ACC: Brandon Maye
Spring practice starts: March 15
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
- The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
- The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.
Spring practice starts: March 7
Spring game: April 9
What to watch:
- Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
- The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
- Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.
Spring practice starts: March 21
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
- Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
- Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.
Spring practice starts: March 29
Spring game: April 30
What to watch:
- New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
- Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
- Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.
Spring practice starts: March 17
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
- A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
- Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.
Spring practice starts: March 15
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
- A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
- Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.
Maye's backup, Jonathan Willard, is expected to be the front-runner to take over the starting job on the weak side heading into the spring, and Quandon Christian, who played a lot in the Tigers' nickel packages over the past seven or eight games of the season, should continue to build upon his 2010 experience as the starting strongside linebacker. Christian actually has better speed than Maye did.
This has been an offseason of change for Clemson, which hired a new offensive coordinator, a new defensive line coach, and lost standout defensive end Da'Quan Bowers and running back Jamie Harper early to the NFL draft. Still, the combination of good hires and incoming talent are reasons for optimism heading into 2011. This year's team can -- and should -- be better than 2010.
- Unless, of course, your school is going after one of those recruits who needs an extra day or two to decide.
- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson makes his living off recruiting, but it's a subject he says has been "blown out of proportion a little." Just a wee bit.
- How will this year's Florida State class compare to some of the best in school history?
- Maryland's recruiting class mirrors its program -- not bad, not great.
- Former Miami commit Albert Louis-Jean is feeling right at home at Boston College.
- Clemson starting linebacker Brandon Maye became disenchanted with his playing status and has been granted his release.
- Clemson has oversigned, and Stanton Seckinger knows he was the last one in.
- NC State added two defensive commitments.
- Former Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds is living the dream with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Miami could help its quarterback depth with this transfer from Rutgers.
- Former Miami OC Mark Whipple is now an assistant with the Cleveland Browns.
- Norm Wood has predictions for some uncommitted recruits.
Starting linebacker Brandon Maye missed the season opener against North Texas and Saturday’s game against Presbyterian after undergoing knee surgery earlier this month, and starting defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins was held out of the Tigers’ win over Presbyterian with a knee sprain.
“Jarvis probably could’ve played Saturday, but as I said last week, we’re going to err on the side of caution with him,” Swinney said. “He’ll be ready to go, and Brandon Maye, same thing. We’re cutting him back loose and going to get him ready to play.”
- Former Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner is no longer around to haunt Duke, but the Deacs' winning streak is.
- Since we mentioned Skinner, it's only right to point out that former Duke quartertback Thad Lewis has played his way onto the Rams' roster.
- Ruh-roh. UNC's academic problems might date back further than a year. Sounds familiar ...
- NC State's defense finally received a passing grade last weekend against Western Carolina.
- It's time for the ACC to step up this weekend. Agreed.
- Lol. I can just hear Wake coach Jim Grobe calling Alex Frye a "knothead."
- Miami quarterback Jacory Harris and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor aren't always opponents.
- The relationship between the Stoops' brothers isn't likely to provide an advantage this weekend when Mark and Bob Stoops square off.
- Georgia Tech safety Dominique Reese gives his take on his career and the upcoming game.
- Kent State isn't messing around this time against BC. Expect its best effort.
- Same can be said for Morgan State at Maryland.
- Clemson linebacker Brandon Maye will be sidelined one more week with an injury.
- Today's must-read comes from the Washington Post on Virginia tight end Colter Phillips, whose father died in the Alaskan plane crash.
- Virginia Tech could have stuck with its original October date with Boise State. Frank Beamer would've liked that.
Notes: Duke had no injuries to report, and because UCF did not release an injury report, NC State didn't. Also, the Duke-Wake Forest game is sold out.
Brandon Maye, LB, knee, out
Kalon Davis, OT, back, out
Jarvis Jenkins, DT, knee, questionable
Miguel Chavis, DT, ankle, probable
LB Jordan Futch – Lower Extremity
OL Jermaine Johnson – Upper Extremity
DL Micanor Regis – Upper Extremity
DB Jamal Reid – Lower Extremity
DL Curtis Porter – Upper Extremity
DL Andrew Smith - Upper Extremity
RB Graig Cooper – Lower Extremity
LB Kevin Nelson – Upper Extremity
DL Luther Robinson – Lower Extremity
Surgery and Out for the Season
FB John Calhoun – Lower Extremity
RB Darion Hall – Lower Extremity
DL Jeremy Lewis – Lower Extremity
LB Travis Williams – Lower Extremity
Xavier Boyce (knee)
Chris Drager (knee)
Barquell Rivers (quad)
Lorenzo Williams (foot - season)
Maye has started 25 of the past 26 Clemson games at linebacker and has 190 career tackles, including 103 last year (third on the team). He has 12 career tackles for loss and five sacks to go with 24 quarterback pressures. In 2009, he set a Clemson single-season record with five caused fumbles.
“Brandon just finished the best camp of his career,” Swinney said, according to the team's practice report. “He had some swelling on Monday and Tuesday, and after an MRI it was determined he needed arthroscopic surgery. ... He had practiced on Monday the entire practice, but he had more swelling. We talked about this with Brandon and the doctors just before practice [Tuesday] and that is when the decision was made.”
Jonathan "Tig" Willard will start at weakside linebacker against North Texas. This isn't anything to panic over, as Willard was pushing Maye for the starting job anyway. He redshirted in 2008 and was one of the Tigers' top special-teams contributors last year. He made 10 tackles in 32 plays last year, including two in the ACC championship game. He's the nephew of former Clemson defensive tackle Richard McCullough.
Here's a look back at the weekend scrimmages for schools that provided scrimmage reports:
There's a running back other than Montel Harris capable of making some plays. True freshman Andre Williams led the running game with seven carries for 59 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Dave Shinskie completed 9 of 14 pass attempts for 81 yards and a touchdown. Senior tight end Jordon McMichael led all receivers with four catches for 23 yards.
Defensively, true freshman linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis led the Eagles with five tackles. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Dillon Quinn made three sacks, which should be an encouraging sign to a line in need of some help.
Redshirt freshman kicker Nate Freese went 2-for-3, making from 24 and 44, but missing a 46-yarder off the left upright. Junior Ryan Quigley made from 33 and missed from 34.
Quarterback Kyle Parker threw three touchdowns passes -- two to running back Andre Ellington -- in Clemson’s two-hour scrimmage in Death Valley on Saturday morning. It was the second scrimmage for the Tigers.
Parker completed 10-of-14 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. He led the first-team offense to four touchdowns overall. Roderick McDowell led the rushers with 12 carries for 127 yards on the ground, including a 12-yard touchdown run and a 53-yard run early in the scrimmage.
Terrance Ashe led the receivers with five catches for 76 yards, including a 44-yard completion from Parker.
The defense was led by Brandon Maye, who had six tackles, including a tackle for loss and a diving backwards interception from his linebacker position.
Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt was the highlight of the Jackets' scrimmage. He opened the scrimmage with a 70-yard scoring drive and had a two-yard touchdown run and a six-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Hill. Defensively, true freshman Louis Young and sophomore linebacker Julian Burnett had interceptions.
The kickers were the highlight of the second scrimmage, as the offense didn't score a touchdown. Part of that was because the coaching staff stopped drives inside the 20, because the staff hasn't installed its entire red-zone package. The staff is expected to make a decision on its backup quarterback situation soon.
Here are the Hokies' stats leaders from Saturday:
Darren Evans 12-60
David Wilson 6-33
Ryan Williams 4-18
Logan Thomas 9-17-0-82
Tyrod Taylor 5-7-0-42
Ju-Ju Clayton 3-8-0-36
Marcus Davis 2-15
Austin Fuller 2-20
Chris Hazley made four: 29 yards, 43, 48 and 31
Derek DiNardo, 6
The Deacs scrimmaged for 90 minutes on Saturday in the first of three scrimmages, and the quarterback race continues.
Josh Harris 5-76 and 1 TD
Skylar Jones 10-44
Patrick Thompson 7-29
Tanner Price 8-13 for 82 yards
Patrick Thompson 3-10 for 61 yds and an INT
Ted Stachitas 5-of-8 for 95 yds and 1 TD
Skylar Jones 4-of-7 for 27 yds
Brendan Cross 2-of-3 for 16 yds
Devon Brown 4-67
Marshall Williams 3-79
Jimmy Newman made three, 27 yards, 38 and 25
Justin Jackson, 7
Freshman Joe LaBarbera intercepted Thompson late in the scrimmage and returned it 25 yards.
The Tigers had their first scrimmage on Tuesday and got in about 100 snaps in a little over two hours.
Offensive highlights: Kyle Parker completed 9 of 18 passes for 114 yards. He did not throw and interception and ran for a score on a 14-yard run. Tajh Boyd completed 7 of 18 passes for 71 yards. He had a 13-yard run for a score that culminated a 75-yard drive early in the scrimmage.
Rod McDowell was the top rusher with 76 yards on 12 carries. He had a 22-yard run and a 34-yard run on the same drive. Andre Ellington gained 45 yards in 11 carries, while Jamie Harper had seven carries for 35 yards. Ellington had the only rushing touchdown among the running backs with a 15-yard score.
Five different receivers had two catches apiece. Dwayne Allen had 2-49, including a 36-yard completion from Parker. Drew Traylor had 2-29, Terrance Ashe had 2-28 and Marquan Jones had 2-11. Jaron Brown had 2-14 and also had an 18-yard run.
Defensive highlights: Andre Branch intercepted a tipped pass and raced 25 yards for a score. Tig Willard was the top tackler with seven, while Brandon Maye, Coty Sensabaugh and Scotty Cooper all had five apiece. Jonathan Meeks had two tackles for loss. Freshman Tra Thomas had the only fumble recovery.
Special teams: Richard Jackson was 4-4 on field goals attempts, including a pair from 42 yards. Spencer Benton was 3-4 and Chandler Catanzaro made 2-3 with his only miss from 56 yards.
Dabo Swinney said: “It was a better scrimmage than I expected for the first scrimmage. We had a lot of new guys in action in Death Valley for the first time and we did a lot of mix and matching during the scrimmage. We need to perform better in the red-zone on both sides of the ball.
“Defensively, Andre Branch had the big play of the day with an interception return for a touchdown I thought he was a consistent player last year. But, he has become a physical player who is a team leader. Opposing teams will talk about 93 [Da’Quan Bowers], but they better pay attention to number 40 [Branch].
Injured: All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel, who suffered an injury near his tailbone. He was able to walk off the field on his own. I'll try and get an update for you on this today. Freshman running backs D.J. Howard and Demont Buice both missed the scrimmage as they recover from a concussion suffered this past Saturday. Da’Quan Bowers missed the scrimmage as he is home with his family after the sudden death of his father last Sunday.
The Blue Devils held their second practice on Tuesday night.
Defensive highlights: Johnny Williams, who moved from receiver this past spring, showed that he is grasping the cornerback position well as he intercepted a deep pass down the sideline during 7-on-7 drills and also made two nice plays to force incompletions during the 1-on-1 period against the receivers.
The defense has emphasized forcing turnovers early in the preseason and came up with three on Tuesday. Along with Williams' interception, junior safety Lee Butler returned an interception for a score off a tipped ball and redshirt junior Charlie Hatcher recovered a fumble. The defense had several other pass breakups on the day, including a couple by sophomore safety Walt Canty.
Offensive highlights: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyree Watkins made several big plays, and senior wide receiver Austin Kelly ran two good routes during team drills to provide redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree with some wide open looks. The offensive line did a good job in both pass and run blocking during the first session of team drills.
The Terps opened camp on Tuesday in temperatures in the upper-90s, and spent much of the practice working on individual drills to help acclimate 21 newcomers and refresh veterans. Maryland has 24 preseason workouts scheduled.
Ralph Friedgen says: “The kids showed they worked hard over the summer. We’re a little further along in some areas than I thought. I think it got hot out there at the end and they got a little tired, but overall I thought it was a good first day.”
Jamarr Robinson, who proved to be a dangerous dual-threat quarterback while filling in for an injured Chris Turner last year, enters camp atop the depth chart. The Terps also have a pair of talented redshirt freshmen in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown, who spent a year learning offensive coordinator James Franklin’s system and look ready to contribute.
“I saw more of a leadership role by Jamarr [today],” said Friedgen. “I thought his fundamentals were better. I thought his reads were better. The guy that kind of showed some improvement was C.J. Brown. I thought he did some things better than he did in the spring. I sat in a meeting with him and to me he was a lot sharper than he has been, so maybe he’s starting to mature a little bit.”
Notable: Avery Murray, who was the listed as the backup at Mike linebacker behind Alex Wujciak, has left the team for personal reasons. Sophomore Ryan Donohue moves up a spot on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman De’Onte Arnett, a reserve defensive tackle, will also miss preseason camp. He was diagnosed with a cyst on his ankle and will be out of action about six weeks. Taylor Watson is the only other member of the two-deep who will not be a part of the 105-man preseason roster. Watson had knee surgery in the spring and is not expected back until next month.
The Canes had a walk-through practice Tuesday morning on the Greentree Practice Fields. They spent just under an hour on the practice fields sharpening up for the first fall scrimmage Wednesday night. After working through positional drills, the team came together and spent the rest of the session in 11-on-11, two-minute drill work.
Defensive highlights: In the two-minute drill, the first-team defense forced a quick three-and-out, and only allowed one score the rest of the session. Among the highlights were a DeMarcus Van Dyke pass breakup, a Marcus Forston quarterback hurry and a Luther Robinson sack.
Offensive highlights: Tight end Chase Ford may have turned in his best showing of camp on Tuesday. Ford caught a first down pass over the middle on a third a long before later scoring the session’s only touchdown on a 40-yard catch-and-run down the right sideline.
Up next: Wednesday’s scrimmage is closed to the public. Following the scrimmage, the team will take its first day off from camp on Thursday before returning to the practice fields for its first two-a-day on Friday.
The Deacs practiced in pads for the first time.
Jim Grobe says: “We didn’t have the greatest practice mentally but it was a good night effort wise. The guys are working real hard, flying around and bumping into each other. We have a lot in right now offensively and defensively and the young guys are a little flustered but at least when they're making mistakes, they’re making them in a hurry.”
On the competition: “We have nine seniors and quite a bit of juniors but some of our most talented guys at spots are freshmen and sophomores. So there is quite a bit of competition right now and there are number of spots were you can feel comfortable at the top of the depth chart one day and be at the bottom of the chart the next. It’s a good position for us because we don’t just have guys that are talented at the top and there’s no one pushing them. We have talent at every position and guys know they have to come out to practice each day and get after it.”
On the quarterbacks: “We have a great group of guys right now at quarterback. I think you get a little concerned if you don’t have any talent back there but we have three or four guys that have enough talent to win. What we’re looking for right now is a guy who makes very few mental mistakes and does not turn the football over. That’s going to be the key. The flashiest guys, the fastest guy, the guy with the best arm may not end up being our quarterback. It’s going to be the guy that doesn’t get us beat. The guy that takes care of the ball the best and makes the fewest mental mistakes is probably going to be the guy.”
Up next: The Deacons continue to practice this week as they prepare for their first intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday at 2 p.m. at BB&T Field. The team will practice again Wednesday evening from 8-10 p.m. at the Doc Martin Practice Complex on campus.
