ACC: Brandon Jenkins

Florida State followed up its big first round with a huge NFL draft weekend, as the Seminoles led every program in the nation with 11 total picks, setting a new school record.

That's right. The Noles had more picks than national champion Alabama (nine) and SEC power LSU (nine), two schools that played for the national championship following the 2011 season. More than in-state rival Florida (eight), too.

Those numbers are clear validation the Seminoles have restocked their cupboards with an inordinate amount of talent as they re-emerge in the national conversation.

"It’s a great indication of how the program is truly developing," coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. “I think it shows we’re getting back to national prominence. Our players are doing a great job of representing themselves on and off the field leading to chances at the next level. I’m happy for all of these guys and want to thank them for helping return this program back to the national spotlight."

Overall, the ACC had 31 players taken for the ninth straight season, finishing second behind the SEC.

Here is a quick look back at all the selections:

First round
  • No. 7 Jonathan Cooper, OG, Arizona
  • No. 16 EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo
  • No. 24 Bjoern Werner, DE, Indianapolis
  • No. 25 Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota
  • No. 27 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston
  • No. 28 Sylvester Williams, DT, Denver
Second round
  • No. 37 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
  • No. 40 Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, San Francisco
  • No. 42 Menelik Watson, OT, Oakland
  • No. 51 David Amerson, CB, NC State
Third round
  • No. 73 Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay
  • No. 89 Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
Fourth round
  • No. 127 Malliciah Goodman, DE, Atlanta
Fifth round
  • No. 136 Earl Wolff, S, Philadelphia
  • No. 141 Oday Aboushi, OG, New York Jets
  • No. 143 Jonathan Meeks, S, Buffalo
  • No. 149 Brandon McGee, CB, St. Louis
  • No. 154 Chris Thompson, RB, Washington
  • No. 162 Brandon Jenkins, LB, Washington
Sixth round
  • No. 171 Corey Fuller, WR, Detroit
  • No. 173 Vinston Painter, OT, Denver
  • No. 177 Dustin Hopkins, PK, Buffalo
  • No. 180 Nick Moody, LB, San Francisco
  • No. 187 Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona
  • No. 189 Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay
  • No. 206 Vince Williams, LB, Pittsburgh
Seventh round
  • No. 214 Travis Bond, OG, Minnesota
  • No. 215 Tommy Bohanon, FB, New York Jets
  • No. 224 Kevin Dorsey, WR, Green Bay
  • No. 229 Everett Dawkins, DT, Minnesota
  • No. 249 Sean Renfree, QB, Atlanta

Incoming member Syracuse had three players drafted as well: tackle Justin Pugh in the first round to the New York Giants; quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round to the Giants; and safety Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round to Pittsburgh.

And now a few notes:
  • North Carolina had the second-most picks from the ACC with five -- its highest total since five were picked in 2011. The Tar Heels had three offensive linemen selected, the most from UNC in the draft since 1967.
  • Miami had its NFL draft streak extended to 39 consecutive seasons with Brandon McGee and Mike James both getting selected.
  • Virginia also had its draft streak extended to 30 straight seasons with Aboushi's selection.
  • Tommy Bohanon Bohanon became just the third Wake Forest fullback to have his name called in the draft, joining Ovie Mughelli (Ravens, 2003) and Neil MacLean (Eagles, 1958).
  • With four selections in this year's draft, Clemson has now had 23 players chosen over the last five years, and at least four every year Dabo Swinney has been head coach. It is the first time in history Clemson has had at least four players drafted each of the last five years.
  • Georgia Tech did not have a player selected for the first time since 2005. Three players with draft hopes ended up with free agent deals: T.J. Barnes (Jacksonville), Izaan Cross (Buffalo) and Rod Sweeting (New Orleans).
  • Pitt did not have a player drafted for the second consecutive season. Running back Ray Graham, who was the Panthers' best hope for selection, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Texans.
  • Here are a few other notable free-agent signings: Conner Vernon (Oakland), Chibuikem “Kenny” Okoro (San Diego), Marcus Davis (New York Giants), Lonnie Pryor (Jacksonville).

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- He was the most prized recruit in all the nation in 2012, a player every major program desperately wanted. And, well, Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., readily acknowledges he let the hype get to his head.

That would be the biggest reason he arrived on campus last summer weighing 315 pounds -- 30 pounds more than his ideal weight in high school. Edwards Jr. was nowhere near being ready to play right out of the gate because he was so out of shape. He knew it. So when coach Jimbo Fisher decided to redshirt him, Edwards had no room to complain.

The world would have to wait to see why coaches so badly wanted him on their team.

It turns out, though, that we did not have to wait long. Losing Brandon Jenkins forced coaches to pull his redshirt almost immediately. Another injury late in the season to Tank Carradine made Edwards' journey all the more improbable.

Incredibly enough, Edwards ended up starting the two biggest games of the season after believing he would not play at all in 2012.

"It was definitely a blessing," Edwards Jr. told ESPN.com. "I thought I was going to redshirt so I wasn’t really in the playbook like I needed to be but as the season progressed and injuries came, I had a chance to start. Jimbo told me to just be patient. So being patient really paid off."

[+] EnlargeMario Edwards
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsMario Edwards Jr. made a big impact in the ACC championship game, his first start at Florida State.
Edwards played in 11 games, but made his first start in the ACC championship game against Georgia Tech after Carradine tore his ACL.

No pressure or anything.

Edwards admits he was nervous before the game. But he spoke to his father, Mario Edwards Sr., and Carradine and they just told him, "You’ve done it in practice just translate it over. I calmed down and did what I needed to do."

What he did was post seven tackles in a performance that gave the nation a glimpse at what they are going to see in 2013, when Edwards becomes a full-time starter. His weight, though, continues to vex him. Edwards ballooned up to 315 before he arrived in Tallahassee because he just ate what he wanted.

"I let the hype get to my head and enjoyed all the recruiting visits and did not really focus on coming here to play," Edwards Jr. said. "They recruited me to come here and play. My mind wasn’t where it needed to be."

What got his mind where it needed to be?

"Coming here and seeing that everybody was just as big if not bigger, fast if not faster and just knowing that if I want to play I have to go out here and work. It’s not going to be given," Edwards Jr. said.

By the time he started against Georgia Tech, he was down to 282 pounds. Chips and fast food were off his menu. Smaller portions, protein and veggies were on the menu. But the toughest part for Edwards Jr. is staying disciplined. He is up to 288 and working hard to get back down to 280, where coaches want him this season.

"Even though it’s OK to have a cheat day if you want to eat some things you like to eat, you’ve got to understand it’s a business and they want you here at this weight and in order for you to play and produce like they want you to and they need you to, you have to be at that weight," he said.

His two biggest critiques? "Keeping my weight down and using my hands more when it comes to getting off blocks and pass-rushing."

Two major areas to work on as the spotlight turns squarely on him this season.

ACC's spring position battles

February, 21, 2013
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There are going to be position battles this spring at every school in the ACC, but some will be in the spotlight more than others. If you’re just tuning in to ACC football, here are some of the biggest competitions in the conference this spring:

OFFENSE

1. Florida State quarterback: This is arguably the most intriguing competition in the entire conference, as the Seminoles have to replace veteran EJ Manuel. Clint Trickett enters the spring at the top of the depth chart, but consider this job open. Sophomore Jacob Coker is the total package, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston was the nation’s No. 1 quarterback and could be the answer, too.

2. North Carolina running back: The Tar Heels have to find a way to replace leading rusher Giovani Bernard, who left early for the NFL draft. Not only will his loss be felt in the running game, but probably even moreso in the return game, as Bernard was one of the nation’s top punt returners. UNC returns A.J. Blue and Romar Morris, who combined for 819 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season.

3. Syracuse quarterback: The Orange enter the ACC with a new coach and in need of a new quarterback. Record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib is gone, leaving behind a wide-open competition. Backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt are the top candidates. Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.

DEFENSE

1. Florida State defensive ends: The cream of the crop is gone, as Tank Carradine, Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins all have to be replaced. Enter Mario Edwards Jr., who has a leg-up on the competition because he played in 11 games as a true freshman, and started the final two games of the year in place of the injured Carradine. Don’t forget about Giorgio Newberry, though, and Chris Casher, who is now healthy after a knee injury. Casher will start spring ball on the two-deep depth chart. Dan Hicks, who was Jenkins’ backup two years ago, had a knee injury and missed all of last season. He had moved to tight end, but was in the rotation at defensive end earlier in his career and could come back.

2. NC State secondary: This group will have an entirely new look this spring, as three starters have to be replaced, including Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and David Amerson, the school’s career interception leader. Cornerback Dontae Johnson returns, along with Juston Burris, who played in the nickel package. There are also several redshirts and younger players who will compete.

