ACC: ACC position superlatives

ACC position superlatives: Wake Forest

March, 12, 2010
3/12/10
5:00
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We wrap up our position superlative series this afternoon with the strongest and weakest positions at Wake Forest:

Strongest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Marshall Williams, Devon Brown

Key departures: None

The skinny: The Deacs are deep here, as they also get back Terence Davis, who missed last year with a torn ACL, and both backups in Chris Givens and Jordan Williams. Brown, Marshall Williams and Givens were the top three receivers, respectively, a year ago. Williams was fourth in the ACC in receptions per game (5) and third in receiving yards per game (72.2).

Weakest position: Offensive line

Key returnees: LG Joe Looney, C Russell Nenon

Key departures: LT Chris DeGeare, RG Barrett McMillin, RT Jeff Griffin,

The skinny: Wake has to replace three starters up front, but overall the Deacs graduated five redshirt seniors from the two-deep at this position. There’s room for improvement, as Wake was tied for No. 83 in the country last year in sacks allowed with 2.33. Both tackle positions will be the biggest concern.

ACC position superlatives: Virginia Tech

March, 12, 2010
3/12/10
3:00
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The Hokies are up next in our series about the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the ACC:

Strongest position: Running back

Key returnees: Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, Josh Oglesby, David Wilson

Key departures: None

The skinny: The staff still isn’t sure how much they can expect from Evans this spring as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, but the Hokies should have two healthy 1,000-yard running backs by the season opener. Virginia Tech has a lot of depth with the return of Oglesby, who was the team’s third-leading rusher a year ago behind Williams and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Wilson declined to redshirt last year and played in all 13 games, had only 59 carries but was a valuable kick returner. Wilson will be given the opportunity to redshirt again this year.

Weakest position: Defensive line

Key returnees: DT John Graves

Key departures: DT Cordarrow Thompson, DE Nekos Brown, DE Jason Worilds

The skinny: The decision of Worilds to leave school early and enter the NFL draft was another hit to a unit already tasked with replacing veterans. In addition to losing three of four starters up front, the Hokies also graduated top backup defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor. The staff has high expectations for Steven Friday to blossom as a senior at defensive end, and Chris Drager, who moved from tight end last year, now has little choice but to stay on the defensive side and help out at defensive end. The interior line is Bud Foster’s biggest concern.

ACC position superlatives: Virginia

March, 11, 2010
3/11/10
3:30
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We continue our strong and weak series today with Virginia:

Strongest position: Defensive backs

Key returnees: S Rodney McLeod, CB Ras-I Dowling

Key departures: CB Chris Cook, S Brandon Woods

The skinny: The Cavaliers return six of eight players on their final two-deep roster of the 2009 season, including Dowling, who opted to return for his senior season instead of enter the NFL draft. Dowling will be the face and leader of not only the defense this year, but also of probably the whole team. He was fifth on the team in tackles and broke up eight passes. The Cavaliers also return Chase Minnifield, who had two interceptions last year and played in all 12 games, and Corey Mosley, who played in every game and had 47 tackles and two forced fumbles.

Weakest position: Running back

Key returnees: Torrey Mack, Dominique Wallace

Key departures: Mikell Simpson, Rashawn Jackson

The skinny: The Cavs have to replace their four leading rushers in Simpson, Jackson, receiver Vic Hall and quarterback Jameel Sewell. That might not be so bad, considering Virginia ranked 112th in the country last year in rushing offense. True freshman Kevin Parks is an option, but the staff will also look at Mack, who played sparingly in nine games last year, and Wallace, who had just seemed to be coming on at Southern Miss when he was injured and missed the rest of the season.

ACC position superlatives: NC State

March, 10, 2010
3/10/10
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The series resumes today with the strongest and weakest positions at NC State:

Strongest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Jarvis Williams, Owen Spencer

Key departures: None

The skinny: The six players listed on the depth chart heading into spring drills have combined to play in 155 games, starting 62, and have 230 catches between them. Williams had 11 touchdown receptions last season, tied for the third-best mark in school history, and Spencer set an ACC record with 25.5 yards per catch.

Weakest position: Running back

Key returnees: Curtis Underwood, James Washington

Key departures: Toney Baker, Jamelle Eugene

The skinny: For the first time since 2005, the Wolfpack doesn’t have anyone with starting experience at this position. Underwood, a redshirt junior, was redshirted last year to add depth to the position and it should pay off this season. Washington played in six games as a true freshman last year, and Brandon Barnes played in three as a redshirt freshman. Neither had more than 25 carries last year, though. Tom O’Brien is looking for somebody to step up and be “the guy” this spring.

