The ACC has been loaded with elite and talented playmakers on the defensive line for several seasons. There have been many defensive linemen who dominated the ACC to go on to dominate in the NFL. Four defensive linemen from the ACC were drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL. The ACC also had one defensive line drafted in the first round in the 2022 Draft and two in the 2021 Draft. This upcoming 2022 College Football season has the potential to be even better. The conference is returning several elite playmakers that rank among some of the top athletes in college football. These players will lead their defenses to great potential results in the upcoming 2022 season. Here are the top defensive linemen from the ACC going into the 2022 College Football season.
Best ACC Defensive Linemen Returning for 2022 Season
Fourth Best: DE Habakkuk Baldonado (Pittsburgh)
Several players in college football look the part of an efficient edge rusher. Pittsburgh’s Habakkuk Baldonado measures in at 6-5; 255 pounds with an incredible wingspan. He is a defensive end that can beat the offensive tackle or guard with his tremendous athletic ability and moves to create separation. His best feature is his instincts, as he predicts where the ball carrier will go and then makes the open-field tackle. He can back up and play spy, but he can crash to cause chaos in the backfield. His wingspan alone is a mismatch to the opposing offensive linemen. This past season, Baldonado was named to the second-team All-ACC selection as he accounted for 41 total tackles, 25 solo tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and nine sacks.
Third Best: DT Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh)
The Panthers are a program that loves to develop tenacious defensive linemen, hence Aaron Donald. One player that matches his tenacity and great playmaking abilities from the interior defensive line is Calijah Kancey. At 6-0; 275 pounds, Kancey is an explosive and violent attacker at the line of scrimmage and into the backfield. He gets off so quickly at the snap of the football and uses his speed, agility, and strength to quickly overpower the offensive line. He has been a great role player in 2020 as he accounted for 27 tackles and seven tackles for loss. This past season, Kancey accounted for 33 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and one forced fumble. He finished the 2021 season as a first-team All-ACC selection and a third-team All-American by the AP.
Second Best: DE Myles Murphy (Clemson)
Myles Murphy is another example of Clemson recruiting the elite defensive linemen from high school and having them contribute immediately. His tremendous speed and athleticism make him a difficult edge rusher to slow down. He possesses a quick get-off and solid strength to overpower his linemen. Murphy is a strongside defensive that can hold his own at the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback. In his first year at Clemson in 2020, Murphy accounted for 37 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and three forced fumbles. This past season, Murphy accounted for 39 total tackles, 21 solo tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles. He was named to the 2021 second-team All-ACC and was named fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele as a result.
The Best: DT Bryan Bresee (Clemson)
From the moment Bryan Bresee signed with the Clemson Tigers, he was meant to be a defensive star. Bresee arrived at Clemson as the number one prospect in the 2020 National Signing Class. As a true freshman, he accounted for 23 total tackles, 13 solo tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and two pass breakups. Bresee is looking for a big bounce-back season after missing all but four games due to injury this past season. He is one of the most complete interior defensive linemen in college football as he possesses a combination of speed, strength, and athleticism. He has a great motor to create push into the backfield as he can also chase down the quarterback or ball-carrier. Bresee is a player that could easily make himself an All-American at the end of the 2022 season.
Honorable Mention: EDGE Isaiah Foskey (Notre Dame)
One of the top rising edge rushers in college football is Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey who enters 2022 as a senior. Foskey is a two-technique weakside defensive end that can create pressure in pass-rush situations. As well as hold his ground at the line of scrimmage on run plays. He had a breakout year in 2020 when the Fighting Irish played in the ACC. Foskey accounted for 20 total tackles, five tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He got even better in the 2021 season as he relied more on his instincts. Foskey accounted for 52 total tackles, 36 solo tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, ten sacks, six forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.