2009 overall record: 9-5
2009 conference record: 6-2, Atlantic Division champs
Offense: 7, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2
DE Da’Quan Bowers, FS DeAndre McDaniel, LT Chris Hairston, RT Landon Walker, QB Kyle Parker, DT Jarvis Jenkins, LB Brandon Maye, RB Andre Ellington, RB Jamie Harper
RB C.J. Spiller, WR Jacoby Ford, LG Thomas Austin, TE Michael Palmer, DE Ricky Sapp, LB Kavell Conner, CB Chris Chancellor, CB Crezdon Butler, LB Kevin Alexander
2008 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Spiller (1,212 yds)
Passing: Parker* (2,526 yds)
Receiving: Ford (779 yds)
Tackles: Conner (111)
Sacks: Sapp (5)
Interceptions: McDaniel* (8)
1. Meet Dwayne Allen. The Tigers appear to have a capable replacement for former first-team all-conference tight end Michael Palmer, who set a school record for receptions (43) and reception yards (507) for a tight end last year. Allen had three catches for 83 yards in the spring game. He could be a centerpiece of the offense next year.
2. Liking the linebackers. The graduation of Alexander and Conner hurt, but coach Dabo Swinney liked what he saw from this group this spring. The Tigers are deeper and more versatile here and will have the ability to increase the number of plays per linebacker.
3.Holding their own. Heading into the spring, the punter and place-kicking jobs were open, but punter Dawson Zimmerman and kicker Richard Jackson both retained their spots. Jackson was inconsistent last year and missed two extra point attempts, but he tied for second in the ACC with 20 field goals.
1. Will Parker return? The dual-sport quarterback won’t determine his future until baseball season has ended. As his spring home run total increases, it becomes more of a question. His batting average and home run totals -- Parker leads the ACC in home runs -- continue to be a factor.
2. Spiller’s replacements. What four people will combine to do what Spiller did last year? Kick returns, catching the ball out of the backfield, the ground game -- Mr. Versatility will be missed. Ellington had a good spring with 13 carries for 86 yards in the spring game, and expectations are high for Harper.
3. Reaching at receiver. With Ford’s graduation, Clemson is looking for a new go-to player. Swinney liked what he saw from the group, as Xavier Dye and Terrence Ashe both had productive springs. Brandon Clear was one of the most improved players on the roster and will be given a chance to make some plays this summer.
Clemson's first-team defense didn't allow a touchdown, and linebacker Jonathan Willard led the way with two interceptions, a pass deflection and four tackles. Other Tigers' defensive standouts Saturday included cornerback Marcus Gilchrist (INT, sack, 78-yard punt return), linebacker Brandon Maye (2 tackles for loss, 1 sack), cornerback Xavier Brewer (INT) and linebacker Corico Hawkins (5 tackles).
Tajh Boyd quarterbacked the first-team offense and completed 4 of 11 passes for 39 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Boyd threw an interception on his first series but did account for the scrimmage's lone touchdown not in goal-line situations, against the second-team defense. Clemson mixed and matched offensive linemen throughout the scrimmage, which led to a few mix ups.
Mike Wade led the second-team offense and completed 6 of 12 passes for 60 yards.
"You will never hear me complain about having a dominant defense," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. "The difference between our offense and our defense is the depth, especially in the line. The next step for our defense is to play this way on a consistent basis. I have been very impressed with Marcus Gilchrist. He is as good a player, as smart a player, as we have on this team."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Last week against Middle Tennessee, Clemson sophomore linebacker Brandon Maye switched his uniform number from 20 to 17 in honor of teammate Stanley Hunter, who was forced to give up football in August when his repeated battles with epilepsy were just too much to overcome to play at the FBS level. A different Clemson player will wear his number 17 throughout this season in his honor. This week that honor falls to sophomore quarterback Willy Korn. Hunter remains involved with the team as a student assistant coach.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
This would be an entirely different list if the top two linebackers in the league -- Mark Herzlich and Nate Irving -- weren't sidelined right now. There are still a lot of standout linebackers in the conference, but this season just won't be the same without those two guys, not that Irving's return has been completely ruled out yet. Having spoken with NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer Wednesday, though, it's simply a miracle that Irving is even alive. In looking at the rest of the conference, it's tough to find teams that are deep at this position. It's a question mark for a lot of teams, and there's a lot of inexperience.
Here's a shot at ranking the best linebacking corps in the ACC:
1. Miami -- Sean Spence was one of the hardest hitters in the conference as a true freshman and will only be better this year, but the key to this group will probably be the return of a healthy Colin McCarthy, who injured his shoulder in the first half of the season last year. Darryl Sharpton, Arthur Brown and Jordan Futch still have something to prove.
2. North Carolina -- Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter started every game last year, and there are high expectations for sophomore Zach Brown. Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles last year and ranked third in the ACC in total tackles per game. This is one of the deepest groups the Tar Heels have had recently, but they are lacking some experience.
3. Virginia Tech -- Cam Martin and Cody Grimm combined to play all but nine plays at the whip linebacker spot, but they've got to replace Purnell Sturdivant and Brett Warren. Barquell Rivers proved he's up to the task when he filled in in the Orange Bowl, and Jake Johnson will have an increased role, too. There's a lot of potential in this group.
4. Clemson -- The Tigers return two starters plus a third player with starting experience. Kavell Connor started all 13 games last year and was the team's top tackler with 125. Brandon Maye had an impressive season as a redshirt freshman, and finished with 87 tackles. Scotty Cooper was a part-time starter at strongside linebacker.
5. Georgia Tech -- Even with Kyle Jackson possibly out for the whole summer with an injured right foot, the Yellow Jackets till have plenty of depth with Sedric Griffin, Brad Jefferson, Anthony Barnes and Steven Sylvester. Barnes and Jefferson are both finally healthy after injury-plagued seasons and there should be good competition for starting jobs. This group can't afford anymore injuries though.
6. Florida State -- With the graduation of Derek Nicholson and Toddrick Verdell, the Noles lose their top two tacklers. Dekoda Watson will be back from elbow surgery this spring, but it's a young group counting on sophomores like Nigel Bradham and Nigel Carr. Junior Kendall Smith is the only other upperclassman on the two-deep roster.
7. Maryland -- Alex Wujciak could be a star at this position for the Terps, and he'll definitely need to be a leader there this fall. Maryland lost four linebackers who combined to play 144 games and 54 starts. Adrian Moten is one of the few experienced faces in the group, and he earned his first start last year in the Humanitarian Bowl.
8. Duke -- The Blue Devils have to replace the ACC's leading tackler in Michael Tauiliili, but they've still got Vincent Rey, who made 109 tackles last year. The problem is, Rey is the only experienced linebacker they've got. Competition remains among Damian Thornton, Abraham Kromah, and Adam Banks.
9. NC State -- It's not clear when Nate Irving will return, but for as long as he's out, the Wolfpack will be missing their best player on both sides of the ball. The Pack still have senior Ray Michel, who is a returning starter in the middle, and Dwayne Maddox started in place of Irving when he was out last year. But this is an entirely different group -- and defense -- without Irving.
10. Boston College -- The Eagles' linebacking corps took a huge hit when Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer, and they still don't know when Mike McLaughlin will be cleared to play from a torn Achilles. BC has a reputation for its defense, so odds are this group will be OK, but there are too many unknowns right now.
11. Wake Forest -- All three starters from last year are gone, and the Demon Deacons have big shoes to fill after the departure of Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry. It's going to have to be a group effort, but there's still some athleticism and depth to work with. Matt Woodlief and Hunter Haynes are the most experienced players retuning.
12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers graduated the veteran group of Jon Copper, Clint Sintim and Antonio Appleby, and because they were so good, their backups didn't see much playing time. This group is the feature in Al Groh's 3-4 defense, and it's going to have a whole new look. There were good reports about Steve Greer this spring, and Groh said Greer tried to mimic his game after Copper, which is reason for hope.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The Football Writers Association of America and Aon Insurance announced their Freshman All-America team, which included four ACC players. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was named the top first-year coach for his 9-4 season. (Last year's winner was former BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski).
Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans, Florida State offensive tackle Andrew Datko, Miami defensive tackle Marcus Forston, and Clemson linebacker Brandon Maye were the ACC's representatives. The entire team can be found here.