same, and he headlines a list of players in the ACC that are running the risk of being considered a bust.

Gary Ferman, who covers the Hurricanes for CaneSport.com, said that football has never appeared to be a priority for Henderson.

"The expectations for him were massive but he has never seemed to be all that interested in football," Ferman said. "It almost seems as if he is playing football because he is big, but his heart is not into it. He has so much raw potential that he probably could flip a switch at any time here over the next year or two and evolve as a first round draft choice. But time is running out on him."

Henderson spent much of his senior season at St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Durham Hall as the No. 1 player in the Rivals100 for the Class of 2010. He finished the evaluation period as the No. 2 overall player, behind defensive end Ronald Powell.

By contrast, Powell was named to the All-SEC Freshman team as a true freshman and has 13 starts under his belt for the Florida Gators.

Henderson did not sign on National Signing Day, instead waiting until late-March to sign with USC. When the school was hit with sanctions, he was released from his Letter of Intent and elected to sign with Miami that July.

The lofty ranking, as well as the circumstances surrounding Henderson's recruitment and commitment, has added to fan frustration.

"Any time you have a situation like that where hopes are elevated and not met, wrath of the fans becomes a normal part of the process," he said. "He has been a big disappointment to the fans because this was a guy that you were supposed to be able to build your offensive line around for three years and it just has not happened."

The good news for Henderson and Miami is that there is still time to right the ship.

As a 6-foot-8 athlete that has been compared to longtime NFL player and former Hurricane Bryant McKinnie, Henderson has always had the talent. Ferman thinks that this may be that season.

"I think a solid year could be redemption for him and certainly would be important to the NFL people," he said. "Seantrel absolutely can turn it around becausehe has so much athletic ability for a guy his size and so much raw potential."

With just about a week left until the season kicks off, the clock is ticking on Henderson and many others.

Below is a look at the other former top prospects who need to step up in the ACC. (Click player's name for a look at his prospect profile coming out of high school):

boston college
Player: Dillon Quinn, defensive tackle. Ranked No. 102 overall in the Rivals250 Class of 2009.
Buzz: Quinn was one the highest ranked players in Boston College's 2009 signing class and has played sparingly since arriving on campus. This year he is poised to be a starter and, as a redshirt junior, he has two years to show that he is the NFL prospect many thought him to be.

Player: Brandon Ford, receiver/tight end. No. 46-ranked wide receiver in Class of 2008.
Buzz: Ford's career so far has been a mixed bag, but mostly bad. He has had 25 receptions and just four touchdowns through 373 snaps and just one start during his time at Clemson. A position change to the 3-back position has him in line to start and possibly showcase his skills this season.

Player: Kenny Anunike, defensive end. No. 34-ranked tight end in Class of 2008.
Buzz: Anunike arrived at Duke with a lot of hype and plenty of expectations. Since then he has flashed greatness but proved to be injury prone. As a junior last season, Anunike looked ready to live up the hype and led the ACC in sacks and tackles for loss through four games, but a season-ending injury (his third as a Blue Devil) cut his 2011 campaign short. If he can stay healthy, he is poised to be an impact player.

florida state
Player: James Wilder Jr., running back. Ranked No. 11 overall in the Rivals100 Class of 2011.
Buzz: It may be a bit hasty to put a true sophomore in this spot, but as one of the most high profile recruits in the country, Wilder was expected to make an instant impact. He was recruited with the expectation that he would be the first Seminole since Warrick Dunn to break the 1,000 yard barrier, and it's up to Wilder to make an impact sooner rather than later.

georgia tech
Player: B.J. Bostic, running back. Ranked No. 249 overall in Rivals250 Class of 2010.
Buzz: Bostic is in for a battle at Georgia Tech if he wants to make an impact. He missed last season with a broken arm and has been moved to the A-back position for Tech after being passed as the feature back by a walk-on. He is now splitting time with Synjyn Days - a former quarterback - to be that slot running back. While there are plenty of carries to go around at Tech, how many go Bostic's way will be up to him.

Player: Devonte Campbell, tight end. Ranked No. 9 overall in Prep School Top 50 Class of 2008.
Buzz: Campbell was a four-star player in high school and earned four-stars when he went the prep school route, but has done absolutely nothing to merit that consideration in his time as a Terrapin. The word out of Maryland is that this year he looks to have hit his stride and may be poised for a breakthrough season.

n.c. state
Player: Brandon Barnes, running back. No. 33-ranked athlete in Class of 2008.
Buzz: The writing on the wall started early for Barnes, as he was once a five-star player early in the recruiting process but ended the 2008 cycle outside of the Rivals250. He has not done much of anything at N.C. State since his arrival and is now battling for playing time as a fifth-year senior.

north carolina
Player: Jheranie Boyd, wide receiver. Ranked No. 48 overall in Rivals100 Class of 2009.
Buzz: Boyd has toyed with Tar Heel fans during his time on campus, amassing just 40 receptions and 12 touchdowns over three years. He has a 221-yard game on his resume against LSU in 2010 but has been invisible many other times. North Carolina is alarmingly thin at receiver this year and Boyd could have a big year if he takes advantage of this opportunity.

Player: Tim Smith, wide receiver. No. 38-ranked wide receiver in Class of 2009.
Buzz: Smith missed his entire sophomore year with an ankle injury and redshirted. He looked okay working back into shape last season with a 33-catch season. This year, with the departure of Kris Burd, it could be up to Smith to live up to the hype and fill the void.

virginia tech
Player: Vinston Painter, offensive tackle. Ranked No. 126 overall in Rivals250 Class of 2008.
Buzz: At 6-foot-6 and over 300 pounds, Painter has always looked the part of a bookend tackle but he has not been able to live up to appearances. Painter has bounced around as a back up at tackle, then guard and back to tackle. This season he seems to have settled in at right tackle but Michael Via is ready to roll if he struggles.

wake forest
Player: Daniel Mack, safety. No. 38-ranked inside linebacker in Class of 2009.
Buzz: Mack was the highest rated player in Wake Forest's 2009 class and made his presence felt immediately. He made seven starts as a redshirt freshman and played in all 12 games. Mack's playing time and impact fell last season and he ended the year with 13 tackles. This year, he will step into the starting free safety spot vacated by Josh Bush and the time is now for a breakout season.

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