ACC position superlatives: North Carolina

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
3:00
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We resume our series of the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the ACC with North Carolina:

Strongest position: Defensive backs

Key returnees: Deunta Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Kendrick Burney and Charles Brown

Key departures: Melvin Williams

The skinny: This might be the deepest position/unit in the conference, as North Carolina returns 14 players who were defensive backs a year ago, including all four starters. UNC was 14th in the country last year in both pass efficiency defense and pass defense. Both Burney and Williams opted to return to Chapel Hill instead of enter the NFL draft and the Heels will be better for it. They combined for 11 interceptions and 314 interception return yards in 2009. Burney had five interceptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns, while also recording 52 tackles and three pass breakups. Williams led the team with six interceptions for 114 yards and had 47 tackles and eight pass breakups.

Weakest position: Offensive line

Key returnees: T Mike Ingersoll, G Alan Pelc, C Jonathan Cooper

Key departures: Kyle Jolly, Lowell Dyer

The skinny: The staff’s goal this spring and summer is to find the biggest and most athletic players up front. Cooper, the top returning player on the line, played guard last year as a redshirt freshman and will move to center this spring. That’s where the staff had hoped Cooper would wind up when they first signed him. Cam Holland will likely be relegated to a backup role. The staff recruited well at the position and will get some help immediately from James Hurst, the top recruit in the class. Both Hurst and T.J. Leifheit have already enrolled. Travis Bond started the bowl game at guard, and with Pelc, Bond and Cooper on the interior, this group could get a much-needed upgrade.

ACC position superlatives: Miami

March, 8, 2010
3/08/10
3:30
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We resume our series on the strongest and weakest units for each ACC team with Miami:

Strongest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Leonard Hankerson, LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin

Key departures: None.

The skinny: Despite the unimpressive performances in Saturday’s scrimmage, this is still one of the deepest groups in the ACC. Miami returns its three leading receivers from a year ago, including Hankerson, who had the most receiving yards (801) since Andre Johnson in 2002. Five receivers had at least 200 yards each last year, including Thearon Collier and Aldarius Johnson.

Weakest position: Tight end

Key returnees: Richard Gordon

Key departures: Jimmy Graham, Tervaris Johnson, Dedrick Epps

The skinny: This is where Miami will lose some of its receiving yards from a year ago, as this departed trio combined for 44 catches. Gordon, a senior with only four career starts who was injured the majority of last year, is one of just two tight ends the Canes have at spring practice. Redshirt freshman Billy Sanders is the other. Miami signed four tight ends in this recruiting class, but none of them were early enrollees.

ACC position superlatives: Maryland

March, 5, 2010
3/05/10
5:00
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We'll check out the Terps before the series resumes on Monday with Miami.

Strongest position: Linebackers

Key returnees: Alex Wujciak, Adrian Moten, Demetrius Hartsfield

Key departures: None.

The skinny: All three starters and their backups return. The only missing player from the group will be Drew Gloster, who is moving to defensive end to help with speed on the outside. Last year’s backup linebackers showed potential -- especially Ben Pooler, Avery Murray, and Darin Drakeford. Moten and Wujciak were the most productive players on defense last year.

Weakest position: Offensive line

Key returnees: RT R.J. Dill, LG Paul Pinegar and Bennett Fulper.

Key departures: C Phil Costa and LT Bruce Campbell

The skinny: The position took a significant hit from the decision of Campbell to leave early for the NFL draft. It’s a young group, but it’s in better shape than it was a year ago as far as guys at least having minimal experience. The Terps have six players who started at least one game. Fulper was a true freshman the staff liked last year, and Pinegar will take over for Costa at center. Justin Gilbert will be promoted to starting left tackle in place of Campbell.

REWIND

ACC position superlatives: Georgia Tech

March, 5, 2010
3/05/10
9:00
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It's time for a closer look at the Jackets ...

Strongest position: B back

Key returnees: Anthony Allen, Preston Lyons, Lucas Cox

Key departures: Jonathan Dwyer

The skinny: Allen is penciled in to take over for Dwyer and was the team's third-leading rusher last year. Cox moves from A back, making this an even deeper group despite the fact Lyons will miss spring drills after surgery. Richard Watson, who was a third-string B back last year, returns, and the staff likes the potential of true freshman Charles Perkins, who’s already in school. With sophomore Daniel Drummond, the Jackets go five-deep at the position.

Weakest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Stephen Hill, Tyler Melton

Key departures: Demaryius Thomas

The skinny: Hill has potential before he graduates to be as good as Thomas, but Melton is the returning starter. Georgia Tech last year completed a total of 78 passes, and 46 were caught by Thomas; 20 other receptions were caught by A backs and B backs. Hill, Melton, Daniel McKayhan and Quentin Sims combined to catch 12 passes last year.

REWIND

ACC position superlatives: Florida State

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
2:00
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We resume our breakdown of the ACC's strongest and weakest positions today with Florida State:

Strongest position: Offensive line

Key returnees: All five starters return in Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon, David Spurlock and Zebrie Sanders.

