Most underrated ACC QB recruits in the last 10 years

Recruiting coverage has grown significantly over the last 10 years, and it seems that every fanbase in the college football world can point to at least one 17-year-old signal-caller who they think is going to lead their program to unprecedented heights. While that sometimes turns out to be the case (*cough* Jameis Winston), occasionally a quarterback prospect emerges from under the radar and writes the script for a feel-good underdog story.

In the last decade, many of the ACC’s 14 football programs have found diamonds in the rough who went on to star for their program. Below is a list of the five most underrated quarterbacks dating back to the Class of 2004, based on star rankings from and


5. Christian Ponder, Florida State, Class of 2006

Rating: Scout — 3-star, Rivals — 3-star

Career: 61.8%, 6,872 yards, 49 TD, 30 INT, 833 rushing yards, 10 rush TD

A lot of people forget that Florida State was plagued for years by mediocre quarterback play before Ponder came along. While Ponder wasn’t the Heisman candidate that the Seminoles hoped he would be, in 2010 he helped the program notch its first 10-win season in seven years. He was also good enough to be selected No. 12 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.


4. Thad Lewis, Duke, Class of 2006

Rating: Scout — 3-star, Rivals — 3-star

2009 (Sr.): 61.0%, 3,330 yards, 20 TD, 8 INT

Career: 58.1%, 10,065 yards, 67 TD, 40 INT

It’s scary to think of what Lewis could have done if David Cutcliffe coached him all four years. Not that Lewis was bad before Cutcliffe arrived. Despite Duke’s struggles as a team, Lewis received second-team All-ACC honors twice and finished his college career with the third-most passing yards in conference history.


3. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse, Class of 2008

Rating: Scout — 2-star, Rivals — 2-star

2012 (Sr.): 62.4%, 3,749 yards, 26 TD, 10 INT

Career: 60.3%, 9,190 yards, 70 TD, 28 INT

Nassib never actually played in the ACC, but as a sophomore, he led Syracuse to its first winning season in nine years. His career touchdown-to-interception ratio is nothing short of incredible, and his 9,190 passing yards are impressive, as well.


2. Riley Skinner, Wake Forest, Class of 2005

Rating: Scout — 2-star, Rivals — NR

2009 (Sr.): 66.0%, 3,160 yards, 26 TD, 12 INT

Career: 66.9%, 9,762 yards, 60 TD, 37 INT

Skinner didn’t take long to leave his mark in Winston-Salem. As a redshirt freshman, he led the Demon Deacons to their winningest season in school history, helping Wake Forest win its second-ever ACC title. Philip Rivers, Tajh Boyd, Thad Lewis and Chris Weinke are the only ACC quarterbacks to throw for more careers yards.


1. Russell Wilson, NC State, Class of 2007

Rating: Scout — 2-star, Rivals — 2-star

Career at NCSU: 57.8%, 8,545 yards, 76 TD, 26 INT, 1,083 rushing yards, 17 rush TD

Career overall: 60.9%, 11,720 yards, 109 TD, 30 INT, 1,421 rushing yards, 23 rush TD 

Fun fact: Both 2-star quarterbacks in NC State’s 2007 class ended up in the NFL — Russell Wilson and Audie Cole. While Cole thrived at linebacker during his time in Raleigh, Wilson was outstanding under center. The Richmond native nearly won ACC Player of the Year honors as a redshirt freshman, and his career numbers were tremendous. The team’s nine wins during his junior year tied for the second-most in school history.