There is only one month left in the regular season, so it is time to start looking at the top candidates for ACC Player of the Year.
It should not come as much of a shock that nearly all of the candidates on our list are offensive players. This most certainly has been the year of the offense in the ACC. So without further adieu, here are the top five players Heather and I believe will get the most consideration.
Be sure to vote for your choice!
Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina. Bernard has been virtually unstoppable in the seven games he has played this season, and has made the strongest push in recent weeks to merit serious consideration for the award. Bernard now is the top all-purpose runner in the nation, averaging a whopping 214 yards per game. Being used in the return game has provided an added dimension, as we all saw with his 74-yard game-winning punt return last week against NC State.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson. Boyd has made huge strides over last season and is a big reason the Tigers are 7-1 and in position to either play in the ACC championship game or secure a BCS berth. Boyd has thrown for 2,336 yards this season and is No. 2 in the ACC in passing yards per game, averaging 292. He also ranks No. 10 in the nation in passing efficiency and has added another dimension to his game as well -- he has been able to effectively run the ball.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson. Hopkins emerged as the best player in the first half of the season, and that probably came as a surprise to some. But with Sammy Watkins slowed, the receiving group became the Hopkins show. He leads the ACC with 10 touchdown receptions and will easily clear 1,000 yards -- he already has 909 and 58 receptions. He has four 100-yard games this season and holds the single-season receptions mark (13) and one of the best single-game receiving yards mark (197).
EJ Manuel, QB, FSU. Manuel is having the best season of his career, ranking No. 3 in the nation in passing efficiency. He has thrown for 2,315 yards this season and needs 352 yards to set a new career high for passing yards. He already is averaging a career high in completion percentage (70) and needs three more touchdown passes to set a career high as well. Manuel is the best player on the best team in the ACC so he absolutely is deserving of consideration.
Bjoern Werner, DE, FSU. On the other side of the ball, Werner is the best player on the best defense in the ACC. Werner is tied for the ACC lead in sacks with eight (along with teammate Tank Carradine), and is tied for second in the ACC with 12.5 tackles for loss. Florida State ranks No. 2 in the nation in total defense, and he is probably the runaway choice for ACC Defensive Player of the Year.