ACC: Greg Boone

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
2009 overall record: 10-3

2009 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 5, punter/kicker 0

Top returners

QB Tyrod Taylor, TB Ryan Williams, TB Darren Evans, FL Danny Coale, SE Jarrett Boykin, DT John Graves, CB Rashad Carmichael, ROV Davon Morgan, LB Barquell Rivers

Key losses

TE Greg Boone, OT Ed Wang, OG Sergio Render, DE Jason Worilds, LB Cody Grimm, DT Cordarrow Thompson, DE Nekos Brown, CB Stephan Virgil, FS Kam Chancellor

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Williams* (1,655 yards)

Passing: Taylor* (2,311 yds)

Receiving: Boykin* (835 yds)

Tackles: Grimm (106)

Sacks: Brown (6.5)

Interceptions: Carmichael* (6)

Spring answers

1. Thomas makes a statement. Backup quarterback Logan Thomas -- at least according to the statistics -- had a better spring than Joseph “Ju-Ju” Clayton. Based on his performances, it would seem Thomas is the front-runner to back up Taylor this season, but coach Frank Beamer wasn’t ready to solidify that after the spring game. In six spring scrimmages, Thomas had no interceptions and Clayton threw five.

2. Evans can run -- over defenders. If Evans is suffering any lingering effects from last year’s torn ACL, it wasn’t evident during his first carry of the spring game when he ran over teammate and safety Antone Exum. Evans told reporters he’s feeling the best he has since he was injured. Beamer said he has no concerns about Evans being 100 percent this fall.

3. Strong secondary. It was one of the highlights this spring on a defense tasked with replacing six starters, including two in the secondary. Exum was one of the players who stood out in the spring game, as he had three pass breakups.

Fall questions

1. How will Evans and Williams be used? The spring game was a time to evaluate younger players, and with Williams sidelined for a bruised knee, there were no answers as to how the Hokies’ backfield might look this fall with two 1,000-yard rushers.

2. Will David Wilson redshirt? Wilson is a talented athlete in a crowded backfield, but he didn’t want to redshirt last season and played sparingly as a true freshman. Beamer said after the spring game that the coaches will make a decision “at the proper time.” That wasn’t this spring.

3. Groundhog’s Day in the kicking game. For the third straight year, the Hokies need a new place-kicker. If the season started tomorrow, Chris Hazley would handle field goals, Justin Myer kickoffs and Brian Saunders would punt, but the competition will continue this fall when freshmen join the team.

ACC all-conference team announced

November, 30, 2009
Here is the ACC's all: conference team, as voted upon by 40 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Please keep in mind that this is not the list.



QB: Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech (50)

RB: Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (67)

RB: Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech (63)

WR: Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech (63)

WR: Donovan Varner, Duke (50)

TE: George Bryan, NC State (39)

TE: Michael Palmer, Clemson (39)

OT: Jason Fox, Miami (57)

OT: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (53)

OG: Rodney Hudson, Florida State (54)

OG: Cord Howard, Georgia Tech (47)

C: Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech (45)

K: Matt Waldron, Virginia Tech (27)

K: Matt Bosher, Miami (27)

Spc: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (76)


DE: Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech (76)

DE: Robert Quinn, North Carolina (69)

DT: Nate Collins, Virginia (47)

DT: Allen Bailey, Miami (38)

LB: Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech (65)

LB: Luke Kuechly, Boston College (53)

LB: Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina (44)

LB: Alex Wujciak, Maryland (44)

CB: Kendric Burney, North Carolina (59)

CB: Brandon Harris, Miami (41)

S: DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (57)

S: Deunta Williams, North Carolina (53)

P: Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech (57)



QB: Thaddeus Lewis, Duke (18)

RB: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (62)

RB: Montel Harris, Boston College (39)

WR: Torrey Smith, Maryland (25)

WR: Jacoby Ford, Clemson (24)

TE: Greg Boone, Virginia Tech (16)

OT: Ed Wang, Virginia Tech (31)

OT: Chris Hairston, Clemson (26)

OG: Thomas Austin, Clemson (39)

