- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every week, the league offices in Greensboro, N.C., announce the top performers of the week based on votes by members of the media. Every week I will pass them on. Here are the ACC's Players of the Week for Week 1, as released and written by the ACC:
OFFENSIVE BACK – Danny O'Brien, Maryland, QB, So., 6-3, 215, Kernersville, N.C.
Danny O’Brien led Maryland to a 32-24 win over Miami by going 31-of-44 for 348 yards and a touchdown, as well as running for 37 yards. It was the third 300-yard passing game of the sophomore’s career. He completed 6 of 7 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, and after four series, was 19-of-26 for 228 yards. O’Brien spread the ball around, hitting six receivers on the night. His 385 total yards were the third most in the FBS in the opening weekend.
OFFENSIVE RECEIVER -- Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech, WR, Jr., 6-5, 206, Lithonia, Ga.
Stephen Hill recorded a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions in Georgia Tech’s 63-21 win over Western Carolina last Thursday, averaging 45.3 yards per catch. Hill became the first Yellow Jacket to catch two touchdown passes in a game since 2007 as Georgia Tech racked up 365 yards passing -- the most in the Paul Johnson era on the Flats.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN -- Anthony Mihota, Virginia, C, Sr., 6-4, 285, Fredericksburg, Va.
Mihota had a total of 16 knockdown blocks on 67 plays in helping UVa roll up 240 rushing yards and 256 passing yards in a 40-3 win over William & Mary. The strong offensive line play helped Virginia hold a 15-minute advantage in time of possession.
CO-DEFENSIVE LINEMAN -- Brian Slay, NC State, DT, Jr., 6-3, 290, Ashburn, Va.
A junior defensive tackle from Ashburn, Va., Slay played 45 snaps in only his second career start, and recorded six total tackles (four primary) and two sacks for losses of seven yards. Slay also caused a fumble and recovered two, taking one 52 yards for a touchdown, the fourth-longest fumble return in school history and the longest in 16 years. Slay’s touchdown return, the second of four NC State touchdowns set up directly by turnovers, came midway through the third quarter and gave NC State a 23-7 lead.
CO-DEFENSIVE LINEMAN -- Joe Vellano, Maryland, DT, Jr., 6-2, 285, Rexford, N.Y.
Joe Vellano played a pivotal role in Maryland’s 32-24 win over Miami. The junior recovered two fumbles, the first of which led to a field goal and the second of which he scooped up and ran in 30 yards for a touchdown. The return for a touchdown came with 0:47 left in the second quarter, giving Maryland a 20-14 lead and the momentum heading into halftime. Vellano also had two tackles on the evening while manning the interior of the line.
LINEBACKER -- Luke Kuechly, Boston College, LB, Jr., 6-3, 237, Cincinnati, Ohio
Junior linebacker Luke Kuechly recorded 19 tackles in Boston College’s 24-17 loss to Northwestern. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native has now tallied 10 or more tackles in 23 consecutive games which is the longest active streak of double-digit tackles in the country. Kuechly also recorded his fifth career interception with just over nine minutes to play in the first half and returned it 23 yards to the Northwestern 2-yard line. BC scored its first touchdown of the season two plays later.
DEFENSIVE BACK -- Cameron Chism, Maryland, CB, Sr., 5-10, 190, Washington, D.C.
Cameron Chism made a number of big plays for Maryland, none bigger than intercepting Miami quarterback Stephen Morris on fourth-and-3 and returning it 54 yards for a touchdown with under a minute to play. The score increased Maryland’s lead from a single point to 32-24. Chism also had a hand in another defensive score when he forced a fumble that Joe Vellano scooped up and ran in 30 yards for a TD just before halftime. The senior finished the game with six tackles, including one tackle for loss.
SPECIALIST -- T.J. Graham, NC State, WR, Sr., 6-0, 180, Raleigh, N.C.
Graham, a senior wide receiver and kick returner from Raleigh, returned three punts for 88 yards against the Flames, including a game-changing 82-yard return for a touchdown. That return was the 11th longest in school history and his second career punt return for a touchdown. Graham also returned four kickoffs for 99 yards, including one for 44 yards that put the Pack in business at the Liberty 33-yard line. Two plays later, Curtis Underwood scored on a 33-yard run. For the game, Graham had 88 yards on punt returns, 99 yards on kick returns, and a reception for seven yards, giving him 194 all-purpose yards.
ROOKIE -- Kevin Parks, Virginia, RB, Fr., 5-8, 195, Salisbury, N.C.
Parks enjoyed one of the best debuts by a running back in UVa history. The Salisbury, N.C., native rushed for 114 yards on 16 carries (7.1 average), and scored three touchdowns (19, 1, 26), the most rushing TDs by a Cavalier in the program’s history. It marked just the sixth time a UVa player has scored three TDs in season-opening game.
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