by J.T. Toth
Photo by J.T. Toth (Draft 412).
The ACC has produced 6 of the 32 current starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and after this season, that number should go up. The ACC signal caller position is bolstered this season by North Carolina’s Drake Maye who could go in the top 3 in the 2024 draft. But don’t stop there—Riley Leonard of Duke, Jordan Travis of Florida State, Tyler Van Dyke of Miami, FL, and Phil Jurkovec of Pitt are all on the NFL draft radar in 2024 as well.
Over the past three seasons, Pitt’s defensive unit has intercepted an ACC high 44 passes. This season, the Panthers are boasting what could be the best tandem in the ACC in M.J. Devonshire and Marquis Williams, who combined in 2022 for 5 interceptions and returned 4 of them for touchdowns.
The Panthers' secondary, though, is more than just the 2 big NFL prospects at corner. The starting safeties of redshirt sophomore Javon McIntyre, and junior Phillip O’Brien Jr. along with the depth of redshirt senior A.J. Woods and transfer junior safety Donovan McMillon give the Panthers one of the best overall secondaries in the ACC.
During media day availability, secondary coach Archie Collins stated that he loves the depth of the secondary and the welcome challenges. When asked about the challenge of facing top notch quarterbacks, Coach Collins told Draft 412, “We are used to the challenges of playing top notch quarterbacks. How many quarterbacks start in the NFL from the ACC right now?”
Well, Coach—I have your answer in line one of this article. Six.
Devonshire and Williams were both quick to compliment their teammates and how close they are as a unit. Devonshire stated that one of his favorite moments of last season was the excitement on the sideline following an A.J. Woods interception. Devonshire said, “It doesn’t matter who makes the play, we play together as a team.”
The consensus sentiment throughout media day was the defensive back's room knows the NFL will be watching ACC signal callers and thus, they will be watching them.
The Panthers square off against Drake Maye and North Carolina on September 23rd at Acrisure Stadium in their 4th game of the season. According to M.J. Devonshire, the Pitt Panthers relish the opportunity to play against the conference’s best.
“It doesn't matter who lines up across from me or is throwing the ball. I will be ready,” Devonshire said.