ACC: EJ Manuel

ACC Week 6: Did you know?

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
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Here a handful of statistical nuggets, with a tip of the cap, as always, to ESPN Stats & Info and sports information departments across the conference.

MARYLAND: Maryland leads the FBS in defensive expected points on passing plays (+69.5), and is one of two teams to allow just one passing touchdown. Defensive EPA is a measure of the expected points that a defense contributes to its net points in a game as a result of controlling field position, forcing turnovers and stopping its opponents.

FLORIDA STATE: Quarterback Jameis Winston has posted a Total QBR of 92.0, fourth highest among FBS quarterbacks. He has had at least two pass touchdowns in all four games and leads the ACC with 12. Winston has the fourth-best completion percentage (73.6 percent) and third-most yards per attempt (11.5) in the FBS. Last season, EJ Manuel had a Total QBR of 70.0, 26th among qualified quarterbacks.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers defense has posted back-to-back weeks of limiting opponents to less than 200 yards of offense for the first time since 1972. Virginia held VMI to 79 yards and Pitt to 199. When Virginia last accomplished this 41 years ago, it held Vanderbilt to 188 yards and VMI to 122. The Cavaliers area leading the nation in forcing three-and-outs, at 8.5 per game. Their third-down defense ranks No. 5 nationally, holding opponents to a .239 success rate.

NORTH CAROLINA: Quarterback Bryn Renner is one of six scholarship Tar Heels from Virginia, hailing from West Springfield. His father, Bill, was a Hokies punter from 1979-82 before playing for the Green Bay Packers. This will mark Renner's 30th career start. He leads the ACC and is 24th nationally in passing yards (279.3 ypg). His seven touchdown passes this year have given him 61 for his career, and he is seven away from Darian Durant's school record of 68.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies picked off two passes in last week's upset win at Georgia Tech, giving them 11 for the season, the most in the nation. They had 13 all of last season. Since the start of the 200 season, however, they have tallied 251 interceptions, which are 20 more than any other FBS team during that time span. Not surprisingly, Virginia Tech's pass defense is tops in the ACC, surrendering just 138.2 yards per game through the air. Things may only get better for the Hokies if cornerback Antone Exum plays after being cleared to practice this week following his offseason knee injury.

BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles may just be the most disciplined team in the country under new head coach Steve Addazio. They have been penalized just eight times through four games, good for the nation's top mark (2.0 ppg). BC also leads the nation in fewest penalty yards per game (22.25).

NC STATE: The Wolfpack defense has been strong in the fourth quarter this season, giving up an average of 35.8 rushing yards, 38.5 passing yards and 74.3 yards of total offense over 60 total minutes of fourth-quarter action in 2013. NC State has forced five punts and five turnovers in 14 fourth-quarter possessions.

WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe is 31-10 for his career in games against fellow North Carolina schools, but he is just 6-6 against NC State, which has the best record against him among schools in-state. Grobe is three wins away from becoming the winningest coach in Demon Deacon history, as his 75 are two behind "Peahead" Walker.

CLEMSON: The Tigers are one of three FBS teams that have not thrown an interception yet. New Mexico and Oregon are the others. Of those three, Clemson has by far the most pass attempts (154). Oregon has 116, New Mexico has 54. Clemson has committed just two turnovers overall this season, tied for the fewest in FBS with Louisville and Oregon. Clemson also has 28 offensive touchdowns on plays of 25 yards or more since the start of last season, most in the ACC and tied for fourth-most in the FBS. The Tigers will be making their first trip to New York since Nov. 8, 1952, when they played Fordham to a 12-12 tie. Their only other game in the Empire State was an Oct. 2, 1937 loss to Army, 21-6.

SYRACUSE: The Orange are looking for their first win against an AP top-three team since 1984, when Dick MacPherson’s team knocked off Tom Osborne’s No. 1 Nebraska. Syracuse is 0-8 against AP top-three teams since then. Quarterback Terrel Hunt hasn’t exactly been tested yet, but he’s performed well in his limited action so far. Hunt has a 98.9 Total QBR on the year, but most of his participation came in two games: against Tulane and FCS school Wagner.

GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets will be playing their fourth conference game of the season, while Miami has yet to play its first ACC game. Georgia Tech is one of four schools in the FBS that has already played three or more conference games. The others: Pitt (2-1 ACC), Florida Atlantic (0-3 CUSA) and Air Force (0-4 MWC). To put it in perspective, there are 39 FBS teams that have yet to play a conference game this season (Note: This excludes schools transitioning to FBS).

MIAMI: Quarterback Stephen Morris has an 82.4 Total QBR in the first half and an ACC-low 10.3 Total QBR in the second half this season. The Hurricanes are 4-0 for the first time since 2004, when they started out 6-0 and climbed to No. 3 in the AP poll. They are also one of four schools to rank in the top 10 in the FBS in both scoring offense (ninth) and scoring defense (seventh).
Nearly four years ago, I sat in the press box at Wake Forest to watch a ballyhooed redshirt freshman quarterback make his first start for Florida State.

EJ Manuel did not have a fancy nickname, nor did he have the national spotlight on him. But he did have elite prep credentials as one of the top quarterback prospects in the class of 2008.

Jameis Winston
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesJameis Winston was sensational in his first career start for FSU and gets to build off that in his home debut against Nevada.
He did not disappoint in that first start, showing poise, promise and confidence filling in for an injured Christian Ponder, running the Noles offense to near perfection in a 41-28 victory.

After the game, somebody joked to Ponder, "You finally got a real quarterback."

"Finally!" Ponder replied. "That was obviously a big difference."

I was reminded of that moment last week, when I watched Jameis Winston make his first career start for Florida State. Manuel impressed me on that game day in November; Winston blew me away with his performance against Pitt, leaving me shaking my head at times over some of the plays he made in his very first game.

Manuel, on the other hand, had played mop-up duty before making his first career start. While it is a stretch to say Manuel had extensive playing experience, he at least did have a few snaps under him before he started his first game. He had nearly an entire season as the backup to Ponder before making his first start, too.

Winston had more hype surrounding him, more pressure on him, and a national television audience watching his first collegiate snaps on a Monday night. And yet, Winston was better, going 25-of-27 for 356 yards with five total touchdowns. Compare that to Manuel, excellent in his own right against Wake: 15-of-20 for 220 yards with two total touchdowns and one interception.

Florida State scored 41 points in both victories, by the way. Unlike Manuel, however, Winston has turned into a national sensation in just one game. The two, however, are more alike in one key area: their ability to elevate Florida State.

When I watched Manuel, I believed he could take Florida State to the next level. At that time, the next level meant making the Seminoles ACC champions again. When Manuel stepped in for Ponder, Florida State was 4-5. Bobby Bowden was on the way out. And the program was in disarray.

But Manuel went 3-1 to close out the season, and was selected MVP of the Gator Bowl, sending Bowden out with a win in the final game of his career.

Florida State was a mess. But in a few years' time, the Noles became ACC champions again and got back to a BCS game -- with Manuel leading the way. While it is true Manuel took his fair share of criticism for coming up small in the biggest games, he did take the program further than any Florida State quarterback in the last 10 years.

He also became a first-round pick in Buffalo and an NFL starter as a rookie, nearly engineering an upset of New England in Week 1 -- going 18-of-27 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Manuel deserves heaps of credit. Because now, Florida State has what it takes to elevate itself to the next level and become a national contender again.

Enter Winston.

Anybody who watched his debut realizes the Noles have a special player running the offense. As Bowden told colleague Mark Schlabach, "A great quarterback can overcome your weaknesses and deficiencies, but an average quarterback can't."

It appears Florida State has a great quarterback, already earning Heisman consideration after one game and comparisons to Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, who won the award as a redshirt freshman. Winston seems to be the total package, with the physical talent and necessary intangibles star quarterbacks possess.

He has a long way to go, but the reasons for optimism are understandable. Manuel got Florida State to the point where someone like Winston can put them over the top.

Florida State season preview

August, 20, 2013
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Today, we're checking in on Florida State, where Jimbo Fisher looks to build on his first ACC title and Orange Bowl win while breaking in a new quarterback and a slew of new assistant coaches.

Florida State Seminoles

Coach: Jimbo Fisher (31-10 overall, 31-10 at FSU)

2012 record: 12-2 (7-1 ACC)

Key losses: QB EJ Manuel, RB Chris Thompson, FB Lonnie Pryor, DE Cornellius Carradine, DE Bjoern Werner, CB Xavier Rhodes

Key returnees: WR Rashad Greene, RB James Wilder Jr., RB Devonta Freeman, CB Lamarcus Joyner, LB Christian Jones, DT Timmy Jernigan

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesJameis Winston's intelligence might be as impressive as his physical tools, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Newcomer to watch: QB Jameis Winston. The redshirt freshman hasn't officially been tabbed as the starter yet, but fans have already anointed him the second coming of Charlie Ward. That's not a fair comparison, of course -- Ward won a Heisman and a national title, Winston has yet to take a snap. But it's also possible Winston could blossom into an even more prodigious quarterback. He's got a big arm, good mobility and a football IQ that Fisher says is off the charts. Expecations are huge for the Hueytown, Ala., native, but that doesn't mean he won't live up to them.

Biggest games in 2013: at Pittsburgh, Sept. 2; at Clemson, Oct. 19; vs. Miami, Nov. 2; at Florida, Nov. 30

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: Fisher suggested earlier this month that he liked his defensive line this year better than last, but that's something of a tough sell. Florida State lost three former All-ACC defensive ends to the NFL draft along with both of its starting tackles. Yes, there's ample talent waiting in the wings, led by Jernigan and Mario Edwards Jr., but replacing Werner, Carradine and Co. won't be an easy task.

Forecast: This is the rare season in which Florida State appears to be sliding beneath the radar. Clemson is the odds-on favorite, the Seminoles are in transition, and the usual preseason buzz that surrounds the program has been little more than a murmur.

That's exactly how Florida State wants it.

Certainly there are question marks, as Fisher had to replace six assistant coaches, his starting quarterback and a slew of top defenders, but there's also a lot of talent. Florida State lost 11 players to the NFL draft, but cupboard isn't bare. Winston brings immense potential to an offense still stacked with experienced veterans, while Jernigan, Jones, Joyner and others on defense have All-American potential.

Whether it all coalesces into a second straight ACC title is a bigger question. The schedule won't do Florida State any favors, from the opener at Pittsburgh to the regular-season finale at Florida, the toughest games are away from home. And none will be bigger than the Oct. 19 date with Clemson, an emerging rivalry in which the winner has taken the division in each of the past four years.

There is time, of course, for Winston to get his feet wet and for the defense to master new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's system before the Clemson game arrives. If they can, the conference won't be as cut-and-dry as the preseason prognosticators have promised, and the Seminoles won't fly under the radar for long.
We’ve got less than two weeks until our planes take off for Greensboro, N.C., the site of this year’s ACC Football Kickoff, where members of the media meet with players and coaches for two days of interviews. In order to help us get to the unofficial start of the season, we’re counting down 10 of the most interesting storylines in the ACC this fall:

No. 8: How will the new quarterbacks fare?

There are plenty of them in the conference to watch this fall, and several schools -- like Pitt, Syracuse and NC State -- who still don’t know who their starter will be. No rookie will face more scrutiny, though, than Florida State’s Jameis Winston. He has been hailed as The Answer by many, the team’s preseason offensive MVP, but he has yet to take a snap in a collegiate game. Life after EJ Manuel begins with more hype than hardware. At Georgia Tech, the Jackets might have gotten an upgrade in first-year starter Vad Lee, but will we see what his arm can really do if there aren’t any dependable receivers to throw it to? Duke was impressed with the leadership and skills of first-year starter Anthony Boone this past spring, and those within the program have said he has a stronger arm than his predecessor, Sean Renfree, and is more mobile. Does he have what it takes, though, to get Duke back to a bowl game for a second straight season? Who knows what’s going on at Virginia since the departures of Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims, the top two options from a year ago. At Pitt, Tom Savage, who transferred from Rutgers and Arizona, hasn’t taken a snap in a game since 2010. Veteran quarterbacks will highlight the ACC this fall, but it’s the unproven ones who could be X factors in the ACC race.

The countdown:
  • No. 10: Can Duke get back to a bowl game?
  • No. 9: Can UNC earn a real ring?

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 31, 2013
5/31/13
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Have a great weekend!
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher is worried about his quarterback.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsJameis Winston's legend includes his two-TD performance in FSU's spring game that was followed by a performance in a baseball game.
Actually, that's not entirely right. Jameis Winston has inspired nothing but confidence -- from teammates, from fans and from his coach. And that's the problem.

Winston has yet to take a snap in a college game, but that's little more than a footnote to a mythology that has fans dreaming of Heisman trophies and national championships. The standards by which Winston is already being judged are immeasurably high, and that's where Fisher sees a need to intervene.

"You keep him realistic, tell him what's real and not real," Fisher said. "You let everybody else be legends and hype."

If only it were that simple.

Winston's career is still in its infancy, but the legend is ubiquitously fully grown. Fisher has tried to temper enthusiasm, but that's only served to provide an air of mystery that has made Winston into something of a cult hero.

He tossed a football over a fraternity house from 30 yards away, with accompanying viral video. He's wowed teammates and analysts who've gotten a behind-the-scenes look at his arm, with some already pegging him as a future No. 1 overall draft pick. After passing on a baseball contract out of high school, he's played a key role on Florida State's baseball team, blossoming into one of the Seminoles' best bullpen arms, touching 97 on the radar gun. He's split his attention between two sports, but still came out on top during this spring's quarterback competition, delivering his closing statement by tossing a 58-yard touchdown past All-ACC defensive back Lamarcus Joyner on his first pass in FSU's spring game.

And so the legend grows, with virtually no expectation too high for the redshirt freshman. Winston is Superman, and fans aren't fooled by the Clark Kent persona Fisher is so intent on creating.

"It's great to write, but you have to be so great that you can't live up to it and you just build disappointment for the guy," Fisher said. "Let's be careful, let him play."

So what happens when Winston actually does take the field?

History offers little precedent for instant success, and Winston is all too aware of the potential pitfalls.

"It's easy to ignore [the hype] because last year I sat the bench for a whole year and didn't see the field," Winston said. "That was the easiest thing to get over. I came on the Florida State campus, and it's like, 'Oh yeah, Jameis, you're going to have to sit the bench.' All that hype and all that other stuff, you've got to prove that."

Instead, Winston spent much of last season proving to his teammates that he was ready for the job.

Despite the redshirt, Winston was a fixture on the sideline for every road trip. Fisher wanted to give him a taste of a hostile environment early, and Winston loved it. He was the Seminoles' biggest cheerleader, sprinting up and down the sidelines and barking praise after every big play.

At practice, he worked largely with the scout team, mimicking FSU's best offensive opponents each week. He'd play the role of Tajh Boyd or Logan Thomas to great fanfare, and slowly his teammates began to see the potential firsthand.

"You could see on the scout team last year, so much confidence, making completions you see guys like EJ [Manuel] make," Joyner said. "You have no choice but to see the talent and the uniqueness that kid has."

It's Winston's confidence that might be the X-factor.

Fisher is right to preach temperance at this point. He's heard the comparisons to Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, who won a Heisman last season as a redshirt freshman, and he's seen the exuberance of fans eager to see Winston follow that same path. That's a high bar to exceed.

But if Fisher's role is to curb the enthusiasm, Winston is happy to add fuel to the fire.

"Jameis is always smiling, like he never has a doubt in his mind that his pass will never hit the ground," receiver Kelvin Benjamin said.

He'll dance during stretching, crack jokes on the sideline, laugh in the huddle.

"He's got energy, always likes to joke around, and guys take to that," linebacker Christian Jones said. "They like to be around a guy like that. He's always in a good mood, always happy, and guys just gravitate to that."

In fact, those comparisons to Manziel might be too conservative. After all, the Texas A&M quarterback isn't playing baseball, too.

Ask Winston for an archetype he hopes to emulate and the responses include Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson. They didn't simply excel on one field, but transcended multiple sports.

"Their mind didn't get pushed in either direction," Winston said. "So that's what I'm thinking."

So as Winston prepares for his maiden voyage with Florida State's offense, perhaps it's not the legend being created by his legions of fans that matters, and perhaps Fisher's pleas for patience don't matter at all.

Winston isn't overly concerned with stardom, but he's immensely confident that he'll get where he wants to be. And if that happens, the legend will only grow, and the hype will become reality.

"Jameis is going to be a great player," Manuel said. "He has the want to to want to be great. It's a difference between a guy who just kind of talks the talk, but Jameis will be one of those guys who actually goes out there and does it."

100-days checklist: ACC

May, 21, 2013
5/21/13
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As of today, there are 100 days until the start of the college football season.

You bet we’re counting.

If you’re Scot Loeffler, Virginia Tech's new offensive coordinator, 100 days must feel like a nanosecond. The Hokies aren’t the only ones, though, with plenty of work to do before the season begins. Here’s a checklist of five things the ACC and its teams must accomplish before the opening kickoff:

1. Name starting quarterbacks. Syracuse can’t even talk about Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen yet because he’s not on campus and won’t enroll until next month, but the Orange are just one of several teams in the ACC that still have an ongoing quarterback competition. Virginia’s quarterback controversy has seemingly gone on for years, and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has yet to officially anoint Jameis Winston as EJ Manuel’s successor. Pitt is also still searching for a dependable leader, along with NC State.

2. Find an offense in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech has become one of the ACC’s brand-name programs, a consistent winner and a representative in the Top 25 and BCS standings. That changed last season when the Hokies bumbled their way through their most disappointing season in 20 years. Coach Frank Beamer made sweeping changes to his offensive staff, but little improvement was seen in the spring game. Loeffler said it wasn’t a true indication of the progress that was made in the other 13 practices, but also conceded there is still a lot of work to be done. With Alabama looming in the season opener, all eyes will be on the ACC in Week 1. When the Hokies are good, the ACC is better.

3. Improve defensively. With the exception of Florida State, which finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country in scoring defense, 2012 wasn’t a banner year for ACC defenses. The conference usually has some of the nation’s best defenses -- including Boston College -- but there was no Luke Kuechly and no identity for the Eagles last fall. Miami beat Duke 52-45. Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 68-50. Clemson beat NC State 62-48. Clemson took a major step forward defensively with its bowl win against LSU, but the defense must become elite in its second season under coordinator Brent Venables if Clemson is going to be a national-title contender.

4. Minimize the turnovers. Virginia Tech was No. 86 in turnover margin last year, and quarterback Logan Thomas threw three picks in the spring game. Boston College was No. 88 in the country in turnover margin, FSU No. 93, NC State No. 99, Maryland No. 104, Virginia No. 110. That’s almost half the league ranked among the worst in the country in turnover margin. The Hokies play Alabama. Virginia plays Oregon. BC plays at USC. FSU is at Florida, and the Seminoles turned it over five times versus the Gators in FSU's 37-26 loss last year. The Gators scored 10 points off turnovers in that game. If the ACC is going to stand a chance, it can’t give away freebies.

5. Stay out of the trainer’s room. Virginia Tech standout corner Antone Exum is still rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered in a pickup basketball game. The bulk of Wake Forest’s offensive line was walking wounded all spring, and that group will make or break the Deacons' season. Clemson backup quarterback Chad Kelly and starting tight end Sam Cooper both tore their ACLs this spring. If the ACC is going to beat the best this fall, it needs its best players on the field. For some programs, like Boston College, the depth isn’t there to afford injuries.

Video: EJ Manuel on Florida State

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
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Phil Murphy talks with former Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel about the transition from Bobby Bowden to Jimbo Fisher, passing the torch to new quarterback Jameis Winston and lessons learned at Florida State that will help upon arrival in Buffalo.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
2012 record: 12-2
2012 conference record: 7-1
Returning starters: Offense 6, Defense 5, Kicker/Punter 1

Top returners

WR Rashad Greene, LT Cameron Erving, C Bryan Stork, LB Christian Jones, LB Telvin Smith, DB Lamarcus Joyner, DT Timmy Jernigan

Key losses

QB EJ Manuel, RT Menelik Watson, RB Chris Thompson, DE Bjoern Werner, DE Cornellius Carradine, CB Xavier Rhodes, K Dustin Hopkins

2012 statistical leaders (*returning)

Rushing: Chris Thompson (687 yards)
Passing: EJ Manuel (3,392 yards)
Receiving: Rashad Greene* (741 yards)
Tackles: Christian Jones* (95)
Sacks: Bjoern Werner (13)
Interceptions: Xavier Rhodes, Tyler Hunter* (3)

Spring answers:

1. Changes on D: New coordinator Jeremy Pruitt brought a slew of new schemes with him from Alabama, meaning the FSU defense won't look all that much like the one that finished second in the nation in 2012. With the loss of five former starters from the defensive line, that's probably a good thing. Pruitt's scheme will be more aggressive and bring a lot more blitzes, allowing FSU to get pressure from other areas.

2. Beating Hart: When right tackle Menelik Watson made the somewhat surprising decision to leave FSU after just a year to enter the NFL draft, all eyes turned to junior Bobby Hart, whose turbulent career with the Seminoles was already well documented. Hart started as a 17-year-old freshman in 2011, but problems with his work ethic derailed his sophomore season and he found himself on the bench. He appeared to work his way back into line coach Rick Trickett's good graces by the end of the spring, however, and he'll be crucial to maintaining the continuity of the line without Watson.

3. Famous Jameis: Jimbo Fisher still isn't calling the contest over, but it certainly looks like redshirt freshman Jameis Winston is in the driver's seat to take over for Manuel as FSU's new starting quarterback. Winston shined throughout the spring and delivered a monster performance in the Seminoles' Garnet and Gold game, completing 13 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. A week later, junior QB Clint Trickett announced he was transferring.

Fall questions:

1. Winston, Part II: Yes, the spring was impressive for Winston, but as Fisher was quick to point out, he'll need to pick up right where he left off in the fall if FSU is going to make a smooth transition at a position that's been remarkably stable for the past five years. Jacob Coker remains in competition -- and he should be fully healed after breaking a bone in his foot that limited this spring -- but the loss of Trickett puts a lot of pressure on Winston to step up, particularly with a daunting road contest at new ACC member Pittsburgh looming in the season opener.

2. New-look secondary: Lamarcus Joyner appeared to make a relatively smooth transition from safety to corner, but FSU didn't get much of a look at what will constitute the secondary in 2013. Key players such as Tyler Hunter, Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby were all hurt, while promising freshman Jalen Ramsey had yet to arrive. The group will finally all work together during fall camp.

3. Just for kicks: Redshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo showed off his powerful leg during FSU's spring game, connecting on three long field goals, including a 58-yarder to close out the game. Still, replacing the NCAA's all-time leading scorer among kickers won't be an easy task. Dustin Hopkins was as reliable as it gets for FSU, and Aguayo still needs to show he can handle the pressure of making a big kick with the game on the line.

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
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Hope you had a great weekend.
Florida State followed up its big first round with a huge NFL draft weekend, as the Seminoles led every program in the nation with 11 total picks, setting a new school record.

That's right. The Noles had more picks than national champion Alabama (nine) and SEC power LSU (nine), two schools that played for the national championship following the 2011 season. More than in-state rival Florida (eight), too.

Those numbers are clear validation the Seminoles have restocked their cupboards with an inordinate amount of talent as they re-emerge in the national conversation.

"It’s a great indication of how the program is truly developing," coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. “I think it shows we’re getting back to national prominence. Our players are doing a great job of representing themselves on and off the field leading to chances at the next level. I’m happy for all of these guys and want to thank them for helping return this program back to the national spotlight."

Overall, the ACC had 31 players taken for the ninth straight season, finishing second behind the SEC.

Here is a quick look back at all the selections:

First round
  • No. 7 Jonathan Cooper, OG, Arizona
  • No. 16 EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo
  • No. 24 Bjoern Werner, DE, Indianapolis
  • No. 25 Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota
  • No. 27 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston
  • No. 28 Sylvester Williams, DT, Denver
Second round
  • No. 37 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
  • No. 40 Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, San Francisco
  • No. 42 Menelik Watson, OT, Oakland
  • No. 51 David Amerson, CB, NC State
Third round
  • No. 73 Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay
  • No. 89 Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
Fourth round
  • No. 127 Malliciah Goodman, DE, Atlanta
Fifth round
  • No. 136 Earl Wolff, S, Philadelphia
  • No. 141 Oday Aboushi, OG, New York Jets
  • No. 143 Jonathan Meeks, S, Buffalo
  • No. 149 Brandon McGee, CB, St. Louis
  • No. 154 Chris Thompson, RB, Washington
  • No. 162 Brandon Jenkins, LB, Washington
Sixth round
  • No. 171 Corey Fuller, WR, Detroit
  • No. 173 Vinston Painter, OT, Denver
  • No. 177 Dustin Hopkins, PK, Buffalo
  • No. 180 Nick Moody, LB, San Francisco
  • No. 187 Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona
  • No. 189 Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay
  • No. 206 Vince Williams, LB, Pittsburgh
Seventh round
  • No. 214 Travis Bond, OG, Minnesota
  • No. 215 Tommy Bohanon, FB, New York Jets
  • No. 224 Kevin Dorsey, WR, Green Bay
  • No. 229 Everett Dawkins, DT, Minnesota
  • No. 249 Sean Renfree, QB, Atlanta

Incoming member Syracuse had three players drafted as well: tackle Justin Pugh in the first round to the New York Giants; quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round to the Giants; and safety Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round to Pittsburgh.

And now a few notes:
  • North Carolina had the second-most picks from the ACC with five -- its highest total since five were picked in 2011. The Tar Heels had three offensive linemen selected, the most from UNC in the draft since 1967.
  • Miami had its NFL draft streak extended to 39 consecutive seasons with Brandon McGee and Mike James both getting selected.
  • Virginia also had its draft streak extended to 30 straight seasons with Aboushi's selection.
  • Tommy Bohanon Bohanon became just the third Wake Forest fullback to have his name called in the draft, joining Ovie Mughelli (Ravens, 2003) and Neil MacLean (Eagles, 1958).
  • With four selections in this year's draft, Clemson has now had 23 players chosen over the last five years, and at least four every year Dabo Swinney has been head coach. It is the first time in history Clemson has had at least four players drafted each of the last five years.
  • Georgia Tech did not have a player selected for the first time since 2005. Three players with draft hopes ended up with free agent deals: T.J. Barnes (Jacksonville), Izaan Cross (Buffalo) and Rod Sweeting (New Orleans).
  • Pitt did not have a player drafted for the second consecutive season. Running back Ray Graham, who was the Panthers' best hope for selection, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Texans.
  • Here are a few other notable free-agent signings: Conner Vernon (Oakland), Chibuikem “Kenny” Okoro (San Diego), Marcus Davis (New York Giants), Lonnie Pryor (Jacksonville).

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
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Congrats to the ACC's first-rounders!
 

Most draft analysts expected a big first round for the ACC, so watching six picks come off the board Thursday night was no big surprise.

Watching EJ Manuel go before his more highly-rated Seminoles teammates, as the only quarterback taken among the first 32 selections? Well, that was the big draft day shocker.

The Buffalo Bills selected Manuel with the No. 16 overall pick, as new coach Doug Marrone passed over his former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in favor of the dual-threat Florida State product. Manuel was invited to New York for the draft, so certainly expectations were there for him to be a high pick.

But West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was expected to come off the board first. Speculation had linked Nassib to Buffalo for months, thanks to his connections with Marrone and his former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett. But in the end, Bills general manager Buddy Nix said of Manuel, "This guy to us has got the upside to be whatever you want him to be."

For those scoring at home, the Seminoles have had quarterbacks drafted in the first round twice in the past three drafts. Christian Ponder went to the Minnesota Vikings in 2011. You have to believe coach Jimbo Fisher will be dropping that little nugget every time he sets foot on the recruiting trail.

Manuel was the first of three Seminoles drafted in the first round. Defensive end Bjoern Werner went No. 24 to Indianapolis and cornerback Xavier Rhodes went next, at No. 25 to Minnesota. Both Werner and Rhodes were projected to go higher than Manuel in just about every mock draft. Florida State had three first-round picks for the first time since 2006.

As for the league as a whole, six players who spent their careers in the ACC went in the first round -- the highest total since seven were drafted in 2008. If you count Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh, then seven players at current/future ACC schools went on Day 1. Pugh became the highest drafted Orange player since Dwight Freeney was the 11th pick by the Colts in 2002.

Only the SEC had more picks on Day 1, with 12.

As expected, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper was the first ACC player taken, at No. 7 overall to Arizona. Teammate Sylvester Williams went No. 28 overall to Denver, giving the Tar Heels two first-round picks for the first time since 2002. Cooper became the first offensive guard taken in the top 10 since 1997.

Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins went No. 27 overall to the Houston Texans, making his decision to leave school early pay off. That seems to be the perfect fit for Hopkins, who gets to play with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Hopkins became the first Clemson wide receiver to be selected in the first round since Rod Gardner went No. 15 to the Washington Redskins in 2001.

So to review:
  • No. 7 Jonathan Cooper, OG, Arizona
  • No. 16 EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo
  • No. 19 Justin Pugh, OT, NY Giants
  • No. 24 Bjoern Werner, DE, Indianapolis
  • No. 25 Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota
  • No. 27 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston
  • No. 28 Sylvester Williams, DT, Denver

The second and third rounds resume Friday night in New York. Among the ACC players who stand a chance to get selected later today:

Previewing ACC in NFL draft

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
9:00
AM ET

NFL draft coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET tonight on ESPN and WatchESPN.com, but here is a one-stop shopping post for all of your last-minute mocks and talk:
  • First, let's take a look at who will be there: Florida State and North Carolina will represent the ACC with Bjoern Werner, Menelik Watson, Xavier Rhodes, EJ Manuel, and UNC's Jonathan Cooper.
  • KC Joyner says Rhodes could be one of the biggest steals of the draft.
  • The experts at Scouts Inc. projected all seven roundsInsider -- and the ACC will have two top-10 picks, depending on your take of the ACC at this particular point in time. If you want to count former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, then "the ACC" will have the No. 8 overall pick, going to former Cuse coach Doug Marrone, now with Buffalo. If you're like me, and not really willing to count Nassib in this group, then former UNC OG Jonathan Cooper is the ACC's top dawg at No. 11 overall. This is Insider content, so it's just a sneak peek, but you're going to have to wait until the second round to see EJ Manuel and the third round for Mike Glennon.
  • Todd McShay posted his Mock 5.1,Insider but he will also have an update this morning with his latest on the first round.
  • On Monday, Mel Kiper Jr. also released his latest, Mock Draft 4.1,Insider but his will also be updated as the draft nears, so check back. Meanwhile, put your own spin on Kiper's draft.
  • Our NFL bloggers also held their mock draft this week.
  • And there will be a live blog from Radio City Music Hall beginning at noon today.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
12:00
PM ET
No more spring ball. Sigh ...

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