ACC: Adrian Cannon

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 27, 2011
Here we go ...
You asked, I answered. Readers (particularly @AsylumGodfather) were calling for more position rankings, so the receivers are up next. This could be the strongest position group in the conference, and one of the more difficult to rank, so I looked back on a few stats to help me separate them, including how some of these guys did against their best competition (i.e. Danny Coale versus FSU, wow). Here’s the final verdict of which teams in the ACC have the best combination of depth and talent:

1. Virginia Tech: With Jarrett Boykin and Coale returning, the Hokies’ passing game has a chance to flourish this fall. Boykin, Coale and Dyrell Roberts were the team’s top three receivers last year for the second straight season, combining for 113 catches, 1,882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Add to that Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, E.L. Smiling -- it’s a bottomless cup of depth and talent.

2. Duke: Conner Vernon has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons and Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their combined 274 receptions are the most of any active duo in the ACC. They are the top two returning leaders in catches per game, and Vernon is the ACC’s returning leader in receiving yards per game. The Blue Devils also have sophomore Brandon Braxton (14 catches), who could make a name for himself as the third option this year.

3. Florida State: Every Seminole who caught a pass last season returns. Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith return with a combined 50 career starts. Reed ranks second among all returning ACC receivers with 141 career receptions. Willie Haulstead had 38 catches last season, Smith had 31, and there’s plenty of rising talent like Christian Green.

4. North Carolina: Like Florida State, North Carolina returns all of its receivers, including two who redshirted last season. Dwight Jones, who had 946 yards and 62 receptions, leads the group, but Erik Highsmith (25 catches, 348 yards and three touchdowns) must be accounted for as well. Defenses also can’t forget about Jheranie Boyd, who is a deep threat.

5. Miami: The Canes will miss the production of Leonard Hankerson, but they don’t have to if one or two of the other players show more consistency. Travis Benjamin has big-play capabilities and averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 catches last season. There is no shortage of other options with LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns and Kendal Thompkins. Which one will rise to the occasion?

6. Clemson: It was the DeAndre Hopkins show last season, and he should again highlight the Tigers’ passing game. As a true freshman, Hopkins had 52 catches, the most by a first-year player in school history. Jaron Brown returns with 10 career starts, and the Tigers also have Marquan Jones (21 catches) and Bryce McNeal (19).

7. Maryland: The Terps have to replace their top two receivers from a year ago in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, and no clear frontrunners emerged this spring. Quintin McCree leads all returners with 16 catches, followed by Kevin Dorsey (15), Ronnie Tyler (13), Kerry Boykins (10), and Tony Logan.

8. Boston College: True freshman Bobby Swigert led the Eagles last year with 39 catches and four touchdowns in five starts. The Eagles are hoping to get a significant boost from the return of Colin Larmond Jr., who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but the young group should be better regardless because of the experience gained last season.

9. Virginia: The Cavaliers will miss Dontrelle Inman, who averaged 16 yards per catch on 51 receptions, but returning starter Kris Burd finished fifth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (58). The group will also get a boost from the return of Tim Smith, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, and Matt Snyder (30 catches) and Ray Keys (three catches).

10. NC State: NC State has to replace its top two receivers from a year ago, and T.J. Graham is the team’s leading returning receiver with 25 catches. Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton all have experience, and redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, Tobias Palmer and Everett Proctor have also been competing for playing time.

11. Wake Forest: Chris Givens (35 catches, 13.7 average), Michael Campanaro (10 catches) and Danny Dembry are the lead candidates to start, but the Deacs are missing a spark like Kenny Moore (2007) and D.J. Boldin (2008) provided. There were too many dropped passes in the spring game, so this group has some work to do in summer camp.

12. Georgia Tech: Yes, Georgia Tech throws the ball, just not often enough or efficiently enough to be anywhere but last place on this list. Stephen Hill led the Jackets last year with 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He should show progress this fall now that there’s no pressure on him to be the next Demaryius Thomas. If he doesn’t show more consistency, the Jackets could turn to Daniel McKayhan, Tyler Melton or Jeremy Moore.

Maryland spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
2010 overall record: 9-4

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 7, punter/kicker 0

Top returners

QB Danny O’Brien, RB Davin Meggett, WR Kerry Boykins, WR Kevin Dorsey, DT Joe Vellano, LB Kenny Tate, LB Demetrius Hartsfield, DT A.J. Francis, CB Cameron Chism

Key losses

WR Torrey Smith, WR Adrian Cannon, RB Da’Rel Scott, LB Alex Wujciak, LB Adrian Moten, SS Antwine Perez, P/PK Travis Baltz

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Meggett* (720 yards)

Passing: O’Brien* (2,438 yds)

Receiving: Smith (1,055 yds)

Tackles: Wujciak (117)

Sacks: Tate* (3.5)

Interceptions: Moten (4)

Spring answers

1. Receivers answering the call. Maryland lost its top two receivers from 2010, but three emerged as potential go-to players this spring. Ronnie Tyler, Kerry Boykins and Kevin Dorsey were the lead candidates to become O’Brien’s favorite target this fall, and Quintin McCree, who has missed the Tuesday and Thursday practices for study hall, is the leading returner with 16 catches. None of them have been in a starting role before, but all of them proved to be capable hands this spring.

2. A 'general' consensus. Some players within the program have nicknamed first-year coach Randy Edsall "the general" for his strict rules and high expectations, but they seem to have bought in. Overall, the team has adjusted well to the staff changes and embraced the new regime, its style, schemes and philosophies. Edsall has banned hats, earrings and do-rags in the football building, and facial hair must be neatly trimmed.

3. Kenny Tate’s move a good one. The biggest position change of the spring was Tate from safety to linebacker, and Tate showed this spring it was a good move -- especially following the departures of veterans Adrian Moten and Alex Wujciak. Tate adjusted well to the “star” position, a cross between strong safety and outside linebacker. The move also indicated the staff is confident in Eric Franklin and Matt Robinson as the starting safeties.

Fall questions

1. What will this team’s identity be? The players spent this spring learning new schemes and terminology, much of which has been kept under wraps by Edsall. O’Brien has said the offense will be more up-tempo, and has made every effort to study and learn the system this spring, but executing it in games remains a question. The defense also made a transition under first-year coordinator Todd Bradford.

2. Can the offensive line stay healthy? It’s been an injury-prone group the past two seasons and this spring wasn’t much different. Left tackle Justin Gilbert, one of the top linemen on the team, reinjured the same knee he had ACL surgery on and will be out until October. R.J. Dill was also injured this spring, though he played in the spring game, and Justin Lewis was rehabbing from offseason surgery. Pete White also missed practices, so the group needs to solidify the two-deep roster.

3. Who will be the starting fullback? Taylor Watson decided this spring to graduate and leave the team, leaving Rahsaan Moore and Haroon Brown as the lead candidates. True freshman Tyler Cierski, rated the No. 2 fullback in his class by ESPN Recruiting, should add to the competition this summer.

Maryland spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2010

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.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 1, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Aren't you glad it's September today?
  • Georgia Tech isn't changing its gameplan for Jacksonville State, even though starting quarterback Ryan Perrilloux has been suspended for the opener.
  • Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey left some strong words of advice for his friend and former teammate, Adrian Cannon: "I want you to follow in my footsteps and be better than me." Cannon seems up to the task.
  • Who better to break down the NC State-South Carolina game than the man who coached at both schools? ESPN's Lou Holtz gave the Charlotte Observer his take.
  • Can you name Virginia's starting linebackers this year? It's understandable. They've been in the shadows for a while, but that will change this fall.
  • Duke hasn't played in a bowl game since 1994, and while the Blue Devils might not quite be there yet, they at least believe they can be.
  • Last year, Miami linebacker Sean Spence was a self-described "ping pong," bouncing off guys before he'd make a play. This year, he's not a "little freshman anymore." And he's hoping the collective growth of the defense will help the Canes stop the run.
  • FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews doesn't want any help from the Noles' offense, but he just might need it, at least early in the season.
  • Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post sat down with Miami AD Kirby Hocutt, who said he's confident Randy Shannon "is going to continue to be our leader for a long, long time."
  • Ha, Randy King of the Roanoke Times writes the Virginia Tech-Bama game is going to be a "slobber-knocker" of a game, which would be just fine with kicker Matt Waldron, who would love nothing more than to be the deciding factor.
  • Can Clemson running back C.J. Spiller run between the tackles? Can he be an every-down back? Heck, can he get 1,000 yards? Spiller laughs at those questions, and says he's already proven himself.
  • UNC H-back Ryan Taylor will miss the opener against the Citadel with a sprained right knee. Still, the Tar Heels are eager to get into a game situation to find out "who's going to be the playmakers."
  • Toney Baker is back and taking over the No. 1 job at running back for NC State, but he hasn't played in a game in eons. Ken Tysiac caught up with Baker to find out his thoughts on the upcoming season.

Terps get some clarity at receiver

August, 28, 2009
Posted by's Heather Dinich

Maryland receiver Adrian Cannon is one of almost a dozen receivers on the Terps' roster who spent the summer trying to separate himself from a crowded group of potential playmakers.

"I'm always talking in the huddle like, 'Hey, I want the ball,'" he said.

Ask and ye shall receive.

After months with a muddled depth chart filled with talented young receivers eager to help compensate for the loss of star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to the NFL, the Terps' receiving corps has temporarily been put into order following Thursday's scrimmage. The official depth chart isn't out yet, but Cannon and Torrey Smith are expected to be the starters when Maryland lines up against Cal in next Saturday's season opener. And by naming the players who will travel, coach Ralph Friedgen helped give clarity to the position on the three-deep roster.

At X, it's likely to be Cannon, backed up by Kevin Dorsey and Emani Lee-Odai. At Z, Smith will be backed up by Quintin McCree and Tony Logan, and in the slot position Ronnie Tyler leads LaQuan Williams and Kerry Boykins.

"We're a deep group," Cannon said. "We have about nine or 10 guys who can play on Saturday. That's a blessing. We're all pushing each other, at the same time we're competing every day and making each other better. We're a very tight-knit group. We all love each other, but at the same time, we all want to make that play."

Since the spring, it seems like each of the receivers have had their moment to make that play, but Cannon had the most consistent summer, and Smith, after finishing a class, came on strong the past couple of weeks. Cannon has played in 20 career games, but spent most of his time as a backup. He started one game last year and caught three passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He said playing against first-year coordinator Don Brown's defense, which requires the corners to play on an island, has made him better.

"Right now I'm making a lot of plays against this type of defense and it's doing nothing but making me better," Cannon said. "We won't see another defense like this, it's a good thing."

Smith had a breakout 2008 season and made a name for himself as a kick returner. He started the final six games and averaged 141.2 all-purpose yards per game over the last five games. He also averaged a school record 21.3 yards each time he touched the ball (1,425 yards on 67 attempts). And he set the ACC single-season record with 1,089 kickoff return yards.

He appears to have picked up right where he left off. In Thursday's scrimmage, Smith set up Davin Meggett's 3-yard touchdown run by making an impressive 30-yard reception from Chris Turner, setting up first-and-goal. He also returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.

Smith isn't the only one who has drawn the praise of Friedgen this summer.

Williams had a good camp and made his presence known with his versatility, while McCree has shown the ability to get open, but has dropped too many balls. Tyler and Williams were dead even for most of the summer.

"LaQuan can play any of the positions, so I might even bump him out to Z," Friedgen said. "He's got good hands and a lot of shake. He seems to have gotten a lot quicker, and when he catches the ball, he’s making guys miss. He's making big plays. He's got very strong hands and catches the ball very well. He's a big, physical receiver. At one time I didn't know whether he ran well, he's probably a 4.5 and change, but he's got good quickness. They have trouble when he goes up, he gets a lot of jump balls."

And this fall, he's just one more option for Friedgen.

Around the ACC: Terps hold final summer scrimmage

August, 28, 2009
Posted by's Heather Dinich

With the help of a few sports information offices and the hometown newspapers of the teams with practice reports, here's a quick trip around the league as we head into our final weekend of summer without any ACC football (thank God) ...


The Terps had their final scrimmage of the summer, and while there were some bright spots, it doesn't sound like a lot was determined. However, coach Ralph Friedgen did put some order to the deep group of receivers he has. Friedgen said he thinks nine receivers will travel with the team. At X, it's likely to be Adrian Cannon, Kevin Dorsey and Emani Lee-Odai. At Z, expect to see Torrey Smith, Quintin McCree and Tony Logan, and in the slot position Ronnie Tyler, LaQuan Williams and Kerry Boykins.

Here are a few highlights from the scrimmage, according to the practice report:

Sophomore Torrey Smith, who will be counted on to be a big-play receiver this season, had a hand in two touchdowns. He set up Davin Meggett's 3-yard score by making an acrobatic 30-yard reception from Chris Turner, setting up first-and-goal. Smith also fielded a short kickoff and raced up the left sideline for an 87-yard touchdown. Freshman Nick Ferrara made two 48 yards-yard field goals and added a 45-yard extra point after Meggett's touchdown. Mike Barbour, also competing for the No. 1 place-kicking job, made a pair of 46-yard extra points. Chris Turner completed 6 of 8 passes for 102 yards. The defense also had two other interceptions with linebackers Hakeem Sule and Alex Wujciak forcing turnovers. In addition, coordinator Don Brown's unit posted four sacks.


FSU isn't the only one with injury problems on the defensive line. Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson broke his hand - again.

Clemson spent Thursday's short practice working on Middle Tennessee's tendencies.

Brandon Ford was in a yellow jersey as he continues to heal from a foot injury. Spencer Benton was out again, but is expected to return to kicking duties on Saturday when the team holds its annual "Beannie Bowl." Jacoby Ford continues to improve from a hamstring injury and should be ready for the opener. Brandon Clear is back at full strength after a rib injury.

"The Beannie Bowl is a full rehearsal for the first game," coach Dabo Swinney said. "We will go through our pregame warm ups, even run down the hill. They we will kick off right at 6:00 PM and practice various special situations."


It was a good day for the Noles on Thursday, both at practice and in recruiting. FSU picked up two more recruits, bringing its 2010 class to 13. Florida State also got its first workout in the rain. There's one problem - all three of the senior defensive tackles are injured. You know what that means? It's time to meet Jacobbi McDaniel.

From the practice report:

Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson swatted away a touchdown pass intended for Jarmon Fortson in the end zone during 11-on-11 work. ... The best collision of the day came when linebacker Kendall Smith buried tailback and lead blocker Jermaine Thomas o
n a running play. ... Tight end Beau Reliford shook off the doldrums from several long afternoons with a 30-yard grab. ... With senior defensive tackles Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) held out of contact work for a second consecutive day, heralded freshman Jacobbi McDaniel continued to receive significant snaps alongside Moses McCray with the first-team defense. Fellow freshman Demonte McAllister is also getting a load of repetitions. "They are getting a lot of work, which is what they need," Bowden said of the youngsters. "They look like they can handle it."... Redshirt freshman Everett Dawkins, who began the preseason at defensive tackle and moved out to defensive end, was moved back inside to bolster position coach Odell Haggins' under-manned unit. ... There are quite a few position battles still being waged as the Seminoles head into Saturday's closed scrimmage, including cornerback, rover, defensive end, offensive guard, tailback, wide receiver and kicker. The competition is a welcome sign, reflecting the team's improved depth. "We let (the players) know those scrimmages are so important because they are game-like," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We've got ACC officials out there, so it's time to show your stuff if you've got it." ... The Seminoles will practice Friday afternoon.


Rise n' shine, it's practice time. The Canes started at 5:45 a.m. in shells under the lights on Mark Light Field. Dyron Dye was held out of practice with a leg injury. Leonard Hankerson and A.J. Trump returned to practice after being limited the last few sessions.

The Miami Herald is reporting that Taylor Cook is heading to Rice. With the transfer of Cook and Cannon Smith, A.J. Highsmith got a lot more work on Thursday. Here's what offensive tackle Jason Fox had to say on the transfers:

"Sometimes it can be a distraction but as a football team you have to limit the distractions, not think about it and remember why we are here. We are here to play football and win football games and anything else besides that, we have to push off to the side. You can't really do anything about it. Those were personal decisions they wanted to do for their careers that is going to help them out personally. As a team, we have to send them on their way and wish them good luck, but we still have to get ready."

Around the ACC: FSU's Pressley returns ... for a little

August, 20, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here's a quick catch-you-up on practices from around the league, as reported by each school's sports information office:


With tailbacks Tavares Pressley and Ty Jones getting their first extended work since returning from hamstring strains, the Seminoles moved the ball effectively on the ground throughout the second half of Wednesday's afternoon practice.

"We ran 'ol Pressley a lot today just to see what kind of shape he was in," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "He ran good, but he gave out."

Pressley was the primary ball carrier for the first-team offense during 11-on-11 work, when the Seminoles started at the 50-yard line. He repeatedly ripped off runs between 6-and-12 yards, displaying power and speed, though he did lose a fumble downfield. That fumble proved costly when Pressley landed on the football, knocking the wind out of him, and ultimately ending his day prematurely.

Still, it was the first significant contact work Pressley has had in more than two years, since transferring from El Camino (Calif.) Community College last fall. He missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, suffered early in preseason camp.

"[Pressley] did some good things and some bad things," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "When you hit it up in there now, this ain't junior college. There are men on the other side."

Jones also received significant work with the second-team offense and was largely effective running between the tackles.

