ACC: 2011 ACC postseason Top 25

No. 1. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

2011 stats: He finished with 191 total tackles (102 solo), 15.9 tackles per game, 12 tackles for loss, and three interceptions, including one for a touchdown.

Previously ranked: No. 1

Making the case for Kuechly: In only three seasons, Kuechly became one of, if not the most decorated defender in league history. He won the Lombardi Award, given annually to the nation’s top lineman or linebacker; the Nagurski Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player; the Dick Butkus Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker; and was named the LOTT IMPACT Defensive Player of the Year. You’d never know it by talking to him, though, as Kuechly remained one of the most humble players in the league. He was a relentless player, a hard-hitter who seemed to be everywhere at once. He was more than just a tackling machine. He made game-changing plays and could disrupt the passing game. He ended his junior season leading the nation in tackles for the second straight year. Kuechly set ACC records for tackles in a season (191) and career (532) in 2011. He led the nation in tackles and solo tackles for the second straight year, averaging an NCAA-record 15.92 hits per game. He also finished with an ACC-record 532 career tackles, just 14 shy of the NCAA’s career record. His 14.0 career tackle average is an ACC and NCAA record. There’s no question he deserves the top spot for 2011.

No. 2 David Amerson, CB, NC State

No. 3 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

No. 4 David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

No. 5 Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

No. 6 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

No. 7 Matt Daniels, S, Duke

No. 8 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No. 9 Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
No. 2. David Amerson, CB, NC State

2011 stats: He started 13 games and finished the season with 59 tackles, five pass breakups, and 13 interceptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

Previously ranked: Not ranked.

Making the case for Amerson: He was a first-team Walter Camp All-American, and led the FBS with 13 interceptions -- six more than any other player. It was the most in the FBS since 1968 and tied as the second-best total in FBS history. He broke the ACC’s single-season interception record in the upset of No. 7-ranked Clemson. He also broke the school’s single-season interception record of nine that had stood for 73 years and was set by Art Rooney in 1937 and 1938. He was one of just three true freshmen to start a game for the Pack in 2010. To say he had a breakout sophomore season is an understatement. In 2010, he didn’t have one pick in 640 snaps. He found his comfort zone after moving from boundary to field corner.

No. 3 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

No. 4 David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

No. 5 Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

No. 6 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

No. 7 Matt Daniels, S, Duke

No. 8 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No. 9Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
No. 3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

2011 stats: He had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns, 231 yards on 32 carries, and 33 kickoff returns for 826 yards and one touchdown. He finished with 2,288 all-purpose yards in 656 snaps over 13 games (10 starts). Watkins averaged 14.9 yards per catch, 7.2 yards per carry, and 25 yards per kickoff return. He also completed his only pass for nine yards.

Previously ranked: Not ranked

Making the case for Watkins: If you watched him at all last season, he made the case for himself, as a primary receiver, ball carrier and kick returner. He set several school records as a true freshman, but he has remained humble and willing to learn and get better. He quickly established himself as one of the best players in the country, finishing fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards per game (176.0) and 16th in receiving yards per game. He was first in the ACC in all-purpose yards per game, second in receiving yards per game, second in kickoff return average, third in receptions per game, and tied for third in points (touchdowns) per game (6.0).

No. 4 David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

No. 5 Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

No. 6 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

No. 7 Matt Daniels, S, Duke

No. 8 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No. 9 Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
No. 4. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

2011 stats: He started all 14 games and played over 700 snaps on offense and 51 on special teams. He rushed for a school-record 1,709 yards on 290 carries (5.9 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns, for an average of 122.1 rushing yards per game. He also caught 21 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He led team with 22 kickoff returns for 415 yards and totaled 2,253 all-purpose yards.

Previously ranked: No. 10

Making the case for Wilson: He was a durable back who proved last year that he could carry the full workload, and his athleticism and explosiveness made him an exciting player to watch. He was the ACC’s overall and offensive player of the year. His streak of seven straight 100-plus rushing yard games were the most under coach Frank Beamer and he finished with 10 total, which tied the ACC single-season record set by Ryan Williams in 2009.

No. 5 Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

No. 6 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

No. 7 Matt Daniels, S, Duke

No. 8 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No. 9Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
No. 5. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

2011 stats: He had 50 receptions for 598 yards and eight touchdowns (tied for fourth-most in school history) in 890 snaps over 14 games (14 starts).

Previously ranked: Not ranked.

Making the case for Allen: Quarterback Tajh Boyd orchestrated the offense, but if you ask many of Clemson’s opponents, they’d probably tell you Allen was the X-factor. He was the program’s first winner of the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end, and his 93 career catches tied for the most in school history by a tight end. His receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns were the most by a tight end in school history. Three of his best games last season came against Florida State and Virginia Tech. He had two catches -- both for touchdowns -- in the ACC title game against the Hokies. He’s got big-play ability, and was a mature, dependable leader for last year’s young team, not to mention an All-American.

No. 6 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

No. 7 Matt Daniels, S, Duke

No. 8 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No. 9 Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
No. 6. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

2011 stats: He completed 298 of 499 pass attempts for 3,828 yards, 33 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 997 snaps over 14 games (14 starts). He completed 59.7 percent of his passes and had a 141.2 pass efficiency rating. He also had 218 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. He had 4,046 total yards and was responsible for a school-record 38 touchdowns.

Previously ranked: Not ranked.

Making the case for Boyd: Boyd was a completely different quarterback than the one we saw last spring, and he progressed so quickly in a new offense that he was able to get the Tigers off to an 8-0 start and play his way into the Heisman conversation. He was a major reason the Tigers won their first ACC title since 1991, and his leadership qualities were immediately embraced in the huddle in his first season as a starter. He has a 10-4 record as a starter and has the size and arm strength to become even better.

No. 7 Matt Daniels, S, Duke

No. 8 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No. 9 Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
No. 7. Matt Daniels, S, Duke

2011 stats: He led Duke and ranked third in the ACC in tackles per game (10.5) and finished the year with 126 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions, 14 pass break-ups and one caused fumble. He was the team leader in both interceptions and pass breakups.

Previously ranked: Not ranked.

Making the case for Daniels: Don’t be fooled by the fact he wore a Duke uniform. Despite the team’s 3-9 finish, Daniels was one of the best defensive backs in the country. He was just one of three players in the league to average double figures in tackles -- and he did it against the likes of Stanford (13), Florida State (14), Virginia Tech (13) and Miami (11) -- and he was third in the league balloting for the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. His 14 pass breakups were the second-most in a single season in school history. His 126 tackles were the most for a Duke defensive back since Terrell Smith had 140 in 2003.

No. 8 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No. 9 Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
No. 8. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

2011 stats: He had 85 tackles, a team-high 17 tackles for loss, a team-high 10.5 sacks, and 17 quarterback pressures in 755 snaps over 14 games (14 starts). He was second on the team in tackles, and had a team-high 64 first hits. He tied for fourth in school history in sacks and was 15th in the nation in sacks per game (0.75). He was first in the ACC in sacks per game and third in tackles for loss per game (1.2).

Previously ranked: Not ranked.

Making the case for Branch: He emerged as one of the top defensive ends in the country as a senior, and was one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award. He had a team-high 11 tackles, a caused fumble, and tied the school record for both tackles for loss (6) and sacks (4) in 57 snaps at No. 10 Virginia Tech on Oct. 1 in his home state. All four sacks came in the second half, and he was a big reason Clemson held the Hokies without a touchdown in their home stadium for the first time since 1995. He’s disciplined, has good awareness as a pass-rusher, and executes his assignments consistently.

No. 9 Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

No. 10 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

2011 ACC postseason top 25: No. 9

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
2:00
PM ET
No. 9. Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

2011 stats: He had 77 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and tied for a team-high 18 quarterback pressures in 722 snaps over 14 games (13 starts). He was fourth on the team in tackles.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Thompson: He was one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the country, and you know a guy can plug the middle when his nickname is “Yams” for his big thighs. He was a great run-stopper for Clemson, and was a leader and permanent team co-captain. He’s a powerful hitter, a tough player and has quick hands and feet.

No. 10 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

2011 ACC postseason top 25: No. 10

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
10:30
AM ET
Let the countdown begin.

We're down to the top 10 players in the ACC in 2011, and from here on out we'll continue to go one-a-day. I know, I know, the suspense is killing you. Who's No. 1? Stay tuned.

No. 10. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

2011 stats: He led the team with 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns on 239 carries. He was third in the ACC with 96.4 rushing yards per game and he was tied for first in the league with 6.5 points per game. He also had 45 catches for 362 yards and a touchdown, and was fifth in the ACC in all-purpose yards with 124.2 per game. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Bernard: He was the leading freshman rusher in the nation. His total of 1,253 rushing yards was the third best by a freshman in ACC history. He was a first-team all-conference selection, and he was a first-team freshman All-American of the Football Writers Association of America. He also earned the ACC's Brian Piccolo Award, which is given to the league's "most courageous" player. Bernard tore his ACL and missed the entire 2010 season only to come back last season and assert himself as one of the country's rising stars at running back. He became the first Tar Heel football player since 1984 to record five consecutive games with 100 or more rushing yards and currently has seven total.

