ACC: Jonathan Smith

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
12:00
PM ET
We’ve already taken a look at what the recruiting needs were for the Atlantic Division. Let’s shift our attention to the Coastal Division. Here’s a look at where each school’s biggest holes will be in 2012 or are anticipated to be in the near future:

DUKE


Offensive skill positions: After last year’s rare class that didn’t include either a quarterback or running back, both positions are needed in this group. Quarterback Thomas Sirk -- the MVP of the 57th annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic last December -- has already enrolled in school while Shaquille Powell -- a PARADE All-American running back from Las Vegas -- has committed to the program. In addition, with David Cutcliffe’s offense, wide receivers and tight ends also are a priority.

Kicker: Will Snyderwine, who earned first team All-America honors as a junior before struggling through a sub-par season in 2011, graduated, but Duke has a commitment from Ohio native Ross Martin, considered the No. 2 placekicking prospect in the country by ESPN.com.

Safety: With the transition to a 4-2-5 alignment that utilizes three safeties, this becomes an annual point of emphasis. The Blue Devils lose All-American Matt Daniels to graduation.

GEORGIA TECH


Defensive line: This is the most glaring need in the current class. The Yellow Jackets have to replace senior starters Logan Walls (DT) and Jason Peters (DE), but return Izaan Cross (DE) and solid backups T.J. Barnes (DT), Emmanuel Dieke (DE) and Euclid Cummings (DE). The Jackets are expected to sign about 18 players in this year’s class, and five of them should be defensive linemen.

Wide receiver:This is another glaring need after the departures of Stephen Hill, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, and Tyler Melton. Darren Waller and Jeff Greene, who both played last season as true freshmen, have lots of potential, but the position still needs depth.


MIAMI

Defensive backs: There’s still a lot of depth with this group, and the return of Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque helps, but the Canes have to replace two starters in the secondary and have six commits in the current class to help do that.

Defensive line: The Canes have to replace Adewale Ojomo, Micanor Regis, Andrew Smith and Olivier Vernon from last year’s two-deep. The defensive end position was a particular focus in this class.

Receiver: This position lost a lot with the departures of Tommy Streeter, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin. Allen Hurns is now the veteran of the group, along with redshirt senior Kendal Thompkins. There are five receivers currently committed in this class.

Quarterback: Beyond Stephen Morris, Miami has a lot of questions at the position and not a lot of experience. True freshmen Gray Crow and Preston Dewey are already on the roster, along with redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams.

NORTH CAROLINA

Defensive line: This is one of the biggest areas of concern after the departures of Quinton Coples and Tydreke Powell.

Receivers: Larry Fedora’s offense will make good use of this group, but he needs to replace standout Dwight Jones.

Linebackers: This group was thin to begin with in 2011, and now the Heels need to replace outgoing senior Zach Brown. Kevin Reddick is now the main man.

Safety: UNC will have to replace two starters in Matt Merletti, Charles Brown and Jonathan Smith, so this position will have to be rebuilt for the future.

VIRGINIA

Defensive back: This should be the main priority in this class. The Cavaliers will lose four DBs, including two starting safeties in Rodney McCleod and Corey Mosley, and standout cornerback Chase Minnifield. They’ll also miss Dom Joseph, who came in for the nickel packages. Demetrious Nicholson, who started as a true freshman last year, is suddenly the veteran of the group.

Offensive line: The Hoos will have to replace their starting center and left guard. Redshirt freshman center Cody Wallace could get a promotion, and sophomore right guard Luke Bowanko started in the bowl game. They’ve got some big bodies waiting in the wings, but they’ll have some questions to answer here this spring.

Kickers: This position needs to be rebuilt, as the Cavaliers lose Robert Randolph, who finished sixth all time in scoring at UVa, kickoff specialist Chris Hinkebein, and four-year punter Jimmy Howell. The position is wide open heading into the spring.

VIRGINIA TECH

Running back: This one is a no-brainer, as the Hokies have lost four players here in the past two years. David Wilson and his backup, Josh Oglesby, were the latest to depart, and Tony Gregory just had ACL surgery and is out for the spring. The staff likes Michael Holmes, who redshirted last year, and J.C. Coleman enrolled last week.

Receiver: The Hokies will miss Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin, and next year’s class has three seniors in Dyrell Roberts, D.J. Coles, and Marcus Davis. The future of the position is young, and the staff is still going after several uncommitted players pretty hard.

Defensive line: This year’s class already includes at least five committed defensive linemen, and the Hokies will be particularly thin at noseguard. They had some players graduate early who didn’t play a lot, but at least provided depth.

Linebacker:The Hokies have four committed, and are still chasing another just to build the depth. The staff missed on some recruits at this position last year and would like to make up for it in this class.

ACC injury reports: Week 8

October, 21, 2011
10/21/11
10:00
AM ET
BOSTON COLLEGE

Out
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DT Connor Wujciak (shoulder)
TB Montel Harris (knee)
DL Kaleb Ramsey (foot)
RB Tahj Kimble (head)
DT Dillon Quinn (shoulder)

Probable
OG Nate Richman (back)

CLEMSON

Out
Joe Gore, DE, Knee
Spencer Benton, PK, shoulder
Tony Steward, LB, Knee

DUKE

Probable
WR Brandon Braxton (head)
S August Campbell (leg)

Questionable
C Dave Harding (leg)
C Brian Moore (arm)
WR Donovan Varner (leg)
CB Johnny Williams (leg)

Out
S Lee Butler (leg)
QB Brandon Connette (upper body)

Out for season
TE Jack Farrell (leg)
DE Kenny Anunike (leg)

FLORIDA STATE

Out
OT Andrew Datko (shoulder)
OG David Spurlock (knee)
OG Henry Orelus (head)
WR Willie Haulstead (head)
WR Josh Gehres (knee)
DT Darious Cummings (hand)
DT Moses McCray (knee)

Questionable
WR Rashad Greene (ankle)

Out for season
DT Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)
RB Chris Thompson (back)

GEORGIA TECH

Probable
Jeremiah Attaochu, LB

Out

Tyler Morgan, LS

Out for the season

Fred Holton, S
Jimmie Kitchen, DL
Lance Richardson, S

MARYLAND

Out for the season
WR Tyrek Cheeseboro
OL Andrew Gonnella
DB Avery Graham
LB Garrett Lederman
DB Matt Robinson
DL Isaiah Ross
TE Dave Stinebaugh

Out
DL Justin Anderson
WR Kevin Dorsey
OL Justin Gilbert
LB Shaquan Virgil

Doubtful
LB Demetrius Hartsfield
LB Kenny Tate

Questionable
DL Andre Monroe

Probable
OL Pete White

MIAMI

Out
Luther Robinson - Lower Extremity
Shayon Green - Lower Extremity
Curtis Porter - Upper Extremity
Rashawn Scott - Upper Extremity

Surgery/Out for the season
Marcus Forston - Lower Extremity
Ramon Buchanan - Lower Extremity
Cory White - Lower Extremity
Erik Lichter - Upper Extremity
Blake Ayles - Upper Extremity

NORTH CAROLINA

Out
Casey Barth, PK Thigh
Curtis Byrd, FB Knee
Kiaro Holts, OT Wrist
Devon Ramsay, FB Knee

Questionable
T.J. Leifheit, OT Ankle

Probable
Giovani Bernard, TB Hip
A.J. Blue, TB Ankle
Erik Highsmith, WR Ankle
Cam Holland, C Back
Jonathan Smith, S Ankle

NC STATE

Out for the season
Jarvis Byrd, CB - knee
Mustafa Greene, HB - foot
Sterling Lucas, LB - knee

Out
Taylor Gentry, FB - foot
Jake Kahut, DE - knee
Jeff Rieskamp, DE - shoulder
Thomas Teal, DT - foot
Curtis Underwood, HB - foot

Questionable
D.J. Green, LB - abdomen
J.R. Sweezy, DT - foot

VIRGINIA

Out
Pablo Alvarez (upper extremity)
Diamonte Bailey (lower extremity)
Darius Lee (upper extremity)
Charlie Richards (upper extremity)
E.J. Scott (medical)
Bobby Smith (lower extremity)
Tyler Smith (lower extremity)
Matt Snyder (lower extremity)
Joseph Williams (lower extremity)

Doubtful
Tim Cwalina (lower extremity)
Michael Terrell (lower extremity)

Questionable
Brian Oden (lower extremity)

Probable
Luke Bowanko (lower extremity)
Henry Coley (lower extremity)
Cam Johnson (lower extremity)
Jake McGee (lower extremity)
Clifton Richardson (lower extremity)
Michael Rocco (trunk)

VIRGINIA TECH

Out for the Season
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (foot)
Antoine Hopkins (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)
E.L. Smiling (wrist)

Out
Eric Martin (shoulder)
Mark Shuman (knee/ankle)
David Wang (foot)

Doubtful
Jayron Hosley (hamstring)

WAKE FOREST

Probable
RB Josh Harris (leg)
TE Andrew Parker (ankle)
DT Tristan Dorty (ankle)
C Garrick Williams (ankle)
NT Duke Mosby (illness)