While Jermaine Thomas earned a break throughout a large chunk of scrimmage work, 212-pound freshman tailback Lonnie Pryor continued to rip off yardage after initial contact and earn the coaching staff's praise.

"The guy that keeps looking good is Pryor," Bowden said. "Sometimes he looks like he's the best back we've got. He just does better than he's supposed to do. He's supposed to faint every now and then, but he ain't fainted yet."


After Tuesday afternoon's practice turned into an evening session due to a couple of rain delays, the Maryland Terrapins were back on the football field Wednesday morning for the first of two workouts scheduled for the day.

"We had a good, tough practice today," said coach Ralph Friedgen. "It was tough because we went late last night, then we got up this morning. It was hot and humid. We forced them to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Some did it and some didn't."

Despite the short rest, heat and humidity, several players that have stood out in practice so far continued to impress.

"A couple guys really stand out right now," Friedgen said. "Chris Turner -- he's really doing a great job of seeing things, setting the defense, using his cadence, making decisions. I'm very pleased with how he's playing. Kenny Tate is having a sensational camp. He's all over the place. He's intercepting passes, he's sacking guys. [Defensive coordinator Don] Brown's got him blitzing, covering. Every time you look up, he's making a play. You saw that in the scrimmage the other day."

Friedgen like the development the team has made through 11 preseason workouts.

"I think we're getting better," Friedgen said. "We're a long way from where we need to be, but I'm seeing progress."

Now a week and a half in to fall camp, Friedgen is starting to see separation at some positions, while others remain a wait-and-see situation. Parts of the offensive line remain a question, Friedgen said, but the coaching staff is remaining patient with a group that is talented but very young.

"We have [three] redshirt freshmen [Justin Lewis, R.J. Dill and Justin Gilbert] and two regular freshmen [Pete White and Bennett Fulper] and then Maurice Hampton, he's a redshirt sophomore," Friedgen said. "They're very, very young. We knew going in, it is what it is. You just have to be patient and keep working them and keep encouraging them."


Miami held its third two-a-day of fall camp Wednesday, with the team working out in shells in the early morning and late afternoon sessions.

In the morning session, the defense played well in red zone drills and Javarris James led a strong showing by the running backs in 11-on-11 work. In the afternoon, James continued his strong play with a couple big runs to go along with interceptions by Sam Shields and Vaughn Telemaque.

Thearon Collier had a big afternoon offensively, catching several balls from Jacory Harris in 11-on-11 action.

The team continues to focus on kickoff coverage, in addition to the usual work in 11-on-11, 7-on-7 and positional drills.

After five practices in three days, the Canes will take the day off on Thursday before holding a closed scrimmage on Friday.

Morning Practice Highlights -- (shells)
• Randy Phillips stood out defensively, recording a sack and pass deflection in 11-on-11 play.
• In a series of 15-to-20 red zone plays, the defense held the offense to just one touchdown (Taylor Cook to LaRon Byrd for a 20-yard score).
• James had a rush and a reception of over 20 yards in 11-on-11 play.
Lee Chambers had a few runs of 10-to-15 yards in run drills and in 11-on-11 action.

Afternoon Practice Highlights -- (shells)
• James had runs of approximately 65 and 30 yards in 11-on-11 drills.
• Harris hooked up with Collier (twice) Jimmy Graham and Travis Benjamin for substantial gains in 11-on-11 action.
• Shields recorded an interception in 7-on-7 play.
• Telemaque picked off a pass in the end zone during two-minute drills.

Around the ACC: Terps start practice

August, 11, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Good morning, ACC fans. I'm in Tallahassee, and getting ready to head out to FSU practice, but first I wanted to catch you up on a few Monday practice reports from around the league:


The Terps started practice on Monday, and coach Ralph Friedgen is a shell of his former self after losing more than 100 pounds. Here are a few tidbits from Monday's practice, as reported by the sports information office:

    • Two-year starter Chris Turner and Jamarr Robinson were the lone quarterbacks on the roster in the spring, but they have been joined by a pair of talented true freshmen in C.J. Brown and Danny O'Brien.

      "I looked at the young quarterbacks and they did pretty good for the first day," Friedgen said. "We put a lot of stuff in and they had the extra meeting today. I thought Chris was very sharp. I though Jamarr showed some signs of improving. I was impressed with the quickness of [Caleb] Porzel, He is a quick little kid. We have to get him and D.J. Adams in on Saturday [for the scrimmage]. I want to see what they can do."

