ACC: Clarence Megwa
Quarterback: The Eagles can’t afford to be in another situation where nobody on the roster has had a snap of collegiate experience like they were heading into 2009. This is the class where coach Frank Spaziani can build the future of the program at this position.
Running back: Montel Harris is one of the best running backs in the ACC, but he’s not invincible. After the transfer of backup Josh Haden midway through last season, the Eagles were forced to depend on Harris and only Harris. It’s time to bring in some help.
Wide receiver: BC will graduate three seniors from the two-deep in Justin Jarvis, Clarence Megwa and record-setter Rich Gunnell. Quarterback Dave Shinskie will be better in Year 2, but now he’ll have to help usher in a new supporting cast.
Wide receiver: The Tigers will have to replace standout Jacoby Ford in 2010, but they’ll also have to prepare for the losses of Xavier Dye and Terrance Ashe, who will be seniors in 2010. It was a position of concern heading into 2009 and will be again.
Defensive backs: Two of the most experienced starting cornerbacks in the conference -- Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler -- have to be replaced, but the staff also has to look ahead. Next year, the Tigers will lose All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel, free safety Marcus Gilchrist and cornerback Byron Maxwell.
Linebacker: FSU’s biggest loss here will be Dekoda Watson, but two other players on the two-deep are juniors. The Noles were hurting at every position defensively, and while the bulk of players return, they need an overall upgrade in talent.
Defensive line: Save for defensive end Markus White, who will be a senior, and Budd Thacker, who will have to be replaced, this was a relatively young group. Still, the Noles struggled to stop the run and fluster quarterbacks most of the season, and it all starts up front.
Secondary: FSU will lose cornerback Patrick Robinson, Korey Mangum and Jamie Robinson. The addition of Lamarcus Joyner should give this unit an immediate boost.
Secondary: Three starters -- Anthony Wiseman, Jamari McCollough and Terrell Skinner -- were all seniors, and standout Nolan Carroll, who was injured, will also have to be replaced. It’s time to usher in the next wave of talent here.
Linebackers/ends: The staff needs to find players here who can better fit defensive coordinator Don Brown’s scheme. Some of those linebackers could end up being defensive end/hybrid players, but the Terps need some speed off the edge.
Linemen: The Pack will lose three starters on the offensive line and all four on the defensive line. Those positions are what almost half of the staff’s commitment list is comprised of so far, and the depth at those positions had to be completely rebuilt under Tom O’Brien. Some junior college transfers could help.
Halfback: With the news that Toney Baker decided to forgo his sixth year of eligibility, and the graduation of fifth-year senior Jamelle Eugene, it couldn’t hurt the Pack to start to reload at this position.
Offensive line: Seven members on the two-deep roster were redshirt seniors in 2009, and one, starting center Russell Nenon, was a redshirt junior. Three starters will have to be replaced in 2010.
Tight end: This position will be very thin, but the staff has added two in this year’s recruiting class. Wake could also help itself by adding a fullback or two to help with the blocking.
Linebackers: It was a unit comprised mainly of redshirt seniors and juniors in 2009, so the Deacs will have immediate holes there, as well as the need to restock for the future.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said his quarterback situation is "status quo" heading into Saturday's game against Kent State. Justin Tuggle was 3-of-5 for 56 yards and a touchdown, and Dave Shinskie was 7-for-10 for 110 yards and a touchdown in last weekend's 54-0 romp of Northeastern.
"They improved and made some progress and I think we'll stay the way we are and figure it out at the end of the week," Spaziani said. "Eventually we'll get to the point where one is standing by himself and then we can go that way, but right now we don't have one, so we'll see what we have.
"The ideal situation would be to have one quarterback and then have one guy backing him up that gets some playing time and be ready to go in a third and emergency, but we're not in an ideal situation and we have to do what we feel is best to give ourselves the best chance to win."
The bad news for the Eagles is that linebacker Mike McLaughlin isn't ready to practice yet, let alone play, but senior wide receiver Clarence Megwa, who injured his finger in the Northeastern game, will return to practice this week. Starting right tackle Rich Lapham (neck) is also back this week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Another Monday, another day of links. Here we go, ACC fans ...
There wasn't too much to like from BC's quarterbacks in the first scrimmage, leaving coach Frank Spaziani still unsure of who his starter will be this fall.
BC receiver Clarence Megwa's comeback story has been put on hold, thanks to an injured right hand. The Eagles still have a leader at receiver in Rich Gunnell, who was named captain, making him the first receiver captain in 19 years.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney thinks the benefit to keeping C.J. Spiller on special teams outweighs the possibility he might get hurt.
UNC has some problems on the offensive line, and it's going to force some players to tackle more than one position.
Virginia's new offensive coordinator was used to being in the spotlight as head coach at Bowling Green. Now Gregg Brandon's role has changed, but it's just as important.
FSU's receivers could be a lot better than people expected a few months ago. Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel gives a worst case/best case scenario for each player.
The injury to Georgia Tech backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw is significant enough it could play a role in the Coastal Division race, writes Tony Barnhart.
Wake Forest might not be ready for Baylor yet, but quarterback Riley Skinner is.
Former Maryland backup quarterback Josh Portis has found a new home in California, Pa. It might not be the biggest town on the map, but it offers Portis a chance to play.
Former NC State player Edrick Smith was killed in a car crash early Sunday morning.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
TGIF, ACC fans. It's only a half weekend for me, though, as I'll be traveling to Virginia on Sunday for the Cavaliers' media day. It appears like there's some optimism growing in Charlottesville. Until then, here's what's going on in the rest of the league:
- Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a different player this year, and that's a good thing for the Hokies' offense.
- With a new helmet and a chin strap, Georgia Tech backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw returned to practice on Thursday after missing time with a concussion.
- Miami's secondary is eager to prove it's better than last year, when the Canes recorded a school-record low four interceptions.
- NC State coach Tom O'Brien doesn't reveal his scrimmage statistics, but Twitter does. Go figure.
- NC State linebacker Nate Irving doesn't remember anything from the crash that prematurely ended his 2009 season.
- Can the ACC get its swagger back? Here's a breakdown of the ACC in predicted order of finish.
- While the ACC and its fans have endured too many offseason stories about players getting hurt this summer, here's an inspiring comeback story about Boston College receiver Clarence Megwa.
- Clemson is still looking for receivers to help out Jacoby Ford, and coach Dabo Swinney said it just might be an effort by committee. (It will also help to get Ford back to practice.)
- Florida State's offensive line has bought into Rick Trickett's militant style, and it's paid off.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Tuesday we broke down the quarterbacks in the ACC, so let's figure out who the best targets are in the conference:
1. Miami -- No doubt this is the deepest group in the ACC, and it comes with a wide range of abilities. Seven freshmen were introduced last season, and five of them -- Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier and Davon Johnson -- scored touchdowns. Both Tommy Streeter (wrist surgery) and Kendall Thompkins (shoulder surgery) redshirted last year but should be factors this fall. Leonard Hankerson, a junior, is the veteran of the group.
2. Maryland -- The Terps had nine different scholarship wideouts show promise this spring, so replacing Darrius Heyward-Bey should be a smooth transition. Quintin McCree was the star in the spring game, but all of them have had their moments and should excel in the second season under offensive coordinator James Franklin. Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler should build upon last year's success, especially with a veteran quarterback throwing to them in Chris Turner.
3. Virginia Tech -- There are plenty of talented options here, but this was a young group a year ago and it's still a young group. The Hokies have something to prove on offense, and this is the year to do it. They started to turn the corner in the last two or three games of 2008 and can build on that momentum. Jarrett Boykin, Xavier Boyce, Danny Coale, Dyrell Roberts, Brandon Dillard ... depth should not be a problem. Boykin earned eight starts as a true freshman and was second with 30 receptions.
4. Boston College -- When the Eagles figure out who their quarterback is, he'll have dependable options to throw to. Rich Gunnell caught a team-high 49 passes and four touchdowns with 551 yards last year. He also returned punts and brought one back 65 yards for a score against Virginia Tech. Justin Jarvis caught 25 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns last season and will work for the other starting job. Ifeanyi Momah will look to prove that he can be more than just a situational receiver while Clarence Megwa is working to return in the fall after suffering a devastating leg injury against Clemson last season.
5. NC State -- Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer are ready to elevate their games as redshirt juniors, and now have one season as starters to build upon. Their chemistry with Russell Wilson should be better and they were No. 3 in the ACC in passing offense a year ago. Williams caught 26 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns in 2008. Spencer could be a big-play threat if he cuts down on the dropped balls.
6. Clemson -- Jacoby Ford and ... Jacoby Ford. He's one of the fastest athletes in the country and will likely be the best solo receiver in the ACC, but he'll draw all of the coverage until one of his teammates becomes a legitimate concern for opposing defenses. It will be up to Xavier Dye, Marquan Jones and Terrence Ashe to help Ford out.
7. Georgia Tech -- This should be one of the more improved units on the Jackets' roster. It was very thin last year (they started a freshman walk-on at Virginia Tech), but should have better depth this season. Demaryius Thomas should be one of the best wideouts in the conference, and he'll have more help this year with the return of sophomores Tyler Melton and Luke Fisher.
8. Florida State -- It's the Noles' lone question mark on offense, but the cupboard isn't completely bare, and Christian Ponder has plenty of confidence in the players who are there. Louis Givens, Jarmon Fortson and Bert Reed. If Taiwan Easterling heals from his Achilles injury and they get their suspended players back, this group could impress.
9. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons have to replace D.J. Boldin, but they've got enough players that the depth and speed should actually improve overall. Chris Givens and Terence Davis, both redshirts last year, impressed the staff this spring. They'll team with Devon Brown, Marshall Williams and Jordan Williams.
10. Duke -- Zero seniors. Not a good sign for a team trying to win more than one ACC game. It's not like the cupboard is bare, though. The Blue Devils will be led by sophomores Johnny Williams and Donovan Varner, who had six catches for 116 yards in the spring game. Williams finished second on the team last year with 30 catches for 327 yards. Freshmen Conner Vernon, Corey Gattis and Tyree Watkins could all push for playing time.
11. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels took a huge hit in this department and it's obviously their biggest concern heading into summer camp. It's not like they don't have players ready and willing to start, but there's nothing that can compensate for game experience, which only Greg Little has. The next most experienced receiver is Rashad Mason, who played in the Rutgers game.
12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers lost their top four receivers from last year, and coach Al Groh didn't notice that "go-to guy" yet this past spring. Sophomore Jared Green leads the returnees with 12 catches for 144 yards a year ago. Kris Burd caught seven passes as a redshirt freshman last year, and the expectations are obviously higher now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Regardless of whether it was for injuries, suspensions, academics -- whatever -- not everyone was present and accounted for this spring. There were a few players who were missing who will be desperately needed to make a comeback this fall. Each team had at least one:
Boston College: Linebacker Mike McLaughlin -- He is still very questionable for the fall, but his return from an Achilles injury would be a huge boost to a position that lacks depth. Wide receiver Clarence Megwa broke his leg in the Clemson game last year and missed the rest of the year and spring, but could be a key returnee.
Clemson: Bandit end Ricky Sapp -- He missed the Gator Bowl and sat out the spring getting over a torn ACL he suffered in the first half against Virginia. He will be a prime pass-rusher for the Tigers and is Clemson's best player when it comes to putting pressure on the quarterback.
Duke: Defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase -- The Blue Devils' leader on the defensive line missed the spring with an injury, but ranks second among active ACC players in both career tackles for loss (29.0) and quarterback sacks (11.5), trailing only N.C. State's Willie Young (32.0 and 12.5). Oghobaase has started all 36 games over the past three years, compiling 128 tackles.
Florida State: Linebacker Dekoda Watson -- He missed the spring after offseason elbow surgery, but should be one of the Noles' top defenders. He ranked fourth on the team with 46 tackles last year.
Georgia Tech: Center Dan Voss -- He was the starter last year, and if his labrum isn't fully recovered (which it should be), aerospace engineer major Sean Bedford moves to the top of the depth chart. Not that there's anything wrong with a super smart center.
Maryland: DT Dion Armstrong -- The Terps had a host of key players miss the spring, but Armstrong, who was out for academic reasons, is at a position in need of some help. It's unclear, though, if Armstrong's academic situation will extend into the summer. Also at defensive tackle for Maryland is Travis Ivey. The coaches raved about his improved play and leadership during the spring, and the offensive line was having a tough time containing him. But he got a concussion in the fourth week and missed the rest of the spring. He also had a scheduled shoulder surgery at the end of the spring.
Miami: LB Colin McCarthy -- Miami needs depth at linebacker and McCarthy was playing well last season before a shoulder injury caused him to miss the remainder of the season, starting with the FSU game. He had shoulder surgery.
North Carolina: Free safety Deunta Williams -- He had wrist surgery in January and missed the spring, but should be ready for the fall. He started all 13 games in 2008 and ranked fifth on the team with 65 tackles (55 solo).
NC State: Strong safety Javon Walker -- He's actually missed the last TWO springs and last season with a knee injury, but will be cleared by the fall and is being counted on very heavily in the secondary.
Virginia: Right guard B.J. Cabbell -- He missed spring ball due to knee surgery, but started 12 games last year. The junior is expected back in August.
Virginia Tech: DE Jason Worilds -- Worilds missed the spring after shoulder surgery for an injury that kept him out of the Orange Bowl. End is one of the few positions the Hokies have that lacks depth. Worilds started in 12 of 14 games last year and had eight sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. The Hokies will also need the return of guard Sergio Render, who missed the spring following shoulder surgery.
Wake Forest: CB Brandon Ghee -- Ghee suffered a sprained knee on the very first day of spring and missed the remainder of practice. The Deacs will need Ghee healthy this fall as he is the only returning starter in the secondary. Starting nose tackle Boo Robinson has also been bothered by a bad back and didn't play this spring.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The Clemson athletic department received this letter Wednesday from Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski:
Dear Clemson Fans,
On behalf of the entire Boston College football program, I would like to thank you for the prayers, concern and good wishes expressed for our wide receiver, Clarence Megwa, since his serious injury in our November 1 football game. We have received dozens of emails from supportive Clemson fans inquiring about Clarence's condition and wishing him well.
I am happy to report that Clarence did have successful leg surgery this past Tuesday and is recovering nicely. Hopefully he will be discharged from the hospital soon.
We were touched but not surprised by your classy display of concern and support. Tiger Nation should be very proud. Thanks again from the Eagles.
Jeff Jagodzinski, Head Coach
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
|New BC quarterback Chris Crane is all business this year on the field.|
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Being Boston College's starting quarterback is no joking matter.
The backup, apparently, is a different story.
Chris Crane's teammates describe him as a laid-back, silly guy. Or he was.
Last season, Crane was sort of like an assistant coach, and when the head coach, Matt Ryan, came down hard on his teammates, Crane was the go-to guy, the friend.
Now he's the one commanding respect.
"I feel like I really had to make a big effort to show everyone that there's no joking around anymore, that I'm here to lead this team," Crane said. "It's weird because a lot of people didn't feel like Matt was their friend and that I could be. When I took over a lot of people would say, 'Oh you're not going to turn into Matt are you? You're not going to be so hard on us?' And you just have to tell them bluntly, I'm the same person, but I'm going to be tough on you. Nothing is going to change."
On the field, though, the offense is certain to change.
Crane is a more mobile quarterback than Ryan, and that gives the Eagles the option to have him run the ball. Clearly, he's not going to throw it as much. Crane said he's progressed throughout the spring and summer and is able to get through his reads, and is able to hit the open receiver.
But he hasn't quite sparkled yet. Is that because he's going against one of the better defenses in the ACC, and it knows his every move? That's part of it. Here are his stats through the Eagles' three scrimmages:
• 8-of-12 for 110 yds, TD
• 14-of-25 for 178 yards, TD (The offense was held to 64 net rushing yards and the defense had eight sacks and four interceptions, not necessarily all from Crane).
• 10-of-20 for 66 yards and one touchdown.
The Aug. 30 season opener at Kent State is 10 days away, and we still don't know what Crane can do, but he's got experienced receivers to help him in starters Rich Gunnell, Clarence Megwa and Brandon Robinson. Tight end Ryan Purvis is also back.
"A lot of people see me as a rookie," Crane said. "I'm really hoping that when we go out there, if there are any nerves, if the passes aren't quite perfect, that they'll be able to in stride make it look like everything's good. That's what I'm hoping."
Robinson, a fifth-year senior who averaged 14.2 yards per catch last year, said the receivers aren't great, but they're good enough to get it done. Both he and Gunnell were among the 2007 ACC leaders in receptions and receiving yards per game.