Out
NT Ramon Booi (knee)
DT John Gallagher (back)

Out for the season
OT Dylan Heartsil (back)
CB Dominique Tate (knee)
LB Kyle Jarrett (hip)
Tags:

Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Miami Hurricanes, ACC, Casey Barth, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Donovan Varner, Dillon Quinn, Sterling Lucas, Matt Robinson, Justin Gilbert, Justin Anderson, Ramon Buchanan, Kwamaine Battle, Dyrell ROberts, Tristan Dorty, Demetrius Hartsfield, Marcus Forston, Andrew Gonnella, Jeff Rieskamp, Cam Johnson, Montel Harris, Antoine Hopkins, Andrew Datko, Matt Snyder, Kevin Dorsey, Spencer Benton, Johnny Williams, Devon Ramsay, Andrew Parker, Dave Harding, Josh Gehres, Jacobbi McDaniel, David Wang, Kenny Tate, Cam Holland, Luther Robinson, Taylor Gentry, Moses McCray, Chris Thompson, Kenny Anunike, Willie Haulstead, Ifeanyi Momah, Kaleb Ramsey, Lee Butler, David Spurlock, Pete White, Cory White, Shayon Green, Bobby Smith, Erik Highsmith, Isaiah Ross, Curtis Porter, Jayron Hosley, Tyler Smith, Jake McGee, Jeremiah Attaochu, Mustafa Greene, Curtis Underwood, Michael Rocco, Brandon Connette, Clifton Richardson, T.J. Leifheit, J.R. Sweezy, Ramon Booi, John Gallagher, Dominique Tate, Josh Harris, Garrick Williams, Jarvis Byrd, Brandon Braxton, Giovani Bernard, August Campbell, Jonathan Smith, Henry Orelus, Eric Martin, Brian Oden, Tony Steward, Brian Moore, Fred Holton, D.J. Green, Blake Ayles, Dave Stinebaugh, Avery Graham, Henry Coley, Luke Bowanko, Rashawn Scott, E.L. Smiling, Pablo Alvarez, Curtis Byrd, Tahj Kimble, Mark Shuman, Rashad Greene, Thomas Teal, Tim Cwalina, Darius Lee, Jack Farrell, Jimmie Kitchen, Kiaro Holts, Connor Wujciak, Nate Richman, Andre Monroe, Darious Cummings, Garrett Lederman, Shaquan Virgil, Tyler Morgan, Erik LIchter, Charlie Richards, E.J. SCott, Dylan Heartsil, Kyle Jarrett, Tyrek Cheeseboro, Lance Richardson, Duke Mosby, Diamonte Bailey, Joseph Williams, Michael Terrell, Jake Kahut

Week 7 injury reports

October, 14, 2011
10/14/11
10:30
AM ET
All 10 teams that are playing this weekend have released their injury reports for Week 7:

CLEMSON

OUT
DE Joe Gore (knee)
PK Spencer Benton (shoulder)

WILL PLAY
QB Tajh Boyd (hip)
LB Stephone Anthony (ankle)

DUKE

PROBABLE
DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (leg)
DE Justin Foxx (leg)
C Dave Harding (leg)
RB Desmond Scott (leg)
RB Josh Snead (foot)
K Will Snyderwine (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
S Matt Daniels (leg)
CB Johnny Williams (leg)

DOUBTFUL
S August Campbell (leg)

OUT
S Lee Butler (leg)
QB Brandon Connette (upper body)
C Brian Moore (arm)

OUT FOR SEASON
TE Jack Farrell (leg)
DE Kenny Anunike (leg)

FLORIDA STATE

OUT
Willie Haulstead (head)
Henry Orelus (head)
Josh Gehres (knee)
Darious Cummings (hand)
Andrew Datko (shoulder)
David Spurlock (knee)

QUESTIONABLE

Rashad Greene (ankle)

GEORGIA TECH

DOUBTFUL
LB Jeremiah Attaochu

OUT
K-P Chandler Anderson
OL Morgan Bailey
WR Tyler Morgan

OUT FOR SEASON
S Fred Holton
DL Jimmie Kitchen
S Lance Richardson

MARYLAND

OUT FOR SEASON
OL Andrew Gonnella
DB Matt Robinson
DL Isaiah Ross
TE Dave Stinebaugh

OUT FOR GAME
DL Justin Anderson
OL Justin Gilbert
LB Demetrius Hartsfield
LB Garrett Lederman
DL Andre Monroe
LB Shaquan Virgil

DOUBTFUL
LB Kenny Tate

QUESTIONABLE
LB Darin Drakeford

PROBABLE
WR Marcus Leak

MIAMI

PROBABLE
Jalen Grimble (lower extremity)
Kacy Rodgers (lower extremity)
Adewale Ojomo (upper extremity)
Thurston Armbrister (upper extremity)
Davon Johnson (lower extremity)

OUT
Luther Robinson (lower extremity)
Shayon Green (lower extremity)
Curtis Porter (upper extremity)

SURGERY/OUT FOR SEASON
Marcus Forston (lower extremity)
Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity)
Cory White (lower extremity)
Erik Lichter (upper extremity)
Blake Ayles (upper extremity)

NORTH CAROLINA

OUT

OT Kiaro Holts (wrist)
FB Devon Ramsay (knee)

DOUBTFUL

PK Casey Barth (thigh)
C Cam Holland (back)

QUESTIONABLE

TB AJ Blue (ankle)
OT TJ Leifheit (ankle)
LB Kevin Reddick (ankle)
SS Jonathan Smith (ankle)

PROBABLE

WR Josh Adams (illness)

VIRGINIA

OUT
Pablo Alvarez (upper extremity)
Vince Croce (medical)
Tim Cwalina (lower extremity)
Darius Lee (upper extremity)
Charlie Richards (upper extremity)
E.J. Scott (medical)
Bobby Smith (lower extremity)
Tyler Smith (lower extremity)

QUESTIONABLE
Henry Coley (lower extremity)

VIRGINIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (foot)
Antoine Hopkins (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)

OUT FOR GAME
James Gayle (ankle)
Eric Martin (shoulder)
David Wang (foot)

FULL
Jaymes Brooks (ankle)

WAKE FOREST

DOUBTFUL
RB Josh Harris (leg)

OUT
TE Neil Basford (knee)
DT John Gallagher (back)

OUT FOR THE YEAR
OT Dylan Heartsil (back)
CB Dominique Tate (knee)
LB Kyle Jarrett (hip)
Tags:

Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Miami Hurricanes, ACC, Casey Barth, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Jaymes Brooks, Kevin Reddick, Matt Daniels, Matt Robinson, Justin Gilbert, Justin Anderson, Will Snyderwine, Adewale Ojomo, Ramon Buchanan, Kwamaine Battle, Dyrell ROberts, Demetrius Hartsfield, Marcus Forston, Andrew Gonnella, Antoine Hopkins, Andrew Datko, Darin Drakeford, Spencer Benton, Johnny Williams, Devon Ramsay, Davon Johnson, Dave Harding, Josh Gehres, David Wang, Chandler Anderson, Josh Adams, Kenny Tate, Cam Holland, Luther Robinson, Desmond Scott, Kenny Anunike, Willie Haulstead, James Gayle, Lee Butler, David Spurlock, Cory White, Shayon Green, Bobby Smith, Isaiah Ross, Curtis Porter, Tyler Smith, Jeremiah Attaochu, Josh Snead, Justin Foxx, Brandon Connette, John Gallagher, Dominique Tate, Josh Harris, Marcus Leak, August Campbell, Jonathan Smith, Henry Orelus, Eric Martin, TJ Leifheit, Stephone Anthony, Brian Moore, Fred Holton, Blake Ayles, Dave Stinebaugh, Henry Coley, Morgan Bailey, Pablo Alvarez, Kacy Rodgers, Rashad Greene, Tim Cwalina, Darius Lee, Jack Farrell, Jimmie Kitchen, Kiaro Holts, Jalen Grimble, Thurston Armbrister, Andre Monroe, Darious Cummings, Garrett Lederman, Shaquan Virgil, Jordan DeWalt, Tyler Morgan, LOance Richardson, Erik LIchter, Vince Croce, Charlie Richards, E.J. SCott, Neil Basford, Dylan Heartsil, Kyle Jarrett

ACC injury reports: Week 6

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
10:30
AM ET
Here are your weekly injury reports, from the ACC schools that reported them:

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DL Connor Wujciak (shoulder)
TB Montel Harris (knee)
DL Kaleb Ramsey (foot)

DOUBTFUL
RB Andre Williams (leg)

QUESTIONABLE
OG Nate Richman (back)
OG Ian White (foot)

CLEMSON

OUT
DE Joe Gore (knee)
PK Spencer Benton (shoulder)

PROBABLE
RB Andre Ellington (hamstring)
RB D.J. Howard (hamstring)
RB Mansa Joseph (hamstring)

FLORIDA STATE

OUT
Willie Haulstead (head)
Henry Orelus (head)
Josh Gehres (knee)
Darious Cummings (hand)
Jarred Haggins (hand)

QUESTIONABLE
Nick Moody (leg)
Garrett Faircloth (head)
Andrew Datko (shoulder)

GEORGIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
S Fred Holton
DL Jimmie Kitchen

OUT
LB Brandon Watts

QUESTIONABLE
LB Jeremiah Attaochu
LB Daniel Drummond

MARYLAND

OUT FOR SEASON
DB Matt Robinson
TE Dave Stinebaugh

OUT FOR GAME
DL Justin Anderson
LB Darin Drakeford
OL Justin Gilbert
LB Garrett Lederman
DL Andre Monroe
DL Isaiah Ross
LB Shaquan Virgil

DOUBTFUL LB Kenny Tate

PROBABLE PK Nick Ferrara
TE Matt Furstenburg

MIAMI

OUT
Luther Robinson (lower extremity)
Jalen Grimble (lower extremity)
Thurston Armbrister (upper extremity)

SURGERY/OUT FOR SEASON
Marcus Forston (lower extremity)
Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity)
Corey White (lower extremity)
Curtis Porter (upper extremity)
Eric Lichter (upper extremity)
Blake Ayles (upper extremity)

NORTH CAROLINA

OUT

PK Casey Barth (thigh)
OT Kiaro Holts (wrist)
FB Devon Ramsay (knee)

DOUBTFUL

WR Josh Adams (illness)
RB Matt Kolojejchick (thigh)
LB Norkeithus Otis (foot)

QUESTIONABLE

RB AJ Blue (ankle)
C Cam Holland (back)
OT TJ Leifheit (ankle)
LB Ebele Okakpu (ankle)
LB Kevin Reddick (ankle)
CB Terry Shankle (knee)
SS Jonathan Smith (ankle)

VIRGINIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Antoine Hopkins (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)

OUT
Eric Martin (shoulder)
David Wang (foot)

Week 5 ACC injury reports

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
10:30
AM ET
Here are the injury reports for Week 5 from the ACC schools that reported them:

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DL Connor Wujciak (shoulder)

DOUBTFUL
OG Nate Richman (back)

QUESTIONABLE
DT Kaleb Ramsey (foot)
LB Nick Clancy (shoulder)

CLEMSON

Out
Mansa Joseph, RB, Special Teams, hamstring

Probable
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, hamstring
Dawson Zimmerman, P, knee
D.J. Howard, RB, hamstring
David Smith, OG, shoulder

DUKE

CB Ross Cockrell (leg) – Probable
K Will Snyderwine (foot) – Probable
CB Johnny Williams (leg) – Probable
RB Desmond Scott (leg) – Questionable
RB Josh Snead (foot) – Questionable
QB Brandon Connette (upper body) – OUT
S Lee Butler (leg) – OUT
C Brian Moore (arm) – OUT
DE Kenny Anunike (leg) – OUT FOR SEASON
TE Jack Farrell (leg) – OUT FOR SEASON

GEORGIA TECH
OUT
Morgan Bailey, r-Fr., OL

PROBABLE
Preston Lyons, Sr., BB

OUT FOR YEAR
Fred Holton, So., S
Jimmie Kitchen, r-Fr., DL

MIAMI

Out:
Luther Robinson—Lower Extremity
Jalen Grimble—Lower Extremity
Thurston Armbrister—Upper Extremity

Surgery/Out for the season:
Corey White—Lower Extremity
Curtis Porter—Upper Extremity

NORTH CAROLINA

Out
Casey Barth, PK Thigh
Kiaro Holts, OT Wrist
Devon Ramsay, FB Knee

Doubtful
Josh Adams, WR Illness
Matt Kolojejchick, RB Thigh
Jonathan Smith, SS Ankle

Questionable
TJ Leifheit, OT Ankle
Ebele Okakpu, LB Ankle
Terry Shankle, CB Knee

Probable
Erik Highsmith, WR Ankle
Jabari Price, CB Finger

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON
Jarvis Byrd, CB - knee
Sterling Lucas, LB - knee

OUT
A.J. Ferguson, DT - knee
Mustafa Greene, HB - foot
Terrell Manning, LB - knee
Quintin Payton, WR - ankle
Jeff Rieskamp, DE - shoulder
Brian Slay, DT - ankle
Thomas Teal, DT - foot
Curtis Underwood, HB - knee
Andrew Wallace, OG - knee

QUESTIONABLE
J.R. Sweezy, DT - foot

VIRGINIA TECH

Out for season:
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)

Out
Eric Martin (AC joint)
David Wang (foot)

UNC secondary ready to reload

July, 21, 2011
7/21/11
2:00
PM ET
When North Carolina lined up against LSU in the season opener last year, the Tar Heels were without their entire starting secondary and top reserve safety, all of whom were held out of the game because of the NCAA investigation. The situation worsened in the first quarter when Mywan Jackson suffered a head injury. The Tar Heels turned to true freshman Tre Boston, and walk-on Pete Mangum was the nickel back.

[+] EnlargeMatt Merletti
Bob Donnan/US PresswireThe Tar Heels' Matt Merletti is part of an experienced secondary that learned on the job last season.
Nothing but experience could have possibly prepared any of them for that game.

“It’s hard to learn all of the signals,” safety Matt Merletti said. “You can’t hear when you’re out there, especially in the Georgia Dome. You can’t hear anything. It’s all hand signals. It’s like sign language. That was one of the hardest parts, making sure everyone knew the play. The first touchdown they scored, we were running two different plays. It was hard to try and get everybody on the same page. That was just inexperience.”

That was then.

On paper, North Carolina’s secondary looks like a concern, as three starters from a year ago must be replaced. On the field, though, there is enough talent and experience returning that the Tar Heels should be able to reload in the secondary, not rebuild. Last year’s disaster has turned into beneficial experience for this year’s group, which has come a long way since the loss to LSU.

“That was a huge, huge growing experience for us,” Merletti said. “Before the LSU game, I had had one play on defense. It was my sophomore year back in 2008. A lot of us, Tre, Jabari (Price), Gene Robinson and myself, we were really thrown into the fire so to speak. Our coaches called it baptism by fire. It’s hard to do at first, but it really does help you in the long run and you develop as players much quicker on defense.”

Last season, Charles Brown, who would have been a starter, missed the entire season because of the NCAA investigation. He returns this fall and is a projected starter. Safety Jonathan Smith, who was the third safety two seasons ago and played about 22-25 snaps a game, also missed last season because of the NCAA investigation, but returns as a projected starter this season. Both spent all of last season on the scout team. Boston, who moved from corner to safety this past spring, and Price, who started the final four games of 2010 at cornerback, are now expected to show even more progress as full-time starters.

Defensive backs coach Troy Douglas said he doesn’t expect Brown or Smith to be rusty this fall.

“I think they’ll be fine,” he said. “They’ll get the speed of the game back. We do a lot of work good on good, so they’ll get the speed of the game back. I worry a little more if they’ve never played before, but they all have played. It’s just a matter of getting back in the flow and getting the speed of the game.”

Douglas said he wants more depth in the secondary, but the Tar Heels are in good shape with Merletti, who was the nickel back last season and will be the first safety in, Jackson, who has limited starting experience, and Robinson, who has played nickel, cornerback and safety. The staff has yet to determine what Robinson’s role will be this season, but he’s proven capable of three.

“The thing I think we’ve done is we’ve gotten bigger,” Douglas said. “I love KB (Kendric Burney) and those guys, but the corners we have now, we’re recruiting bigger kids. Our safeties are big, but by moving a corner to safety, I’m talking about Tre, you probably get a little more athletic. You worry about will he tackle? He proved in the spring, he faced up Ryan Houston several times in the spring, and I don’t expect we’ll play a back any bigger than him at 240. If he’ll stick his face in there against him, I imagine he’ll do it during the season.”

After last season’s surprise initiation, all of the rookie defensive backs should be better prepared to face the competition.

“It definitely made us confident,” Merletti said. “It doesn’t get any bigger than that. It was a good experience to have.”
Moving on to the safeties …

[+] EnlargeRay-Ray Armstrong
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireRay-Ray Armstrong is among the leaders of a strong Miami secondary.
1. Miami: Vaughn Telemaque and Ray-Ray Armstrong return, but JoJo Nicolas moved to corner. Even though Armstrong wasn’t a starter last year, he still ranked third on the team with 79 tackles and tied for the team lead with three interceptions.

2. Florida State: The Seminoles return both starters in Nick Moody and Terrance Parks. Moody had 79 tackles last season and Parks had 44 and six deflections. The group was strengthened with the addition of Lamarcus Joyner, who moved from cornerback and proved this spring he’s capable of being a safety.

3. NC State: The Wolfpack has two of the best in Earl Wolff, the team’s leading tackler last season with 95, and Brandan Bishop, who had 56 tackles and a team-high four interceptions. Dontae Johnson (22 tackles), also returns.

4. Virginia Tech: Eddie Whitley is the lone returning starter, but he should be one of the best in the ACC. Antone Exum, who was the No. 2 free safety last season, moved to rover this spring. He played in every game last season and had five starts when Tech went to its nickel defense.