3. Virginia Tech cornerback: Virginia Tech’s defensive backfield lost its star last month when cornerback Antone Exum tore his ACL in a pickup basketball game. Several young players will compete for his reps this spring, including Donovan Riley, Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes. Highly touted cornerback Kendall Fuller will join the team in the summer.
No. 6 Cornellius "Tank" Carradine

2012 stats: Carradine finished second in the ACC with 11 sacks, behind teammate Bjoern Werner, and finished with a whopping 80 tackles, a huge number for a defensive lineman. His exceptional play earned him a spot on the coaches' and media ACC first-team, and he also received votes for ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Previous ranking: NR.

Making the case: Carradine began the season as a backup to preseason All-America candidate Brandon Jenkins, but soon found himself in the starting lineup after Jenkins went out for the season with a foot injury in Week 2. Carradine went on to start the next 10 games, and the Seminoles did not skip a beat with him the lineup. We all saw why coach Jimbo Fisher referred to Jenkins, Carradine and Werner as his 1A, 1B and 1C defensive ends.

Carradine teamed with Werner to form the best defensive end tandem in the ACC -- perhaps the nation -- as the two combined for 24 sacks. The coaches noticed the impact he made, and the incredible effort he gave, as he earned two votes for ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Unfortunately, his season was cut short after he tore his ACL against Florida, but Carradine is expected to make a full recovery and become a high draft pick in April.

The countdown

ACC players on NFL combine list

February, 7, 2013
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The official list of players invited to the combine is out.

Out of the whopping 333 invited players, the ACC will have 42 representatives at the big event, scheduled for Feb. 23-26 in Indianapolis. Every ACC team is represented. Florida State has the most players invited with 12; Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest have the fewest with one each.

Here is the complete list:

2012 report cards: Florida State

January, 22, 2013
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Let's hand out some grades to Florida State for the 2012 season.

OFFENSE: The defense took all the headlines this year for the Seminoles, but the offense was vastly improved over a year ago. Just look at total offense, where Florida State ranked No. 19 in the nation, averaging 471.5 yards per game. Know what it ranked last year? No. 77. The Noles averaged nearly 100 yards more of offense over a year ago. EJ Manuel set carer highs with 3,392 yards passing and 23 touchdowns, and completed a career-high 68 percent of his passes. He ranked in the Top 20 in passing efficiency. The receivers were better. And the running game was fine behind James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman after Chris Thompson was lost for the season. But there were a few key breakdowns that cropped up in crucial games, and that ended up costing the Noles. The Noles went scoreless against NC State in the second half and ended up losing inexplicably, as coach Jimbo Fisher took serious heat for his playcalling. Manuel did not play his best against Florida. And the Noles went AWOL in the second half against Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game and had to withstand a second half rally to win. I give credit to Florida State for the improvements, but it's hard to overlook the offensive breakdowns at critical moments. GRADE: B.

DEFENSE: This is all that has to be said: No. 2 in the nation in total defense, No. 3 in the nation in rushing defense and No. 6 in the nation in scoring defense. Four players made the All-ACC coaches' first team -- unanimous All-America defensive end Bjoern Werner; Tank Carradine; cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Lamarcus Joyner. Werner won ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors after leading the ACC with 13 sacks and finishing second with 18 tackles for loss. Carradine, replacing preseason All-American Brandon Jenkins, added 11 sacks. True freshman cornerback Ronald Darby won ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. I could go on and on, but I think I would be restating the obvious. The Noles were hands down the best defense in the ACC, and one of the best in the nation. No debate. GRADE: A+.

OVERALL: The season began with national championship hopes, and those were dashed with a loss to NC State. While there are some who will say the Noles underachieved, the bottom line is they won the ACC for the first time since 2005, tied the school record for wins in a season with 12, and finished the season as a top-10 team for the first time since 2003, when it finished No. 10 in the coaches poll. That qualifies as a successful season just about everywhere in America. GRADE: A.

More grades:
Heather dazzled you all earlier today with her five bold predictions for 2013.

So that got us thinking -- how did I do with my 2012 ACC preseason predictions? If I played baseball, I would win the hitting crown! But this is football, so ... see for yourself.

1. Florida State will win the ACC. Ding-ding! Florida State was the preseason favorite to win the league, so it's not as if I went out on a limb here. But I still get credit, especially since the Noles have had a history of failing to live up to preseason expectations.

2. The ACC will win its BCS game. 2-for-2! On a roll!

3. Travis Blanks will be freshman of the year. Did I write Travis Blanks? Ha ha, silly me! I meant Miami running back Duke Johnson! Blanks did play as a true freshman, starting eight games and finishing with 51 tackles for Clemson. But Johnson was dynamic with 2,070 all-purpose yards.

4. Maryland will be better this year. I was looking really smart with this prediction when the Terps were sitting 4-2. But then they were forced to go with their 105th string quarterback and the season went downhill. Still, four wins are better than two wins, so count this for AA!

5. Miami will be better than expected. Boom! Miami was picked to finish fifth in the Coastal in the preseason. Instead, the Canes finished at the top of the division and would have gone to the ACC title game had they not self-imposed sanctions. Note: in this write-up, I mentioned Johnson. Classic mix-up! Should have had him in the freshman of the year category!

6. Perry Jones will rush for 1,000 yards. Well, it certainly appeared that way in the preseason, with a returning starter at quarterback and some excellent returning offensive tackles as well. But the Hoos could never get their running game going consistently, and Jones finished with just 463 yards and two touchdowns while sharing time in the backfield.

7. The ACC will have five teams ranked at some point this season. Uh ... umm ... way overvalued Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and NC State, along with just about everybody else out there. Head-scratching year to say the least when only two ACC teams end the season ranked.

8. Boston College will struggle. Again, not going out on a limb with this prediction, but I had a feeling this would be its worst season in years. The Eagles only won two games and Frank Spaziani was fired.

9. Rookie running back attack. Not so much. Johnson was the only one in the group of freshmen backs I mentioned who actually did well. The others? J.C. Coleman (492 yards), Wes Brown (382 yards), Albert Reid (92 yards, injured), Jela Duncan (553 yards) and Shaquille Powell (93 yards, position switch to safety) played but were not ACC standouts.

10. Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner will get 20 sacks combined. Half credit. Why? Jenkins' replacement, Tank Carradine, combined with Werner for 24 total sacks. Huge testament to the depth the Noles have at that position.
Florida State got some good news for its defense Monday when leading tackler Christian Jones announced he is returning for his senior season.

“After a lot of conversations and time thinking about it, I’ve decided to return to Florida State for my senior season,” Jones said in a statement. "A lot of guys the past couple of years have helped to turn the program around, and I want to continue to be a part of that process. I’ve always talked with some of the guys I came in with and we’ve always talked about finishing together and that’s also something I wanted to do. This is the best decision for me and my family. I’m looking forward to coming back, working hard, improving my game but also helping Florida State continue with the success we’ve had."

Jones started every game in 2012 at weakside linebacker, totaling 95 tackles to rank seventh in the ACC. He also set a new career high for tackles for loss, pass breakups and fumble recoveries.

The Florida State defense already has lost defensive end Bjoern Werner and cornerback Xavier Rhodes as early entrants into the NFL draft. But Jones will return with safety Lamarcus Joyner, who announced earlier this month he would return for his senior season.

"I’m excited for Christian to return to Florida State and further his education, playing career and helping put Florida State back at an elite level," coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. "I think his decision shows great commitment to FSU and great commitment to his future. We’re fortunate to have the leadership he brings on and off the field."
Florida State received an excellent bit of news Thursday afternoon when safety Lamarcus Joyner announced he would return to school for his senior season.

“Coach (Jimbo) Fisher and I aren’t finish with what we started here,” Joyner said in a statement. “He said from Day 1 I was going to be one of those guys that was going to help turn this program around. We’ve started down the right path so far but we’re still not finished. This wasn’t a decision I could make just for myself but for my family in order to help them down the road, which is why I’m going to stay at Florida State for my last season.”

Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes previously told ESPN he is forgoing his junior season to enter the draft. All-American defensive end Bjoern Werner declared for the draft later Thursday.

Defensive end Brandon Jenkins and running back Chris Thompson also are headed to the draft, declining to petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility because of injuries that cost them playing time this season.

Keeping Joyner around for another season is huge for the Seminoles, considering some of the losses they have already taken. An All-ACC selection, Joyner started all 14 games at strong safety in 2012 and will bring a streak of 27 consecutive starts into 2013. He has played in every game since he arrived at Florida State as a freshman in 2010.