      • Practice Tidbits: Junior WR Adrian Cannon made a number of impressive catches during individual drills, including a one-handed grab along the sidelines. ... During one of the 7-on-7 drills, O'Brien went 6-for-6, including a long completion to Quintin McCree. O'Brien and McCree also connected again in 11-on-11s on a long completion. ... Running back Gary Douglas redshirted last season as a true freshman, but was impressive during fall practice. Douglas continued to show impressive athleticism. He had good runs after the catch Monday and showed some elusiveness.
      • Return Game: Torrey Smith, who set an ACC record for kickoff return yards last season, is penciled in as the primary kickoff return man, but the Terps are in search of a new punt returner with the departure of three-year starter Danny Oquendo. Sophomore Tony Logan, who handled the job in the Humanitarian Bowl, is listed No.1 on the depth chart. Anthony Wiseman and Kenny Tate are backups for new special teams coordinator Charles Bankins heading into the preseason, but Porzel and Travis Hawkins also fielded punts during individual drills.
      • Switching Lines: True freshman Cody Blue, who enrolled in January and participated in spring drills, has moved from the defensive line to the offensive line. Blue was a backup at defensive end, but will slide in at tackle. "Cody has the height and I think he's going to get a lot bigger," Friedgen said. "It's going to take him time to learn it, and we'll see how he does. If he doesn't adapt, we can always move him back to defense. I think this gives him the best chance of playing."

      (Read full post)

      Maryland's Turner breaks down the offense

      August, 6, 2009
      PM ET

      Posted by's Heather Dinich

      As Maryland quarterback Chris Turner goes, so go the Terps. If he's hot against Top 25 teams, so is Maryland. If he's down against an unheralded opponent, so is Maryland. Turner is 5-1 against ranked teams. His consistency, along with the development of his offensive line, will play a huge role in how Maryland's season unfolds this fall. Turner, a senior, is entering his third season as the starter. He ranks fourth on Maryland's career completion percentage list (59.7), seventh in career passing yards (4,474), and seventh in total offense (4,295).

        AP Photo/Rob Carr
        Chris Turner plans to be the veteran leader for Maryland's young offense.

      I recently got a chance to sit down with Turner. Here are the highlights of our interview:

      Last year there were so many seniors, high expectations, but they didn't quite meet them. What do you think about this group that's in front of you now?

      Chris Turner: I think that anytime you're faced with some negativity or doubt, it's motivation to step up your game. We have a young offensive line, but they're very talented and will be very good down the road, but I don't have that kind of time. I need them to develop quickly.

      You guys had so many things in place last year for a winning season -- 30 seniors, Darrius Heyward-Bey, a veteran O-line, and yet came up short. Where does your confidence come from this year now that so many of those guys are gone?

      CT: Personally for me, the confidence I have is I understand what kind of talent we do have. We might not have a lot of seniors, we might have lost a lot of leadership, but the young players we do have are a pretty good group. We're three-deep at every position. Our O-linemen, they are young and have a lot to learn, but they're athletic, they can move around they're going to get off the ball. That's the way I look at it. I don't like to look at what we don't have, I look at what we do have.

      Which one of these receivers is going to be your go-to guy? You had like nine different players catch the ball for you.

      CT: This summer some of the guys who have really stood out are Torrey Smith, he's a natural leader going into this year, and Adrian Cannon has had an unbelievable summer and spring, really pushed Torrey for his job. LaQuan Williams is back, people forget about him, but he's an exceptional player. Those are the three that really stand out. They're all going to have a role. You're going to see nine receivers play this year.

      I was talking to [strength coach] Dwight [Galt] and he was telling me that there's more athleticism, and guys are really looking good in the weight room.

      CT: It's really pretty impressive. For receivers, Kevin Dorsey and Torrey stand out. Kevin Dorsey is about 18 years old and he's power cleaning like 340. It's really cool to see. These guys are going to have great careers, but I need them to step up for me now. Seeing them work like this is reassuring and it gives me a lot of confidence.

      What are your goals for yourself this year?

      CT: I'd like to just live up to the whole senior quarterback reputation I've sort of acquired. We're a young team, and I'm that consistency they'll look to. People keep asking me how it feels not having any competition and all that, but it's still competition. I'm still trying to get better every day. Hopefully if I play the way I'm capable of, it will give guys around me confidence and really be a positive factor.

      How much have you thought about not only playing at Cal, but at that time? (It translates to a 10 p.m. East Coast kickoff).

