ACC: Jarmon Fortson

FSU, Miami players transfer to North Alabama

August, 12, 2010
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Florida State North, er, I mean, North Alabama just got two more transfers in former FSU receiver Jarmon Fortson, who was kicked off the team for a violation of team rules, and Miami defensive end Steven Wesley, who was reportedly dismissed for academic reasons, ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach is reporting.

North Alabama already has six former Florida State Seminoles on its roster, not to mention two from North Carolina, one from NC State and one from Miami. Coach Terry Bowden is looking to move UNA up to the Division I FCS level soon, and stockpiling his roster with former FBS players with several years of eligibility remaining will certainly help his cause. Wesley has one year remaining while Fortson has two.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 9, 2010
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Another Monday means another week closer to the opening kickoff ...

FSU dismisses WR Jarmon Fortson

August, 8, 2010
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Florida State has dismissed junior receiver Jarmon Fortson from the team, coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach on Sunday.
“He has been dismissed for a violation of team rules,” Fisher said. “We wish him the best in everything he does. We love him."

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Fortson was dismissed for multiple failed drug tests.

This is a significant loss to FSU's passing game, as Fortson started six games last year and caught 45 passes for 610 yards and four touchdowns. It's still a deep group, though, as Bert Reed is the most productive returning receiver, Taiwan Easterling is back after spending the spring with the baseball team, and this recruiting class included five receivers.

The recent suspension of Nigel Carr, coupled with the news of Fortson, isn't something Fisher needs heading into his first full season as head coach. He'll be judged not only for wins and losses, but also for off-field incidents and disciplinary issues. So far, Fisher doesn't appear to be tolerating either.

Duke receivers confident in continued success

May, 17, 2010
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It’s been a long 21 years since Duke has had a receiver reach the 1,000-yard mark in a single season.

Donovan Varner helped change that.

His 1,047 yards last year were the most since Clarkston Hines recorded a school-record 1,149 yards in 1989.


Tim Steadman/Icon SMIDuke wide receiver Donovan Varner's 1,047 yards in 2009 were the most for a Blue Devils receiver since 1989.
There are a lot of talented receivers returning throughout the ACC this fall, but none of them were able to match what Varner did for Duke last year. He led the conference in receptions per game (5.42), overall receptions (65), and yards per game (87.2), averaging 16.1 yards per catch. Of course, it helped that he had one of the program’s most productive quarterbacks throwing to him in Thaddeus Lewis, who has since graduated and moved on to the NFL. Although the Blue Devils will experience a change at quarterback this year, Donovan and the receivers aren’t expecting any drop-off in the passing game.

Sean Renfree, who is expected to be the starting quarterback this fall, missed spring drills to recover from a torn ACL. He has since resumed throwing during seven-on-seven drills.

“I don’t think it’s really going to be an issue,” Varner said. “We’re going to miss Thad, but Sean Renfree is a great quarterback and he’s going to be able to carry the team. We’re not really worried about it at all.”

Varner conceded this year will be more difficult because opposing defenses now know who he is.

“They know we’re capable of making plays now,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a lot tougher.”

Especially since Varner isn’t the only wideout on the roster with big-play capabilities.

Varner, Conner Vernon and Austin Kelly combined for 174 pass receptions last fall -- more than any other trio in the ACC. The next closest was Wake Forest’s Devon Brown, Marshall Williams and Chris Givens, along with Florida State’s Rod Owens, Bert Reed and Jarmon Fortson. Both of those groups combined for 166 catches.

“I think we’re definitely capable of making a bowl game," Varner said. "Our mentality is different. Our work ethic has risen a lot. I’m pretty confident in making a bowl this year. I see the younger guys stepping up, making big plays. The older guys, we have a lot more leaders this year. I just see a lot of confidence, more trash talking and more plays being made. I think that gives our team a lot of confidence.”

So does Varner and his surrounding cast of receivers.

Florida State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
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FLORIDA STATE

2009 overall record: 7-6

2009 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense 6: punter/kicker 2

Top returners

QB Christian Ponder, LG Rodney Hudson, C Ryan McMahon, WR Bert Reed, CB/PR Greg Reid, RB Jermaine Thomas, DE Markus White, LB Kendall Smith, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Ochuko Jenjie

Key losses

CB Patrick Robinson, S Jamie Robinson, LB Dekoda Watson, WR Rod Owens

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Thomas*(832 yards)

Passing: Ponder* (2,717 yds)

Receiving: Owens (729 yds)

Tackles: Bradham* (93)

Sacks: Watson (6)

Interceptions: J. Robinson, Jenjie* (4)

Spring answers

1. Tailor-made defense. We don’t know yet how much better it will be, but the new defensive scheme will create more playmaking opportunities under first-year coordinator Mark Stoops. The Noles will use more zone coverage and be more suited for the personnel. That should lead to some improvement.

2. Ponder will be 100 percent. He took every meaningful snap with the first team offense this spring and there didn’t seem to be a difference since he injured his shoulder last year. That means Florida State could have a Heisman contender this year.

3. Staff cohesion. The five new on-field assistants and first-year strength coach brought a new philosophy to Tallahassee and they clicked well together in their first practice sessions. Coach Jimbo Fisher does things differently than his predecessor. Both the offensive and defensive staffs met a lot together to look at film, and there was good feedback across the board between players and coaches.

Fall questions

1. Consistency at receiver. With the exception of Reed, dependability was sorely lacking in this group. Plenty of plays were made, but not continuously. Fisher said the execution is not where he wants it to be. Jarmon Fortson is one of the players who needs to step it up.

2. Tailback talk. Who’s going to win the tailback job, or will it be by committee? Chris Thompson passed Jermaine Thomas on the unofficial depth chart, but there’s also Lonnie Pryor, Tavares Pressley, Ty Jones and junior-college transfer Debrale Smiley, who is a fullback/tailback like Pryor. They all had their moments this spring.

3. Unsecure secondary. FSU has four good corners to count on in this scheme with Jenjie, Reid, Dionte Allen and newcomer Xavier Rhodes, but the two safety spots and depth remain in flux. Jenjie is the only returning starter in the secondary.

Five breakout players in the ACC

February, 11, 2010
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A new season usually means new stars will emerge, breakout players if you will. Consider these players athletes who have already shown a hint of something good, but aren’t quite household names yet. Of course it’s possible a Jeff Luc or Lamarcus Joyner could be the next great player at Florida State in 2010, but in the grand scheme of college football, they’re still unproven. Here’s a look at five players in the conference who have already proved to be on the verge of a breakout season:

Steve Greer, linebacker, Virginia -- Greer led Virginia and was the second among ACC freshmen in tackles with 92, earning All-ACC honorable mention honors. He also ranked No. 5 among the nation's freshmen in tackles, including a career-high 14 tackles at Miami.

Anthony Allen, B-back, Georgia Tech -- Allen will be moving from the A-back to B-back position this spring to fill the void left by Jonathan Dwyer. Allen finished 2009 third on the team in rushing behind Dwyer and quarterback Josh Nesbitt with 618 yards and six touchdowns.

Damien Berry, running back, Miami -- The former safety who had spent the majority of his time on special teams made a name for himself in his first game as a running back last year with 162 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries against FAMU on Oct. 10. He finished with a team-high eight touchdowns and was second on the team in rushing with 616 yards. With Javarris James gone and Graig Cooper recovering from a knee injury, it’s Berry’s time to shine.

Andre Ellington, running back, Clemson -- He had a 7.2 yards per carry average as C.J. Spiller’s backup (68 carries for 491 yards) and four touchdowns. Ellington also proved to be a capable receiver with 11 catches for 55 yards. He had five runs of over 20 yards and 13 runs longer than 10 yards. He was second to Spiller in rushing.

Jarmon Fortson, wide receiver, Florida State -- Fortson ended 2009 with a play to remember in the Gator Bowl: an acrobatic, one-handed, 29-yard catch in the third quarter. Fortson finished third on the team last year with 45 catches for 610 yards and four touchdowns.

Season wrap-up: Florida State

December, 9, 2009
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It’s hard to believe this team was picked by the media to win the Atlantic Division, as it unraveled early and eventually ended with the administration forcing legendary coach Bobby Bowden to retire. FSU’s 2-4 record to start the season tied the worst mark ever by a Bowden-led team since he took over the program in 1976, but the Noles were able to regroup and will send Bowden off into retirement with an appearance in the Gator Bowl.

Had Jarmon Fortson’s play in the end zone on the very last play of the season opener against Miami been ruled a catch, who knows what different turn this season might have taken for the Noles? They would have been 3-0 with a huge upset of No. 7 BYU heading into their home game against South Florida. Instead, the Noles went on a three-game losing streak heading into their Thursday night date with North Carolina, and a closed-door meeting of high-ranking university officials in October signaled a desire for change.

But Florida State’s impressive comeback win against North Carolina helped keep the postseason possibility alive. Despite one of the country’s worst defenses, the announced retirement of defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, and the season-ending injury to standout quarterback Christian Ponder, Florida State was able to beat Wake Forest on Nov. 14 to inch within one win of bowl eligibility with two games remaining. An ugly home win over Maryland sealed the deal, but the season ended on a sour note with an embarrassing 37-10 drubbing by rival Florida in the Swamp, and the announcement of Bowden’s resignation two days later.

