ACC: Cam Erving

Top ACC players: Nos. 10-6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
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As we get set to open fall camps around the ACC, we're counting down the conference's Top 25 players -- five per day all this week.

10. Tre' Jackson, Florida State Seminoles

Position: Offensive guard
Year: Senior

The interior linemen for Florida State have never gotten quite as much credit as the guys on the edge, but both Jackson and fellow guard Josue Matias have developed into top NFL prospects and elite blockers. At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, Jackson is the biggest member of a senior-laden line for FSU, and in his two years as a starter, the Seminoles have rushed for an average of 5.6 yards per carry.

9. DeVante Parker, Louisville Cardinals

Position: Wide receiver
Year: Senior

Only five receivers in the nation recorded double-digit touchdown totals in both 2012 and 2013. Of that group, just one will be back for 2014, and that’s Parker. Louisville is the newest addition to the ACC, but the conference’s cornerbacks better get to know Parker quickly. For his career, Parker has racked up 113 catches and nearly 2,000 yards, but with offensive guru Bobby Petrino taking over as head coach this year, Parker is poised for his biggest season yet.

8. P.J. Williams, Florida State

Position: Cornerback
Year: Junior

A preseason first-team All-ACC selection, Williams is finally starting to get the credit he so richly deserved for handling so much of the dirty work on Florida State’s dominant secondary in 2013. Williams was often tasked with shadowing the opponent’s top receiver, and he was targeted more than any other defensive back on the Seminoles’ roster, but he held his own and clearly made strides as the season progressed. The result was 35 tackles, three interceptions and defensive MVP honors in the BCS national championship game.

7. Cameron Erving, Florida State

Position: Offensive tackle
Year: RS Senior

When Erving first made the switch from a back-up defensive tackle to the starting left tackle in the spring of 2012, coaches immediately gushed about his natural ability on the offensive side of the ball. And it was true, he was a quick fit on a developing line that made huge strides in his first year. But now Erving has refined those natural skills and, as coach Jimbo Fisher raved, he’s a far more nuanced lineman and leader, and he’ll be the cornerstone of a senior-laden line in 2014 that promises to be among the best in the nation.

6. Denzel Perryman, Miami Hurricanes

Position: Linebacker
Year: Senior

A first-team All-ACC selection, Perryman is the heart and soul of Miami’s defense. Perryman racked up 108 tackles last season, including double-digit tackles in six different games, highlighted by a 13-tackle performance in an upset win over Florida. Perryman’s speed and athleticism in the middle should make him one of the ACC’s most feared defenders again in 2014 and opens options for the Hurricanes to break in some young talent around him.
Two more watch lists were released Thursday, and the ACC is well-represented. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the nation’s top defensive player by the Charlotte Touchdown Club. The Outland Trophy is given to the nation’s top interior lineman, offensive or defensive.

Here are the ACC and Notre Dame players to make the watch lists:

Bronko Nagurski Trophy

LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson: A third-team All-ACC selection last season, Anthony was brilliant in the Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State with 11 tackles and an interception. Anthony is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DE Vic Beasley, Clemson: Beasley is a disruptive force in opponents’ backfields and registered 13 sacks as a junior. He led the ACC in sacks in 2013. Beasley also is on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Kelby Brown, Duke: The Blue Devils under David Cutcliffe are most known for offense, but Brown is a stout defender and one of the conference’s best. He will make a run at 100 tackles for a second consecutive season this fall. Brown is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DB Jeremy Cash, Duke: Cash was an instant-impact player for the Blue Devils in 2013 following a transfer from Ohio State. With another year in the system, Cash is poised for a huge season. Cash is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DL Mario Edwards, Florida State: The former No. 1 recruit nationally was dominant in the national title game. Edwards is now the leader of the defensive line and has just as good a chance as any to win the Nagurski. Edwards is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech: An impact performer as a freshman and a second-team All-ACC selection, Fuller is set to be the next great defensive back at Virginia Tech. Fuller is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DB Anthony Harris, Virginia: An All-ACC selection as a junior, Harris will be looked upon to lead the turnaround for the Cavs on defense. It is a talented unit, and Harris, a team captain this fall, might be the best. Harris is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson: With Beasley constantly seeing double-teams, this opens up the door for Jarrett to be an interior force for the Tigers’ defensive line, which is arguably the country’s best. Jarrett is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech: He helped make a name for himself against Alabama at the beginning of the season, and his strong play continued throughout the season. Maddy is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville: It will be interesting to see how he fares without defensive guru Charlie Strong, but he is as talented as they come. Mauldin is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Denzel Perryman, Miami: One of the few bright spots on Miami’s defense last season, Perryman is the unquestioned leader of the Hurricanes defense. He could put up a huge number of tackles this fall. Perryman is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame: He has started every game in his career and was a FWAA Freshman All-American in 2012. He starred in the Irish’s bowl game with an interception and three pass breakups. Russell is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame: Poised to be one of the best linebackers of recent history for the Irish, Smith started all 13 games as a freshman. He had the third-most tackles for a Notre Dame freshman in school history in 2013. Smith is also on the Bednarik Award watch list.