      CT: A lot, I've thought about it a lot. It's going to be quite a challenge obviously. Cal is loaded, they're a very good team. I'm as aware of that as anyone. It's going to be a good test for us. Win or lose, it's going to be a good experience. We'll have 11 or 12 games after that. We'd like to come out with a victory, obviously. We're going to prepare for that game, and we're going in there to win. We're not going in there to put up a fight and see what happens, we're going to win.

      Because you've seen it, how much differently do you think ACC offenses will view Maryland's defense? Do you think you guys might surprise some people?

      CT: Yeah, yeah. It's going to look funny. It's going to look a lot different. It's not going to be the old Maryland at all.

      Is that a good thing?

      CT: Yeah, very good thing.

      How tough has it been to go against?

      CT: It was frustrating at first. There were so many different looks they were throwing at us. Coach [Don] Brown, he's so creative. It seemed like every practice was a new defense. I feel like if it's frustrating for me, and I'm watching film on it every day, it will cause some problems for other offenses.

      Wrapping up Maryland's spring game

      April, 27, 2009
      PM ET

      Posted by's Heather Dinich

      Miami isn't the only team in the ACC with a plethora of young receivers to choose from.

      All nine scholarship wide receivers showed promise this spring, and it's a competition that should play out through summer camp for Maryland. In Saturday's Red-White game, it was Quinton McCree's turn to make a case for playing time.

      McCree gained a game-high 163 receiving yards on four receptions and had three touchdown catches, including scores of 58 and 75 yards. Adrian Cannon was the top receiver for the red team, with five catches for 99 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass from Chris Turner in the third quarter.

      Turner also threw a late touchdown pass to redshirt freshman Kevin Dorsey, another one of the young receivers. Turner completed 15 of 21 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

      The young receivers turned heads on the same day former receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was chosen seventh overall in the NFL draft. For the entire report on the Terps' spring game, click here.

      Terps' Smith ready to build on record-setting season

      April, 22, 2009
      PM ET

      Posted by's Heather Dinich

      COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith was such a well-kept secret in 2008 that even he didn't know he'd be returning kicks for the Terps.

      "To be honest, they never even let me try it in camp," he said. "My first time was in a game. I never did it in practices or scrimmages or anything else. ... It came up on me a little quick."

      And Smith snuck up quickly on a few ACC opponents.

      As a freshman, Smith set an ACC single-season record for kickoff return yardage, returning 41 kickoffs for a total of 1,089 yards. He fittingly broke the record in Maryland's bowl game when he ran a kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown against Nevada. Coach Ralph Friedgen's expectations are high for the Terps' return game again this year, and Smith is a major reason why.

      "As a punt returner, he's a big guy that runs North-South and is very fast, so if he gets a step, he's gonna go," Friedgen said. "He's just a remarkable kid. I've got some really great kids in this program, and he's one of them. He comes every day with a smile on his face, he works as hard as he possibly could, he's a good student. He's one of the leaders, he's on our Terrapin Council, so he's very well-respected because of who he is as an individual. I think he's going to be a very good football player, but more important I think he's going to be very successful in life."

      Smith seems to have picked up right where he left off. In last weekend's scrimmage, Smith had 210 all-purpose yards, including a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

      As a receiver, Friedgen said he is still looking for Smith to make more plays when the opportunity is there. Adrian Cannon has been pushing Smith this spring for the starting job, and it's a position worth watching in Saturday's 3:30 p.m. spring game in Byrd Stadium. Smith finished 2008 with 24 receptions for 336 yards -- numbers which make him the leading returning receiver.

      "This spring was alright," he said. "I had an average spring. I got to grow a lot as a receiver. I got better in a lot of different areas - route running, understanding the game. I think that's going to help us along."

      The difference this year, though, is that he's no longer a secret.

      Quick hits from Maryland

      April, 21, 2009
      PM ET

      Posted by's Heather Dinich

      COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Greetings from Maryland, where the most noticeable difference in Maryland's football team is in the head coach. Ralph Friedgen has lost a significant amount of weight, almost 80 pounds, and it's a striking difference if you haven't seen him in a few months. As for his team? Here are a few quick hits before the chat starts:

