The 2011 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List, honoring the top collegiate defensive player in the country, was announced on Tuesday, and the ACC led all conferences with 11 candidates. There were eight from the SEC, seven from the Big Ten, six from the Pac-10, six from the Big 12, one from the Big East, one from the Mountain West, one from the Western Athletic Conference and one from Notre Dame. Here are your ACC reps, with notes from the release:
Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami, DB, 6-4, 215 (Sanford, Fla.): Had 79 tackles and three interceptions.
Nigel Bradham, Florida State, LB, 6-2, 241 (Crawford, Fla.): Led Seminoles in tackles each of past two seasons. Had 93 tackles last year.
Quinton Coples, North Carolina, DE, 6-6, 245 (Kinston, N.C.): Led Tar Heels in tackles for loss (15.5), sacks (10) and quarterback hurries (12).
Matt Daniels, Duke, S, 6-1, 205 (Fayetville, Ga.): Second on team with 93 tackles. High school Watkins Award winner for top African-American student-athletes.
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB, 5-11, 170 (Delray Beach, Fla.): Nine interceptions last season led the nation and recorded 17 passes defended.
Brandon Jenkins, Florida State, DE, 6-3, 234 (Tallahassee, Fla.): Among the nation’s leaders in sacks (14) and tackles for losses (19.5) last season, second in ACC in sacks.
Luke Kuechly, Boston College, LB, 6-3, 235 (Cincinnati): Led the nation in tackles with 183. Consensus All-American, finalist for both the Butkus and Nagurski awards last year. Has had 10 or more tackles in 22 straight games.
Matt Merletti, North Carolina, S, 5-11, 185 (Cleveland): Had 37 tackles, two interceptions, special teams captain as a sophomore. Father is VP of Cleveland Browns.
Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB, 6-0, 185 (Lexington, Ky.): Had six interceptions (tied for fifth in the country) and 48 tackles. Son of former NFL star Frank Minnifield.
Sean Spence, Miami, LB, 6-0, 224 (Miami): Co-MVP of team, 11 tackles and 16 tackles for loss.
Kenny Tate, Maryland, S, 6-4, 220 (Forestville, Md.): Recorded 100 tackles and had 8.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions.