ACC: Edwin Williams

Development of Maryland's O-line key to their success

August, 21, 2009
8/21/09
8:14
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's the one unit that will truly help sway which way Maryland's season will unfold, and with about two weeks left until the daunting season opener at Cal, the Terps' offensive line still has more questions than it does answers.

"We're a work in progress," said offensive line coach Tom Brattan.

"It's not going to be a quick fix there," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.

Not when the Terps lost five of their top seven linemen from a year ago. For a team that lost 30 players to graduation from 2008, the offensive line was hit harder than any other unit. The Terps have 27 career starts up front and the potential for two walk-ons to start in Paul Pinegar and Andrew Gonnella. There are three positions open -- right tackle and both guard spots. Overall, there are only six linemen who have even played in one game, and three are walk-ons.

Brattan said he's had the group "devouring tape," coming to practices early, staying a little later, and doing anything they can to help "speed up the process."

The good news for the Terps is that they're settled at center, where Phil Costa will take over for Edwin Williams after 19 career starts at both left and right guard, and at left tackle, where Bruce Campbell took over as starter midway through last season and could make a name for himself as one of the more astounding athletes in the ACC. After playing as a true freshman and battling injuries since then, the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Campbell is poised to be one of the conference's better linemen, as he's built like a tight end and is one of the strongest players in school history.

"I see him getting more knowledgeable about the offense, more comfortable with it," Brattan said. "Obviously both he and Phil Costa are going to be your mainstays. They've been in the fray. They're the only guys who have seen significant playing time."

Campbell said he knows the responsibility that comes with that.

"I'm being more of a vocal leader this year instead of leading by example, telling them if they have any questions, anything you want to work on, anything after practice, while we're in our dorms or at camp, just come talk to me. I'm always available," Campbell said. "I'm looking to really have depth this year, really try to get our younger offensive linemen to mature and grow a lot faster.

"I know I have to keep my head on right because most of the younger offensive linemen get frustrated really fast," he said. "In experiencing that, I have to tell them, 'Hey, let that play go. Just look forward to the next play.'"

Gonnella and Lamar Young have been leading the competition for the guard positions, and Pinegar and R.J. Dill have been leading the depth chart at right tackle. Pinegar is the only other lineman to see any significant time in his career. Pinegar has played in 12 games at tackle over the last two years.

"We're just going to have to be patient and hope kids develop," Friedgen said. "I'm not disappointed right now. I see us getting better."

Ranking the ACC units: Offensive lines

July, 20, 2009
7/20/09
11:07
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Position rankings today will include who has what up front. While it's not exactly glamorous, it wins games.

Let's start with the offensive lines.

1. Florida State -- Ah, it's amazing what a year can do, no? At this point last season, I had the Noles ranked No. 12. That's right, and I'd do it again. There wasn't a senior in the group, and they were the youngest O-line in the FBS with a lot to prove. It was a work in progress, and the tight ends had to help out, but Rick Trickett did a heck of a job, and I take partial credit for the motivation. You're welcome, coach. Now this group, led by Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon and Andrew Datko could be one of the best in the country.

2. Boston College -- Four starters return who started all 14 games last year, including potential All-ACC candidates Anthony Castonzo and Matt Tennant. It took some time for this group to come together after Castonzo moved from right tackle to left, Thomas Claiborne was a defensive lineman who moved to the right guard spot and Rich Lapham came off the bench in nine games in 2007. Once they got comfortable, they were a major factor in the success of true freshmen running backs Montel Harris and Josh Haden. It should only be better this year.

3. Wake Forest -- This should be a much-improved group, and deeper, especially with the return of Chris DeGeare, who missed last fall for academic reasons, at left tackle. Seven players with starting experience return to the offensive line and they have combined for 95 career starts. Russell Nenon, who moved to center after Trey Bailey broke his ankle last year, has solidified the position, and Jeff Griffin, who had been a starting tackle, is now comfortable at right guard. Barrett McMillin returns at guard.

4. Clemson -- This is where the problems began last year, and it should be part of the solution in 2009. In 2008, Clemson had to replace four starters. This year, all five starters return. Since 1963, Clemson has had a winning percentage of 76 percent when it returns five starters on the offensive line. Thomas Austin has starting experience at center and guard and should be one of the top offensive linemen in the 2010 NFL draft.

5. Virginia Tech -- The Hokies should be more athletic up front, and this unit goes eight deep, which might be the best depth they've had in the past two seasons. Ed Wang, who is entering his third season as a starter and Sergio Render, who is entering his fourth, are the veterans of a group that includes seven redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep. Beau Warren is expected to replace Ryan Shuman at center and Jaymes Brooks took over the right guard position and played well in the Orange Bowl in place of an ineligible Nick Marshman.

6. Miami -- Depth remains a concern, but veteran tackle Jason Fox is as dependable as they come, with 36 career starts. There were some tweaks to the line this past spring, as Matt Pipho will be the new starter at right tackle, and the staff is eager to see how he handles that role. A.J. Trump moved from right guard to center, and Joel Figueroa took over at right guard. The health of the starters will be key through the tough stretch to start the season.

7. Georgia Tech -- There is definitely potential here, but first the Jackets have to replace Andrew Gardner and David Brown, which they started to do last season when that duo got hurt. Then they have to keep everyone healthy, which didn't happen this spring. With Dan Voss, Nick Claytor and Cord Howard back for summer camp, and Joseph Gilbert having started 12 games last year, this group should improve and be more consistent this fall, but it will get even better as Paul Johnson's staff begins to recruit more athletic linemen.

8. Virginia -- There are no athletic freaks on the line like coach Al Groh usually finds, but it should still be a solid group. Four starters return, including senior right tackle Will Barker, who has 37 starts. Junior B.J. Cabbell at right guard was a solid blocker last year in his first season as starter, as was Jack Shields, who improved as the season progressed. Sophomore Austin Pasztor moved into the starting lineup against Maryland and sophomore Landon Bradley was Eugene Monroe's backup.

9. NC State -- The good news is that the Pack have plenty of upperclassmen to depend on, and four of the five starters have combined to start 60 games. The only player listed as a current starter who has never started is redshirt senior Andy Barbee, who has spent the previous three years as a reserve center but has now moved to guard. Behind those veterans are several players who redshirted last year and will be given an equal opportunity for playing time.

10. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels took a hit early last month when starter Aaron Stahl decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to "move forward with the next phase of [his] life." His experience will be tough to replace, but there are a handful of players who had a good spring and will compete for his spot. Kyle Jolly, who is entering his third year as a starter, Alan Pelc, who earned a starting job at guard last year, and Lowell Dyer, who has started at center each of the past two seasons, will be the leaders of the line.

11. Maryland -- The Terps lost five of their top seven offensive linemen, including three starters, and the development of their replacements will go a long way in determining how their season unfolds. Despite the graduation of longtime center Edwin Williams, it's the position of least concern as the staff is confident in the leadership and playing abilities of Phil Costa. There are also high expectations for left tackle Bruce Campbell, a physically gifted athlete.

12. Duke -- This has been a trouble spot for the Blue Devils for years, and it's a work-in-progress for coach David Cutcliffe. This year should be another challenge as Duke has to replace three starters after making some progress last year. Center Bryan Morgan is the anchor of the group and enters his second season as a starter and is the only player back in his original position. Kyle Hill moved from left guard to left tackle, so this group will have a whole new look.

Hope and concern: Maryland

June, 24, 2009
6/24/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Biggest reason for hope -- Talented young playmakers

Nine different receivers showed promise this spring, including Quintin McCree, who caught three touchdown passes in the spring game. Sophomores Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler showed flashes of potential last season that they built upon this spring, and Smith has already established himself as one of the conference's most exciting return threats. As a true freshman last year, Davin Meggett was second on the team in rushing and rushing touchdowns. There is plenty of depth to compensate for the departure of Darrius Heyward-Bey to the NFL. It's not just the receivers the staff is excited about. Strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt said he's seeing better, faster athletes in the weight room this offseason, and they have a veteran quarterback throwing to them in Chris Turner.

Biggest reason for concern -- The offensive line

There's no question the Terps have a few playmakers, but they won't get too far if the offensive line doesn't come together quickly. Assistant coach Tom Brattan lost five of his top seven linemen from a year ago, including starters Edwin Williams, Jaimie Thomas and Scott Burley. The staff is extremely excited about left tackle Bruce Campbell, a freakish athlete who has already been compared to Vernon Davis, and they're confident in center Phil Costa, but replacing 116 career starts will be difficult. Campbell is the only player returning to the same position from a year ago, and it's possible a walk-on or two will be heavily depended upon.

Lending a helping hand in the ACC

May, 22, 2009
5/22/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There was some progress in the ACC this spring, and each team got a little bit of help at certain positions. Here's a look at who found some help this spring and where:

BOSTON COLLEGE: Marcellus Bowman and Wes Davis are two safeties who should help make the Eagles' secondary one of the best BC fans have seen in recent years. Four players return to the secondary with starting experience.

CLEMSON: It's amazing what a year of experience can do, and the Tigers' offensive line needed it. The only direction for this group to go is up, and it started to do that this spring. All five starters return.

DUKE: The return of running back Re'quan Boyette will give the Blue Devils' running game a more potent punch. He could be a difference maker on the field this fall, and Duke will need him to be.

FLORIDA STATE: Leading rusher Antone Smith is gone, but FSU fans can rest assured Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones can carry the load for the Noles. Both had several breakaway runs this spring.

GEORGIA TECH: On a defense that lost its leaders up front, defensive end Derrick Morgan and safety Morgan Burnett established themselves as the new captains of the ship this spring, and they should be the Jackets' top two defenders.

MARYLAND: Phil Costa helped ease the transition of the graduation of longtime leader Edwin Williams at center. The Terps lost three starters up front and have four players in new positions, but Costa proved he can be the new leader of the group.

MIAMI: This "got help" award goes to new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. He had an immediate impact on the offense this spring and has Jacory Harris' full attention.

NORTH CAROLINA: Da'Norris Searcy and Melvin Williams gave the staff some confidence in life without Trimane Goddard. Searcy played well in the Meineke Car Care bowl as a fifth defensive back and played with confidence this spring.

NC STATE: Mike Glennon answered the distress signal at backup quarterback, a position that had been exposed far too many times in the past. Glennon completed 23 of 38 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in the Kay Yow Spring Game.

VIRGINIA: The return of Jameel Sewell at quarterback and addition of Vic Hall no doubt helped the Cavaliers. At this point last year, they didn't have one quarterback who had any starting experience. Now they've got three.

VIRGINIA TECH: Confidence grew in the linebackers this spring, and that's because of the efforts of Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson. Bruce Taylor and Quillie Odom are still learning, but there was progress at this position.

WAKE FOREST: Kenny Okoro and Josh Bush both proved to be dependable players at a position that just lost Alphonso Smith. Okoro in particular stood out, but both of them got a lot of reps with Brandon Ghee out with an injury.

Maryland spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009
5/07/09
9:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Maryland Terrapins
2008 overall record: 8-5

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters: Offense: 6, defense: 4, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners: QB Chris Turner, RB, Da'Rel Scott, OL Phil Costa, WR Torrey Smith, LB Alex Wujciak, CB Anthony Wiseman, FS Terrell Skinner, P Travis Baltz

Key losses: C Edwin Williams, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, CB Kevin Barnes, DT Jeremy Navarre, LG Jaimie Thomas, TE Dan Gronkowski, LB Dave Philistin, DE Mack Frost, LB Moise Fokou, PK Obi Egekeze

2007 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Da'Rel Scott* (1,133 yards)
Passing: Chris Turner* (2,516 yards)
Receiving:
Darrius Heyward-Bey (609 yards)
Tackles:
Alex Wujciak* (133)
Sacks:
Moise Fokou (5)
Interceptions:
Jamari McCollough* (4)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 at California
Sept. 12 James Madison
Sept. 19 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 26 Rutgers
Oct. 3 Clemson
Oct. 10 at Wake Forest
Oct. 17 Virginia
Oct. 24 at Duke
Nov. 7 at NC State
Nov. 14 Virginia Tech
Nov. 21 at Florida State
Nov. 28 Boston College

Spring answers

1. Leader on the line. Phil Costa has been tasked with taking over at center for Edwin Williams, and although he has never played in a game at center, it was the position of least concern on the offensive line this spring. Costa proved capable of being the leader of an otherwise inexperienced group (see below).

2. New additions at linebacker. One of the concerns coming into the spring was the depth at linebacker, and the staff was pleased with the addition freshmen Darin Drakeford and Avery Murray. With Alex Wujciak and Ben Pooler out with injuries, others proved dependable, including former tight end Drew Gloster and Demetrius Hartsfield.

3. What can Don Brown do for you? Brown's new defensive scheme earned rave reviews from the players and coaching staff this spring. The corners stepped up to the challenge of the press coverage and picked off Chris Turner six times in two scrimmages.

Fall questions

1. The rest of the offensive line. The Terps lost three starters, and will have four players in new positions. Bruce Campbell is the only player returning to his old spot at left tackle. The two starting guard spots are up for grabs, as Lamar Young and Andrew Gonnella flip-flopped all spring on the left side. Justin Lewis played better toward the end at right guard.

2. Separation at receiver. There are nine who can play, and every one of them seemed to have his moment at a different time this spring. Still, nobody grabbed hold of the "go-to" guy, previously held by Darrius Heyward-Bey. The staff is still looking for consistency from this young but talented group.

3. Replacing the placekicker. The Terps still don't know who will fill the placekicking shoes of Obi Egekeze. Walk-ons Mike Barbour and Nick Wallace will continue to compete this summer, and highly touted incoming kicker Nick Ferrara will have a chance to win the job.

ACC's lunchtime links: Maryland edition

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
12:39
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It's always college football season here, but for some reason, the Terps are getting a lot of ink lately:

Here is a great read on former Maryland center Edwin Williams, who succeeded in the one goal his parents wished for: "You don't want to end up like your mom and dad." Williams' parents were both former cocaine users, and Edwin and his sister were born addicts.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen talked about his diet, his succession plan, and Bobby Bowden in this Q&A with Dennis Dodd. Dodd was having a little fun with the ACC this month and a game we call Ultimate Frisbee.

Former Terp Dean Muhtadi has become accustomed to making the most out of tryouts. His latest led to a free agent contract with Green Bay.

While UNC coach Butch Davis is cutting ties with troublesome recruits, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is supporting them.

Macho Harris intends to make the most of his opportunity to play in the NFL.

And finally, in case you missed it, here's an interesting story by my colleague, Amy K. Nelson on how the collapse of the Dallas practice facility has some other teams with bubbles a little concerned. Boston College has a bubble, but BC isn't expecting any drastic changes.

Former Terps, Blue Devils sign as free agents

April, 28, 2009
4/28/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Six former Terps agreed to free-agent contracts Monday, according to the school.

Those who have either signed or are expected to sign deals in the coming days, include:

• LB Chase Bullock -- Arizona Cardinals
• OL Scott Burley -- Washington Redskins
• DL Jeremy Navarre -- Jacksonville Jaguars
• LB Dave Philistin -- Seattle Seahawks
• OL Edwin Williams -- Washington Redskins
• WR Isaiah Williams -- Baltimore Ravens

In addition, DL Dean Muhtadi and OL Dane Randolph earned free-agent tryouts with the Green Bay Packers, according to the school.

At Duke, seniors Cameron Goldberg and Eron Riley each agreed to free-agent contracts with NFL teams on Sunday evening. Goldberg, a three-year starter at left tackle for the Blue Devils, reached a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Riley, a two-time second team All-ACC performer at Duke, agreed to a contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

ACC's unheralded NFL draft picks

April, 21, 2009
4/21/09
11:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With the NFL draft scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday, much attention will be paid to the ACC's highest round picks like linebacker Aaron Curry. Over the past three years, the ACC has seen more of its players taken in the first round (25) than any other league, as well as more of its players drafted (115) than any other conference.

Just because a player isn't drafted in the first three rounds, though, doesn't mean he isn't destined for a successful NFL career, and this year the ACC has plenty of such players. There are several who are borderline third- and fourth-round picks, but even more who are relative unknowns capable of making names for themselves at the next level.

Don't forget about Miami's little used linebacker, Spencer Adkins, who has been getting a fair share of attention from scouts lately. He was used in a lot of third down situations as a pass-rusher. Aside from Bruce Johnson, he is the Canes' top prospect. North Carolina tight end Richard Quinn is ascending the draft boards quickly. He could conceivably be a third-rounder.

Here are three players who aren't expected to be drafted in the first three rounds, but will still be quality players in the NFL:

1. Victor "Macho" Harris, CB, Virginia Tech -- A potential late third-round, early fourth-round pick, Harris is a hard-hitter with exceptional ball skills. He reads blocks well and is a scoring threat, especially in the open field.

2. Anthony Hill, TE, NC State -- He doesn't drop many balls, he stays tough in traffic, and is efficient getting into his routes. He's a strong blocker who would have been much more productive had his career not been marred by injuries.

3. Aaron Kelly, WR, Clemson -- He uses his height to his advantage for jump balls, can create separation and be a threat for yards after catch. He is an average blocker, but was underutilized in Clemson's offense last year.

Other potentially late ACC picks worth keeping an eye on:

Keys for Maryland and Wake Forest's Atlantic Division runs

March, 24, 2009
3/24/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Maryland and Wake Forest both start practice today, and they both happen to be in the Atlantic Division, which will be wide open. (Florida State should have a bit of an edge, but hey, everyone's got issues). Here are three keys to Wake and Maryland surprising some people and making a run for the division title this fall:

If Maryland is going to have a chance ...

1. The Terps need to find a dependable replacement for center Edwin Williams. He might have been the most consistent player on offense last year. Maurice Hampton and Danny Edwards will compete for the job, though moving right guard Phil Costa there might be the most likely scenario. The running game should be a strength, but only if the offensive line comes together quickly. The Terps need to replace three starters there.

2. Chris Turner is going to have to play like a senior. No more inconsistent play. Beating ranked teams is great, but it won't get you far if you can't beat Middle Tennessee, too. He's clearly capable of it. Turner is 6-1 against ranked opponents over the past two seasons and completed 63.5 percent of his passes in those games for nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. He'll have several young, talented receivers to throw it to. His experience alone should give the Terps an edge, as there are only three other senior quarterbacks in the league (Riley Skinner, Jameel Sewell and Thaddeus Lewis).

3. Improve significantly on defense. The Terps ranked 10th in the ACC in total defense, ninth in scoring defense, 10th in passing defense, and ninth in rushing defense. First-year coordinator Don Brown has his hands full, but as a previous head coach he knows what needs to be done. First, he'll have to replace seven starters.

If Wake Forest is going to have a chance ...

1. The Deacs need to find somebody to catch the ball. Wake has to replace starters D.J. Boldin and Chip Brinkman, who combined for 40 career starts. Sure, the Deacs have to develop a better running game, but there were hints of that at the end of the season, especially in the EagleBank Bowl, and there is depth at the position, and the offensive line will be better. Receiver is a bigger question mark.

2. Playmakers need to emerge on defense. Seven starters are gone, the most notable being linebacker Aaron Curry and cornerback Alphonso Smith. The defensive line, led by tackles John Russell and Boo Robinson, will have to be the leaders, along with cornerback Brandon Ghee.

3. They must find a replacement for punter/placekicker Sam Swank. The good news is that they have already been tested without Swank, as he was injured last year and missed six games. That gave Shane Popham valuable experience. He made 7 of 12 field goal attempts and averaged 39.2 yards on 54 punts.

Pro Days update

March, 12, 2009
3/12/09
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Boston College will have its NFL Pro Day today, and obviously B.J. Raji, Ron Brace and Ryan Purvis will be among the seniors of note there. (They'll also be among the ACC's biggest shoes to fill in '09). Not all schools release their pro day highlights, but if they do, they'll be posted.

Maryland had its Pro Day on Wednesday, and it was reflective of just how many seniors the Terps will have to replace this year. Maryland lost more starters (13) from last year's roster than anyone else in the ACC.

About 40 representatives from 25 NFL teams were on campus yesterday. Twenty of the 24 players auditioning were starters, and Kevin Barnes, Moise Fokou, Dan Gronkowski, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jaimie Thomas and Edwin Williams had already been to the NFL combine in Indy.

Heyward-Bey and Gronkowski were among the most impressive players at their positions at the NFL combine. Heyward-Bey ran a time of 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, the top time among wide receivers, while Gronkowski had the third-best performance (26 reps) among tight ends in the bench press and the second-best mark (11.72) in the 60-yard shuttle. They only participated in individual drills on Wednesday.

Here were the highlights from Wednesday in College Park:

  • Receiver Isaiah Williams posted the top time in the 40-yard dash (4.38) and 60-yard shuttle (11.10). He also had the third-best time (4.24) in the 20-yard shuttle and matched Barnes for the top vertical jump (41 inches).
  • Running back Rashad Henry had the top time (4.11) in the 20-yard shuttle and defensive back Jeff Allen posted the second-fastest time (4.17).
  • Barnes posted a time of 4.44 in the 40, while Henry clocked a 4.53 and had a 36-inch vertical leap.
  • Jeremy Navarre was the strongest, with 36 reps on the bench press. Defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi had 34.

What to watch in the ACC this spring

February, 11, 2009
2/11/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With Miami kicking off spring practice on Feb. 24, it's never too early to start thinking about spring football in the ACC. There are plenty of story lines heading into the 2009 season -- like backup quarterbacks and new coordinators.

Here are a few things to watch for each team in the ACC this spring:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

BOSTON COLLEGE
Spring practice starts:
March 17
Spring game: April 25

What to watch

  • Replacing 325-pound defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace will be a large challenge -- literally. Damik Scafe could be a starter, but beyond him it's anybody's guess.
  • Quarterback Dominique Davis only has three games of experience over everyone else, so it's definitely not a given that it's his job to lose. Davis was thrown into the fire at the end of 2008, but former coach Jeff Jagodzinski and former offensive coordinator Steve Logan liked freshman Justin Tuggle, who redshirted this past season. Whether the new staff is as high on Tuggle remains to be seen.
  • Including former defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, who was promoted to head coach, the Eagles will have six coaches in new positions this spring. With two new coordinators, a new offensive line coach, tight ends coach and a linebackers coach, this spring will be a chance for a few introductions.

(Read full post)

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Pre-spring ACC power rankings

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With the NFL departures announced, and signing day officially over, it's time for a re-ranking heading into spring football. Keep in mind things change during spring practice -- some players get hurt, some win position battles, but here's the first early peek at how the ACC might fare in 2009:

1. Virginia Tech -- The ACC and Orange Bowl champs return 16 starters, and there are high expectations for an offensive backfield that will contain shifty quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and tailbacks Darren Evans and Ryan Williams. If the defense maintains its tradition without Victor "Macho" Harris, the Hokies could be a top 10 team.

2. Florida State -- The defense took some hits -- the most notable being the loss of defensive end Everette Brown -- but should have enough experience to compensate for it. The offensive line should be one of the best in the conference and give returning quarterback Christian Ponder and tailback Jermaine Thomas plenty of help. The question is the depth at receiver after the loss of Preston Parker, Greg Carr, and probably Corey Surrency. FSU also loses Lou Groza award winner Graham Gano.

3. Georgia Tech -- Overall, this team will be experienced and deeper -- it will return every starter at the skill positions -- but the Yellow Jackets must reload on the defensive front and improve on the offensive line. There will be three new starters on the defensive line, and Tech lost two senior starters on the offensive line. There are 25 players on the roster, though, who have at least one career start.

4. Miami -- Coach Randy Shannon brought in yet another outstanding recruiting class, and playing so many true freshmen in 2008 should help this season. There shouldn't be any quarterback drama this season, and Jacory Harris should only improve under first-year coordinator Mark Whipple. Defensive coordinator is still a question mark, though.

5. North Carolina -- Never count out a Butch Davis-coached team, but the Tar Heels will be a question mark until a new batch of receivers proves otherwise. Brooks Foster, Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks accounted for 114 receptions in 2008, and all three have left for the NFL. Safety Trimane Goddard is arguably the biggest loss on defense.

6. NC State -- If the Pack stay healthy -- something they haven't been able to do for the past two seasons -- NC State could be the sleeper in the Atlantic Division. It has to replace tight end Anthony Hill and running back Andre Brown, though, and 2007 leading receiver Donald Bowens will miss spring practice because of knee surgery.

7. Clemson -- Speedy playmakers C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford are back, but they'll be under the direction of a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator. Let's see how the Tigers do without any expectations for a change.

8. Maryland -- The Terps graduated 30 seniors and junior receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey left for the NFL. One of the biggest question marks is how they'll fare up front after the graduation of three starting offensive linemen, including All-ACC center Edwin Williams. The defense, which loses four starters from its front seven, will be led by first-year coordinator Don Brown.

9. Wake Forest -- The good news for the Deacs is the offensive line should better, and they return veteran quarterback Riley Skinner. The bad news is they'll sorely miss some of the best defensive players the program has had in recent years, along with kicker Sam Swank.

10. Virginia -- If quarterback Jameel Sewell makes a smooth transition back into the lineup and quickly learns the new offense, the Cavs could surprise some people this season. They'll have to replace all three starters at linebacker, though, and will miss starting receivers Kevin Ogletree and Maurice Covington, as well as leading rusher Cedric Peerman.

11. Boston College -- Consider this a rebuilding year for the Eagles. The loss of defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace will have an effect up front. With a new staff, a small recruiting class and a young starting quarterback, the only direction for BC to head is up.

12. Duke -- The Blue Devils have arguably one of the league's top quarterbacks in Thaddeus Lewis, but he won't have Eron Riley to throw it to this season. Duke also loses ACC-leading tackler Michael Tauiliili at linebacker. Still, the Blue Devils should take another step forward in their second season under David Cutcliffe.

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 3, 2009
2/03/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The official invitation list for the NFL scouting combine is out, and there are plenty of ACC players who will participate in the four-day job interview in Indianapolis from Feb. 18-24. Just because a player didn't make the list doesn't mean he won't be drafted, but here are the ACC players by school who were invited to the combine:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Kevin Akins, cornerback/linebacker

Ron Brace, defensive tackle

B.J. Raji, defensive tackle

CLEMSON

Chris Clemons, safety

James Davis, running back

Michael Hamlin, safety

Cullen Harper, quarterback

Aaron Kelly, receiver

Dorell Scott, defensive tackle

FLORIDA STATE

Everette Brown, defensive end

Graham Gano, punter/placekicker

GEORGIA TECH

Andrew Gardner, offensive tackle

Michael Johnson, defensive end

Darryl Richard, defensive tackle

Vance Walker, defensive tackle

Jahi Word-Daniels, cornerback

MARYLAND

Kevin Barnes, cornerback

Moise Fokou, outside linebacker

Dan Gronkowski, tight end

Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver

Jaimie Thomas, offensive guard

Edwin Williams, center

MIAMI

Bruce Johnson, cornerback

NORTH CAROLINA

Brooks Foster, wide receiver

Hakeem Nicks, wide recevier

Richard Quinn, tight end

Garrett Reynolds, offensive tackle

Brandon Tate, wide receiver

NC STATE

Andre Brown, running back

Anthony Hill, tight end

VIRGINIA

Eugene Monroe, offensive tackle

Kevin Ogletree, wide receiver

Cedric Peerman, tailback

John Phillips, tight end

Clint Sintim, linebacker

VIRGINIA TECH

Victor "Macho" Harris, cornerback

Orion Martin, defensive end

WAKE FOREST

Stanley Arnoux, linebacker

Aaron Curry, linebacker

Alphonso Smith, cornerback

Sam Swank, punter/placekicker

Chip Vaughn, safety

All-ACC 2008

December, 10, 2008
12/10/08
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

OFFENSE

QB -- Russell Wilson, NC State
RB -- Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
RB -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson
TE -- John Phillips, Virginia
OL -- Eugene Monroe, Virginia
OL -- Matt Tennant, Boston College
OL -- Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
OL -- Edwin Williams, Maryland
OL -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
WR -- Hakeem Nicks, UNC
WR -- D.J. Boldin, Wake Forest
K -- Graham Gano, Florida State

DEFENSE

LB -- Clint Sintim, Virginia
LB -- Michael Tauiliili, Duke
LB -- Mark Herzlich, Boston College
LB -- Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
DL -- Everette Brown, Florida State
DL -- Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
DL -- B.J. Raji, Boston College
DB -- Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
DB -- Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
S -- Trimane Goddard, North Carolina
S -- Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech

SPECIALIST

C.J. Spiller

PUNTER

Travis Baltz, Maryland

ACSMA All-Conference ACC team announced

December, 1, 2008
12/01/08
4:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association announced its All-Conference teams today. Please note that this is not ESPN.com's list. This is the 2008 Associated Press all-ACC football team as voted on by 67 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

NOTE: A first-team vote was worth two points and second team vote one. An asterisk denotes unanimous selection.

OFFENSE
FIRST TEAM
QB: Russell Wilson, N.C. State (106)
RB: Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (134)*
RB: Da'Rel Scott, Maryland (76)
WR: Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina (130)
WR: D.J. Boldin, Wake Forest (76)
TE: John Phillips, Virginia (88)
OT: Eugene Monroe, Virginia (117)
OT: Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech (107)
OG: Rodney Hudson, Florida State (99)
OG: Cliff Ramsey, Boston College (78)
C: Edwin Williams, Maryland (62)

SECOND TEAM
QB: Thaddeus Lewis, Duke (28)
RB: Darren Evans, Virginia Tech (58)
RB: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (50)
WR: Eron Riley, Duke (57)
WR: Aaron Kelly, Clemson (56)
TE: Ryan Purvis, Boston College (45)
OT: Garrett Reynolds, North Carolina (42)
OT: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (41)
OG: Sergio Render, Virginia Tech (48)
OG: Cord Howard, Georgia Tech (45)
C: Thomas Austin, Clemson (48)

DEFENSE
FIRST TEAM
DE: Everette Brown, Florida State (131)
DE: Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech (99)
DT: B.J. Raji, Boston College (103)
DT: Vance Walker, Georgia Tech (62)
LB: Mark Herzlich, Boston College (118)
LB: Michael Tauiliili, Duke (110)
LB: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest (106)
CB: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (134)*
CB: Victor Harris, Virginia Tech (125)
S: Trimane Goddard, North Carolina (105)
S: Michael Hamlin, Clemson (89)

SECOND TEAM
DE: Orion Martin, Virginia Tech (61)
DE: Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech (39)
DT: Ron Brace, Boston College (52)
DT: Darryl Richard, Georgia Tech (50)
LB: Clint Sintim, Virginia (79)
LB: Alex Wujciak, Maryland (43)
LB: Mark Paschal, North Carolina (40)
CB: Ras-I Dowling, Virginia (49)
CB: Tony Carter, Florida State (34)
CB: Kendric Burney, North Carolina (34)
S: Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (85)
S: Myron Rolle, Florida State (55)

SPECIAL TEAMS
FIRST TEAM
K: Graham Gano, Florida State (127)
P: Travis Baltz, Maryland (105)
Specialist: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (66)

SECOND TEAM
K: Matt Bosher, Miami (34)
P: Matt Bosher, Miami (60)
Specialist: Michael Ray Garvin, Florida State (41)

HONORABLE MENTION

OFFENSE: Riley Skinner, qb, Wake Forest (26); Antone Smith, rb, Florida State (33); Cedric Peerman, rb, Virginia (30); Darius Heyward-Bey, wr, Maryland (34); Kevin Ogletree, wr, Virginia (32); Dan Gronkowski, te, Maryland (41); Scott Burley, ot, Maryland (34); Thomas Claiborne, og, Boston College (38); Calvin Darity, og, North Carolina (34); Jaimie Thomas, og, Maryland (33); Nick Marshman, og, Virginia Tech (24); Ryan McMahon, c, Florida State (35); Matt Tennant, c, Boston College (33); Ryan Shuman, c, Virginia Tech (23).

DEFENSE: Derrick Morgan, de, Georgia Tech (26); Willie Young, de, N.C. State (25); Vince Oghobaase, dt, Duke (40); Boo Robinson, de, Wake Forest (31); Jeremy Navarre, dt, Maryland (29); Nate Irving, lb, N.C. State (28); Paul Anderson, s, Boston College (35); Anthony Reddick, s, Miami (23).

SPECIAL TEAMS: Dustin Keys, k, Virginia Tech (25); Brandon Tate, spec., North Carolina (33); T.J. Graham, spec., N.C. State (31).

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