ACC: Brandon Maye

Spring preview: Atlantic Division

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
9:00
AM ET
It's that time of year, ACC fans. Duke kicks off the ACC's spring football schedule with practice tomorrow, so it's time to take a look at three storylines to watch for each program. We'll start with the Atlantic Division:

BOSTON COLLEGE

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.
CLEMSON

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.
FLORIDA STATE

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.
MARYLAND

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.
NC STATE

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.
WAKE FOREST

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.
The loss of Clemson starting linebacker Brandon Maye will hurt the depth of a position that was already limited in its numbers, but the Tigers have enough talent behind him to compensate for his departure. They'll also give the position a boost with this year's signing class -- especially if Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward choose Clemson.

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.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
12:00
PM ET
Happy signing day eve ...

Clemson gets two defenders back for Auburn

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
6:14
PM ET
Clemson will get two of its top defenders back from injury in time for Saturday’s game against Auburn, coach Dabo Swinney said on his weekly Sunday teleconference.

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.”

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 10, 2010
9/10/10
12:30
PM ET
Who's staying up to watch Virginia this weekend? C'mon, who's with me? Who's with me?!!

Week 2: Injury reports

September, 10, 2010
9/10/10
8:00
AM ET
Here are the injury reports for this week, based on e-mails from the sports information directors that reported:

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.

CLEMSON

Brandon Maye, LB, knee, out

Kalon Davis, OT, back, out

Jarvis Jenkins, DT, knee, questionable

Miguel Chavis, DT, ankle, probable

MIAMI

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

Doubtful

RB Graig Cooper – Lower Extremity

Out

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

VIRGINIA TECH

Out
Xavier Boyce (knee)
Chris Drager (knee)
Barquell Rivers (quad)
Lorenzo Williams (foot - season)
Clemson starting linebacker Brandon Maye will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery today and will miss the North Texas game on Saturday. Coach Dabo Swinney told reporters after Tuesday night's practice that the injury is not serious and the staff is optimistic Maye could see some playing time against Presbyterian on Sept. 11.

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.

Weekend rewind: Scrimmage highlights

August, 16, 2010
8/16/10
8:00
AM ET
Ahh, scrimmages. They're almost like real games, right? Nope. Still, something to hold us over.

Here's a look back at the weekend scrimmages for schools that provided scrimmage reports:

BOSTON COLLEGE

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.

CLEMSON

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.

GEORGIA TECH

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.

VIRGINIA TECH

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:

RUSHING
Darren Evans 12-60
David Wilson 6-33
Ryan Williams 4-18

PASSING
Logan Thomas 9-17-0-82
Tyrod Taylor 5-7-0-42
Ju-Ju Clayton 3-8-0-36

RECEIVING
Marcus Davis 2-15
Austin Fuller 2-20

FIELD GOALS
Chris Hazley made four: 29 yards, 43, 48 and 31

TACKLES
Derek DiNardo, 6

WAKE FOREST

The Deacs scrimmaged for 90 minutes on Saturday in the first of three scrimmages, and the quarterback race continues.

RUSHING
Josh Harris 5-76 and 1 TD
Skylar Jones 10-44
Patrick Thompson 7-29

PASSING
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

RECEIVING
Devon Brown 4-67
Marshall Williams 3-79

FIELD GOALS
Jimmy Newman made three, 27 yards, 38 and 25

TACKLES
Justin Jackson, 7

Freshman Joe LaBarbera intercepted Thompson late in the scrimmage and returned it 25 yards.

ACC practice reports

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
8:00
AM ET
Here's a quick recap of the latest practices, with information and quotes provided by the sports information directors at each school who releases them:

CLEMSON

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.

DUKE

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.

MARYLAND

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.

MIAMI

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.



WAKE FOREST

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.