"We got badgered all season. 'Matt would have been so much better if he had better receivers.' But he wasn't throwing the ball to himself, like a lot of people have said," Robinson said. "I don't really see us as great receivers. We make plays, but that's what our job is to do. We're supposed to make the quarterback look good."
Not that he doesn't have any confidence Crane will uphold his end of the deal.
"I always knew and he always knew that he was a good quarterback, but it's really hard following an All-American," said Robinson. "Now he knows it's his time, so he can play. He was recruited here as a great quarterback, a big, strong-armed, fast quarterback. I think that's what people don't understand -- we may not get the best recruits in the country but the guys that come here know how to play football, they're tough mentally and are smart and they get the job done."
While the verdict is still out on the field, Crane answered the one question his teammates wanted to know most:
"One thing that we were all looking for Chris to do was lead, and he has done just that," linebacker Mark Herzlich said. "He's become a great leader as well as improved his personal skills and techniques. I have the utmost confidence in him to lead our team to victory and do what's necessary to get that done."
|Dale Zanine/US PRESSWIRE|
|Aaron Kelly is the leading returning receiver in the conference.|
Welcome to Day 3 of ACC position rankings. Once again, Clemson is on top. That speaks just as much to the Tigers' talent level this year as it does to the lack of superstars throughout the rest of the league. On Wednesday, I'll check out the unheralded offensive linemen. Here's a look at the ACC's top pass catchers, with depth AND experience being the top two factors considered.
1. Clemson -- Aaron Kelly is the leading returning receiver in the ACC, but he's not the only one with capable hands in this offense. Tyler Grisham had 60 receptions for 653 yards last year, and is also a top blocker. Jacoby Ford was in the midst of a breakout season last year, leading the team with 18.2 yards per catch, but his season was derailed by a broken ankle.
2. Boston College -- The sheer depth here puts these guys up high. Ryan Purvis could be one of the best tight ends in the ACC (54 catches for 553 yards and four touchdowns), and the Eagles also have experience in Rich Gunnell, Justin Jarvis and Clarence Megwa.
3. Florida State -- For the first time in school history, the Seminoles had three receivers over 700 yards each last season and two of them -- Preston Parker and Greg Carr -- will be back. Expectations are soaring for junior college transfer Corey Surrency, the top receiver in the Seminoles' 2008 recruiting class.
4. North Carolina -- The combo of Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate justify this spot. Nicks set a single-season school record with 74 catches for 958 yards and five touchdowns last season, while Tate averaged 19.2 yards per catch and scored five touchdowns on 25 receptions.
5. Maryland -- This is the Terps' deepest position as they return Darrius Heyward-Bey, Isaiah Williams, Danny Oquendo and LaQuan Williams. They'll be under the direction of Lee Hull, who joined the staff in March.
6. Duke -- Eron Riley led the league with 20.8 yards per catch and was fourth in the ACC last season with 69.2 receiving yards per game. Sheldon Bell had a strong spring, and if Raphael Chestnut makes a full recovery from last year's torn ACL, it could help take some attention off Riley.
7. NC State -- The Wolfpack welcome back tight end Anthony Hill, the team's leading receiver in 2006, and have depth and experience in Donald Bowens, who led the team with 15 yards per catch last year. Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer both played in every game last year as reserves.
8. Virginia -- The return of Kevin Ogletree, the team's leading receiver in 2006 who missed last season with a torn ACL, will help tremendously. There is plenty of depth behind him.
9. Miami -- Miami was last in the league in pass offense, 11th in scoring offense and 11th in total offense. The return of Jermaine McKenzie, who missed last season because of a neck injury he suffered in a car accident, along with the addition of true freshman Aldarius Johnson, could help that.
10. Wake Forest -- The departure of ACC receptions leader Kenneth Moore leaves the Deacs looking for a go-to guy. Tight end Ben Wooster was the playmaker this spring, but veteran Chip Brinkman and D.J. Boldin must also be dependable options.
12. Virginia Tech -- The Hokies fell to the bottom here because they have to replace their top four receivers from a year ago, and Brandon Dillard is now out for the season with an injury. That's not to say there isn't talent here, but it's unproven. The top two coming out of the spring were Zach Luckett and Danny Coa