OG: Sergio Render, Virginia Tech (37)

C: Matt Tennant, Boston College (29)

K: Casey Barth, North Carolina (21)

K: Will Snyderwine, Duke (21)

Spc: Torrey Smith, Maryland (17)


DE: Ricky Sapp, Clemson (29)

DE: Willie Young, NC State (24)

DE: Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech (24)

DT: Marvin Austin, North Carolina (32)

DT: John Russell, Wake Forest (29)

LB: Vincent Rey, Duke (29)

LB: Darryl Sharpton, Miami (21)

LB: Bruce Carter, North Carolina (17)

LB: Colin McCarthy, Miami (17)

LB: Dekoda Watson, Florida State (17)

CB: Ras-I Dowling, Virginia (26)

CB: Patrick Robinson, Florida State (26)

S: Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (51)

S: Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech (24)

P: Matt Bosher, Miami (37)

Virginia Tech-Nebraska lineup notes

September, 19, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone (SC joint sprain) is likely to start against Nebraska, while Stephan Virgil (knee) is still questionable. I just checked with a sports information director who said the staff wasn't even sure if Virgil would dress. They're going to try to get Boone in early, though, and see how he holds up.

The only possible lineup change for Nebraska is linebacker Phillip Dillard might start over Blake Lawrence at weakside linebacker. Dillard is a senior, and is a bit bulkier at 240 pounds to Lawrence's 225.

ACC injury reports

September, 18, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The weekly injury reports have all come in (some come in much later than others, which is why I wait until Friday mornings to do this). If you don't see 'em, they weren't sent. Maryland will miss Bruce Campbell again, Duke has a handful of key players who could miss the game at Kansas, including Vince Oghobaasse, Virginia is likely to be without Vic Hall, and Boston College will be without defensive tackle Damik Scafe. Not good news for any of those teams. It looks like UNC might -- might -- get Jonathan Cooper back on the offensive line. That would be a huge help.

Here are the full reports:


FB James McCluskey (Achilles) – OUT

LB Will Thompson (shoulder) – DOUBTFUL

WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee) – DOUBTFUL

LB Mike McLaughlin (Achilles) – DOUBTFUL

DT Damik Scafe (Neck/Shoulder) – DOUBTFUL


Out for the Season

J.K. Jay, OT, back


Michael Palmer, TE, hip


RB Re'quan Boyette (ankle) -- Probable

TE Danny Parker (ankle) -- Probable

RB Jay Hollingsworth (ankle) -- Questionable

DT Vince Oghobaase (leg) -- Questionable

WR Conner Vernon (ankle) -- Doubtful

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT

CB Randez James (hand) -- OUT

S Anthony Young-Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON



OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)

LB Aaron Gresham (knee)

DT Demonte McAllister (knee)

DT Justin Mincey (knee)

OT John Prior (knee)

LB Vince Williams (back)


RV Korey Mangum (shoulder)


Out for season:

Nolan Carroll (leg)


Louis Berman (leg)

Bruce Campbell (foot)

Jamari McCollough (foot)

Caleb Porzel (leg)

Joe Vellano (foot)


Tony Logan (shoulder)


Out (Season)

Carl Gaskins OL Knee

Matt Merletti S Knee

Out (Game)

Lowell Dyer C Shoulder

Dwight Jones WR Knee

Zack Pianalto TE Foot

Ryan Taylor TE Knee


Linwan Euwell LB Ankle

LeCount Fantroy CB Thigh


Jonathan Cooper OG Ankle

Devon Ramsay RB Thigh



Mario Carter, TE - knee

Denzelle Good, OL - shoulder

Nate Irving, LB - leg

Colby Jackson, FB - knee

Everett Proctor, QB - shoulder


Jamelle Eugene, HB - knee

Clem Johnson, S - thigh

Jeff Rieskamp, DE - hip

Jay Smith, WR - flu

Jake Vermiglio, OT - lower leg

Javon Walker, DB - knee

Julian Williams, OG/OT - flu

Johnson will be replaced by either Brandan Bishop or Justin Byers; Williams will be replaced by Andrew Wallace.



