ACC: B.J. Raji

It’s time to reload in the ACC. Here’s a look at the position needs for each team in the Atlantic Division for the 2011 signing class:


Offensive linemen: Six players on the final two-deep roster for 2010 were either juniors or seniors, and the Eagles will have to find replacements for Anthony Castonzo, Rich Lapham and Thomas Claiborne. There were two juniors at center in 2011, and the recruiting overall at this position hasn’t been as strong in recent years.

Defensive linemen: The Eagles have been thin at the position to begin with since the departures of Ron Brace and B.J. Raji. The interior line should be a priority, as tackle Damik Scafe will graduate, and Kaleb Ramsey will be a senior. Defensive end Brad Newman will also graduate.


[+] EnlargeDa'Quan Bowers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesReplacing Da'Quan Bowers is a top priority for Clemson.
Defensive line: The early departure of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and the loss of Jarvis Jenkins makes this group a priority. Seven of the eight players up front on the final two-deep roster were either juniors or seniors.

Quarterback: Prior to the early enrollees, Clemson only had one scholarship quarterback on the roster -- projected starter Tajh Boyd. The depth needs to be rebuilt after the loss of starter Kyle Parker and transfer of backup Willy Korn.

Running back: The early departure of Jamie Harper to the NFL left a hole in the Tigers’ lineup. It’s not completely empty, as Andre Ellington remains the best back on the roster and Roderick McDowell was a redshirt freshman backup to Harper.


Offensive lineman – The departures of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon will leave gaping holes up front, and A.J. Ganguzza and Antwane Greenlee aren’t expected to return. Overall, the staff is looking for bigger, better players. With the exception of right guard, this was a veteran group.

Running back: Despite the current depth, the coaching staff still wanted to sign about three more running backs in this class.

Wide receiver: This would be the third priority for the staff. Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling will both be seniors, but the team has lacked some dynamic playmakers at the position.

Linebacker: The Noles lost two starters from last year’s Atlantic Division championship team, and there are several young players on the rise like Jeff Luc and Telvin Smith, but the staff wants more numbers at the position.

Safety: The Noles need an upgrade at this position.

Defensive line: This is a matter of mostly building depth and size and continuing to get better.


Kicker/ Punter: Nick Ferrara has the ability to do both, but he also struggled at both in 2010. Travis Baltz was a four-year starter at punter who has to be replaced. The kicking game should be a top priority in this class, and a concern if Ferrara doesn’t become more consistent.

Wide receiver: The early departure of standout Torrey Smith to the NFL leaves quarterback Danny O'Brien without a favorite target. Seven of the nine receivers listed on the most current depth chart for 2010 were either juniors or seniors.

Running back: The Terps have to replace starter Da’Rel Scott, and Davin Meggett will be a senior. There is some talent behind Meggett in D.J. Adams, but the position could use more depth.

Secondary: Six of the top 10 players in the secondary were either juniors or seniors in 2010, including safety Antwine Perez, who will graduate. Kenny Tate and Cameron Chism will both be seniors, and the corner position is the biggest need.

Defensive end: Defensive coordinator Don Brown would like to bring in at least one player who can really bring some speed off the edge.


Kickers: The Wolfpack lost their starting punter and place-kicker, easily making kickers the biggest need in this recruiting class.

Defensive linemen: With the exception of sophomore Brian Slay, the entire 2010 line was comprised of juniors and seniors. The Pack have to replace two starters, and two returning starters, Jeff Rieskamp and J.R. Sweezy, will be seniors.

Linebackers: This was another veteran group for NC State, with five of the six players on the two-deep either juniors or seniors. Nate Irving’s graduation will be a big hit and Audie Cole will be a senior.

Quarterback: If Russell Wilson leaves early, the position will be even thinner, but backup Mike Glennon will be a junior, so the staff needs to build more depth.


Offensive linemen: The Deacs will have four redshirt juniors returning up front, and have to replace redshirt senior center Russell Nenon. The staff is looking to increase the depth and talent up front.

Linebackers: The position hasn’t been the same since the 2008 class (Aaron Curry and Stanley Arnoux). They were both drafted and two of the fastest players the program has ever seen. The staff needs to bring in more talent and speed here.

