- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Time to move on in our countdown of the top 25 players in the ACC during the 2012 season.
No. 22 Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech.
2012 stats: Exum led the ACC with 21 passes defended -- a total that ranks him No. 2 in the nation -- while also tying for the league-lead with five interceptions in a solid season for the Hokies. After moving to cornerback from safety, Exum grew into the position as the year went on, finishing with 48 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Previous ranking: NR.
Making the case: Much like the Virginia Tech defense, Exum got better as the season progressed, becoming much more comfortable playing cornerback. You could see the athleticism that helped him excel as a safety, and that essentially allowed him to pass Kyle Fuller as the team's top cover cornerback. Fuller appeared on this preseason list, and several other media lists as a preseason All-ACC choice. But Exum ended up making the second team, while Fuller got honorable mention.
Exum played an outstanding game in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers, a game that should make him a preseason favorite as an All-ACC selection. His crucial interception of Gary Nova in the fourth quarter allowed Virginia Tech to tie the score, and the Hokies eventually won in overtime. Exum ended up being named the game's MVP for his game-changing interception.
11hAndrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna