The annual coaching carousel has finally stopped spinning and all of the prominent job openings for the upcoming 2024 college football season have been filled.

But it’s never too soon to start looking ahead to the next ride.

There are 2 kinds of candidates whose names are mentioned for every job that becomes available.

You have the usual suspects. They’re the guys like recent hires Manny Diaz at Duke and Bill O’Brien at Boston College who have been there and done this before. And then there are the up-and-coming assistants who have either paid their dues or been part of successful programs long enough to earn their first shot at coaching a team of their own.

Here are the 5 ACC assistants in that 2nd category most likely to get their opportunities as head coaches after the 2024 season.

Garrett Riley, Clemson OC

It’s only a matter of when Riley will get a head coaching job.

Even though he’s only 34, it shouldn’t be much longer. Because of his bloodline, the coaches he’s worked under and the award-winning resume he’s already put together, the younger brother of Southern Cal HC Lincoln Riley is generally considered the next big thing in college football.

Known for his offensive creativity, a skill learned during his early association with Mike Leach, Riley became more than just Lincoln’s kid brother in 2022 when he won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant for his role in TCU’s surprising run to the national championship game.

His work in transforming Max Duggan into a Heisman finalist gave him a reputation for being a “quarterback whisperer,” and led Clemson’s Dabo Swinney to hire him as a mentor to his young quarterback prospect, Cade Klubnik. Depending on the degree of success they achieve in their 2nd season together in Death Valley, Riley should have his pick of head coaching jobs in 2025.

Alex Atkins, Florida State OC

Atkins already is being prominently mentioned as a candidate for head coaching jobs, including both Tulane and Washington after helping the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season and ACC championship last year.

He came to FSU with Mike Norvell as offensive line coach in 2020 before being elevated to offensive coordinator 2 years later. In his debut season in that role, his unit led the ACC in total offense while tying a school record with 7 consecutive 200-yard rushing games. Last year’s team was the highest scoring in the league at 34.6 points per game – a number that would have been higher had quarterback Jordan Travis not been injured.

If there’s anything capable of holding Atkins back, it’s the 2-year show-cause penalty he was assessed by the NCAA in January for driving a prospective transfer to visit FSU’s name, image and likeness collective. He’ll also have to sit out the first 3 games of the 2024 season.

Will the sanction hurt his head coaching prospects? That won’t be known until after this season. But even if it does, it should only be temporary.

Brian Brohm, Louisville OC

Like Riley, Brohm is a young up-and-comer best known as the sibling of a successful head coach. The difference is that Brian has spent his entire career working for his big brother Jeff, following him from Western Kentucky to Purdue to his current gig as offensive coordinator at Louisville.

His offenses with the Boilermakers were among the most explosive in the Big Ten, averaging better than 300 passing yards per game for 4 consecutive seasons. He also proved his chops as an elite recruiter, whose list of success stories includes Aidan O’Connell, currently the starting quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders.

His first offense at Louisville produced 3 NFL Draft picks and helped propel the Cardinals to 10 wins and the ACC Championship Game for the first time.

The 38-year-old former NFL quarterback even got a brief taste of what it’s like to run a team. He was called into service for the 2020 season-opener against Iowa when Jeff tested positive for COVID and again as the interim coach for Purdue’s 2022 Citrus Bowl game against LSU before rejoining his brother at their alma mater.

Tony Gibson, NC State DC

Gibson is Dave Doeren’s top lieutenant and the architect of a defense that has been the backbone of the most successful 4-season stretch in the Wolfpack’s history. His units have consistently been ranked among the nation’s top 25 since 2020, leading to 34 victories and earning him multiple Broyles Award nominations.

Last year’s team produced the Butkus and Bednarik Award in linebacker Payton Wilson.

The 51-year West Virginia native is so valuable to NC State that in December, he was rewarded with a 3-year contract extension worth a reported $1.5 million a year, making him the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the ACC. But good luck keeping him around for the entire length of the deal.

Gibson got serious consideration for the Charlotte job in 2022 and was mentioned in connection with the opening at Duke before the Blue Devils hired Manny Diaz. It’s only a matter of time before the right opportunity comes along and lures him away.

Chris Marve, Virginia Tech DC

Bud Foster spent 32 seasons as Virginia Tech’s defensive coordinator, opting to stay with his friend Frank Beamer in Blacksburg rather than going off to run a program of his own. It’s highly unlikely that the Hokies’ current DC will choose to carve out a similar niche.

Marve was already a rising star before being hired to run Brent Pry’s defense 2 years ago. In August 2018, while he was still the linebackers coach at Florida State, he was named by to its “40 under 40” list of upwardly mobile young coaches.

His defense ranked 2nd in the ACC last season, allowing an average of only 316.8 yards in leading the Hokies to their first winning season since 2019 and first bowl victory since 2016. Led by Florida transfer Antwaun Powell-Ryland, Tech was also No. 2 in the conference with 39 sacks.

With a coaching resume that includes tenures at Mississippi State and his alma mater Vanderbilt, in addition to Florida State, he has the kind of pedigree that’s attractive to athletic directors looking to make a splashy hire.