Offensive MVP: Quarterback Christian Ponder: Despite missing the final three games with a shoulder injury, Ponder still leads the ACC in passing average per game, and is fourth in passing efficiency. He completed a league-best 68.8 percent of his passes for 2,717 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He is No. 18 in the country in passing efficiency and No. 3 in total offense.

Defensive MVP: Free safety Jamie Robinson: He was the most consistently good player on a defense that struggled consistently, and he put up career-best numbers. Robinson was the team’s third leading tackler with 74, had one sack, three interceptions, and eight passes defended. He also had one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Turning point: The 41-28 win at Wake Forest snapped a three-game losing streak to the Deacs, and it showed a group effort that supported the first career start of backup quarterback E.J. Manuel. The win was key in extending the Seminoles’ season.

What’s next: Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has already begun to make his staff changes, and Bowden said he will clean out his office soon. It’s Fisher’s team now, and his many tasks include recruiting, reuniting the fan base, and beat Florida. First, though, FSU will try to bid Bowden farewell with a win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

ACC midseason report

October, 20, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

For the second straight year, the ACC started with a thud but managed to pull itself back to respectability in the following weeks. Losses to FCS schools William & Mary and Richmond, coupled with Maryland's home loss to Middle Tennessee, raised eyebrows in September for all the wrong reasons. As we look at the conference now at the halfway point of the season, though, it has showed its fare share of redeemable qualities, most notably the push the Coastal Division has made on the national level. To have three teams ranked among the top 15 in the first BCS standings shows some separation is starting to occur in the conference. ACC fans and officials can take pride in the resurgence of Miami, the continued strength of Virginia Tech, and quick rise of Georgia Tech under coach Paul Johnson.
 
 Tim Steadman/Icon SMI
 North Carolina’s Robert Quinn has spent plenty of time in opposing teams’ backfields this season.


Of course, there is always room for improvement, and it starts with a 2-2 record against the Colonial Athletic Association. Overall, the ACC is 8-9 against opponents from the BCS conferences and the Mountain West. There was no shame in Virginia Tech’s loss to Alabama, but the Hokies didn’t show up when it counted most -- in the second half at Georgia Tech. Florida State and NC State are weighing the disappointing Atlantic Division down, and Duke is making a case for the best team in North Carolina right now. Teams that were expected to be better -- namely Florida State, NC State and North Carolina -- have instead looked like they’ve regressed. The biggest storylines were not the Hokies’ No. 4 ranking in the Associated Press poll, it was the behind-the-scenes coup in Tallahassee calling for the early retirement of coach Bobby Bowden, and the overwhelming support throughout the league for BC linebacker Mark Herzlich.

Now that every team in the conference has played at least six games, it’s time for a look back at the first half of the season. Here are the conference awards:

Offensive MVP: Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams. His five 100-yard rushing performances eclipsed Darren Evans’ mark for the most by a Hokie freshman tailback in a season. He’s been named rookie of the week five times by the ACC, and even when he was sick and receiving IV fluids and missed practice time, Williams still rushed for 100 yards at Georgia Tech. He’s eighth in the country with 119.14 rushing yards per game.

Defensive MVP: UNC defensive end Robert Quinn. The sophomore has quickly made a name for himself as one of the best defensive ends in the ACC. He leads the conference and is seventh in the country with 11 tackles for a loss of 69 yards, and is tied for first with three forced fumbles and also has four quarterback hurries. He’s second in the ACC and seventh in the nation with seven sacks for 58 yards. Quinn had a career-high 10 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, at Georgia Tech. He’s a big reason why UNC has one of the top two defenses in the conference.

Biggest surprise: Boston College. Anyone who thought the Eagles would have won five games and been undefeated at home right now is either lying or the most star-crossed season-ticket holder out there. The Eagles lost their top two linebackers, their top two defensive tackles, their quarterback, their head coach and their offensive coordinator -- just to name a few. And yet here they are again -- in position to make a third straight trip to the ACC title game. Wow.

Biggest disappointment: The entire Atlantic Division. NC State, Maryland and Florida State are a combined 1-8 in conference play. If you saw that coming, leave for Vegas. Now. The Pack should have been better in Tom O’Brien’s third season, but even he said the team “regressed” the past two weeks. Maryland looks hapless and FSU has as many problems off the field as it has on it. Clemson played against Wake Forest like it should have been playing the past two or three years, but is still a three-loss team. And Wake Forest’s new goal is getting to a bowl game. No wonder the Eagles are soaring again.

Best game: Miami 38, Florida State 34. This was when the Seminoles still had hope, when FSU was still expected to win the Atlantic Division, and when one play might have changed their season. Trailing 34-31 with an ailing arm, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris threw a 40-yard pass over double coverage to Travis Benjamin that set up the game-winning touchdown with 1:53 remaining. With five seconds ticking off the clock, Christian Ponder threw to Jarmon Fortson in the end zone, and it was a controversial incomplete call that ended the game with the Canes on top.

Best coach: Frank Spaziani. His first smart move as head coach was to bring in 25-year-old quarterback Dave Shinskie, who has been on more than he has been off for the Eagles. His top linebacker, Herzlich, was diagnosed with cancer in May, and the only quarterback he had with any starting experience, Dominique Davis, decided to transfer. Spaziani inherited more problems than he did answers and yet he has the Eagles in contention to win the Atlantic Division for a third straight season.

FSU offensive coordinator encouraged by summer camp

September, 4, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


Florida State enters Monday's Miami game as the front-runner to win the Atlantic Division (and last night's subpar performance by NC State's offense further validated that early pick, at least for now.) FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has liked what he's seen this summer from every facet of his offense. And yes, the head-coach-in-waiting is keeping a watchful eye on the entire team, not just his offense. Here's the first part of our recent conversation:

Going into the summer, you had so many questions at wide receiver, but then guys started to shake out their legal issues. How confident are you in that group now?

Jimbo Fisher: Pretty confident. The challenge is how consistent will they perform, week in and week out, and keeping that focus, but we’ve got a good group of guys, and we’ve got a talented group of guys. You’re still always looking for consistency, but we’re seeing it more and more in practice every day.

Who do you think is going to be your go-to guy there? Any indications?

JF: It’s funny, there’s been a lot of guys. Rod Owens has had a super camp. Him and Rich Goodman have played well. [Jarmon] Fortson had some big scrimmages. Taiwan Easterling, he’s gotten back. There is no sign of his Achilles. He hasn’t missed a day. He hasn’t missed anything. He’s been good. [Louis] Givens coming back and doing some things. There’s a good group. Those first three guys have been the most consistent, but Bert Reed has had his big plays at times. They all bring a little something different to the table.

How good did it feel for you to be able to give Givens a scholarship?

JF: It was awesome, because he deserved it. He worked his tail off. He’s a great guy on special teams, and the numbers worked out. As people know, your numbers get screwed up sometimes to give a scholarship. There’s all kinds of legal implications, but it was super to be able to give it to him, and it was very well deserved.

How much more are you expecting out of your running game because the offensive line should be so much better, but they’re still young guys back there?

JF: They are, they’re still young. Jermaine has had a great camp, Ty’s gotten healthy now, and is really starting to come on, kept his weight up. There should be a good group. We feel very confident we’ll be able to run the football, and we have to be able to run the football.

You guys made a lot of strides in that area last year. I think it was some of the best numbers you’ve produced in a while. Is that because of the development of the offensive line? How do you see that growth continuing there?

JF: I see it continuing. I think our line grew, they got very good. Rick Trickett did a great job, and two, if you look at it, the ability for the receivers to have nice runs, the receivers did a good job running the football and the quarterback. You added a lot of yards, hidden yards people didn’t really see as much to a lot of different guys. The diversity helps, too.

What about Christian [Ponder]? You mentioned quarterback. I know last year he was banged up with his back, ribs, and all kinds of stuff. How much better can he be this year?

JF: I think he can be a lot better. I think he will be better. Especially as the consistency around him grows, you’re going to see his development grow. His confidence and his decision-making to know what people do and how they do it is going to grow. I think he’ll have a fine year, I really do.

Where did he make the biggest strides since last season?

JF: I think in just pure confidence. I think he knows he belongs here and he could be a heck of a player. When you’re confident in things, he really grabs ahold and his ability to learn and process information is very good.

Check back in a bit for Fisher's take on the Miami game and the NCAA's sanctions against coach Bobby Bowden.

Around the ACC: Terps hold final summer scrimmage

August, 28, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With the help of a few sports information offices and the hometown newspapers of the teams with practice reports, here's a quick trip around the league as we head into our final weekend of summer without any ACC football (thank God) ...


MARYLAND

The Terps had their final scrimmage of the summer, and while there were some bright spots, it doesn't sound like a lot was determined. However, coach Ralph Friedgen did put some order to the deep group of receivers he has. Friedgen said he thinks nine receivers will travel with the team. At X, it's likely to be Adrian Cannon, Kevin Dorsey and Emani Lee-Odai. At Z, expect to see Torrey Smith, Quintin McCree and Tony Logan, and in the slot position Ronnie Tyler, LaQuan Williams and Kerry Boykins.

Here are a few highlights from the scrimmage, according to the practice report:

Sophomore Torrey Smith, who will be counted on to be a big-play receiver this season, had a hand in two touchdowns. He set up Davin Meggett's 3-yard score by making an acrobatic 30-yard reception from Chris Turner, setting up first-and-goal. Smith also fielded a short kickoff and raced up the left sideline for an 87-yard touchdown. Freshman Nick Ferrara made two 48 yards-yard field goals and added a 45-yard extra point after Meggett's touchdown. Mike Barbour, also competing for the No. 1 place-kicking job, made a pair of 46-yard extra points. Chris Turner completed 6 of 8 passes for 102 yards. The defense also had two other interceptions with linebackers Hakeem Sule and Alex Wujciak forcing turnovers. In addition, coordinator Don Brown's unit posted four sacks.


CLEMSON

FSU isn't the only one with injury problems on the defensive line. Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson broke his hand - again.

Clemson spent Thursday's short practice working on Middle Tennessee's tendencies.

Brandon Ford was in a yellow jersey as he continues to heal from a foot injury. Spencer Benton was out again, but is expected to return to kicking duties on Saturday when the team holds its annual "Beannie Bowl." Jacoby Ford continues to improve from a hamstring injury and should be ready for the opener. Brandon Clear is back at full strength after a rib injury.

"The Beannie Bowl is a full rehearsal for the first game," coach Dabo Swinney said. "We will go through our pregame warm ups, even run down the hill. They we will kick off right at 6:00 PM and practice various special situations."


FLORIDA STATE

It was a good day for the Noles on Thursday, both at practice and in recruiting. FSU picked up two more recruits, bringing its 2010 class to 13. Florida State also got its first workout in the rain. There's one problem - all three of the senior defensive tackles are injured. You know what that means? It's time to meet Jacobbi McDaniel.

From the practice report:

Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson swatted away a touchdown pass intended for Jarmon Fortson in the end zone during 11-on-11 work. ... The best collision of the day came when linebacker Kendall Smith buried tailback and lead blocker Jermaine Thomas o
n a running play. ... Tight end Beau Reliford shook off the doldrums from several long afternoons with a 30-yard grab. ... With senior defensive tackles Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) held out of contact work for a second consecutive day, heralded freshman Jacobbi McDaniel continued to receive significant snaps alongside Moses McCray with the first-team defense. Fellow freshman Demonte McAllister is also getting a load of repetitions. "They are getting a lot of work, which is what they need," Bowden said of the youngsters. "They look like they can handle it."... Redshirt freshman Everett Dawkins, who began the preseason at defensive tackle and moved out to defensive end, was moved back inside to bolster position coach Odell Haggins' under-manned unit. ... There are quite a few position battles still being waged as the Seminoles head into Saturday's closed scrimmage, including cornerback, rover, defensive end, offensive guard, tailback, wide receiver and kicker. The competition is a welcome sign, reflecting the team's improved depth. "We let (the players) know those scrimmages are so important because they are game-like," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We've got ACC officials out there, so it's time to show your stuff if you've got it." ... The Seminoles will practice Friday afternoon.


MIAMI

Rise n' shine, it's practice time. The Canes started at 5:45 a.m. in shells under the lights on Mark Light Field. Dyron Dye was held out of practice with a leg injury. Leonard Hankerson and A.J. Trump returned to practice after being limited the last few sessions.

The Miami Herald is reporting that Taylor Cook is heading to Rice. With the transfer of Cook and Cannon Smith, A.J. Highsmith got a lot more work on Thursday. Here's what offensive tackle Jason Fox had to say on the transfers:

"Sometimes it can be a distraction but as a football team you have to limit the distractions, not think about it and remember why we are here. We are here to play football and win football games and anything else besides that, we have to push off to the side. You can't really do anything about it. Those were personal decisions they wanted to do for their careers that is going to help them out personally. As a team, we have to send them on their way and wish them good luck, but we still have to get ready."

