- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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This week, "College Football Live" is taking a look at the most impressive individual college football seasons over the past 50 years. We’re talking about players -- not teams -- who had unforgettable seasons. Today, we’ll take a look at the top five individual seasons in the ACC during that span. While you might quickly recall players such as Doug Flutie and Michael Vick (I did), keep in mind they weren’t in the ACC at that time. This list only includes former athletes whose teams were members of the conference. This, of course, is an impossible task. I expect you to challenge and add to this list, but I’m pleased to kick off the conversation.
Let the arguments begin …
1. Charlie Ward, QB, Florida State, 1993: It doesn't get much better than a national title and the Heisman Trophy, and Ward won both. He also won the Davey O'Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the ACC's Player of the Year. The football and basketball star set 19 school and seven league records in his two seasons as starter. He set the school record for touchdown passes in a season with 27 in 1993.
2. C.J. Spiller, RB/KR, Clemson, 2009: He finished third in the nation in kickoff return average, fourth in all-purpose running with 191 yards per game and sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. The Tigers' schedule included four top 15 opponents, and Spiller had 234 total yards against Georgia Tech in the regular season, 301 against the Jackets in the ACC championship game, 227 against TCU and 310 against Miami. He broke his own record with 312 yards against Florida State in a 40-37 victory. He had a play of at least 54 yards in 10 of 12 games against FBS opponents and six games of at least 200 all-purpose running yards, a Clemson single-season record. Spiller scored a school-record 21 touchdowns in 2009 and was the only player nationally to score a touchdown in every game.
3. Philip Rivers, QB, NC State, 2003: He accounted for 34 touchdowns, 4,491 yards and 4,600 yards of total offense. He set the ACC records for total offense, total offense per game, touchdown responsibility (37), passing yards (Matt Ryan broke that in 2007), touchdown passes and completion percentage (Riley Skinner broke that in 2007).
4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech, 2006: He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver and finished 10th in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy. Johnson was a unanimous All-American (AP, AFCA, FWAA, Walter Camp, The Sporting News) and the ACC’s Player of the Year. He tied for second in the nation with 15 touchdown catches, a Tech record. He had a school-record 1,202 yards receiving on 78 catches, the second-best season total in Tech history. He caught 15 of Tech's 25 touchdown passes and led the ACC in receptions per game (5.4) and receiving yards per game (85.9). In the Gator Bowl against West Virginia, Johnson had nine catches for a career-best 186 yards.
5. Randy White, DL, Maryland, 1974: White was a consensus All-American and won the Outland and Lombardi trophies. He was also the ACC Player of the Year and had 147 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. The Terps were ACC champions that season, and White was named the MVP of the Liberty Bowl despite a 7-3 loss. He was the first overall pick in the 1975 draft.
Also considered, in no particular order:
Matt Ryan, Boston College, 2007
Brian Piccolo, Wake Forest, 1964
Don McCauley, North Carolina, 1970
Chris Weinke, Florida State, 2000
Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech, 1999
Dre’ Bly, North Carolina, 1996
E.J. Henderson, Maryland, 2002
Keith Adams, Clemson, 1999
Terry Kinard, Clemson, 1992
Clarkston Hines, Duke, 1989
Thomas Jones, Virginia, 1999
Torry Holt, NC State, 1998
Peter Boulware, Florida State, 1996
Herman Moore, Virginia, 1990
Lawrence Taylor, North Carolina, 1980
This week, "College Football Live" is taking a look at the most impressive individual college football seasons over the past 50 years. We’re talking about players -- not teams -- who had unforgettable seasons.