Ranking the ACC units: Defensive lines

July, 20, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

1. Clemson -- The Tigers return three starters up front, and first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele's pressure defense is the perfect fit for guys like Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp. Sapp was having a good season last year before he tore his ACL at Virginia and missed the rest of the season. Defensive end Kevin Alexander is a returning starter who had 34 tackles last year, and nose guard Jarvis Jenkins tied Sapp for the team lead with 10 tackles for loss. Opposing quarterbacks won't have time to think against this bunch.

2. Miami -- Anyone watching the Virginia Tech game last year saw what this group is capable of, and of the nine linemen who started at least one game for Miami last year, seven are back. Allen Bailey has moved from end to tackle, but he sometimes played there in third-down situations. He led the team with five sacks. Marcus Robinson is a solid pass rusher, Marcus Forston could also be an impact and Eric Moncur is entering his sixth season and if he plays like he did in 2007 (11.5 tackles for loss) could really give this line a boost.

3. Virginia Tech -- Depth is the only question mark here, as Jason Worilds, John Graves, Cordarrow Thompson and Nekos Brown are more than capable of continuing Bud Foster's tradition of nationally ranked defenses. Nobody is questioning Worilds' toughness, that's for sure, and Graves and Thompson both started every game last year. They're still looking for another defensive end, though, and will keep an eye on what Chris Drager adds to the position after moving from tight end.

4. North Carolina -- Not only do all four starters return, but the depth is the best it's been in recent years. Last year, defensive end Robert Quinn became a starter in the second game of the season, and defensive tackle Cam Thomas had one of his his best season at UNC. Marvin Austin and E.J. Wilson played well, and should be even better this year. Reserves Quinton Coples and Michael McAdoo had solid rookie seasons and will push Wilson and Quinn for playing time this year. Aleric Mullins and Tydreke Powell are interchangeable with Austin and Thomas as starters at tackle.

5. Florida State -- The end position is reason for concern, as the Noles have to replace both Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett, who were first and second, respectively, on the team in sacks. Markus White will be tasked with filling the shoes of Brown, but he had a good transition season from junior college last year to build off of. Kevin McNeil, who had four sacks last year, is the favorite to replace Moffett. The interior should be solid with the return of Budd Thacker, Kendrick Stewart, Moses McCray and Justin Mincey.

6. NC State -- Defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash and end Willie Young have combined for 46 starts and should be two of the best linemen in the conference. The other two players penciled in as starters -- Shea McKeen and Leroy Burgess -- were both junior college transfers who earned starting time last year. Backup tackles will be a concern, but Markus Kuhn could wind up playing a bit of both until the staff decides where he can help the most.

7. Wake Forest -- Tackles John Russell and Boo Robinson will highlight a defense that recently bid farewell to some of the best seniors to come through the program. It should be one of the Deacs' most experienced groups in recent years, which is important considering the new faces behind them at linebacker. Defensive end Kyle Wilbur showed a lot of promise as a redshirt freshman with three sacks in only seven starts, and Tristan Dorty played in 10 games as a redshirt defensive end last year.

8. Virginia -- It's one of the few units on this team that didn't get a complete makeover, as seven of the top eight linemen return. Sophomore Matt Conrath, who had 35 tackles and four sacks last year, returns at end. There's a lot of experience next to him at nose tackle, where senior Nate Collins and sophomore Nick Jenkins split time last season. Collins' 35 tackles are the top among the returning linemen, while Jenkins finished with 25. Junior John-Kevin Dolce proved himself in the pass rush package with five sacks among his nine total tackles last year.

9. Boston College -- Replacing tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace is obviously one of the biggest concerns for this team, but they've got several options. Damik Scafe, Nick Rossi and Brendan Deska were each second-stringers at the tackle position and are the early favorites to replace the NFL draft picks. The Eagles also signed a pair of defensive tackles in the offseason, including highly touted recruit Dillon Quinn, who could make an immediate impact. Austin Giles replaced the injured Alex Albright last year for 12 starts, and Jim Ramella started all 14 games at the other end position.

10. Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets have to replace three of four starters up front, and until they prove they found dependable replacements, they're going to be stuck down here. The lone returning starter is junior end Derrick Morgan, and there's no doubt about his capabilities, but the Jackets will sorely miss the three starters who combined for 100 career starts and 100 tackles for loss. Ben Anderson, Robert Hall and T.J. Barnes are all candidates to start.

11. Duke -- The Blue Devils took a step forward last year and should improve again with the return of tackle Vince Oghobaase and end Ayanga Okpokwuruk, who started five games and had 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. They combined for 9.5 sacks last year. Oghobaase ranks second in the ACC in both career tackles for loss (29.0) and quarterback sacks (11.5). They'll need new starters at nose guard and right end.

12. Maryland -- The Terps have to fill a void left by Jeremy Navarre and Trey Covington, and so far it looks like that will be up to Derek Drummond, Dion Armstrong, Travis Ivey and Jared Harrell, though Armstrong was dealing with some academic issues. The arrival of De'Onte Arnett, Zachariah Kerr, and Cody Blue this past spring should help with the depth.

Preseason predictions: Boston College

July, 14, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

It wouldn't be July without a few predictions about what this fall will hold for ACC football. This week I'll start to make three predictions for each team and we'll see how they shake out come November. I'll save the actual game predictions for in-season, and make these more of a team overview.

We'll start with the Eagles:


1. Dave Shinskie will be a better quarterback than people think. Who? You'll get to know the 25-year-old signal-caller very soon. Shinskie spent the past six years playing minor league baseball and has yet to throw a collegiate pass, but Frank Spaziani wouldn't have taken a chance on him if he didn't show some potential. That doesn't mean he'll be the next Matt Ryan. Maybe more along the lines of a Chris Crane. As long as he can manage the game without turning it over, this offense stands a chance.

2. The Eagles' running game will flourish behind one of the best offensive lines in the conference. This will also help take some pressure off of Shinskie. Don't forget the Eagles have sophomores Montel Harris and Josh Haden in their backfield. The two combined for 106 yards per game, which was the second-best true freshman total in the country. Harris was the most productive true freshman tailback in school history with a rookie-record five 100-yard rushing performances and 900 total. Both will benefit tremendously from last year's experience and earn some attention despite the plethora of talented backs in the ACC this year.

3. The losses up front and in the linebacking corps will be too much to overcome. The Eagles have to replace hulking tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, which won't be easy. And it will be simply impossible to replace the skill and leadership of linebacker Mark Herzlich, the top defensive player in the ACC. BC's defenses have been stellar in the past -- last year the Eagles ranked fifth nationally in total defense and seventh in rushing defense -- but this should be a year it bends. No doubt the strength will be the secondary.

Hope and concern series: Boston College

June, 18, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

There's always reason for hope -- your team has the best quarterback in the league, it's got a favorable schedule, a great coach, or the defense returns almost everyone. But there's also always a few reasons for concern. I'm stealing an idea from my colleague, Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg, and will go through each team in the ACC's biggest reasons for hope and concern in 2009. Let's start in Chestnut Hill:


Biggest reason for hope -- The running game

Four starters return on the offensive line, which should be one of the best in the ACC, and they'll pave the way for two up-and-coming running backs in Josh Haden and Montel Harris. The two combined for 106 yards per game, which was the second-best true freshmen total in the country. Harris, who wasn't offered a scholarship until two weeks before signing day, set a BC freshmen rushing record with 900 yards to finish 5th in the ACC. It was the 14th-best single-season effort by a freshman in ACC history. Haden started 13 games at tailback and rushed for 479 yards (4 ypc). He also caught 13 passes for 100 yards. The duo will have its chance in the spotlight this year, as Haden and Harris will be needed to take some pressure off of whoever becomes the new quarterback.

Biggest reason for concern -- Missing stars

There is no Matt Ryan, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace have moved on, and there likely won't be any Mark Herzlich. Those within the program aren't even sure when standout linebacker Mike McLaughlin will return from a ruptured Achilles. And everyone will be under the direction of a first-year head coach. It's going to be a team effort in the truest sense of the phrase, but somebody will have to emerge as a leader and a player the Eagles can depend upon in the clutch. Can 25-year-old Dave Shinskie, who hasn't thrown a collegiate pass let alone a football in six years be the face of Boston College football this fall? He might not have a choice.