Key departures: Backup Brandon Davis has decided to graduate and move on instead of returning for his fifth season. He stared in place of Hudson the last two games of the regular season.

The skinny: This group will finally have seniors in McMahon and Hudson, and collectively there are 142 career starts between the five returning starters. Last year, all five of Florida State’s offensive linemen were nominated by opposing ACC coaches for all-conference honors. Assistant Rick Trickett said he’s never had that happen to one of his groups before. Sanders and Rhonne Sanderson are both injured. Sanders will be fine by summer camp and Sanderson is limited this spring after foot surgery.

Weakest position: Secondary

Key returnees: CB Ochuko Jenije

Key departures: CB Patrick Robinson, FS Jamie Robinson, RV Korey Mangum

The skinny: Aside from Jenije, the only returning starter, no one in the secondary has played more than one season. There are high expectations for cornerback Greg Reid, who will get a long look this spring to replace Patrick Robinson. Redshirt freshman Xavier Rhodes will also get a chance there. Terrance Parks and Nick Moody were both the backups at safety last year, and they’ll get an opportunity to move up. Redshirt freshmen Justin Bright and Gerald Demps will also challenge at safety.

REWIND:

ACC position superlatives: Duke

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
3:30
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We continue our series in breaking down the strongest and weakest positions for each team today with Duke:

Strongest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, Austin Kelly


Key departures: No starters lost.

The skinny: The staff moved Johnny Williams to corner, which says a lot about how much confidence they’ve got in this group, considering Williams was a player who caught 31 passes last year. They should be confident, as Vernon and Varner were both among the ACC’s top six receivers last year. The group should only get better with the progress of Tyree Watkins, a freshman last year who saw some playing time but was injured and earned a medical redshirt.

Weakest position: Defensive line

Key returnees: NG Charlie Hatcher, DE Patrick Egboh

Key departures: DT Vince Oghobaase, DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk

The skinny: Redshirt senior Wesley Oglesby has starting experience at defensive end, but the line’s depth took a hit with the dismissal of DT John Drew, who played in all 12 games in 2009, including one start. He was expected to be a contributor this year. Egboh had 34 tackles with a team-high six quarterback pressures while Hatcher contributed 39 tackles with seven tackles for loss and a fumble return for a touchdown in Duke's win at Virginia.

Position superlatives: Clemson

March, 2, 2010
3/02/10
10:00
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We resume the superlatives series today with Clemson, which, despite the losses of C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, should be in contention for the Atlantic Division this year.

Strongest position: Defensive line

Key returnees: DaQuan Bowers, Jarvis Jenkins, Brandon Thompson

Key departures: DE Ricky Sapp

The skinny: Not only do the Tigers return three starters up front, they also welcome back Jamie Cumbie, who was like a fifth starter at defensive tackle, and Andre Branch, who played well at defensive end. Overall, nine defensive linemen return. Not bad for a defense that had a 4-0 record against the ACC’s top four passers and finished 13th in the nation in tackles for loss and second in the ACC in sacks.

Weakest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Xavier Dye

Key departures: Jacoby Ford, TE Michael Palmer and RB C.J. Spiller

The skinny: It’s not good when your leading returning receiver has 14 catches, but Dye is the veteran now. Terrence Ashe started some last year and Marquan Jones was Ford’s backup, but didn’t get many opportunities. Two newcomers who might have the chance to play right away are Martavis Bryant and DeAndre Hopkins. One under the radar player is Jaron Brown, who only had three catches last year but has shown the ability for more in practice.

Click here for Boston College.

Position superlatives: Boston College

March, 1, 2010
3/01/10
5:00
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Now that it's March and spring practices will be getting underway, it's a good time to take a closer look at each team's strengths and weaknesses heading into 2010. We'll start with the Eagles:

Strongest position: Linebackers

Key returnees: Mark Herzlich, Luke Kuechly

Key departures: Mike McLaughlin

The skinny: Nobody is quite sure how quickly Herzlich will be back to full speed, but having the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year alongside freshman phenom Kuechly could make this linebacker corps one of the best in the ACC. The Eagles will also have Alexander DiSanzo, who started three games last year, junior Dominick LeGrande, who had six starts, and Mike Morrissey, who started seven. Morrissey finished the season as the starter, so he could be the front-runner to replace McLaughlin.

Weakest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Billy Flutie, Colin Larmond Jr.

Key departures: Rich Gunnell, Justin Jarvis

The skinny: The Eagles lose three of the four on their final two-deep from 2009. Larmond is expected to start, and he was the second-leading receiver on the team behind Gunnell with 29 catches for 596 yards and five touchdowns. BC made use of its young tight ends last year and might have to do so again. The next leading receiver returning aside from Larmond is Flutie, and he had just five catches. Ryan Lindsey will be a senior and led the fundraising efforts for Herzlich, but he hasn’t played much.

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