ACC: ACC spring team wraps 2010

Boston College spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
11:30
AM ET
BOSTON COLLEGE

2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners

LT Anthony Castonzo, TB Montel Harris, LB Mark Herzlich, LB Luke Kuechly, FS Wes Davis, CB DeLeon Gause, RG Thomas Claiborne, RT Rich Lapham.

Key losses

WR Rich Gunnell, C Matt Tennant, RE Jim Ramella, LB Mike McLaughlin, DT Austin Giles

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Harris* (1,457 yards)

Passing: Shinskie* (2,049 yds)

Receiving: Gunnell (880 yds)

Tackles: Kuechly* (158)

Sacks: Ramella (3)

Interceptions: Davis* (3)

Spring answers

1. Shinskie is older (he’s 26 now) and a little wiser. He has become a smarter player since he walked off the minor league baseball bus last year as a 25-year-old pitcher. Coach Frank Spaziani said his quarterback situation has survived a trip to the emergency room, but is still in “intensive care.”

2. The offensive line should live up to the tradition this year. Even with veteran Castonzo out this spring with a broken foot, it was clear this group has the ability to return to its old standards. With four starters returning, this line should pave the way for another outstanding year for Harris.

3. Kuechly still hasn’t reached his potential. The freshman All-America selection finished second nationally in tackles last year, but Spaziani still wants Kuechly to improve. Kuechly thinks he can and he wants to. He practices with a lot of intensity despite leading the ACC in tackles a year ago.

Fall questions

1. At what level will Herzlich be able to play? That’s the great unknown. He’s back and has been conditioning, but he hasn’t done any hitting. There seems to be a fairy tale vision of what it’s going to be like when Herzlich returns -- and anyone who has followed his story should be hoping for that storybook ending -- but it’s a lot more complicated and unclear just how much he’ll look like the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.

2. Will Shinskie hold onto his job? Despite his progress, the quarterback job is still open heading into summer camp. Will the other two quarterbacks -- Chase Rettig and Joshua Bordner, both who enrolled early -- be able to challenge him for the starting job? Redshirt sophomore Michael Marscovetra is also in the mix.

3. Who will Harris’ backup be? It’s one of the thinnest positions in the conference, as Rolandan Finch, who had mononucleosis last year, tore his ACL in mid-April. Freshman Sterlin Phifer is an option, but it was hard to tell from the scrimmages because there wasn’t a lot of rushing with the hopes of keeping everyone healthy. Phifer had 15 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown in the first two scrimmages.

Clemson spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
11:00
AM ET
CLEMSON

2009 overall record: 9-5

2009 conference record: 6-2, Atlantic Division champs

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

DE Da’Quan Bowers, FS DeAndre McDaniel, LT Chris Hairston, RT Landon Walker, QB Kyle Parker, DT Jarvis Jenkins, LB Brandon Maye, RB Andre Ellington, RB Jamie Harper

Key losses

RB C.J. Spiller, WR Jacoby Ford, LG Thomas Austin, TE Michael Palmer, DE Ricky Sapp, LB Kavell Conner, CB Chris Chancellor, CB Crezdon Butler, LB Kevin Alexander

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Spiller (1,212 yds)

Passing: Parker* (2,526 yds)

Receiving: Ford (779 yds)

Tackles: Conner (111)

Sacks: Sapp (5)

Interceptions: McDaniel* (8)

Spring answers

1. Meet Dwayne Allen. The Tigers appear to have a capable replacement for former first-team all-conference tight end Michael Palmer, who set a school record for receptions (43) and reception yards (507) for a tight end last year. Allen had three catches for 83 yards in the spring game. He could be a centerpiece of the offense next year.

2. Liking the linebackers. The graduation of Alexander and Conner hurt, but coach Dabo Swinney liked what he saw from this group this spring. The Tigers are deeper and more versatile here and will have the ability to increase the number of plays per linebacker.

3.Holding their own. Heading into the spring, the punter and place-kicking jobs were open, but punter Dawson Zimmerman and kicker Richard Jackson both retained their spots. Jackson was inconsistent last year and missed two extra point attempts, but he tied for second in the ACC with 20 field goals.

Fall questions

1. Will Parker return? The dual-sport quarterback won’t determine his future until baseball season has ended. As his spring home run total increases, it becomes more of a question. His batting average and home run totals -- Parker leads the ACC in home runs -- continue to be a factor.

2. Spiller’s replacements. What four people will combine to do what Spiller did last year? Kick returns, catching the ball out of the backfield, the ground game -- Mr. Versatility will be missed. Ellington had a good spring with 13 carries for 86 yards in the spring game, and expectations are high for Harper.

3. Reaching at receiver. With Ford’s graduation, Clemson is looking for a new go-to player. Swinney liked what he saw from the group, as Xavier Dye and Terrence Ashe both had productive springs. Brandon Clear was one of the most improved players on the roster and will be given a chance to make some plays this summer.

Duke spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
10:30
AM ET
DUKE

2009 overall record: 5-7

2009 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters

Offense: 9, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Donovan Varner, WR Conner Vernon, WR Austin Kelly,T Kyle Hill, RB Desmond Scott, C Bryan Morgan, DE Patrick Egboh, P Kevin Jones, PK Will Snyderwine

Key losses

QB Thaddeus Lewis, DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk, DT Vince Oghobaase, LB Vincent Rey, CB Leon Wright, SS Catron Gainey


2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Scott* (262 yards)

Passing: Lewis (3,330 yards)

Receiving: Varner* (1,047 yards)

Tackles: Rey (98)

Sacks: Okpokowuruk (6)

Interceptions: Wright (5)

Spring answers

1. Depth at receiver. The Blue Devils found enough helping hands that they were able to move Johnny Williams, who caught 31 passes last year, to defensive back. Tyree Watkins, who didn’t lose last year’s eligibility despite an injury, had an impressive spring, as did Cory Gattis, who redshirted last year.

2. More multiple on defense. The defense will be a little different under Marion Hobby, who will take over the play-calling for Mike MacIntyre, now the head coach at San Jose State.

3. The need for Snead. The running game got a much needed boost from rookie Josh Snead, who graduated early and enrolled in January. He’s a compact, explosive player who came physically prepared to play. He had a handful of runs of 50 or more yards in scrimmages throughout the spring that showed he can be a contributor.

Fall questions

1. Renfree’s health. All indications are that quarterback Sean Renfree is healing from a torn ACL on schedule and will be the starter this fall, despite missing the contact portion of spring drills. He’s the only player who has taken a snap in a game, and the staff is encouraged by him, but he’s still a rookie who hasn’t been tested since his injury.

2. Defensive line concerns. Can the defensive line be productive and deep enough to have a positive impact? Overall it’s thin and inexperienced. Patrick Egboh and Wesley Oglesby, two fifth-year seniors, need to lead the way. It will be Charlie Hatcher’s first year seeing significant playing time after helping out on the interior last year. True freshmen could help immediately because of the low numbers.

3. Bowling, anyone? Coach David Cutcliffe made noticeable strides in the win column his first two seasons, but Duke is still searching for that bowl bid. How Duke will fare in its toss-up games against conference opponents will answer that. If the Blue Devils can get wins against Wake Forest, Maryland and Virginia, the postseason will be within reach.

Florida State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
10:00
AM ET
FLORIDA STATE

2009 overall record: 7-6

2009 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense 6: punter/kicker 2

Top returners

QB Christian Ponder, LG Rodney Hudson, C Ryan McMahon, WR Bert Reed, CB/PR Greg Reid, RB Jermaine Thomas, DE Markus White, LB Kendall Smith, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Ochuko Jenjie

Key losses

CB Patrick Robinson, S Jamie Robinson, LB Dekoda Watson, WR Rod Owens

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Thomas*(832 yards)

Passing: Ponder* (2,717 yds)

Receiving: Owens (729 yds)

Tackles: Bradham* (93)

Sacks: Watson (6)

Interceptions: J. Robinson, Jenjie* (4)

Spring answers

1. Tailor-made defense. We don’t know yet how much better it will be, but the new defensive scheme will create more playmaking opportunities under first-year coordinator Mark Stoops. The Noles will use more zone coverage and be more suited for the personnel. That should lead to some improvement.

2. Ponder will be 100 percent. He took every meaningful snap with the first team offense this spring and there didn’t seem to be a difference since he injured his shoulder last year. That means Florida State could have a Heisman contender this year.

3. Staff cohesion. The five new on-field assistants and first-year strength coach brought a new philosophy to Tallahassee and they clicked well together in their first practice sessions. Coach Jimbo Fisher does things differently than his predecessor. Both the offensive and defensive staffs met a lot together to look at film, and there was good feedback across the board between players and coaches.

Fall questions

1. Consistency at receiver. With the exception of Reed, dependability was sorely lacking in this group. Plenty of plays were made, but not continuously. Fisher said the execution is not where he wants it to be. Jarmon Fortson is one of the players who needs to step it up.

2. Tailback talk. Who’s going to win the tailback job, or will it be by committee? Chris Thompson passed Jermaine Thomas on the unofficial depth chart, but there’s also Lonnie Pryor, Tavares Pressley, Ty Jones and junior-college transfer Debrale Smiley, who is a fullback/tailback like Pryor. They all had their moments this spring.

3. Unsecure secondary. FSU has four good corners to count on in this scheme with Jenjie, Reid, Dionte Allen and newcomer Xavier Rhodes, but the two safety spots and depth remain in flux. Jenjie is the only returning starter in the secondary.

Georgia Tech spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
9:30
AM ET
GEORGIA TECH

2009 overall record: 11-3

2009 conference record: 7-1, ACC champions

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense 8: punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

QB Josh Nesbitt, RB Anthony Allen, RB Roddy Jones, C Sean Bedford, WR Tyler Melton, WR Stephen Hill, LB Brad Jefferson, CB Mario Butler, S Dominique Reese, PK Scott Blair

Key losses

WR Demaryius Thomas, RB Jonathan Dwyer, OG Cord Howard, DE Derrick Morgan, LB Sedric Griffin, S Morgan Burnett

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Dwyer (1,395 yards)

Passing: Nesbitt* (1,701 yards)

Receiving: Thomas (1,154 yards)

Tackles: Jefferson* (95)

Sacks: Morgan (12.5)

Interceptions: Burnett (4)

Spring answers

1. Who’s No. 2. Tevin Washington earned the No. 2 quarterback job behind Josh Nesbitt, who was out this spring recovering from minor ankle surgery. Washington ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in the Jackets’ spring game. He made the most of Jaybo Shaw's transfer to Georgia Southern and beat David Sims and Jordan Luallen for the job.

2. Receiver by committee. Yes, Stephen Hill has the chance to be the program’s next elite receiver, but there were signs the passing game will have some more help this fall. Look for the Jackets to make an effort to throw more to the A-backs, or slot backs, this year.

3. Finding homes on defense. Georgia Tech won’t solve all of its defensive problems in one spring, but the transition to Al Groh’s 3-4 defense helped a few players who were in between positions find a spot. Anthony Egbuniwe, who was a defensive end last year, is now an outside linebacker. And Anthony Barnes, who was a nomad last year, seems to have found a home at the other outside linebacker spot. Jason Peters, who has bounced between defensive tackle and end, showed significant improvement at end this spring.

Fall questions

1. How much better can the defense be? Overall, the transition under Groh remains a question. Specifically, the biggest concern on the line is the nose tackle position. T.J. Barnes played there in the spring, and Ben Anderson missed all of spring recovering from a knee injury he suffered late last season. When Anderson comes back in August, he’ll compete with Barnes for that job. There were too many runs up the middle during the spring game to stop a team like Virginia Tech or Miami.

2. Nesbitt’s health. The ankle injury was minor -- he could have participated this spring had he wanted to -- but Nesbitt’s health will be a concern this year. There is still a big difference between Nesbitt and Washington, and Nesbitt has to stay healthy if the Jackets are going to defend their ACC crown.

3. Unsettled offensive line. There are a lot of new players working their way into the rotation, and competition will continue. Georgia Tech lost three starters, including the transfer of guard Joseph Gilbert. The second team was composed entirely of freshmen in the Jackets’ spring game.

Maryland spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
9:00
AM ET
MARYLAND

2009 overall record: 2-10

2009 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 5, punter/kicker 2

Top returners

WR Torrey Smith, C Paul Pinegar, RB Da’Rel Scott, WR Adrian Cannon, LB Alex Wujciak, LB Demetrius Hartsfield, LB Adrian Moten, P Travis Baltz, CB Cameron Chism

Key losses

LT Bruce Campbell, C Phil Costa, QB Chris Turner, FS Terrell Skinner, CB Anthony Wiseman, SS Jamari McCollough

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Scott* (425 yards)

Passing: Turner (2,069 yds)

Receiving: Smith* (824 yards)

Tackles: Wujciak* (131)

Sacks: Moten* (6)

Interceptions: Chism* (4)

Spring answers

1. Separation at quarterback. Maryland wrapped up spring with Jamarr Robinson as its new quarterback, Danny O’Brien his backup and C.J. Brown No. 3. Robinson made good decisions, threw the ball pretty well and limited his turnovers despite two picks in the spring game. He has a quiet confidence and started to become more of a leader, taking control of the huddle.

2. Growing confidence in the offensive line. The staff feels much better about this group than it did at the start of spring. The lineup isn’t 100 percent settled, but if the Terps played tomorrow, Justin Gilbert would start at left tackle, R.J. Dill at right tackle, Andrew Gonnella at left guard, and Paul Pinegar at center. For the past couple of weeks, Justin Lewis and Bennett Fulper have shared time at right guard. Lamar Young has a chance to work his way into the rotation after missing the spring for offseason shoulder surgery.

3. Potential on the defensive line. Maryland lost three starters to graduation on the defensive line, but found some capable replacements this spring. Defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who missed the first half of 2009 and never quite got back to full speed, was one of the surprises this spring. Coach Ralph Friedgen praised Vellano, but questioned whether or not he can maintain that success on Saturdays this fall. Overall, the staff seemed to settle on Vellano and A.J. Francis at tackle, along with Zachariah Kerr.

Fall questions

1. Depth in the secondary. The Terps will have three new starters, but the safety position remains the biggest concern, enough so that Maryland could turn to a true freshman to help. The staff feels good about safeties Antwine Perez and Kenny Tate, but they need some help behind them and would like to solidify a fourth corner this summer.

2. How will the offensive line hold up? Yes, they made progress this spring, but the group has been a weak link. Part of that can be attributed to inexperience, but it’s an older group this year. Maryland has enough talent at running back to help take some pressure off of Robinson in his first full season as starter, but the offense will only improve as much as the players up front.

3. Will Maryland get back to the postseason? After just one win in conference play, Friedgen’s future at Maryland was in doubt. The pressure is on, but there has been a renewed sense of commitment and determination this offseason. Maryland’s season opener against Navy could set the tone for the whole season.

Miami spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
8:30
AM ET
MIAMI

2009 overall record: 9-4

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

QB Jacory Harris, T Orlando Franklin, WR Leonard Hankerson, WR LaRon Byrd, DE Allen Bailey, LB Sean Spence, LB Colin McCarthy, P/PK Matt Bosher, CB Brandon Harris, RB Graig Cooper (injured)

Key losses

OT Jason Fox, C A.J. Trump, TE Dedrick Epps, RB Javarris James, S Randy Phillips, CB Sam Shields, LB Darryl Sharpton, DT Joe Joseph

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Cooper* (695 yards)

Passing: Harris* (3,352 yds)

Receiving: Hankerson* (801 yds)

Tackles: Sharpton (106)

Sacks: Bailey* (7)

Interceptions: Harris, Phillips, Micanor Regis* (2)

Spring answers

1. Depth at running back. The running backs had arguably the best spring of any position group and proved they’re still deep, despite the loss of James and not having Cooper, who is recovering from a torn ACL. Lamar Miller, a redshirt freshman, was tough to bring down in the open field, and had good speed. Storm Johnson, a true freshman who enrolled early, picked up the offense quickly and ran hard. Damien Berry showed the same form he had at the end of the season when he finished strong, and Mike James returned to running back from fullback.

2. Deeper at QB. What a difference a year can make. After both backup quarterbacks transferred a year ago, this position has the best depth it’s seen under coach Randy Shannon. A.J. Highsmith, Spencer Whipple and Stephen Morris all moved the ball this spring. Highsmith seemed to be the front-runner for the No. 2 job behind Jacory Harris, as he took most of the first-team reps with Harris out.

3. Defensive line shines. First-year defensive line coach Rick Petri’s group was one of the Canes’ bright spots this spring. The defensive ends go about three deep on each side. Adewale Ojomo, who missed all of last season with a broken jaw, is back, and the tackles were solid.

Fall questions

1. Wanted: tight ends. Miami only had two tight ends this spring, but the Canes will add four in the fall, including Chase Ford, a junior college transfer. Richard Gordon and Billy Sanders will finally get some competition. Gordon has the most experience and he’s a senior, but he only played in one game last year. He was granted an extra year of eligibility and should have a bigger role this season. Sanders, a redshirt freshman, was on the scout team.

2. Transition at center. Tyler Horn isn’t a rookie, but it's unclear how he'll adjust to his new role in taking over for A.J. Trump. Horn was the top option at center this spring with true freshman Shane McDermott, an early enrollee, behind him. Horn has been there for three years, and it’s his job to lose.

3. Stuck in the middle. Who will take over at middle linebacker? Miami is still working out its depth issue here. Kylan Robinson started to emerge there in the spring, and Shayon Green was another option. At the end of spring, Colin McCarthy was still at strong side and Sean Spence was at weak side, but Shannon could make some moves to get the best group of linebackers in there. That could mean McCarthy moves to the middle. In the past two years, Shannon liked to put an older player there (Glenn Cook, Darryl Sharpton), but McCarthy played the majority of the spring at his usual spot. The return of Spence and Jordan Futch from injuries should help Shannon figure out the right combination.

UNC spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
8:00
AM ET
NORTH CAROLINA

2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense: 9, punter/kicker 2

Top returners

WR Greg Little, QB T.J. Yates, TB Shaun Draughn, TE Zack Pianalto, DE Robert Quinn, DT Marvin Austin, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendrick Burney, S Deunta Williams, S Da’Norris Searcy, CB Charles Brown

Key losses

OT Kyle Jolly, DE E.J. Wilson, DT Cam Thomas

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Ryan Houston* (713 yards)

Passing: Yates* (2,136 yds)

Receiving: Little* (724 yds)

Tackles: Sturdivant* (79)

Sacks: Quinn* (11)

Interceptions: Williams* (6)

Spring answers

1. Offensive line potential. There were signs this spring that UNC fans can expect the offensive line to be better -– as long as everyone stays healthy. Center Jonathan Cooper started nine games as a freshman last year, guard Alan Pelc will be a three-year starter, Carl Gaskins has drawn rave reviews the past two years, and Travis Bond played well in his start against Pitt’s physical defensive line in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

2. Little leader. After the success he had last season cementing his position as the team’s top receiver, Greg Little took more ownership of an offense that needs it. His success carried over to spring drills, and it’s clear he’ll be the leader of a group that returns its top 13 receivers from a year ago.