Spaz vs. Swinney

May, 22, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

There are two new coaches in the ACC this season, and both of them happen to be in the Atlantic Division. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani took over for Jeff Jagodzinski, and Dabo Swinney took over for Tommy Bowden in the middle of last season.

Which one will have the most success first? Here's a look at what each of them brings to the table:

  Robert E. Klein/Icon SMI
  Frank Spaziani takes over a team in the midst of an offensive transition.

Name: Frank Spaziani
Record at BC: 1-0, first season
Overall: 1-0 (Spaziani was credited with BC's 25-24 win over Navy in the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl while serving as interim head coach following the departure of Tom O'Brien.)
Years at Boston College: 13
Previous position: Defensive coordinator
Head-coaching experience: One game as an interim head coach.
Returning players: 7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist

What he brings: Spaziani's best attributes are his down-to-earth, humble personality and ability to get the most out of his players, but he's also a very smart defensive-minded coach with a plan for the future of Boston College football. He also brings a loyalty to the program, and a guarantee that he's going to stick around. That's something he can convey to recruits, and so far it seems to be working. Spaziani has been on staff for teams that have collectively reached 20 bowl games, so he knows what it takes to get there and his nationally ranked defenses have helped BC do it.

Challenges he faces: Boston College is in the midst of a system change on offense, and is going through it without a dependable leader at quarterback. He also is tasked with keeping the team together and focused in the wake of the news that star linebacker Mark Herzlich has been diagnosed with cancer. The defense also has to replace hulking tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, and it's uncertain how long linebacker Mike McLaughlin will be out with a ruptured Achilles.

Likelihood of pulling off a winning season: Despite the coaching staff change and several glaring question marks, the Eagles aren't starting from scratch. They've got an extremely talented offensive line, and talented running backs in Josh Haden and Montel Harris who can help take some pressure off of the new quarterback. They've also got a deep, experienced secondary and a few veteran leaders to help carry the team in Herzlich's absence. So the pieces are there to keep Boston College competitive, it's just a question of how long into the season it will take before everything clicks.

Early prediction: 5-7, 2-6 ACC

  Marvin Gentry/US PRESSWIRE
  Dabo Swinney was 4-3 as interim head coach following Tommy Bowden's resignation.

Name: Dabo Swinney
Record at Clemson: 4-3
Overall: 4-3
Years at Clemson: 6
Previous position: Wide receivers coach/assistant head coach
Head-coaching experience: Swinney was interim head coach from Oct. 13 through Dec. 1, 2008. He has been head coach since Dec. 1, 2008.
Returning players: Offense 7, defense 8

What he brings: Swinney is a salesman, and he's sold everyone in and around the program on his "all in" motto. He started the "Tiger Walk," for his first game as head coach, and his second week, he invited the Clemson students to practice and nearly 1,000 showed up. In his first road game as head coach, Swinney led the Tigers to their first win at Boston College since 1958. He's a top-notch recruiter with a lot of energy, and had the good sense to surround himself with veteran assistants who have been around a little SEC ball. He's young, confident and not afraid to make changes.

Challenges he faces: The biggest challenge is the same one his predecessor faced -- expectations. The 80,000 fans who pack Death Valley on Saturdays are still waiting for the program's first ACC title since 1991. Swinney, like athletic director Terry Don Phillips, took a chance on a young coach when he hired Billy Napier, formerly the tight ends coach, as his offensive coordinator. Swinney will turn 40 in November and Napier turns 30 in July. Together, this will be their first full season calling plays and running the offense. And right now, they haven't decided on a quarterback to lead it.

Likelihood of pulling off a winning season: Most coaches will look at Clemson's roster and, considering the talent returning, tell you there's no good reason why the Tigers' shouldn't have a winning record. Jacoby Ford, C.J. Spiller, a much improved offensive line and one scary defense make this a possible sleeper team. But they've got to settle on a quarterback and find some receivers to help out Ford.

