ACC: Edgerrin James

Warren Sapp this past weekend became the sixth player from Miami to be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame, a no-brainer selection in his first year of eligibility.

Two more no-brainer Miami selections won Super Bowl rings with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday -- linebacker Ray Lewis, playing in his final game, and safety Ed Reed, who seemed to indicate after the win over San Francisco he would stick around for one more season. Both should be first-ballot Hall of Famers when they become eligible. Lewis would be first up in 2017.

Interestingly enough, Miami is in the middle of quite a trend. Though the Hurricanes have been known as "Quarterback U," their recent defensive players are the ones who have put forth Hall of Fame careers. Running back Edgerrin James would be up for election in 2016 but there are no guarantees he would get in on the first ballot. Even if he does, the defensive trend would continue.

Consider that defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy was enshrined in 2012. Sapp follows this year. Lewis and Reed would be next among defensive players. Miami could end up with four straight defensive players in the Hall; four of five if James gets in before Lewis and Reed.

That, in turn, raises yet another interesting question. Of these four defensive players, who had the best NFL career? Hard to really lose an argument here, considering the achievements of all four. My argument would begin with Sapp, revolutionary because of the way he thrived in the Tampa 2 defense -- a defense that became the envy of the NFL. A defense that earned copycat status, and other teams desperate to draft a talent at tackle who could be as disruptive as Sapp.

Of course, you need the right players to make a scheme successful, and there would be nobody as good as Sapp in the Tampa 2. Sapp ended his career with a whopping 96.5 sacks. Most defensive ends have a hard enough time getting that many. A total that high is practically unheard of for an interior defensive lineman. Kennedy, also a defensive tackle, had 58 sacks in 11 seasons.

None of this is to take away from the accomplishments of the others. Reed has been dynamic at safety. In fact, he would be my next choice because of his ability to change the complexion of a game in a snap. Lewis has been an unbelievable leader and stalwart linebacker. Kennedy was remarkably consistent and terrific against the run.

Now what say you? Time for you guys to weigh in. Drop a note to my mailbag with your choice and I will publish the best answers in a separate post. Let the debate begin!

Five new members for Miami's 'Ring of Honor'

September, 25, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

This just in from Miami's sports information office (abbreviated version):

University of Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt and coach Randy Shannon announced the selection of five new members to the UM Football Ring of Honor. Former Hurricanes Edgerrin James, Jim Kelly, Cortez Kennedy, Jim Otto and Gino Torretta will all be placed in the Ring of Honor during halftime of Miami's home game against Virginia Tech on Thursday, Nov. 13, at Dolphin Stadium.

The selection of UM's Ring of Honor members is determined by the director of athletics and head football coach, in conjunction with an anonymous advisory committee.

Criteria used in the selection process include athletic achievements at UM and at the professional level, commitment and loyalty to the continued success of the university and its athletic department and a personal commitment to courage, fortitude, honesty and integrity.

"We have had so many great players play at the University of Miami, and it's never an easy decision when it comes to adding to our Ring of Honor," Shannon said. "A tremendous group has been selected for this next induction."

ACC position rankings: Running backs

July, 14, 2008
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesRex Brown/Getty Images
Clemson's James Davis (left) and C.J. Spiller (right) make up the ACC's top rushing combo.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Last week I started to check out the ACC position-by-position, starting with the quarterbacks.

Let's see who enters the fall with the best running game:

1. Clemson -- No question here. James Davis uses his strength to plow between tackles and is the ACC's leading returning rusher (81.8 yards per game) while C.J. Spiller's speed and elusiveness make these guys the total package.

2. NC State -- With Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene returning, the Wolfpack might have the best depth. And at this position, you need it.

3. Virginia --While Cedric Peerman was injured, Mikell Simpson made a name for himself. (I watched him beat Maryland almost by himself: 119 yards rushing, 152 yards receiving). Together they can help ease the pressure off the Cavaliers' new quarterback.

4. Miami -- Graig Cooper led the Hurricanes' offense in the spring game with eight carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Javarris James (cousin of Edgerrin James) caught four passes for 60 yards and ran once for a 25-yard gain.

5. Wake Forest -- Last season, Josh Adams set the school record for the most rushing yards (953), rushing attempts (219), receptions (34), rushing touchdowns (11) and total touchdowns (12) by a redshirt freshman. His carries are sure to increase, and he enters the season as the league's second leading returning rusher.

6. Florida State -- The Seminoles will need more production out of senior Antone Smith, who had 817 yards last year on 191 carries. Once Preston Parker is done serving his two-game suspension, he could be another option. Having never played the position before, he took over for an injured Smith against Maryland last year and ran 51 yards on his first four carries, including an 18-yard touchdown run.

7. Georgia Tech -- Jonathan Dwyer averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a freshman and could be the B back in Paul Johnson's offense. Junior Jamaal Evans also has experience, as he played in 11 games. He and redshirt freshman Roddy Jones are listed as the two slot or A backs.

8. Duke -- Re'quan Boyette has led the Blue Devils in rushing the past two seasons. That experience alone puts him ahead of the final four.

9. North Carolina -- Greg Little should only improve upon his move from wide receiver to running back late last season. Ryan Houston and Devon Ramsay also had productive springs.

10. Maryland -- Morgan Green and Da'Rel Scott are talented but inexperienced. Green had three carries last season, Scott 14.

11. Virginia Tech -- Leading returning rusher Branden Ore was kicked off the team, and both of his backups (Kenny Lewis Jr. and Jahre Cheeseman) suffered serious injuries. Until we see who their playmaker will be, it's tough to have the Hokies higher. Dustin Pickle, Josh Oglesby and Darren Evans are all options.

12. Boston College -- Josh Haden was the only option here this spring, and so far, he's unproven. Replacing Andre Callender won't be easy.