5. Virginia: The Cavaliers return veteran starters in Rodney McLeod and Corey Mosley, who have combined for 41 career starts. Mosley had 52 tackles and two interceptions last season, and McLeod had 54 tackles and four pass breakups. Safety Dom Joseph (34 tackles) also returns.

6. Duke: The Blue Devils return both starters in Matt Daniels and Lee Butler. Daniels, a senior, has started 25 career games and is one of the top returning tacklers in the ACC. Butler had 58 tackles and nine passes defended last season.

7. Boston College: The Eagles return juniors Jim Noel, who had four interceptions in eight starts, and Okechukwu Okoroha, who started the final six games last fall. Noel, Okoroha, and Dominick LeGrande combined for 90 tackles last season.

8. Wake Forest: Both starters return in Daniel Mack and Cyhl Quarles. Mack had 45 tackles and two interceptions last season. Duran Lowe (30 tackles) could unseat Quarles, who is Wake’s leading returning tackler with 71 hits. Redshirt freshman Desmond Cooper is also competing for playing time.

9. Clemson: Rashard Hall has 19 career starts and made 62 tackles and two interceptions last season. Safety Jonathan Meeks (28 tackles, one start) also returns, along with Carlton Lewis.

10. Maryland: Just as Kenny Tate’s move to linebacker bumped the Terps up in the ranking in that category, his departure from safety drops them a few notches as they now don’t have any returning starters there. They do, however, have experience. Eric Franklin played in 11 games, with 23 tackles and three interceptions (tied for second on the team). Matt Robinson played in all 13 games and posted 29 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles. The Terps have plenty of depth with Austin Walker, Titus Till, Anthony Green and Desmond Haynes.

11. North Carolina: Matt Merletti had five starts and Jonathan Smith, who lettered in 2008 and 2009 but missed all of last season, are the projected starters. They will be pushed by junior Gene Robinson (four starts, 30 tackles, one interception) for playing time.

12. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace both of their safeties in Mario Edwards and Jerrard Tarrant. Safety Fred Holton (11 tackles) and Isaiah Johnson (46 tackles, one interception) are the two most likely front-runners to start this fall.

North Carolina spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
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2010 overall record: 8-5

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Dwight Jones, WR Erik Highsmith, OT James Hurst, OG Jonathan Cooper, C Cam Holland, DE Quinton Coples, DT Jared McAdoo, DE Donte Paige-Moss, DT Tydreke Powell, LB Kevin Reddick, CB Charles Brown

Key losses

QB T.J. Yates, TE Zack Pianalto, TB Johnny White, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendric Burney, S Deunta Williams, S Da’Norris Searcy

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Johnny White (720 yards)

Passing: T.J. Yates (3,418 yds)

Receiving: Dwight Jones* (946 yds)

Tackles: Kevin Reddick* (74)

Sacks: Quinton Coples* (10)

Interceptions: Da'Norris Searcy (4)

Spring answers

1. The offensive line should be the best since Butch Davis arrived in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels had to replace two starters in OT Mike Ingersoll and OG Alan Pelc, but Travis Bond has earned the starting job at right guard and Brennan Williams at right tackle. The left side of the line will be particularly strong with guard Jonathan Cooper (22 career starts), and OT James Hurst. This is also a large group, averaging 319 pounds.

2. There’s depth on the defensive line. There was enough depth this spring to move Coples from tackle back to end, his natural position. The Tar Heels have Paige-Moss at right end, Jordan Nix and Powell at tackle, and junior college transfer Sylvester Williams was pushing Nix for the starting job. Jared McAdoo has played both positions, and the staff has four tackles it feels good about.

3. Bryn Renner has taken over. Heading into the spring, Davis wouldn’t anoint Renner his 2011 starter just yet. Now, there’s no question it’s Renner’s job, as none of the other candidates came close to him this spring. True freshman Marquise Williams went through a major learning curve, and A.J. Blue and Braden Hanson didn’t close the gap.

Fall questions

1. Looking for a linebacker. Outside linebacker Zach Brown and middle linebacker Kevin Reddick have starting jobs locked up, but Herman Davidson and Darius Lipford will take their competition into summer camp.

2. Helping hands at tight end. Last year, 79 of the receptions were to tight ends, and Ryan Taylor and Zack Pianalto were two of the top three receivers on the team (combined for 66 catches last year). The staff recruited well at the position, but those players didn’t enroll early. Nelson Hurst, Christian Wilson and Sean Fitzpatrick were the lead candidates this spring.