Early prediction: 7-5, 4-4 ACC

Boston College spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009
Posted by's Heather Dinich
Boston College Eagles
2008 overall record: 9-5

2008 conference record: 5-3, Atlantic Division co-champions

Returning starters

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

Top returners

LB Mark Herzlich, LE Alex Albright, LB Mike McLaughlin, FS Wes Davis, WR Rich Gunnell, LT Anthony Castonzo, C Matt Tennant, TB Montel Harris

Key losses

Coach Jeff Jagodzinski, LB Brian Toal, SS Paul Anderson, WR Brandon Robinson DT B.J. Raji, DT Ron Brace

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Montel Harris* (900 yards)
Passing: Chris Crane (1,721 yards)
Receiving: Brandon Robinson (646 yards)
Tackles: Mark Herzlich* (110)
Sacks: B.J. Raji (8)
Interceptions: Herzlich* and Paul Anderson (6)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sept. 5 Northeastern
Sept. 12 Kent State
Sept. 19 at Clemson
Sept. 26 Wake Forest
Oct. 3 Florida State
Oct. 10 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 17 NC State
Oct. 24 at Notre Dame
Oct. 31 Central Michigan
Nov. 14 at Virginia
Nov. 21 North Carolina
Nov. 28 at Maryland

1. Improved offensive line. It's better than it was this time a year ago, and part of that can be attributed to the fact four starters return. Also, Anthony Castonzo had a great spring after moving from right to left tackle last fall. He was the first true freshman to start on the BC line in a decade, and is starting to live up to the hype.

2. More consistency on special teams. The staff feels good about punter Ryan Quigley, who is going to be a sophomore. By the time he's a junior or senior, Quigley could be one of the best in the league. Senior Steve Aponavicious was a little more consistent and they'll need him to be. He scored the only points of the spring game.

3. Secure secondary. The staff was very pleased with the play of safeties, namely Marcellus Bowman and Wes Davis. The secondary could be the strength of the defense, as four players return with starting experience. Davis started at free safety while Bowman backed up Paul Anderson and earned a pair of starts when Davis went down with an injury.

Fall questions

1. Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. Last year, the question was how the Eagles would look without Matt Ryan. This year, it's how they'll look, period. Dominique Davis, Justin Tuggle and Codi Boek will continue to compete this summer. Also competing for time will be true freshman Michael Marscovetra who will join the team in the fall.

2. Achilles' Heel. Will Mike McLaughlin and fullback James McCluskey be able to come back from Achilles injuries? Both were starters last year and both missed all of spring practices. How quickly their return and how gingerly they play this summer could be an issue. McCluskey was already recovering from a broken leg he suffered against Notre Dame last year.

3. Big holes up front. Can the Eagles find replacements for two NFL draft picks on the defensive line? Jim Ramella, who started every game at end last year, and Damik Scafe impressed the coaching staff this spring. Scafe, a backup last year, is the key. He has to play well, and it's the perfect opportunity for him to make a name for himself.

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 5, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Around the ACC we go ...

Weekend replay: ACC and the NFL draft

April, 27, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Between a few spring games and the NFL draft, there is plenty of catching up to do. We'll start with how the ACC fared in the NFL draft -- very well, despite a few streaks being broken.

What's most interesting about this draft is that Wake Forest had four players selected, a true sign of how far the program has come under coach Jim Grobe. Yes, they can recruit NFL-caliber players to Winston-Salem. It marks the first time that four Deacons have been selected by NFL teams in the same draft since 1953.

Congrats to former Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, who was chosen fourth overall in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. Curry was followed by Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was taken seventh by the Oakland Raiders; Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, taken eighth by the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Boston College defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who was selected ninth by the Green Bay Packers.

For the second time in four years, the ACC was the only conference in the nation to have four players drafted among the first nine selections. (It also happened in 2006). It also marked the ninth time in the history of the NFL draft that a league has managed to have four picks among the first nine choices. The Big Ten set the record with five picks in the 1967 and 1996 drafts.