Weekend rewinds: Scrimmage wrap-ups

August, 24, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich Here's a recap of the scrimmages that happened this weekend, with the help of the sports information directors, and the local newspapers that covered them: BOSTON COLLEGE As if things couldn't get worse for coach Frank Spaziani's quarterback situation in his first year, leading candidate Dave Shinskie was injured in Sunday's scrimmage. It might be a bruised rib. Here's how the rest of the team fared without him: All four quarterbacks played and redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle went 8-for-16 for 84 yards. Junior Codi Boek threw for 74 yards on a 6-for-12 day while freshmen Michael Marscovetra and Shinskie both had three completions. Junior Jordon McMichael and sophomore Colin Larmond Jr. both had three receptions for 18 and 33 yards, respectively. Sophomore Montel Harris was the leading rusher with 46 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. Senior Steve Aponavicius went 2-for-4 in his field goal attempts, hitting from 42 yards both times. A 44-yard attempt went awry following a bad snap and his 37-yard try was blocked by sophomore Isaac Johnson. Redshirt freshman Alexander DiSanzo shined on defense with seven tackles, a forced a fumble and an interception. Senior Roderick Rollins and freshman Luke Kuechly both had a team-high nine tackles. DUKE Quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis, Sean Renfree and Sean Schroeder combined to complete 25 of 39 passes for 240 yards. Renfree threw for a team-high 93 yards by hitting on 11 of 18 throws while Lewis was 7-of-12 for 86 yards. Freshman running back Desmond Scott led all receivers with six catches for 39 yards while rookie wideout Conner Vernon had three grabs for 42 yards. Redshirt sophomore running back Cameron Jones picked up a scrimmage-best 49 yards on just three rushing attempts. Defensively, sophomore safety Matt Daniels caused and recovered one fumble while redshirt sophomore cornerback Colin Jones registered one interception. Junior kicker Will Snyderwine booted a 27-yard field goal and successfully converted his lone PAT attempt. FLORIDA STATE Quarterback Christian Ponder had another good day, but with no interceptions, did the defense? Ponder wasn't thrilled with the results and said it might have been because guys were too eager to end their two-a-days. Jimbo Fisher said overall it was far too inconsistent. To read the Noles' entire practice report, click here. MARYLAND The Terps' scrimmage was a mixture of good and bad, and it was the latter that kept coach Ralph Friedgen going. There was one player, though, who made a name for himself in Friedgen's book -- redshirt freshman running back Gary Douglas. Douglas rushed 17 times for a scrimmage-high 122 yards, including four runs of 15 or more yards. He didn't score a touchdown but almost single-handedly led the offense down the field for a score on one drive, accounting for 72 of the 80 yards. Quarterback Chris Turner completed 13 of 20 passes for 113 yards. Backup Jamarr Robinson didn't fare quite as well as he had in previous scrimmages, hitting on just 5 of 14 passes for 59 yards, though he did direct two scoring drives. Mike Barbour looked sharp early, capping off two drives with field goals. The redshirt freshman, who had a leg up on the No. 1 place-kicker job, hit from 30 and 36 yards out. "Barbour started off pretty good, and then he missed his last three," Friedge
n said. "He kind of looked like he had solidified the job and then he opens it up again." Defensive back Eric Franklin, a true freshman, made a scrimmage-best eight tackles and picked off Turner on the sixth possession. MIAMI The Canes wrapped up their final two-a-day of fall camp on Sunday, and coach Randy Shannon said everything -- that's right, everything -- is still up for grabs. Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post had a couple of notes for you off Sunday's practice. Morning Practice Highlights -- (pads) Joe Joseph and Marcus Robinson each had a sack in 11-on-11 drills. Randy Phillips (INT, pass break-up) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (two pass break-ups) stood out in the secondary. Lee Chambers and Damien Berry each broke off a couple runs of 15+ yards. Javarris James caught several passes in both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 sessions Afternoon Practice Highlights -- (shells) Sam Shields (red zone), Chavez Grant (7-on-7) and C.J. Holton (11-on-11) all recorded interceptions. Grant returned his for a touchdown while Holton caught his off a tipped pass. A.J. Highsmith connected with Tommy Streeter (11-on-11) and LaRon Byrd (7-on-7) for significant yardage. Damien Berry took a short pass in the flat from Taylor Cook for a long gain. Other highlights include a near interception by Randy Phillips, a pass break-up by Ramon Buchanan and a sack by Micanor Regis. Red zone touchdowns included Jacory Harris to Richard Gordon and Taylor Cook to Jimmy Graham. VIRGINIA TECH So ... add Ryan Williams to the list of VT running backs who are banged up. Williams sprained his ankle, and Josh Oglesby has "the worst infection" coach Billy Hite has ever seen on a foot. Also, the coaches want to redshirt Logan Thomas, and Kenny Lewis Jr.'s recovery has been delayed. Not a lot of happy news coming out of Blacksburg these days. To read Virginia Tech's entire scrimmage report, click here. Tyrod Taylor completed 8 of 11 passes for 78 yards. Xavier Boyce led all receivers with two catches for 47 yards. Freshman running back Tony Gregory rushed 18 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns. Williams rushed just five times for 22 yards before spraining his ankle and sitting out the rest of the scrimmage. He did score on a 4-yard run and he returned several punts. Matt Waldron was 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts. (31, 32, 43, 30) Defensive tackle Cordarrow Thompson led the defense with seven tackles, four for a loss, and one sack.