3. Revamped secondary. All four starters must be replaced, but Jabari Price started the final four games at corner last season. There are six candidates for the safety positions, but Brown, Jonathan Smith and Brian Gupton all missed last season because of the NCAA investigation. Senior Matt Merletti emerged as a leader last year, safety Gene Robinson is in the mix, and safety Josh Hunter had a good spring game with six tackles and an interception. Tre Boston moved from corner to safety.

Possible ACC candidates for Broyles Award

October, 19, 2010
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There are two ACC assistant coaches this year who immediately come to mind as possible candidates for this year's Frank Broyles Award, which is given to the top assistant coach in the country: Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops and North Carolina defensive coordinator Everett Withers.

Stoops was hired to turn around one of the country's worst defenses, which he has done with remarkable speed, and Withers has managed to hold opponents to just under 20 points per game despite missing seven starters heading into the season and losing two of the country's best defensive linemen to NCAA investigations.

NORTH CAROLINA

  • UNC is still without the following defensive starters: defensive tackle Marvin Austin (dismissed), defensive end Robert Quinn (permanently ineligible), cornerback Kendric Burney (case still pending) and cornerback Charles Brown (case still pending). The following backups are also still missing: strong safety Jonathan Smith (one year of eligibility remaining), free safety Brian Gupton (one year of eligibility remaining), defensive end Michael McAdoo (case still pending). And yet ...
  • UNC is fourth in the country in red zone defense.
  • UNC is third in the ACC in pass efficiency defense and No. 22 in the country in pass defense.
  • UNC ranks seventh in the country in turnover margin thanks in part to 11 interceptions and five recovered fumbles.
FLORIDA STATE
  • FSU was No. 108 in rushing defense last year (204.62 yards per game) and is No. 18 now (104.86).
  • No. 94 in scoring defense a year ago (30 points per game) and No. 15 now (16.14)
  • No. 108 in total defense (434.62) to No. 22 now (308.14).
  • No. 58 in sacks in 2009, No. 1 now.
  • The list goes on.

Both are deserving of consideration, but my vote would go to Stoops. The program hasn't been tainted by an NCAA investigation (this year), and the defensive improvement is a major reason why Florida State is still undefeated in league play.
UNC fullback Devon Ramsay will not play in today’s game against Clemson because of information gathered this week as part of the ongoing NCAA investigation into possible agent extra benefits and academic misconduct, the school announced on Saturday.
“It is unfortunate that we have to hold out an additional student-athlete, but as we have stated, we are still in the process of gathering information related to the investigation,” athletic director Dick Baddour said in a prepared statement. “Yesterday [Friday], we learned information that requires us to hold him out of competition.
“I caution against making judgments as it will take time to process Devon’s situation, just as it has for other student-athletes.”

Additionally, Jonathan Smith, a senior safety from Durham, will not play in 2010. He will have one season of athletic eligibility remaining. The release did not state why Smith will not play.
North Carolina lost before it even stepped on the plane this morning.

A total of 15 players have either been declared ineligible or remain in limbo for Saturday's season opener against LSU for violations of school and/or NCAA rules, according to a release this morning from the university.

Starters Marvin Austin, Charles Brown, Kendric Burney, Greg Little and Robert Quinn have all been declared ineligible, along with backup defensive end Michael McAdoo. Six others, including the 1-2 punch running back combo of Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston, starting safety Da'Norris Searcy, and backups Linwan Euwell, safety Brian Gupton and safety Jonathan Smith will all be held out of the game while the investigations continue.

The total number of games those 12 players are expected to miss has not been determined, as the NCAA's investigation into possible improper contact with agents and academic misconduct continues.

UNC is also working with the NCAA today to determine the eligibility status of three other players who will not travel to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A kickoff. The Tar Heels left on Friday morning.

This is a huge punch in the gut, not only for North Carolina's chances at beating LSU (game over), but also for the Tar Heels' hopes for the entire season. This is bigger than Butch Davis and any one player within the program. This is the kind of devastating news that could impact the entire season.

T.J. Yates' interceptions? They're the least of UNC's worries.

The Tar Heels will be missing their leading receiver, the top three rushers (Little was third), the top two punt returners, two of the top three interception leaders, and two of the top four tacklers. The two-deep on the preseason depth chart at running back, strong safety and right defensive end will now start with the third-string player, or others will have to be moved around.

“As I have said, there is no single game more important than the character and integrity of this university,” Davis said in the release. “We are disappointed the players’ choices have denied them the opportunity to compete alongside their teammates and represent the University of North Carolina. Our coaches and players have a tremendous challenge this weekend, and despite these circumstances, our team will be excited to face LSU.”

Too bad UNC's fans won't be excited to watch it.

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