Here are a few more draft factoids, courtesy of the ACC:

  • With five players selected in the first round overall -- North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks was the 29th pick on the first round by the New York Giants -- the ACC has had more first-round selections than any other conference with 30 players chosen since 2006, the first year the ACC became a 12-team league. The SEC is second with 29 first-round selections.
  • Overall, the ACC had nine of the first 45 players selected in the draft, the most of any conference in the nation through the first 45 picks.
  • The ACC did break its unprecedented streak of three consecutive years of supplying the first defensive player chosen in the draft when LSU defensive end Tyrone Jackson was chosen third overall, just ahead of Curry. No other league has ever gone more than two consecutive years with the top defensive player chosen. The ACC now has supplied the top defender in four of the past eight years of the draft.
  • Overall, the ACC had 33 players drafted, trailing only the SEC (37).
  • Maryland and North Carolina led all ACC schools with five players chosen each, followed by Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Wake Forest with four each; Boston College and NC State with two as well as Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech with one each.
  • Although Miami did have its impressive streak of 14 consecutive years with a first-round draft pick snapped, the Hurricanes continued their string of string of consecutive seasons with a player in the NFL draft to 35 straight years with outside linebacker Spencer Adkins drafted on the 6th round. Miami has now had a player taken in every NFL draft since 1974.
  • Florida State continued its streak of 22 straight years with a player taken in the top three rounds when defensive end Everette Brown was chosen in the 2nd round by the Carolina Panthers.

I'll post a complete list of the ACC players who were drafted this weekend in a bit.

BC fans can restore faith in Raji

April, 22, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich has retracted its initial report that former BC defensive tackle B.J. Raji failed a drug test at the NFL combine. He should be an early-to-mid first-round selection. If you haven't seen him play up close, check out the highlight video on that link, and you'll get an idea of just how big the hole is up front that Frank Spaziani is trying to replace this spring.

While I was checking out that video, I stumbled upon another on Macho Harris. I know you guys have heard his story before, but its still heartwrenching every time.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 22, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

First, let's check in on two would-be transfer quarterbacks. Former Miami signal-caller Robert Marve's latest stop was Nebraska, and Duke guard Greg Paulus is checking out Syracuse

Summer camp is supposed to be a time when players get excited about the fall, but for Maryland running back Morgan Green, it's usually "a jinx."

Former FSU linebacker/defensive back Kenny Ingram is hoping the NFL draft experts are wrong, or at least to prove them that way.

Sports Illustrated has since retracted its story on B.J. Raji testing positive for drugs, but the Boston Herald still wonders if Raji is a burden.

When it comes to his status with the NFL, former UNC receiver Hakeem Nicks is "clueless."

And a leftover for you ...

Georgia Tech found some answers this spring -- a few leaders were among them.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 8, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Nothing like a few links for a mid-week pick-me-up ...

  • So what if Ben Anderson has short legs? He benches 460 pounds, the most of any player at Georgia Tech. And he's aiming to take over for Darryl Richard.
  • Apparently everyone but B.J. Raji has been told the former Eagles' defensive tackle failed a drug test from the NFL combine.
  • Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel has been breaking down the Noles by position, and today he looks at the receivers. The Noles end practice Wednesday.
  • NC State picked up a commitment right out of Butch Davis' backyard.
  • With spring ball halfway over, the Terps are tinkering with their depth chart.

ACC representing in McShay's tweaked mock draft

March, 27, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

In case you haven't checked it out yet,'s Todd McShay has released a new version of his top 10, this time speculating that Detroit doesn't take Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford as the No. 1 overall pick. It doesn't sound like good news for BC's B.J. Raji, who is "falling a bit right now." Still, even with this shake-up, the ACC has three players in the top 10 -- Aaron Curry, Eugene Monroe and Raji.

Wake Forest, ACC, poised for huge splash in NFL draft

March, 13, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

If there's one thing the ACC can brag about when it comes to competing against the other BCS conferences, it's NFL draft picks, and this year should be no exception. Over the past three years, the ACC has led all conferences with 25 players chosen in the first round of the NFL draft and the most players drafted overall (115). Half of the ACC could be represented in the first round this year.

The ACC has three of the top five NFL draft prospects, according to Scouts Inc.'s ranking of the top 32 draft-eligible players:

1. Aaron Curry, linebacker, Wake Forest

2. Michael Crabtree, wide receiver, Texas Tech

3. Jason Smith, offensive tackle, Baylor

4. B.J. Raji, defensive tackle, Boston College

5. Eugene Monroe, offensive tackle, Virginia

Florida State defensive end Everette Brown isn't far behind at No. 13, North Carolina receiver Hakeem Nicks is No. 26 and Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is No. 27. Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith made the cut at No. 32.