"I’m very excited that Lamarcus is going to return for his senior season," Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. "He’s such a great leader and ambassador for our university and football program. He still has some goals that he wants to accomplish, and I can’t express how happy I am that he’s going to be here at Florida State for another year. He’s one of the guys that has been a major part of our success the last three years. For him to want to stay and continue to help build this program, really shows his character as a person."

Report: Bjoern Werner to NFL

January, 3, 2013
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Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner will enter the NFL draft, according to ESPN's Joe Schad.

This shouldn't come as any surprise. In fact, the bigger news would have been if he would have decided to stay. That would have been shocking. Werner is hands-down one of the best ends in the country. He's a machine, and after seeing the season-ending injuries that happened to his teammates this year -- ends Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine -- why stick around and gamble the same thing happening to him? Werner is expected to be a top 10 pick in this year's draft.
Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes and running back Chris Thompson have decided to enter the NFL draft, the first in what could be a wave of more players to leave.

Rhodes, a junior, said he has been projected as a late-first-round or early-second-round pick.

"I'm gone," Rhodes told ESPN on Tuesday. "I did all I could in college. If I was to come back, I don't think my status would be getting any better."

Thompson, who sustained season-ending injuries the last two seasons, told The Orlando Sentinel he would also head to the draft instead of trying to get a sixth year at Florida State.

Defensive end Brandon Jenkins has already declared himself eligible for the draft. Two more players -- defensive end Bjoern Werner and safety Lamarcus Joyner, said after the Orange Bowl game Tuesday they would take a few days before announcing whether they, too, would leave school for the NFL draft.

Pregame: Discover Orange Bowl

January, 1, 2013
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Northern Illinois (12-1, 8-0 MAC) vs. Florida State (11-2, 7-1 ACC)

WHO TO WATCH: The quarterbacks. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch leads the nation in total yards (4,733) and ranks third in total yards per game (364.08) behind Baylor’s Nick Florence and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel could become just the second quarterback to win four straight bowl games, joining former West Virginia quarterback Pat White. In just his second season as a full-time starter, Manuel is FSU’s career leader for completion percentage at 66.8 percent -- which is significantly ahead of No. 2 Charlie Ward (62.3).

WHAT TO WATCH: Florida State’s defensive line vs. NIU’s offensive line. Florida State defensive line coach D.J. Eliot was hired at Kentucky as Mark Stoops’ defensive coordinator, but Eliot stayed in Tallahassee to help the Noles prepare for Lynch. FSU’s defensive line has been one of the best in the country, despite season-ending injuries to star defensive ends Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine, who tore his ACL in the loss to Florida. FSU is No. 26 in the country with 2.54 sacks per game. NIU is tied for No. 16 in the country in sacks allowed with 1.08 per game, a total of 14 all season. FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner leads the ACC and ranks seventh nationally with 13 sacks this season.

WHY TO WATCH: Because No. 13 FSU might actually lose. The Noles are the more talented team, but the No. 15 Huskies will be playing to prove they belong in a BCS bowl. This will be the first BCS bowl game for a member of the Mid-American Conference. It is also the first bowl game between the ACC and MAC. NIU is the only program in the country to win 21 of its past 22 games, and joins Oregon as the only schools with three straight 11-win seasons. The Huskies' seniors are the winningest class in school history with 41 victories. FSU is 1-5 all-time in BCS bowls since playing in the first-ever BCS national championship game (1999 Fiesta Bowl).

PREDICTION: Florida State 31, Northern Illinois 17: The Huskies will come out fired up and ready to prove they deserved their title as BCS Busters, and they’ll keep it uncomfortably close in the first half. FSU fans will prematurely panic, an upset watch will look possible, but then reality will set in. Florida State has too much talent and speed, and the gap will continue to widen in the third quarter. The Noles will win the battle up front, and the defense will fare well in its first game without former coordinator Mark Stoops. The Noles will finish with 12 wins, including an ACC title and a BCS bowl win -- not a bad consolation prize for a team that had hoped to win a national title.

2012 top Atlantic Division assistants

December, 17, 2012
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The head coaches get all the money and all the ink. Not today. Today Andrea Adelson and I are recognizing one assistant coach from each staff in the ACC for a job well done this year. The Atlantic Division is up first:

BOSTON COLLEGE – Wide receivers coach Aaron Smith. In his first season with the program, Smith helped junior Alex Amidon develop into one of the ACC’s best. Amidon’s 1,210 yards receiving at the end of the regular season ranked second in the ACC, just four yards behind DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson. The entire group, including Johnathan Coleman, Bobby Swigert and Spiffy Evans, had one of its more productive seasons.