Clemson spring wrap

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

2009 overall record: 9-5

2009 conference record: 6-2, Atlantic Division champs

Returning starters

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

Top returners

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

Key losses

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

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Spiller (1,212 yds)

Passing: Parker* (2,526 yds)

Receiving: Ford (779 yds)

Tackles: Conner (111)

Sacks: Sapp (5)

Interceptions: McDaniel* (8)

Spring answers

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

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

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

Fall questions

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

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

3. Reaching at receiver. With Ford’s graduation, Clemson is looking for a new go-to player. Swinney liked what he saw from the group, as Xavier Dye and Terrence Ashe both had productive springs. Brandon Clear was one of the most improved players on the roster and will be given a chance to make some plays this summer.
As Clemson starting quarterback Kyle Parker watched Saturday's scrimmage from the sideline because of a sore back, the Tigers' defense took full advantage.

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."

Clemson's Korn to wear No. 17 vs. Jackets

September, 9, 2009
9/09/09
6:57
PM ET

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.

Ranking the ACC units: Linebackers

July, 22, 2009
7/22/09
5:03
PM ET

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.

Clemson spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009
5/07/09
9:50
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Clemson Tigers
2008 overall record: 7-6

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: Offense: 7, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

WR Jacoby Ford, RB C.J. Spiller, OG Thomas Austin, CB Crezdon Butler, CB Chris Chancellor, DE Ricky Sapp, LB Kavell Conner

Key losses

WR Aaron Kelly, QB Cullen Harper, RB James Davis, WR Tyler Grisham, S Michael Hamlin, S Chris Clemons, PK Mark Buchholz, P Jimmy Maners, NG Darell Scott

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: James Davis (791 yards)
Passing: Cullen Harper (2,601 yards)
Receiving: Aaron Kelly (722 yards)
Tackles: LB Kavell Conner* (125)
Sacks: LB Brandon Maye*, DT Jarvis Jenkins*, DE Ricky Sapp* and DT Rashaad Jackson (2 each)
Interceptions: Michael Hamlin (6)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sept. 5 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 10 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 19 Boston College
Sept. 26 Central Michigan
Oct. 3 at Maryland
Oct. 10 OPEN
Oct. 17 Wake Forest
Oct. 24 at Miami
Oct. 31 Coastal Carolina
Nov. 7 Florida State
Nov. 14 at NC State
Nov. 21 Virginia
Nov. 28 at South Carolina

1. Starting QB: Kyle Parker has proved to be a remarkable athlete in his first spring competing for the starting quarterback job. He's proved capable of leading both the Tigers' offense on the football field and the baseball field. He was the better of the two quarterbacks. That doesn't mean he'll be the starter, but it does give Dabo Swinney confidence in the option.

2. A new 'D': First-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was a great hire, and Clemson's defense will be more aggressive. It hasn't been broken the last four years under Vic Koenning, but Steele will look to sack the quarterback more, and play more man coverage in the secondary, which Butler and Chancellor like.

3. A better O-line: The offensive line will be much better. Clemson ran the ball well this spring without Spiller, who, along with Jacoby Ford was also running track and not allowed to be tackled this spring for fear of getting them hurt. Thomas Austin is a leader and former center who will play guard and Mason Cloy seems comfortable now at center.

Fall questions

1. No. 2 receiver: There's no clear-cut receiver for the No. 2 spot behind Ford, who wasn't around much this spring because of track. There were numerous dropped balls early in the spring, but there was also some improvement. Xavier Dye has the potential to step in and was Korn's teammate for half a year. Redshirt freshmen Brandon Ford and Jaron Brown are also candidates.

2. Parker vs. Korn: Swinney is not being coy when he says Kyle Parker and Willy Korn are "co-No. 1s" going into August camp. The one thing that can't be accurately evaluated in the spring is how well the quarterbacks can run, which is something they'll have to do more in this system. But the quarterbacks can't be tackled in the scrimmages. Korn is the better runner, but Parker was the better quarterback this spring.

3. Safety: The Tigers are still looking to name two starting safeties. DeAndre McDaniel was moved from linebacker to safety, and hasn't played it before. Sadat Chambers, who had 21 tackles on second-string last year, will continue to compete with Carlton Lewis and Rashard Hall this summer.

Georgia Tech's Johnson, ACC freshmen earn honors

January, 8, 2009
1/08/09
3:18
PM ET

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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES