Looking for tackles in the ACC
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Speaking of who might challenge BC linebacker Mark Herzlich for the 2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, an equally interesting question for 2009 will be who the league's top tackler will be without Duke linebacker Michael Tauiliili around. North Carolina linebacker Mark Paschal is gone, as is Virginia linebacker Jon Copper and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.
Here are my top five spring choices:
1. North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant -- He ranks second among all returning tacklers in the ACC with 122. Like Herzlich, he's got a keen eye for the ball, and made big plays in the passing game. Sturdivant had two interceptions for 89 yards in returns, including a 32-yard touchdown against Notre Dame.
2. Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich -- The fact that he returned for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft means he's going to play with a purpose. He is the ACC's leading returner in career tackles with 249. He had 2.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
3. Duke linebacker Vincent Rey -- He's moving over to the middle to fill the void left by Tauiliili and ranks second among all returning career tacklers in the ACC with 222. He averaged 9.1 tackles per game last year.
4. NC State linebacker Nate Irving -- Another player who made the Pack noticeably better when he was healthy enough to be on the field, Irving finished 2008 with 80 tackles but averaged eight per game. He's another linebacker who can disrupt the passing game, as he finished with four interceptions in 10 games (fourth nationally among linebackers).
5. Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak -- He averaged 10.2 tackles per game last year -- second in the ACC. He's a blue-collar player who missed a season with a knee injury but will be needed to step up with seven starters on defense gone.
4:13 4th Qtr Miami (FL) 14 South Carolina 24 9:25 3rd Qtr Boston College 7 Penn State 7 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC Final Cincinnati 17 Virginia Tech 33 Final 15 Arizona State 36 Duke 31
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35 Final Rutgers 40 North Carolina 21 Final North Carolina State 34 UCF 27
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State