As part of our 2012 season preview, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC for this season, from 25 to one. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective, so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.
Just an unheralded sophomore going into last season, Tanner Price quickly changed perceptions of both himself and the Wake offense with a fast start. In his first five starts, he tossed 10 scores and ran for another, while throwing just two picks and amassing around 1,300 yards passing. If not for an injury late in the Syracuse game leading to a loss, his team could have very well been 5-0, including Florida State‘s pelt — a great win for a young, growing resume.
While Price’s statistics never fell off for the rest of the season (he finished with over 3,000 yards, 20 TDs and just six interceptions), his team’s win total did, however. Which is where some doubts start to creep in. Further still, Price’s favorite target, receiver Chris Givens, has also moved on to the NFL. So why does Price make this list? Experience and a willingness to improve.
One of the most-tenured quarterbacks in the conference, Price enters 2012 with two full seasons under his belt, a bowl game and visible improvement also in hand. From 2010 to 2011, every major passing category improved, and you watched a quarterback better mature into his role as the leader on the field. Unfortunately though, with his age has come additional worries, though one he’s more up to the challenge to cope with. With a young offense and inexperienced linemen and receivers, it’ll be up to the junior to make even more plays happen, with even less support. Some early feedback provided to CBSSports.com the other day may at least give us a glimpse into how ready he is:
“His improvement from freshman to sophomore year was fantastic,” head coach Jim Grobe said. “If he makes the same strides from his sophomore to junior year, he’s going to do some pretty special things for us.”
It’s a ringing endorsement from his coach, one Demon Deacons fans hope holds true. Already sacked 53 times in his college career, Price needs to better hold his composure and resist the urge to leave the pocket so often. If we see more improvement from last year (likely), defenders will have an even-tougher time tracking down the increasingly accurate passer.