CB P.J. Williams, Florida State: Williams was one of FSU’s best players this spring, and he might be the country’s best cornerback. His stiffest competition could come from the opposite side of the field in teammate Ronald Darby, who surprisingly did not make the list. Williams also is on the Bednarik Award watch list.

Outland Trophy

DL Sheldon Day, Notre Dame: An impact player since his freshman season, Day was second among Notre Dame defensive linemen in tackles last season.

OT Cameron Erving, Florida State: A potential first-round draft pick, Erving elected to stay in school for another run at a national championship. As Jameis Winston’s blindside protector, few linemen nationally hold as much responsibility.

OT Sean Hickey, Syracuse: A workout warrior and one of the strongest players in college football, Hickey is the linchpin to the Orange offensive line.

OG Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech: A two-time ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week, Mason has started 26 of the last 28 games for the Yellow Jackets.

OG Josue Matias, Florida State: Another potential first-round candidate along Florida State’s offensive line, Matias is athletic enough to play offensive tackle, too. He experimented at left tackle this spring.

OC Jake Smith, Louisville: Smith could end up playing right guard, where he started earlier in his career, but he is coming off a junior season in which he started at center. Smith is also on the Rimington watch list.

OG Laken Tomlinson, Duke: A key along the offensive line for the Blue Devils, Tomlinson likely will be a preseason All-ACC team selection. He was a first-team All-ACC coaches selection in 2013 as the Blue Devils’ best lineman.

Clemson’s Grady Jarrett and Virginia Tech’s Luther Maddy were represented on both lists.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State returns the best quarterback in the nation. But what cannot go unnoticed is that Florida State returns the best offensive line in the nation, too.

Four starters are back -- all of them projected NFL draft picks. The new face on the line, center Austin Barron, has starting and game experience himself. As if that was not advantage enough, the Seminoles will field an all-senior offensive line, a rarity in college football. No other ACC team projects a starting offensive line with all seniors.

[+] EnlargeCameron Erving
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaLeft tackle Cameron Erving is one of five Florida State senior starting offensive linemen with NFL aspirations.
Indeed, this could be one of the best offensive lines Jimbo Fisher has ever coached -- potentially even better than the group last season that had center Bryan Stork, who won the Rimington Trophy as the best center in America. Another year should make all these players wiser and better, with 113 combined starts between them -- and a chance to make at least 70 more in 2014.

When asked for some perspective, Fisher pointed to the offensive line LSU had for its 2003 national championship season, when he served as offensive coordinator. Two of those players were drafted, and all five ended up on an NFL roster.

“But this group here’s a pretty good group now,” Fisher said recently. “It lets you sleep better, I know that much.”

Left tackle Cameron Erving and right guard Tre' Jackson each turned down opportunities to leave school early for the NFL. Erving already was recognized last season as the best offensive lineman in the ACC -- winning the Jacobs Blocking Trophy -- and should go into the season as a preseason All-American.

He and Jackson made the All-ACC coaches first team. Guard Josue Matias made the second team. Matias and Jackson are among the top four rated guards for the 2015 draft, and Fisher believes each player on this line will play in the NFL.

Returning so many experienced players gives the Seminoles a luxury that not many other programs have, especially when you return the Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Jameis Winston.

“What you’re able to do at the line of scrimmage, protection wise, run wise, and then you’ve got a quarterback to process it and get you into the right plays all the time -- it gives you a huge advantage,” Fisher said. “The confidence, on the road, the noise that can hurt your communication issues, you don’t have to worry about.”

What’s more, the players on the line are versatile. This spring, Fisher experimented a little bit. Where there is experience among the starters, there is hardly any among the backups. So to make up for some of the depth concerns, Fisher had Erving play some center and Matias play at left tackle.

He raved about both players in the different spots. Matias came into Florida State as a tackle, so he was a natural fit there. Fisher said Erving had “big-time capabilities” at center.

“The versatility of how you can mismatch those guys in there? It’s the best we’ve had for a long time,” Fisher said.

For their part, players on the line believe they have an opportunity to improve on what was already a fantastic line a year ago.

“I feel like we had a pretty stout line last year, but there’s always room for improvement,” Jackson said. “There’s no telling where this line can go.”

Some of the depth questions should be answered in the fall. Florida State signed the best offensive line class in the ACC in February. Fisher praised junior college transfer Kareem Are for his performance this spring. He also said another junior college transfer, Chad Mavety, “may be more talented than anybody we’ve got.”

It is clear Fisher knows how to develop talent. Florida State has had offensive linemen taken in three straight drafts, and Stork is a projected mid-to-late round draft pick next week. Several, if not all, of these seniors will be drafted in 2015.

For now, the focus is on just how good this group can be by the time the season ends.

“We’ve all played, been in the system for three years now,” Matias said. “This is going to be a big year for us to reach our full potential.”

Video: FSU OL Cam Erving

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
4:00
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Florida State's Cam Erving says the Seminoles need to execute correctly no matter who the opponent is on Monday.

ACC lunchtime links

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
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Ralphie: I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!

Mrs. Parker: No, you'll shoot your eye out.

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