ACC: Jabari Hunt-Days

ACC lunchtime links

May, 16, 2014
May 16
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Not an ACC story, but worth a read: SI digs into the story of former San Diego State star Adam Muema, who abruptly left the NFL combine and then… things got weird.
  • After years of shifting allegiances, this spring represents a return to normalcy for the ACC, writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • With Jabari Hunt-Days academically ineligible, Georgia Tech is looking elsewhere for options at rush end, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • The Roanoke Times continues its position breakdown at Virginia Tech with a look at the tight ends.
  • Former Hokies receiver D.J. Coles is headed west to start his career with the Oakland Raiders, writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  • Miami got a commitment from a 6-foot-5 quarterback on Thursday, though it hardly sounds like a done deal, writes the Sun-Sentinel.
  • It’s the big men in the trenches that have Clemson’s 2015 recruiting class ranked so highly, writes Tiger Net.
  • Tomahawk Nation looks at the best linebackers of the Jimbo Fisher era at Florida State.
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson already faced a tough enough task having to replace Jeremiah Attaochu. The challenge is now amplified with the recent news that projected replacement Jabari Hunt-Days is ineligible for the upcoming season.

When asked about his choices at defensive end come fall camp, Johnson seemed confident the Jackets would be fine.

"We’ve got Kenderius Whitehead that we recruited for that position," Johnson said. "There’s going to be some competition in camp and I’m just really disappointed for Jabari. But we’ll have a guy to step up and play I don’t have a doubt we’ll put a guy in there. (KeShun Freeman) had a great spring and there’s other guys that can rotate and move around so we’ll sit down as a staff and figure it out."

As for Hunt-Days' future with the program, Johnson said, "That’s up to him. I think when you don’t fulfill your side of the obligation, then you have to suffer the consequences. It’s disappointing for him and his family. I know he’s disappointed."

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that Hunt-Days' parents want their son to be taken off scholarship until he shows he is serious about his academics.

Hunt-Days, a starter at linebacker the last two seasons, moved to defensive end in the spring to help fill the spot Attaochu left behind. Attaochu also played linebacker before moving to end full-time last year, and he ended up with 12.5 sacks. Hunt-Days, going into his redshirt junior year, had a good spring and was listed on several really early 2015 mock drafts.

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 13, 2014
May 13
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Twitter has debuted a “mute” function, which allows you to silence users without unfollowing them. By the way, you can follow, then mute me at @DavidHaleESPN.
  • The ACC is sticking with an eight-game schedule, but it wants teams to schedule big-name opponents outside the conference, too. BC Interruption has a great look at who’s on the docket for the 10 programs without annual SEC rivalry games.
  • Athlon is rolling out its preseason top 25 in reverse order, and the first ACC entrant is Clemson at No. 21.
  • The Roanoke Times takes a deeper look at the X-receiver position at Virginia Tech, where sophomore Joshua Stanford is atop the depth chart.
  • Sean Hickey figures to be Syracuse’s top prospect in the 2015 NFL draft, The Post-Standard writes.
  • Georgia Tech’s Jabari Hunt-Days, currently ineligible academically, could be pulled from school by his parents, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Former Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro is excited for a chance to earn a roster spot with the Arizona Cardinals, writes Tiger Net.
  • Charlie Strong can take credit for bolstering the NFL stock of Louisville’s roster, but he’s got a big job ahead at Texas, writes SB Nation.
  • Jimbo Fisher has an interesting idea on how to keep players healthy, writes the USA Today.
  • Jameis Winston’s dad says his son should have security 24/7 at Florida State to keep him out of trouble, writes Yahoo!.
  • Not specific to the ACC, but here’s a beautiful bit of math smarts from Tomahawk Nation that illustrates the fallacy employed by so many writers who think 2- and 3-star recruits are just as likely as 5-stars to be drafted in Round 1.
  • A local barbershop that has served Florida State's elite for years will remain in business, at least for now, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.
Georgia Tech defensive standout Jabari Hunt-Days is ineligible for the upcoming season, the school announced Friday.

The news is a tough one to take for the Jackets, who planned to rely on Hunt-Days to fill the spot Jeremiah Attaochu vacated at defensive end. Hunt-Days, a starter at linebacker in 2012 and 2013, moved to end in the spring in the hopes that he could develop more into a rush end. Georgia Tech also is thin at the defensive end position, so his departure does not help matters when it comes to depth, either.

Now more than ever, Georgia Tech will have to rely on junior college transfer Kenderius Whitehead, who began his career at NC State before transferring to Georgia Military College. The Jackets rarely sign junior college prospects, but Whitehead fit a major area of need. In his only season in junior college, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Whitehead racked up 7.5 sacks and became an All-American.

But early enrollee KeShun Freeman could have a leg up on Whitehead. Freeman, who was second behind Hunt-Days on the depth chart, impressed coach Paul Johnson throughout the spring and earned praised after racking up four tackles in the spring game. Tyler Stargel and Roderick Rook-Chungong also are in the mix. Of course, defensive coordinator Ted Roof could also move other players around the way he did this spring to get his 11 best guys on the field.

Needless to say, the Jackets are losing some big-time experience from this position and might have a tougher time than they anticipated replacing Attaochu.

In addition to losing Hunt-Days, freshman running back Travis Custis is leaving for at least the 2014-15 academic year to attend Georgia Military College.

Georgia Tech spring wrap

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
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Three things we learned in the spring about the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:

1. New defensive scheme. Second-year coordinator Ted Roof moved from a 4-3 to a 4-2-5 base, building off last season as Georgia Tech tries to develop a better pass rush on the edge and create more opportunities for its defensive playmakers. It's a unit that sacrifices size for speed for the sake of the many spread offenses it will face.

2. Tim Byerly emerges. Justin Thomas is the starting quarterback, but Byerly has given the Yellow Jackets some much-needed insurance -- and maybe even more than that. The Middle Tennessee State transfer will earn a scholarship this summer, and his impressive spring game further cemented himself as a legitimate game option for this fall.

3. Strong special teams play. Georgia Tech brings back one of the ACC's best kickers in Harrison Butker, but its biggest lift came in March, when the NCAA granted Jamal Golden a fifth year of eligibility. Golden was one of the top punt and kick returners in the nation in 2012 and gives the Yellow Jackets another scoring threat.

Three questions for the fall:

1. It is Justin Thomas' job … right? Paul Johnson praised Byerly for closing the gap with Thomas, and Byerly will likely see the field a good amount this fall regardless. Still, neither Thomas nor Byerly has ever started a collegiate game, and as impressive as both have been, little will matter until they live up to the praise.

2. Can the D-line reload? No group took a bigger hit after last season than the defensive line, which said goodbye to three starters, including All-ACC performer Jeremiah Attaochu. Adam Gotsis is the leading returner up front, and he'll need help from fellow pass-rushers to excel in the 4-2-5. Jabari Hunt-Days moved from linebacker to end to help get some more athleticism on the edge.

3. Will the O-line help improve the run game? Johnson has said that his team will be better at running the football this season than last, which was the worst of his Georgia Tech tenure. That will depend in large part on the growth of a young offensive line, which lost three fifth-year seniors from last season's squad.

One way-too-early prediction:

Thomas and Byerly will make many people forget about Vad Lee. Sure, Lee's decision to transfer was a bit of a surprise, and neither of his potential replacements boast much meaningful college experience. But Thomas and Byerly have said and done all the right things this spring and, more important, Georgia Tech brings back what may be the best receiving corps of the Johnson era, led by DeAndre Smelter, Micheal Summers and Darren Waller.
There are only two ACC spring games this weekend, as Georgia Tech and Syracuse wrap up on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Virginia Tech and Wake Forest will end spring practices next week, the final teams in the ACC to close out the spring.

Here’s a quick preview of this weekend’s games:

GEORGIA TECH

When: 7 p.m. on Friday (ESPN3)

Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium

Format: Four quarters with shortened halftime and a running clock at some point in the second half.

One thing to watch: The new 4-2-5 defensive scheme. In his second season as coordinator, Ted Roof has switched from a base 4-3 to the 4-2-5, a scheme they used frequently last season because of the offenses they faced. More importantly, the change was made in an effort to get their best athletes on the field. Georgia Tech has tried this spring to get more of a pass rush on the edge, and the switch in scheme allowed junior Jabari Hunt-Days to move from linebacker to defensive end to help with that aspect.

SYRACUSE

When: 1 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN3)

Where: Carrier Dome

Format: The offense will earn points the traditional way while the defense will score off interceptions, three-and-outs, turnovers on downs and touchdowns. At halftime, the trailing team will get a chance to earn points thanks to sophomore punter Riley Dixon. If Dixon can land the ball inside the 15-yard line, the team will earn a point. Inside the 10-yard line is worth two, and inside the five-yard line is worth three points.

One thing to watch: The receivers. All spring, the coaching staff has been looking for a few dependable receivers to emerge because the position collectively wasn’t as productive as it needed to be last season. In order for Syracuse’s offense to improve, the receivers have to improve, and there are plenty of options. Ashton Broyld returns, along with Jarrod West, Adrian Flemming, Alvin Cornelius, Corey Winfield, Sean Avant and Jeremiah Kobena. With so much depth at running back, the next step is for some receivers to emerge to give quarterback Terrel Hunt some options and open things up in the running game.

ACC's lunch links

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
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Want to know why you’re not famous? It might be that you were born in the wrong spot, according to this incredibly fascinating New York Times piece about how geography relates to fame. This completely explains why Delaware boasts Judge Reinhold, Delino Deshields and me.

Weak and strong: Georgia Tech

June, 28, 2013
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We move on in our series looking at the weakest and strongest positions on each team in the ACC with Georgia Tech.

Strongest position: Linebacker

Georgia Tech returns three starting linebackers as it transitions full-time into the 4-3 -- Quayshawn Nealy, Jabari Hunt-Days and Brandon Watts. Jeremiah Attaochu, who started last season as a linebacker, moves down to defensive end but has the ability to drop back in coverage as well. This group has the potential to be the best unit in the entire league. Nealy (84), Hunt-Days (79) and Watts (77) finished Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in tackles last season, but their sack numbers and tackles for loss numbers could rise in the new, more aggressive scheme Ted Roof has brought in. Let's also remember that Watts is the only senior in this trio, and the ceiling remains extremely high for Nealy (junior) and Hunt-Days (sophomore) after big-time seasons a year ago.

Weakest position: Receiver

Coach Paul Johnson's concerns about this position have been well documented. The Jackets went into spring practice facing the prospect of relying on true freshmen this fall. That thought was cemented when projected starter Anthony Autry re-injured his knee and could be out for the season. Jeff Greene's decision to transfer at the end of last season leaves Darren Waller as the only receiver on the roster who has made a collegiate reception. Yikes. Now, while it is true the Jackets are primarily a running team, they do need a passing game in order to try to keep defenses honest. And Johnson has spoken repeatedly about the need to improve the passing game. So there is no question this is an area the Jackets are going to have to focus on when their full roster of players starts up practice in the fall.

More on this series, click here.
Georgia Tech released its post-spring depth chart on Wednesday without a whole lot in the way of big surprises.

Nothing is set in stone of course, as the Jackets use this chart as a starting point for the start of practice come Aug. 1. Among the highlights:
The biggest question on defense this spring for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is not having a new coordinator on the field.

It is having some of his best players on the sideline.

Johnson said Tuesday that three starters will be out when spring practice opens next Monday -- linebackers Jabari Hunt-Days and Brandon Watts and safety Isaiah Johnson. Safety Fred Holton, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, won't be full-go for spring, either.

"We have a couple linebackers out and couple guys in the secondary but what it’s going to do is give the young guys a chance and hopefully we’ll be able to develop some depth that way," Johnson said.

Starting center Jay Finch also will miss spring practice, along with A-back Tony Zenon and freshmen receivers Anthony Autry and Travin Henry. B-back Charles Perkins, who opened 2012 as a starter but sustained a season-ending injury in early September, should be back. Johnson said, "We’re counting on him, but we really won’t know for sure until we get out there and start banging a little bit."

There also are a few position changes to note on defense. Jeremiah Attaochu will become a full-time defensive end, after he thrived in that role in the second half of last season.

And Jemea Thomas is moving back to cornerback after switching to safety in 2012. He will be leading the competition to take Rod Sweeting's starting spot. Johnson said of Thomas, "He may have been our best defensive back a year ago."

ACC announces top rookies

November, 27, 2012
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Miami running back Duke Johnson and Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby have been honored as the best rookies in the ACC, according to a vote of 46 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Johnson was named the overall and offensive rookie of the year while Darby won the defensive rookie of the year.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter @ESPN_ACC, you know on Saturday I gave Duke Johnson a full endorsement after his performance against Duke. There's no question Maryland's Stefon Diggs was in a neck-and-neck race with Johnson all season -- in fact I gave the mid-season ROY honor to Diggs -- but in the end, Johnson's breakout season won out.

He became the first Miami player to win the rookie award after he broke Clinton Portis’ 13-year-old school rushing record for freshmen, ending the year with 947 yards. He also led the ACC by averaging 33 yards per kickoff return, and his 2,070 all-purpose yards are the most by a Hurricanes freshman and second only to Willis McGahee’s 2,108 in school history.

“It means a lot being the first in Miami history to win this award,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. “And it means so much to me and the team because I couldn’t do it without my teammates. And this is just another way to make my mom proud and show how I really appreciate the sacrifices she made for me when I was younger.”

Here are the official voting results:

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (34)

Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland (11)

Vad Lee, QB, Georgia Tech (1)

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (35)

Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland (10)

Vad Lee, QB, Georgia Tech (1)

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State (14)

Deon Bush, S, Miami (9)

Jabari Hunt-Days, LB, Georgia Tech (8)

Eli Harold, DE, Virginia (5)

Michael Cole, S, Virginia Tech (4)

Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia (4)

Dwayne Norman, S, Duke (2)

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