ACC's scrimmage stars

August, 17, 2009
8/17/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

More than half of the teams in the ACC held scrimmages this past weekend, and no, I didn't forget about them. Instead of giving you the entire practice reports, though, I decided to highlight a few scrimmage stars for each team. (Virginia also scrimmaged on Saturday but it was closed and they do not release stats.)

In some cases, like at Maryland and Boston College, the defense looked much sharper than the offense. At others, like Wake Forest, the offense lived up to the preseason expectations. And Virginia Tech looked good on special teams. The teams that have veteran quarterbacks took advantage of them, while others -- like Clemson and BC -- struggled. Here are a few of the top performers from Saturday:

MARYLAND
The defense had 12 sacks including two each by Derek Drummond and Obum Akinyili. Drummond, who is expected to be a key player at one of the end positions, also had the first scoring play of the day, sacking Jamarr Robinson in the end zone for a safety on the third series, which began at the 5-yard line.

BOSTON COLLEGE
The defense stole the show, and cornerback Isaac Johnson led the way with five tackles. Redshirt freshman defensive end Max Holloway had two quarterback sacks and returned an interception for a touchdown.

WAKE FOREST
The Deacs might have lost their leading receiver, but there are plenty of young players eager to take over, as 13 players caught at least one pass. Chris Givens finished with four catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Terence Davis led the receiving corps with six catches for 75 yards, including a gain of 25 yards. Riley Skinner completed 12 of 16 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

CLEMSON
Defensive ends Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp combined for five quarterback sacks. Malliciah Goodman, a freshman, also had a pair of sacks in the scrimmage that was played with no tackling the quarterback, so it was much easier to record sacks. Brandon Maye led the defense in tackles with seven, while Marcus Gilchrist had two tackles for loss and a 60 yard fumble return.

DUKE
The quarterbacks shone in the 60-play scrimmage with backup Sean Renfree completing 11-of-18 passes for 120 yards and 1 touchdown. Can't wait to see him play. Veteran Thaddeus Lewis completed 9-of-18 for 96 yards and an interception.

VIRGINIA TECH
Not a bad day for Beamerball. Matt Waldron made all four of his field-goal attempts, 42, 25, 46 and 25 yards, and Ryan Williams returned a punt for a touchdown. Lyndell Gibson intercepted a pass to go with five tackle. Logan Thomas completed 6-of-14 for 128 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

FLORIDA STATE
Christian Ponder put up some no-nonsense numbers, completing 15 of 20 attempts for 287 yards and four touchdowns. Jarmon Fortson made three receptions for 106 yards, while Rod Owens added three for 84, including a touchdown. Markus White led the defense with six tackles.

Around the ACC: FSU offense shines in first day with pads

August, 14, 2009
8/14/09
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here's your daily dose of practice reports from around the ACC, as reported by each school's information office:

FLORIDA STATE

Cloud cover kept the temperature from climbing Thursday morning as the Florida State football team donned full pads for the first time this preseason. It didn't take long, however, for the action to heat up as the Seminoles' offense made the lion's share of big plays.

Of course, a big day for the offense also comes with drawbacks.

"The hitting was pretty good, but too many big plays popped out of there," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden. "As a head coach you don't know who to root for, your defense or your offense. It scares me when big plays come out of there."

Quarterback Christian Ponder connected on long passes with wideouts Jarmon Fortson, Rodney Smith and Taiwan Easterling, as well as tight end Caz Piurowski, during the first five-minute period of 11-on-11 work.

"A lot of that came against the blitz and we've been working on that all week," Ponder said, offering a hint at the developing mindset on offense. "The blitz for us means big plays and that's what we've been working on and things opened up.

"We definitely didn't have enough big plays last year and stretch the field as much as we wanted to. Things are starting to open up and that's a good thing."

It should come as no surprise that Ponder had ample time to step up in the pocket created by the seasoned offensive line and deliver the football. Improving pass protection has been a point of emphasis since the conclusion of last season.

Junior center Ryan McMahon, who helps anchor the unit along with guard Rodney Hudson, was encouraged by the performance of the unit in its first real test of the preseason.

"Overall we felt we had a better practice today than we did the other day, but I'm sure there's plenty of room for us to improve," McMahon said. "Everybody's attitude was good and it was fun."

(Read full post)

FSU's Goodman wants to be 'first option'

August, 11, 2009
8/11/09
4:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Instead of speaking with reporters following an inconsistent performance at practice on Tuesday, Florida State sophomore receiver Jarmon Fortson managed to sneak out without saying a word.

Fifth-year senior Richard Goodman, however, stuck around to address his role as a "second coach" on the field this fall and how his maturity helped him get through some off-field distractions this summer.

It was a visible example of how Goodman has become the leader and voice of a group that's bursting with young, yet immature talent. The problem is, Goodman hasn't played in a game since Oct. 27, 2007. More will be needed of him this season, and so far he's shown the potential to deliver.

"He's the experienced guy that can deal with the highs and lows and keep on pushing," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said.

(Read full post)

Ranking the ACC units: Wide receivers

July, 15, 2009
7/15/09
5:01
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Tuesday we broke down the quarterbacks in the ACC, so let's figure out who the best targets are in the conference:

1. Miami -- No doubt this is the deepest group in the ACC, and it comes with a wide range of abilities. Seven freshmen were introduced last season, and five of them -- Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier and Davon Johnson -- scored touchdowns. Both Tommy Streeter (wrist surgery) and Kendall Thompkins (shoulder surgery) redshirted last year but should be factors this fall. Leonard Hankerson, a junior, is the veteran of the group.

2. Maryland -- The Terps had nine different scholarship wideouts show promise this spring, so replacing Darrius Heyward-Bey should be a smooth transition. Quintin McCree was the star in the spring game, but all of them have had their moments and should excel in the second season under offensive coordinator James Franklin. Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler should build upon last year's success, especially with a veteran quarterback throwing to them in Chris Turner.

3. Virginia Tech -- There are plenty of talented options here, but this was a young group a year ago and it's still a young group. The Hokies have something to prove on offense, and this is the year to do it. They started to turn the corner in the last two or three games of 2008 and can build on that momentum. Jarrett Boykin, Xavier Boyce, Danny Coale, Dyrell Roberts, Brandon Dillard ... depth should not be a problem. Boykin earned eight starts as a true freshman and was second with 30 receptions.

4. Boston College -- When the Eagles figure out who their quarterback is, he'll have dependable options to throw to. Rich Gunnell caught a team-high 49 passes and four touchdowns with 551 yards last year. He also returned punts and brought one back 65 yards for a score against Virginia Tech. Justin Jarvis caught 25 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns last season and will work for the other starting job. Ifeanyi Momah will look to prove that he can be more than just a situational receiver while Clarence Megwa is working to return in the fall after suffering a devastating leg injury against Clemson last season.

5. NC State -- Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer are ready to elevate their games as redshirt juniors, and now have one season as starters to build upon. Their chemistry with Russell Wilson should be better and they were No. 3 in the ACC in passing offense a year ago. Williams caught 26 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns in 2008. Spencer could be a big-play threat if he cuts down on the dropped balls.

6. Clemson -- Jacoby Ford and ... Jacoby Ford. He's one of the fastest athletes in the country and will likely be the best solo receiver in the ACC, but he'll draw all of the coverage until one of his teammates becomes a legitimate concern for opposing defenses. It will be up to Xavier Dye, Marquan Jones and Terrence Ashe to help Ford out.

7. Georgia Tech -- This should be one of the more improved units on the Jackets' roster. It was very thin last year (they started a freshman walk-on at Virginia Tech), but should have better depth this season. Demaryius Thomas should be one of the best wideouts in the conference, and he'll have more help this year with the return of sophomores Tyler Melton and Luke Fisher.

8. Florida State -- It's the Noles' lone question mark on offense, but the cupboard isn't completely bare, and Christian Ponder has plenty of confidence in the players who are there. Louis Givens, Jarmon Fortson and Bert Reed. If Taiwan Easterling heals from his Achilles injury and they get their suspended players back, this group could impress.

9. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons have to replace D.J. Boldin, but they've got enough players that the depth and speed should actually improve overall. Chris Givens and Terence Davis, both redshirts last year, impressed the staff this spring. They'll team with Devon Brown, Marshall Williams and Jordan Williams.

10. Duke -- Zero seniors. Not a good sign for a team trying to win more than one ACC game. It's not like the cupboard is bare, though. The Blue Devils will be led by sophomores Johnny Williams and Donovan Varner, who had six catches for 116 yards in the spring game. Williams finished second on the team last year with 30 catches for 327 yards. Freshmen Conner Vernon, Corey Gattis and Tyree Watkins could all push for playing time.

11. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels took a huge hit in this department and it's obviously their biggest concern heading into summer camp. It's not like they don't have players ready and willing to start, but there's nothing that can compensate for game experience, which only Greg Little has. The next most experienced receiver is Rashad Mason, who played in the Rutgers game.

12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers lost their top four receivers from last year, and coach Al Groh didn't notice that "go-to guy" yet this past spring. Sophomore Jared Green leads the returnees with 12 catches for 144 yards a year ago. Kris Burd caught seven passes as a redshirt freshman last year, and the expectations are obviously higher now.

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