No. 11 Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

2011 ACC postseason top 25: No. 11

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
9:00
AM ET
No. 11. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech

2011 stats: He started all 14 games and played nearly 1,000 snaps in his first season as a full-time starter. Thomas completed 234 of 391 passes (59.8 percent) for 3,013 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also carried 153 times for 469 net yards and 11 touchdowns.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Thomas: Virginia Tech fans must love watching opponents try to tackle their quarterback. At 6-foot-6 and 254 pounds, Thomas is like a lumberjack, and as the 2011 season progressed, he became a more complete player. Thomas set a new school record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback with 11, and he broke the school's single-season total offense record set by Tyrod Taylor in 2010. His 234 completions, 391 attempts and 3,013 yards passing all rank second in school history for a single season behind only Don Strock's records set in 1972. All of that and it was only his first year.

No. 12 Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

2011 ACC postseason top 25: No. 12

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
9:00
AM ET
No. 12. Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech

2011 stats: He started all 14 games at right tackle and graded out over 90 percent in both games against Clemson. He also played all 66 snaps and graded out at 93 percent with a team-high eight knockdown blocks in the win over Miami, and he played every offensive snap against Wake Forest and graded out at 91 percent with five knockdown blocks. He earned a 94 percent grade at Georgia Tech.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for DeChristopher: What, the beard isn’t enough? If we were ranking beards, you know he’d be No. 1 on the list. Instead, how about the fact that he had eight knockdowns and a 92 percent grade against Clemson in the ACC title game? DeChristopher was the veteran of the offensive line, a first-team All-ACC pick with 51 career starts to his name. Last year he logged over 900 snaps on offense and became the Hokies’ first lineman to win the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He graded out at over 90 percent in almost every game this season. The redshirt senior will be tough for the Hokies to replace.

No. 13 Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

2011 ACC postseason top 25: No. 13

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
9:00
AM ET
No. 13. Shawn Powell, P, Florida State

2011 stats: He led the nation with a single-season school-record average of 47.04 yards per punt (57 punts for 2,681 yards). He had 24 punts of 50 or more yards and 23 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. He forced seven fair catches and finished his career as FSU’s all-time leader with a 44.2 average (168-7,424).

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Powell: That’s right, there’s a punter on this list. In the top 15, no less. And he deserves it. Powell ranks fifth all-time in the ACC for career punting average, and he became the first ACC punter to lead the nation in both overall and net punting since Ryan Plackemeier of Wake Forest in 2005. He didn’t have a punt blocked in 168 career attempts, and he was the program’s first consensus All-American punter. His impact on defense and field position was invaluable, especially considering how the offense struggled.

No. 14 Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

2011 ACC postseason top 25: No. 14

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
2:00
PM ET
No. 14. Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

2011 stats: He led the team with 105 total tackles, including 13.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks. He had three interceptions, seven passes defended, six quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Brown: He was one of the fastest linebackers in college football, and his speed is one of his best attributes. He’s a strong tackler and is coming off his best season at North Carolina. He was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, a first-team All-ACC selection and was also one of UNC’s top special-teams contributors. He had five double-digit tackle games, including a season-high 14 in the Independence Bowl against Missouri.

No. 15 Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

2011 ACC postseason top 25: No. 15

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
3:30
PM ET
No. 15. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

2011 stats: Coples led the Tar Heels in both tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (7.5). He had 55 total tackles -- fourth-best on the team. He ranks fourth in the country among active players with 24 career sacks and leaves Chapel Hill with 144 total tackles, five forced fumbles, 22 quarterback hurries and four pass breakups.

Previous ranking: No. 2

Making the case for Coples: When 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks is considered a “down year,” you’re definitely one of the best players in the country, not just the ACC. This list isn’t about NFL potential, though Coples certainly has oodles of that, it’s about what the players did in 2011, and even in the face of double-teams he was effective as a pass-rusher. He has quick hands and feet, a strong upper body, and does a good job of shedding blocks.

No. 16 Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 17 Sean Spence, LB, Miami

No. 18 Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

No. 19 Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

No. 22 Terrell Manning, LB, NC State

No. 23 Matt Conrath, DT, Virginia

No. 24 Omoregie Uzzi, RG, Georgia Tech

No. 25 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

SPONSORED HEADLINES