Bobby Smith (knee)


Vic Hall (hip)


Mikell Simpson (leg)


Denzel Burrell (hip)

BJ Cabbell (ankle)

Nate Collins (knee)

Matt Conrath (spine)

Chris Cook (hip)

John-Kevin Dolce (foot)

Ausar Walcott (knee)


Greg Boone (SC joint sprain) - probable

Stephan Virgil (knee) - questionable

Boone likely to return for Hokies

September, 17, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Good news for Virginia Tech, as tight end Greg Boone (SC joint sprain) is listed as probable for Saturday's game at Nebraska. Still not so sure about corner Stephan Virgil's return. He's questionable with a knee injury, which gives him about a 50-50 chance.

ACC injury reports

September, 11, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

There are some notable names that will/could be missing this weekend, including Bobby Rome, Lowell Dyer, Greg Boone, Stephan Virgil, Bruce Campbell, Jameel Sewell, Jamelle Eugene, Vic Hall and Jake Vermiglio. Here are the full reports that came in throughout the league from each school's sports information department:

  • LB Will Thompson (shoulder) -- OUT
  • LB Mike McLaughlin (Achilles) -- OUT
  • FB James McCluskey (Achilles) -- OUT
  • WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee) -- OUT
  • DT Kaleb Ramsey (ankle) -- PROBABLE
  • RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT
  • CB Randez James (hand) -- OUT
  • S Anthony Young--Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

  • OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)
  • DT Justin Mincey (knee)
  • OT John Prior (knee)
  • LB Vince Williams (back)


  • Donald Bowens, WR – knee
  • Ryan Cheek, LB -- hip
  • Wayne Crawford, C -- foot
  • Jamelle Eugene, HB -- knee
  • DeAndre Morgan, CB – ankle
  • Jeff Rieskamp, DE -- hip
  • Jake Vermiglio, OT – lower leg
  • Javon Walker, S -- knee
Depth chart changes due to injuries: Julian Williams will move into Vermiglio's spot at tackle and Andy Barbee will start at guard. Henry Lawson will be the backup at center. James Washington will be the second-team halfback.


Out (Season)
  • Carl Gaskins OL -- Knee
  • Matt Merletti S -- Knee
Out (Game)
  • Jonathan Cooper OG -- Ankle
  • Lowell Dyer C -- Shoulder
  • Jordan Nix DT -- Illness
  • Bobby Rome FB -- Illness
  • Terry Shankle DB -- Illness

  • Vic Hall (hip)
  • Dontrelle Inman (hand)
  • Lamar Milstead (ankle)
  • Bill Schautz (knee)
  • Greg Boone (SC joint sprain) -- doubtful
  • Stephan Virgil (knee) -- doubtful

ACC: Preseason all-conference team

August, 14, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The ACC has released its preseason all-conference team last month, now is releasing ours. Here's the final version with minimal tweaks from the original ballot:


QB Riley Skinner, Wake Forest
RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
WR Jacoby Ford, Clemson
WR LaRon Byrd, Miami
TE Greg Boone, Virginia Tech
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
OT Jason Fox, Miami
OG Thomas Austin, Clemson
OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State
C Ryan McMahon, Florida State
PK Matt Bosher, Miami

DE Willie Young, NC State
DE Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech
DT Vince Oghobaase, Duke
DT John Russell, Wake Forest
LB Sean Spence, Miami
LB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
LB Dekoda Watson, Florida State
CB Stephan Virgil, Virginia Tech
CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
S Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech
S Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech
P Travis Baltz, Maryland
SP C.J. Spiller, Clemson

Virginia Tech's passing game even more critical

August, 12, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Now is when we need to see just how much improvement quarterback Tyrod Taylor and his receivers have made since last season.

No doubt the group showed significant progress over the final few games of 2008, but with record-setting tailback Darren Evans out for the season, it would certainly help the Hokies if they could depend on their passing game while freshmen David Wilson and Ryan Williams get acclimated to college football games.

I know Virginia Tech fans are excited about the young running backs' potential. I know they're two extremely athletic and talented athletes. But none of them have lined up against Alabama's defense yet, and that will be quite a freshman hazing. I would imagine Josh Oglesby will start that game, just for the simple fact he's got some game experience, but Wilson and Williams are going to get their carries this fall, and it's going to have to start sometime. If Virginia Tech is lucky, Frank Beamer and running backs coach Billy Hite will watch a rerun of last year, when Evans emerged as a record-setter at the expense of injured teammate Kenny Lewis Jr.

The whole reason Taylor was named the starting quarterback ahead of Sean Glennon last year was because the Hokies were in a similar situation -- young, inexperienced skill players who needed a little boost in the backfield from Taylor's feet. It's still a young team -- There are only four seniors on the preseason two-deep offensive depth chart, and two of them -- Ed Wang and Sergio Render -- are offensive linemen. The others are tight end Greg Boone and fullback Kenny Jefferson.

The Hokies will still need Taylor's feet. But this year the receivers should have a better understanding of the playbook and Taylor should be able to make better use of his arm.

We all knew that Virginia Tech's passing game was going to have to improve if the Hokies were going to contend for the national title, and that hasn't changed. Virginia Tech still has an opportunity to be a top 10 team, but if the Hokies show up against Alabama without Evans and without a passing game, that opportunity will disappear quickly.

Virginia Tech practice notes

August, 7, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here is a thorough compliation of news, notes and quotes from Virginia Tech's sports information department from Day 1 of practices. There are some good position battles to watch, some position changes, and one key lingering injury. (Again, each school's sports information director is at practice, they're the ones writing these releases, I'm just sharing what is e-mailed to me when they contain interesting or valuable information for fans):

• Tailback Kenny Lewis Jr., was not at practice and will be out indefinitely while trying to recover from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the Western Kentucky game last season. Lewis has undergone four surgeries for the injury -- two to repair the tendon (which he re-tore while slipping in the shower) and two to clean out an infected wound. According to Mike Goforth, Lewis still plans on trying to play this season.

"I think realistically you're not going to see him out there the first three or four games," Goforth said.

Lewis, a senior from Danville, Va., still could redshirt the season. He played as a true freshman in 2006.

• A lot of attention from the media was paid to David Wilson, one of Tech's highly touted recruits. Wilson, a tailback from Danville, Va., currently sits at No. 4 on the depth chart at tailback, and while he finds himself in a similar situation to Ryan Williams a year ago, he told the media that he desperately wants to play this year, even if it means as only a kick and punt returner (of course, he may have to beat Williams out for those roles).

"Even if things don't work out for me at running back, I still want to do that," Wilson said of the return roles. "I've been playing football ever since I was 8 years old. I can't imagine missing a season, so I'm doing everything I can to get on the field."

• Logan Thomas, arguably the top recruit in the 2009 class, will begin his career at quarterback and received a lot of reps as the third-team guy in Thursday's practice. Thomas threw for 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior season at Brookville High in Lynchburg, Va., but many projected him as a tight end. Tech's staff wants to see how he fares the next couple of weeks at quarterback first before determining a different position.

"I think he's got the ability to play quarterback," coach Frank Beamer said. "That's what we've got to figure out -- where he is on this team. Is he a second quarterback? He's got height, he's got a good throwing motion, and he's smart. He's got some things going for him. Right now, every period and every practice is important for evaluation. If he's going to be the second quarterback, then maybe we could use him in some H-back stuff and get him involved that way. You could think about him on a lot of special teams, too.

"If you're going to play him, we want to play him a lot."

• A lot of eyes will be on backup quarterback Ju-Ju Clayton in the early going to see if he can progress into a solid No. 2 guy behind starter Tyrod Taylor. As most know, Taylor has been injured each of his first two seasons at Tech, which makes it imperative that the Hokies find a quality backup now that Sean Glennon has departed. Clayton reshaped his body during the offseason, getting his weight down to 208 pounds, and threw the ball well in the first practice.

"I'm more comfortable with the playbook," Clayton said. "I have a better understanding of what we're trying to do. I understand the situation. It's always critical. You've always got to have someone be able to step in there if someone goes down just so the team doesn't lose a beat."

• There weren't many surprises on the opening-day depth chart, but there were a couple. Chris Drager and Nekos Brown were listed as co-No. 1's at defense end. Drager was moved from tight end to defensive end following spring practice.

Also, David Wang, a true freshman, and Richard Graham, a redshirt senior, were listed as co-No. 2's at right guard. Wang, the brother of current offensive tackle Ed Wang, impressed in recent strength testing, bench pressing 400 pounds.

Finally, Prince Parker and Randall Dunn have both been moved from receiver to tight end.

And a few non-practice notes:

• Several players are garnering preseason attention from some major awards early on, with more surely to be recognized later. Sophomore Darren Evans was named to the "Watch List" for the Doak Walker Award, while tight end Greg Boone is a candidate for the John Mackey Award.

• The 105 players reporting for Thursday's opening practice checked in Wednesday and went through the gauntlet of paperwork, heights and weights, physicals, blood work, insurance, parking, etc. The team had an organizational meeting that night in preparation for the first day of practice. The day began bright and early with a wake-up at 7 a.m., breakfast, meetings at 8 a.m., followed by a lift for the varsity squad, lunch, academics for the freshmen, more meetings, practice, dinner, a team meeting and, you guessed it, more meetings. They'll do it all again Friday.

• Once again this year, Beamer will open the three preseason scrimmages to the public in Lane Stadium. The dates are: Saturday, Aug. 15 (3:15-5:30 pm); Saturday, Aug. 22 (2-4:15 pm); and Wednesday, Aug 26 (4:45-7 pm). As always, no video taping devices of any kind are allowed inside Lane Stadium during these scrimmages. All other Virginia Tech practices are closed to the public.

• Saturday's practice will be a little earlier than normal as Beamer will hustle off the field and catch a flight to Canton, Ohio for Saturday night's NFL Hall of Fame Ceremony, as former Hokie Bruce Smith will be inducted as part of the Class of 2009.

• The team will once again help with on-campus move-in this preseason as the players will work in groups to help haul luggage, fans, beds, TVs and whatever else the students bring up to their dorms on Friday, Aug. 21 in the morning. They'll have a team picnic for lunch and then practice that afternoon.

• The team will be in helmets and shorts again tomorrow (Friday), will go to helmets and shoulder pads on Saturday and will go live in full pads on Monday.

Now that's a practice report.

Preseason All-ACC team announced

July, 29, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Can't go wrong with any of these guys. Thankfully, I'm not the only one who voted. Media members attending the 2009 ACC Football Kickoff at the Grandover Resort cast 44 ballots for the teams. That's hardly a good representative of the turnout there, as there were over 200 media members who attended the event, and it was a record turnout.

Pos. Player School Votes Notes: In 2008 unless otherwise noted
QB Russell Wilson NC State 31 2008 1st-team All-ACC, ACC Rookie of the Yr
RB Jonathan Dwyer Georgia Tech 41 2008 ACC Player of the Year, 2009 Pre-Season Player of the Year
RB C.J. Spiller Clemson 38 Needs 921 all-purpose yards for ACC record
WR Demaryius Thomas Georgia Tech 15 Had more than half of Tech's catches
WR Jacoby Ford Clemson 31 2nd among active ACC players in yds, catches
TE Greg Boone Virginia Tech 32 22 catches for 278 yards
OT Jason Fox Miami 32 Graded out at 97 percent for the year
OT Anthony Castonzo Boston College 26 2008 second-team All-ACC
OG Sergio Render Virginia Tech 25 2008 second-team All-ACC, 40 career starts
OG Rodney Hudson Florida State 32 Named to 2009 Lombardi Trophy watch list
C Matt Tennant Boston College 23 On 2009 watch list for Rimington Trophy
PK Matt Bosher Miami 34 Made 18 of 20 FGAs; 2008 2nd
Team All-ACC
DE Jason Worilds Virginia Tech 25 Recorded 18.5 tackles for loss, 2008 2nd-team All-ACC
DE Willie Young NC State 21 Credited with 65 QB pressures in his career
DT Vince Oghobaase Duke 34 Lott Trophy finalist has started 36 straight games
DT Marvin Austin North Carolina 25 Interception return for a TD and blocked PAT
LB Dekoda Watson Florida State 34 28 tackles in final four regular-season games
LB Quan Sturdivant North Carolina 28 Led the nation in unassisted tackles (87)
LB Alex Wujciak Maryland 18 13th nationally in total tackles (10.2 per game)
CB Ras-I Dowling Virginia 21 T-11 nationally in passes defended per game (1.27)
CB Kendric Burney North Carolina 13 Credited with 78 tackles
S Morgan Burnett Georgia Tech 34 Preseason All-American by 3 sources
S Kam Chancellor Virginia Tech 31 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INT
P Travis Baltz Maryland 20 Led ACC in punting average (41.1)
Specialist: C.J. Spiller, Clemson

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 27, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Well, just about everyone who fills the content for the links is here, and we're all working, so there's plenty to read today:

  • There's one big difference in the ACC this year, and it's that 10 ACC teams return their final-game starting quarterback from 2008, and six of them are here in Greensboro.
  • Unlike in the SEC, there are no drama kings here at ACC media days, and Greg Wallace of the Anderson Independent Mail says that's perfectly fine. And yet the ACC, in many ways, is still trying to fight the shadow of the SEC.
  • One word can describe the Terps in 2008 -- inconsistent. And quarterback Chris Turner and cornerback Nolan Carroll don't want to relive it again.
  • Virginia cornerback Vic Hall has always had his heart set on playing quarterback. So don't sell him short.
  • Virginia Tech knows the expectations it's facing, and Greg Boone says they've got what it takes to live up to the hype -- "no excuses."
  • Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer is good, but he thinks he can be even better.
  • The month of September will be critical for Miami. Are they in, or are they out?
  • Clemson standout defensive end Ricky Sapp said he's ahead of schedule from a torn ACL.
  • Duke, UNC and NC State are all looking to build upon last year's success, while Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner is quite all right with everyone underestimating the Deacs this fall.

Virginia Tech's Boone defends embattled OC

July, 27, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Ever heard the saying "It's not the X's and the O's, it's the Jimmys and the Joes"?

Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone apparently has, and it's his defense of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who has constantly been under fire for the Hokies' less-than-spectacular offensive production over the past few seasons.

On Sunday, at the ACC football kickoff, Boone said Virginia Tech fans will see a "much better offense" this fall, and it has everything to do with the players and nothing to do with Stinespring.

"It's not really the playcalling, it's the players on the team, the want-to factor," Boone said. "You could put any coach back there calling the plays, but if the player doesn't execute to his full potential, disaster is going to happen. It's not really the coach's fault, it's the player's fault. We've just got to show we're taking the extra efforts, we need to focus better and practice better. So me personally, I don't think it's a coach's fault, it's a player's fault, so if you're not ready, just let the next man step in who's ready to play and wants to play."

ACC in need of a national contender for respect

July, 27, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- During a group photo shoot for the players on Sunday at the ACC Football Kickoff, Clemson bandit end Ricky Sapp asked Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone what it felt like to wear his ACC championship ring -- the third one. Boone's bling was impossible to miss.

"He said it felt good," Sapp said, almost wistfully.

Clemson, the team that at this time a year ago was expected to be a formidable opponent for Alabama and cruise through the ACC to make some noise on the national level, has officially switched places with the Hokies, who now bear the brunt of the league's expectations.

Clemson, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech -- quite frankly, nobody around here seems to care much who it is, just as long as somebody in the ACC is a legitimate national title contender. It's exactly what this conference needs to give its reputation a boost.

An NCAA-record 10 ACC teams were bowl eligible in a crazy, competitive and unpredictable 2008 season, and the conference took a step forward in polishing its image. There is still plenty of progress yet to be made, though, said ACC commissioner John Swofford, who added the ACC has "unlimited potential."

"I think if you really step back and take a look at the conferences a year ago, top to bottom, we may well have been the deepest conference in the country a year ago," Swofford said. "What we didn't have is a team or two involved in the national championship race down the stretch. I think that has a lot to do with how a conference is perceived competitively, maybe more than it should. But the fact of the matter is it does have a lot to do with that."

Swofford said that once teams are involved in the national championship race and win certain games outside the conference, "then I think that our league will receive the kind of respect it deserves."

The Hokies are the front-runners to win the Coastal Division title, and should be a preseason top-10 team, but it's not as if they're strangers to the top of the BCS standings. Boone remembers what was lost in 2007 when the Hokies were humiliated 48-7 at LSU. That season, the Tigers bumped Virginia Tech to No. 3 in the final BCS standings.

Can Virginia Tech be the team the conference can depend on?

"We have been that team," Boone said, "we just didn't win the games we should have."

Of course, Virginia Tech isn't the only team with the hope -- or the potential -- to make a splash on the national stage. In fact, the Hokies are going to have a difficult time getting through their conference schedule unscathed, let alone the lone nonconference schedule in the league that doesn't include an FCS team. It's the parity in the ACC, the players say, that makes title talk so difficult.

"I think that's why the ACC is so competitive -- because everybody wants to take that role and become that leader of the pack," said Miami offensive tackle Jason Fox. "I think we're really close. [The freshmen] have had a year under their belt, we have a great senior class, great senior leadership, and we've got two great coordinators. ... We're getting all the pieces together."

It's a rebuilding challenge both Miami and Florida State are facing simultaneously, and many say it's the resurrection of those two programs alone that can make the difference.

"For the ACC to really be a top-tier conference, there needs to be some people fighting for that national championship and being top five," said FSU quarterback Christian Ponder. "But the problem is, the ACC is so competitive and the ACC is also known for great defenses, so it's hard to really get up there. But I think we're close. There's a bunch of good teams this year that are getting better, getting up to that top tier, so we'll see. Florida State has a lot of potential. Virginia Tech should be ranked high up there. There's a lot of potential in the conference."

The question is when that potential will be realized.

North Carolina coach Butch Davis has told his players that they should want to play "when the blimp is in the sky," meaning it's a nationally televised game that holds postseason consequences. UNC defensive end E.J. Wilson said the Tar Heels are building the program into a national contender, but in order for the league to be taken seriously, they've got to have some company.

"I do agree with that because you have the Pac-10, who has USC, which is competing for a national championship almost every year, then you have the SEC, and they have four or five teams every year that's competing for it," said Wilson. "So in order for us to get talked about in the same respect with those conferences and be mentioned in the same breath with those, we have to have a few teams -- not just one team -- consistently every year competing for the national championship. We need to get more teams that can actually be successfully on the national level and not just around here."

ACC Mailblog

July, 17, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Let's start with a faithful reader, a.k.a. Pick6Pedro on the boards. The Boston native writes: Heather,No love for the most recent (and hopefully permanent) BC verbal Chase Rettig? As USC's 2nd choice he's bound to have skills. Seen his video and I'm convinced he's a solid pocket passer. As much as I was bummed when Boisture left, I want a kid who wants to be there (sound familiar? hint: Defilipo about Jags/Spaz). Boisture was biding his time until MSU offered. Any chance that Rettig is biding his time until USC offers? While I never put much faith in a kid until he enrolls or signs, it still makes me nervous. Oh well, won't affect 2009, which is what I'm focused on now. Thanks for everything

Heather Dinich: Yes, thanks for bringing that up. Retting is on the ESPNU 150 watch list, and he was also looking at Tennessee. Our guys at Scout's Inc. have a great analysis on him. As for whether or not he's true to his word? Probably as much as any other teenager out there. Your guess is as good as mine, but you're right -- you want guys who want to be there. And as you know, BC needs a solid recruit at that position. Kudos to Spaz and Co. for getting this verbal.

Dusty in Orlando, Fla., writes: Hey HD! A lot has been said about all of Georgia Tech's offensive skill position players returning this year, as well as defensive studs like Derrick Morgan and Morgan Burnett. What you don't hear a lot about is that these guys will all only be juniors this season. What does that say about the 2010 season when they are seniors...national championship? Will these guys that went 9-4 their sophomore year stay around for a third year together or leave for the draft?

HD: Ooh, that's a tough one, Dusty. So hard to predict whether guys are going to leave early or not. It wouldn't surprise me if a few of the Jackets did, Dwyer included. But, in a best-case scenario, if they all stayed, people should be talking about them for the NC. If Virginia Tech is in the conversation right now with what they've got, there's no reason Georgia Tech shouldn't be with what it has coming back next year. The difference between those teams right now is up front.

Speaking of the Hokies, JC in Mobile, Ala., writes: What are the odds of Virginia Tech really winning the game on September 5th against Alabama? (I hope VT crushes them, by the way.)

HD: Oh they have a very good chance, J.C., but I haven't decided who I'm picking in that game yet. Let's see how summer camp goes for both teams. I see it being a defensive game, and it will be the first real test for the secondary (against Julio Jones) without Macho Harris.

Matt in Richmond, Va., writes: HD, Do you think Tyord and Ryan Williams can live up to all the hype this year and what kind of impact do you think that Greg Boone can have especially out of the wild turkey formation?

HD: No doubt, but I don't think Ryan Williams will make everyone forget about Darren Evans, either. Williams is bursting at the seams to get in a game, and he'll be a tremendous player, Evans has a different style and is cool and calm about everything. Boone will have a huge impact for them this season, and last time I talked to him he told me he spent a fair amount of time with the quarterbacks this past spring so I imagine they'll use him again with a few wrinkles.

Bex in DC writes: The trailer for the movie based on the Abbate family and the 2006 Wake football team has been released.

HD: Awesome, thanks for the link.

Carlton Stitt in Wilmington, N.C. writes: When will they do the Tar Heel (NC) state in the coverage of college football 50 states on ESPN (Date)?

HD: Aug. 5.

Players attending ACC Football Kickoff announced

July, 15, 2009
Posted by's Heather Dinich

The ACC just announced the 24 athletes who have been chosen by its 12 league schools to attend the 2009 ACC Football Kickoff, July 26-27 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C.

I'll be attending this event, and these are the players I'll be able to talk to there:

Wake Forest: Riley Skinner, Quarterback, Senior, Jacksonville, Fla.
John Russell, Defensive Tackle, Senior, Jacksonville, Fla.

Virginia Tech: Greg Boone, Tight End, Senior, Chesapeake, Va.
Kam Chancellor, Free Safety, Senior, Norfolk, Va.

Virginia: Will Barker, Tackle, Senior, Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Vic Hall, Quarterback, Senior, Gretna, Va.

NC State: Jamelle Eugene, Halfback, Senior, Naples, Fla.
Willie Young, Defensive End, Senior, Riviera Beach, Fla.

North Carolina: T.J. Yates, Quarterback, Junior, Marietta, Ga.
E.J. Wilson, Defensive End, Senior, Emporia, Va.

Miami: Jason Fox, Offensive Tackle, Senior, Ft. Worth, Texas
Randy Phillips, Safety, Senior, Belle Glade, Fla.

Maryland: Chris Turner, Quarterback, Senior, Simi Valley, Calif.
Nolan Carroll, Cornerback, Senior, Green Cove Springs, Fla.

Georgia Tech: Jonathan Dwyer, B-Back, Junior, Marietta, Ga.
Derrick Morgan, Defensive End, Junior, Coatesville, Pa.

Florida State: Christian Ponder, Quarterback, Junior, Colleyville, Tex.
Dekoda Watson, Linebacker, Senior, Aiken, S.C.

Duke: Thaddeus Lewis, Quarterback, Senior, Opa-Locka, Fla.
Vince Oghobaase, Defensive Tackle, Senior, Houston, Tex.

Clemson: C. J. Spiller, Running Back, Senior, Lake Butler, Fla.
Ricky Sapp, Defensive End, Senior, Bamberg, S.C.

Boston College: Matt Tennant, Senior, Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jim Ramella, Senior, Defensive End, Westlake, Ohio.