3. Draughn back on top. He was injured in the ninth game and missed the rest of the season, but reasserted himself as the main man this spring with Houston out to concentrate on his academics. (Houston wasn’t suspended, he just needed some extra time to focus). Draughn appears to be the likely starter heading into the fall.

Fall questions

1. The Yates debate. It’s one of the biggest questions in the conference this season: Will rookie Bryn Renner unseat Yates as the starter? Coach Butch Davis has said that Renner will play against LSU, but how much and when is anybody’s guess. Odds are it would take a remarkable performance by Renner in summer camp or an injury to Yates for him to lose his job before the season opener.

2. Overall offensive improvement. How much better can the offense be? It has to be better than 108th in the country in total offense. The Tar Heels have got to run the ball better, no matter who the quarterback is. There are no longer three freshmen on the offensive line, and if everyone stays healthy, that leaves no more excuses.

3. Defensive line tweaks. Even one of the most talented defenses in the country has a few holes to fill, and it’s up front for the Tar Heels, were defensive end E.J. Wilson and tackle Cam Thomas have to be replaced. Tydreke Powell is the frontrunner to take over at tackle and Quinton Coples and Michael McAdoo will continue to compete this summer. McAdoo had four sacks and an interception in the spring game, a performance that kept him in the conversation.

NC State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
7:30
AM ET
NC STATE

2009 overall record: 5-7

2009 conference record: 2-6

Returning starters

Offense: 7; Defense 5; Punter/Kicker 1

Top returners

QB Russell Wilson, WR Owen Spencer, OT Jake Vermiglio, LB Nate Irving, PK Josh Czajkowski, TE George Bryan, WR Jarvis Williams, LB Dwayne Maddox, LB Audie Cole

Key losses

C Ted Larsen, HB Toney Baker, DE Willie Young, DT Alan Michael Cash, CB DeAndre Morgan, LB Ray Michel

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Baker (773 yards)

Passing: Wilson* (3,027 yds)

Receiving: Ja. Williams* (547 yds)

Tackles: Cole* (73)

Sacks: Young (8)

Interceptions: C. Johnson (2)

Spring answers

1. Wilson will be back, but Mike Glennon is a capable starter. Starter Russell Wilson missed all of spring football to play baseball, but his season didn’t quite take the turn he had probably hoped, as Wilson wasn’t a starter. In his absence, Glennon impressed coach Tom O’Brien and completed 21 of 38 passes for 423 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Pack’s spring game. As long as Wilson picks up where he left off in 2009, it should be his job to lose.

2. Irving is back and can play. After missing last season with injuries he sustained in a serious 2009 summer car accident, it was unclear how much Irving would be able to contribute this spring. He moved to middle linebacker and eased his way back into full participation and played in half of the spring game.

3. Defensive linemen emerging. Even though all four starters from last year’s defensive line graduated, there was enough talent there this spring for optimism. Darryl Cato-Bishop, David Akinniyi, and Brian Slay impressed the staff. Their success is critical, as both J.R. Sweezy and Markus Kuhn are facing disciplinary action.

Fall questions

1. Who will run the ball? For the first time since 2005, NC State doesn’t have a running back with any starting experience. Brandon Barnes broke his ankle, and the competition is now between Curtis Underwood, who redshirted last year, and James Washington, who played in six games as a true freshman last year.

2. Punter, please. Nobody on the team has ever punted in a game situation. Chris Ward was the likely top option , but he was suspended for the spring and possibly the fall.

3. How much can the defense improve? With Irving back and former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta coaching the linebackers, it would seem as if the defense would get a boost. It’s going to have to if the Pack is going to make it to the postseason. NC State was No. 99 in the country last year in scoring defense, and No. 106 in pass efficiency defense. The secondary is lead by freshmen and sophomores.

Virginia spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
7:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 3-9

2009 conference record: 2-6

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker 2

Top returners

WR Kris Burd, QB Marc Verica, DE Matt Conrath, LB Steve Greer, CB Ras-I Dowling

Key losses

WR Vic Hall, T Will Barker, C Jack Shields, QB Jameel Sewell, FB Rashawn Jackson, NG Nate Collins, CB Chris Cook, LB Denzel Burrell, TB Mikell Simpson

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Jackson (461 yards)

Passing: Sewell (1,848 yds)

Receiving: Burd* (413 yds)

Tackles: Greer* (92)

Sacks: Collins (6)

Interceptions: Cook (4)

Spring answers

1. Johnson’s move a hit. Cam Johnson’s move from linebacker to defensive end proved beneficial, as he returned an interception 51 yards in the Cavaliers’ spring game. Johnson, who started 10 of the 12 games he played in last year, showed he can transition to playing with his hand on the ground.

2. Aboushi a boost up front. Offensive tackle Oday Aboushi could be Virginia’s next stellar lineman. He’ll only be a sophomore, but he showed this spring he can help plug up some holes in an offensive line that was rather porous last year. Aboushi played in late in the Clemson game and he held his own as a freshman last year.

3. Mending fences. First-year coach Mike London has been working the crowd and winning it over by making the staff more approachable. He held a scrimmage at Old Dominion, and had been rebuilding relationships with high school coaches and media throughout the state.

Fall questions

1. Which Verica will show this fall? The one who was pushed into duty without experience two years ago and performed well, or the one who last year struggled in mop-up duty? Verica said he avoided turnovers during every team drill this spring, but threw two interceptions in the spring game. Verica is the only player on the roster who has attempted a pass in a game.

2. Kicking competition. Last year, the kicking duties were done by committee. This year, London would like to find one player capable of PATs, field goals and kickoffs. Robert Randolph handled most of the field goal duties last year. Drew Jarrett handled the PATs at the end of the year and Chris Hinkebein did kickoffs. Hinkebein has the strongest but least accurate leg.

3. Defensive transition. How will the players adjust to their new roles in the transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme? London has moved a lot of players into positions where he’s trying to get speed on the field. LaRoy Reynolds and LoVante Battle moved from the secondary to strongside linebacker. Ausar Walcott moved from defensive back to whip linebacker, and other players -- like Conrath -- have moved from defensive end to tackle.

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
6:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 10-3

2009 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 5, punter/kicker 0

Top returners

QB Tyrod Taylor, TB Ryan Williams, TB Darren Evans, FL Danny Coale, SE Jarrett Boykin, DT John Graves, CB Rashad Carmichael, ROV Davon Morgan, LB Barquell Rivers

Key losses

TE Greg Boone, OT Ed Wang, OG Sergio Render, DE Jason Worilds, LB Cody Grimm, DT Cordarrow Thompson, DE Nekos Brown, CB Stephan Virgil, FS Kam Chancellor

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Williams* (1,655 yards)

Passing: Taylor* (2,311 yds)

Receiving: Boykin* (835 yds)

Tackles: Grimm (106)

Sacks: Brown (6.5)

Interceptions: Carmichael* (6)

Spring answers

1. Thomas makes a statement. Backup quarterback Logan Thomas -- at least according to the statistics -- had a better spring than Joseph “Ju-Ju” Clayton. Based on his performances, it would seem Thomas is the front-runner to back up Taylor this season, but coach Frank Beamer wasn’t ready to solidify that after the spring game. In six spring scrimmages, Thomas had no interceptions and Clayton threw five.

2. Evans can run -- over defenders. If Evans is suffering any lingering effects from last year’s torn ACL, it wasn’t evident during his first carry of the spring game when he ran over teammate and safety Antone Exum. Evans told reporters he’s feeling the best he has since he was injured. Beamer said he has no concerns about Evans being 100 percent this fall.

3. Strong secondary. It was one of the highlights this spring on a defense tasked with replacing six starters, including two in the secondary. Exum was one of the players who stood out in the spring game, as he had three pass breakups.

Fall questions

1. How will Evans and Williams be used? The spring game was a time to evaluate younger players, and with Williams sidelined for a bruised knee, there were no answers as to how the Hokies’ backfield might look this fall with two 1,000-yard rushers.

2. Will David Wilson redshirt? Wilson is a talented athlete in a crowded backfield, but he didn’t want to redshirt last season and played sparingly as a true freshman. Beamer said after the spring game that the coaches will make a decision “at the proper time.” That wasn’t this spring.

3. Groundhog’s Day in the kicking game. For the third straight year, the Hokies need a new place-kicker. If the season started tomorrow, Chris Hazley would handle field goals, Justin Myer kickoffs and Brian Saunders would punt, but the competition will continue this fall when freshmen join the team.

Wake Forest spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
6:00
AM ET
Good (very early) morning to you, ACC fans. Today we're taking a look back at each school in the conference, and what we learned (and didn't) from spring ball. (Most teams still have far more questions than they do answers heading into summer camp, but we'll stick with three each.) We'll start at the end of the alphabet for a change (sorry, BC fans).

Here's your spring scouting report on the Demon Deacons:

2009 overall record: 5-7

2009 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Marshall Williams, WR Devon Brown, RB Josh Adams, G Joe Looney, C Russell Nenon, DE Tristan Dorty, DE Kyle Wilber, LB Matt Woodlief, SS Cyhl Quarles, P Shane Popham , CB Kenny Okoro

Key losses

OT Chris DeGeare, QB Riley Skinner, OG Jeff Griffin, OG Barrett McMillin, DT John Russell, DT Boo Robinson, CB Brandon Ghee

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Adams* (541 yards)

Passing: Skinner (3,160 yds)

Receiving: Williams* (867 yds)

Tackles: Dominique Midgett (79)

Sacks: Russell (4.5)

Interceptions: Okoro* (3)

Spring answers

1. Help for the quarterback. Wake Forest found some playmakers this spring who can help ease the transition for a new starting quarterback. Brown and Chris Givens can both take a handoff on a sweep, and the Deacs have two veterans in Adams and Brandon Pendergrass. Wake’s ground game should get a boost from both the running backs and wide receivers.

2. New quarterback, new offense. Without Skinner, the Deacs are making the transition to a more run-based option offense, and No. 1 on this list will help them do that. Regardless of who wins the quarterback job, he’ll likely bring an added dimension with his ability to run, and Skylar Jones demonstrated that this spring.

3. New staff assignments. Coach Jim Grobe reassigned some of his assistants to better take advantage of their strengths, and those transitions went well this spring. The biggest change was the move of Steve Russ, a former defensive coordinator at Syracuse, from tight ends and fullbacks to linebackers.

Fall questions

1. Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. Jones finished the spring atop the depth chart, but part of that decision was based on durability. Jones didn’t miss a day of practice this spring. Historically, that’s been a quality Grobe likes -- guys who can stay healthy in his system. But the staff thinks very highly of incoming freshman Tanner Price, who will be given every opportunity to win the job as well. Regardless of who starts the season opener, they’re all inexperienced.

2. Woe-line. Possibly a bigger concern than who the starting quarterback will be is how the offensive line will come together. The Deacs return Nenon at center, but he missed all of spring and added to the unit’s injury concerns. Wake is missing established tackles, and the group is trying to get back to running the ball the way it did before Skinner. The previous linemen were recruited to be run blockers, but the focused changed when they got a great passing quarterback.

3. Defensive jobs up for grabs. Wake Forest has a lot of young talent, making for some ongoing competition this summer at five or six positions. The interior defensive line, defensive end and linebacker are areas where there are two legitimate potential starters as opposed to two backups trying to earn promotions.

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