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris. There’s a reason he was on the short list for many head coaching jobs this offseason. Clemson enters the Chick-fil-A Bowl ranked sixth in the nation in scoring (42.33), ninth in total offense (518.3) and 13th in passing (319.6) -- all record numbers for the program. Clemson has scored at least 37 points in 10 of the 12 games this year, and quarterback Tajh Boyd showed measurable improvement and mobility in his second season as a starter.

FLORIDA STATE – Defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot. There’s no question he will be missed on FSU’s staff, as Eliot was hired as Mark Stoops’ defensive coordinator at Kentucky. FSU’s defensive line didn’t miss a beat despite season-ending injuries to two of the group’s top players, Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine. Bjoern Werner has 13 sacks this season, leading the ACC and ranking second nationally in total sacks. Carradine went from backup to first-team All-ACC. He has 11 sacks this season, second in the ACC and 14th nationally.

MARYLAND – Mike Locksley, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: No quarterbacks coach in the country had to deal with what Locksley did this year, as the Terps were down to their fifth-string quarterback -- a freshman linebacker in Shawn Petty. After injuries to every scholarship quarterback on the roster, Maryland still never quit and somehow managed to score 38 points on the road against North Carolina. Many wrote off Maryland before the season even began, when C.J. Brown tore his ACL. But the Terps hung in until the very end thanks to great coaching by Locksley.

NC STATE – Offensive coordinator Dana Bible. He was named interim coach for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, and has been a rock on the sideline for the often inconsistent Pack. He has been integral in the development of quarterback Mike Glennon, who finished first in the ACC in passing yards per game (304) and second in total offense (292 yards per game). Despite numerous injuries and shuffling on the offensive line, NC State’s passing game was always a threat.

WAKE FOREST – OLB coach Derrick Jackson. Not only was he instrumental in the development of the linebackers, he was also a key recruiter for the Deacs this year. Linebacker Justin Jackson, who led the team with 80 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and four sacks, also had two pass breakups, one blocked kick and a forced fumble, and was the star of the group. Zachary Allen, Kevis Jones and Steve Donatell also showed significant progress this year under Jackson.
Florida State defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot has been hired as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Kentucky under former Noles assistant Mark Stoops.

Eliot coached defensive ends the past three seasons at Florida State. His work this year was simply phenomenal when you consider Bjoern Werner was selected ACC Defensive Player of the Year; and both Werner and Tank Carradine were first-team All-ACC selections. The way he was able to get Carradine to truly shine once Brandon Jenkins got hurt truly is a testament to the job he did this season.

Jenkins, by the way, won All-ACC honors in 2010 and 2011.

"D.J. is one of the brightest young minds in college football," Stoops said in a statement. "He has a relentless work ethic and is extremely detailed. I'm very pleased he has joined the Big Blue Nation."
There is never a good time to suffer a season-ending injury. But perhaps the worst time of all is at the end of the season, with the NFL draft looming.

Now we are left to wonder what happens to Florida State defensive end Cornellius "Tank" Carradine come April. Carradine tore his ACL against Florida on Saturday and will require months of rehab. What happens to potential work at the NFL combine, or at Florida State pro day next year?

And, what happens to his draft stock? Carradine was rated the No. 15 overall prospect available before he got hurt, and the No. 1 senior prospect Insider at defensive end by Mel Kiper. Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc. weighed in on this unanswered question Insider, writing earlier this week:
He was in the first-round mix before the injury, but given that Carradine has less than one year of tape as a starter and will not be able to work out for scouts during the predraft process he's likely to fall into the day 3 range.

Before the injury, Carradine was rated higher than teammate Brandon Jenkins, who missed nearly the entire season with a foot injury. Jenkins has already decided to forgo his senior season for the NFL draft.

Though Weidl seems pessimistic about Carradine's draft prospects, coach Jimbo Fisher believes his star player will be just fine.

"It'll rehab and that won't effect those guys much at all," Fisher said Sunday. "Maybe a round at the most. But he's sad and he's down because he can't be with his teammates. But I think he'll still play in the NFL and be very highly drafted."

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