      • Friedgen said he's been pleased with this spring, and that overall, the Terps only had one bad practice. That's impressive, considering he pointed out 60 of his 85 scholarship players still have three to four years of eligibility remaining. It's a very young team.
      • His lingering concerns are up front on both sides of the ball. He said they have to get stronger.
      • Defensive back Nolan Carroll, who was injured in Saturday's scrimmage, will miss the spring game, along with Da'Rel Scott. Friedgen said he's confident in four safeties -- Terrell Skinner, Antwine Perez, Jamari McCollough and Kenny Tate.
      • He said it was a good experiment moving Drew Gloster from tight end to linebacker, where he is penciled in as the starting middle linebacker.
      • Offensively, Friedgen said Adrian Cannon is pushing Torrey Smith for the starting X-receiver position.
      • Kevin Dorsey, the standout redshirt freshman receiver, hurt his AC joint and missed today's practice. The young receivers have been playing well, but there have also been too many drops this spring.
      • Friedgen moved Louis Berman, the third-string middle linebacker, to fullback. He's looking for another blocker there and thinks Berman has a better chance to get on the field there.
      • Look out for Tony Logan and Torrey Smith in the return game.

      Time to chat. See you there.

      ACC weekend rewind: Quarterback competitions continue

      April, 20, 2009
      AM ET

      Posted by's Heather Dinich

      Boston College is still looking for a starting quarterback, and Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest are both looking for backups. Here are a few more reports from scrimmages and spring games from sports information directors around the ACC this past weekend:


      The Eagles held their second scrimmage of the spring on Friday, and sophomore quarterback Dominique Davis completed 9 of 20 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Tuggle completed 1 of 4 passes for 17 yards. Sophomore quarterback Codi Boek completed 7 of 9 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

      The ball was spread around between the wide receivers, with a total of eight players catching passes. Redshirt freshman Clyde Lee led all receivers with four catches for 72 yards and one touchdown. Junior Billy Flutie had a 40-yard touchdown catch from Davis, finishing the day with three catches for 57 yards. Senior Rich Gunnell caught three passes for 23 yards and one touchdown, while senior Justin Jarvis had a 22-yard touchdown reception.

      Sophomore running back Montel Harris had 13 carries for 67 yards. Sophomore running back Josh Haden ran for 60 yards on 17 carries.

      A few younger Eagles got an opportunity to showcase themselves on defense. Redshirt freshman linebacker Alexander DiSanzo led the team with seven tackles. Redshirt freshman defensive end Max Halloway had a great day all around with three tackles, one fumble recovery, one sack, and a blocked extra point. Sophomore defensive end Dan Williams totaled five tackles for the day. Junior defensive tackle Damik Scafe and senior Brendan Deska each recorded sacks.

      (Read full post)

      Terps take care of business in Boise

      December, 30, 2008
      PM ET

      Posted by's Heather Dinich

      This was exactly what Maryland needed.

        Brian Losness/US Presswire
        Maryland Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen and the Terrapins salvaged their season with a 42-35 win over Nevada.

      The Terps salvaged an otherwise disappointing season with their 42-35 win over Nevada, and they did it by winning the field position battle, controlling the line of scrimmage and wearing down the undersized Wolf Pack. In the process, they helped the ACC even its bowl record to 3-3 with four games remaining, and a few of the fans in the announced crowd of 26,781 began to chant "A-C-C!"

      If there has been one thing the conference has excelled at this season, it's been keeping things interesting, and the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl was no exception.

      Much like Maryland's entire season, the Terps' performance in the Humanitarian Bowl was filled with inconsistencies, wild momentum swings and unpredictable moments. (Who could have foreseen the wind blowing the ball off the tee?) An interception and two lost fumbles in the third quarter kept Nevada in the game.

      Although Maryland's defense allowed its fair share of big plays, it was a respectable debut for interim defensive coordinator Al Seamonson, who was forced to audition for the job against one of the nation's most prolific offenses. Nevada was No. 2 in the nation in rushing offense at 291.42 yards per game, and the Terps held them to just 114 yards and 3.5 yards per carry.

      Unfortunately, college football fans didn't get to see Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick at his best, as he was hampered by an ankle injury for much of the game. And the Terps were helped by Nevada's six drops, as Kaepernick was healthy enough to hit his receivers in stride and give them catchable balls.

      Even without the seven players who were suspended from the start of the game, Maryland looked prepared and played with a purpose for four quarters.

      The only problem with this win for Maryland was that it was the final game for 31 seniors, and the Terps will head into spring football sorely missing their leadership. But the first half showed flashes of promise from young players like Adrian Cannon, Torrey Smith, Ronnie Tyler and Morgan Green.

      While it might have been a consolation prize for a team very much in the hunt for the ACC championship in November, it was still the senior sendoff the team was looking for and a lesson learned for next year.