The fact that two Wake Forest players are even on the list -- let alone a possible No. 1 overall pick -- is evidence that the coaching staff has an eye for talent, and it is possible to lure players like Smith and Curry to Winston-Salem. Same with Boston College. Never in the history of the program has Wake Forest had a No. 1 overall pick. (Norm Snead was No. 2 in 1961). Their last first-round pick was defensive end Calvin Pace in 2003. In fact, Curry would be only the third player ever from Wake to be chosen in the first round.

Only Wake Forest and East Carolina showed an interest in Curry. At just over six feet, he was undersized, but ran really well. The staff liked his work ethic and love for the game. They took a chance on him because of those two qualities. There were a few other linebackers in the state that year -- Chase Rice went to UNC and Chase Bullock went to Maryland. Obviously neither of them had a career like Curry.

Detroit seems to be torn between former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, Jason Smith and Curry. The Rams will probably take a lineman because they just cut Orlando Pace, so Curry probably won't go there, and could fall to No. 3, Kansas City. Regardless, it will be a huge paycheck for Curry and will pay dividends in recruiting and exposure for Wake Forest.

Pro Days update

March, 12, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Boston College will have its NFL Pro Day today, and obviously B.J. Raji, Ron Brace and Ryan Purvis will be among the seniors of note there. (They'll also be among the ACC's biggest shoes to fill in '09). Not all schools release their pro day highlights, but if they do, they'll be posted.

Maryland had its Pro Day on Wednesday, and it was reflective of just how many seniors the Terps will have to replace this year. Maryland lost more starters (13) from last year's roster than anyone else in the ACC.

About 40 representatives from 25 NFL teams were on campus yesterday. Twenty of the 24 players auditioning were starters, and Kevin Barnes, Moise Fokou, Dan Gronkowski, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jaimie Thomas and Edwin Williams had already been to the NFL combine in Indy.

Heyward-Bey and Gronkowski were among the most impressive players at their positions at the NFL combine. Heyward-Bey ran a time of 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, the top time among wide receivers, while Gronkowski had the third-best performance (26 reps) among tight ends in the bench press and the second-best mark (11.72) in the 60-yard shuttle. They only participated in individual drills on Wednesday.

Here were the highlights from Wednesday in College Park:

  • Receiver Isaiah Williams posted the top time in the 40-yard dash (4.38) and 60-yard shuttle (11.10). He also had the third-best time (4.24) in the 20-yard shuttle and matched Barnes for the top vertical jump (41 inches).
  • Running back Rashad Henry had the top time (4.11) in the 20-yard shuttle and defensive back Jeff Allen posted the second-fastest time (4.17).
  • Barnes posted a time of 4.44 in the 40, while Henry clocked a 4.53 and had a 36-inch vertical leap.
  • Jeremy Navarre was the strongest, with 36 reps on the bench press. Defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi had 34.

What to watch in the ACC this spring

February, 11, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

With Miami kicking off spring practice on Feb. 24, it's never too early to start thinking about spring football in the ACC. There are plenty of story lines heading into the 2009 season -- like backup quarterbacks and new coordinators.

Here are a few things to watch for each team in the ACC this spring:


Spring practice starts:
March 17
Spring game: April 25

What to watch

  • Replacing 325-pound defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace will be a large challenge -- literally. Damik Scafe could be a starter, but beyond him it's anybody's guess.
  • Quarterback Dominique Davis only has three games of experience over everyone else, so it's definitely not a given that it's his job to lose. Davis was thrown into the fire at the end of 2008, but former coach Jeff Jagodzinski and former offensive coordinator Steve Logan liked freshman Justin Tuggle, who redshirted this past season. Whether the new staff is as high on Tuggle remains to be seen.
  • Including former defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, who was promoted to head coach, the Eagles will have six coaches in new positions this spring. With two new coordinators, a new offensive line coach, tight ends coach and a linebackers coach, this spring will be a chance for a few introductions.

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