ACC: Justin Jarvis
Strongest position: Linebackers
Key returnees: Mark Herzlich, Luke Kuechly
Key departures: Mike McLaughlin
The skinny: Nobody is quite sure how quickly Herzlich will be back to full speed, but having the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year alongside freshman phenom Kuechly could make this linebacker corps one of the best in the ACC. The Eagles will also have Alexander DiSanzo, who started three games last year, junior Dominick LeGrande, who had six starts, and Mike Morrissey, who started seven. Morrissey finished the season as the starter, so he could be the front-runner to replace McLaughlin.
Weakest position: Wide receiver
Key returnees: Billy Flutie, Colin Larmond Jr.
Key departures: Rich Gunnell, Justin Jarvis
The skinny: The Eagles lose three of the four on their final two-deep from 2009. Larmond is expected to start, and he was the second-leading receiver on the team behind Gunnell with 29 catches for 596 yards and five touchdowns. BC made use of its young tight ends last year and might have to do so again. The next leading receiver returning aside from Larmond is Flutie, and he had just five catches. Ryan Lindsey will be a senior and led the fundraising efforts for Herzlich, but he hasn’t played much.
Quarterback: The Eagles can’t afford to be in another situation where nobody on the roster has had a snap of collegiate experience like they were heading into 2009. This is the class where coach Frank Spaziani can build the future of the program at this position.
Running back: Montel Harris is one of the best running backs in the ACC, but he’s not invincible. After the transfer of backup Josh Haden midway through last season, the Eagles were forced to depend on Harris and only Harris. It’s time to bring in some help.
Wide receiver: BC will graduate three seniors from the two-deep in Justin Jarvis, Clarence Megwa and record-setter Rich Gunnell. Quarterback Dave Shinskie will be better in Year 2, but now he’ll have to help usher in a new supporting cast.
Wide receiver: The Tigers will have to replace standout Jacoby Ford in 2010, but they’ll also have to prepare for the losses of Xavier Dye and Terrance Ashe, who will be seniors in 2010. It was a position of concern heading into 2009 and will be again.
Defensive backs: Two of the most experienced starting cornerbacks in the conference -- Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler -- have to be replaced, but the staff also has to look ahead. Next year, the Tigers will lose All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel, free safety Marcus Gilchrist and cornerback Byron Maxwell.
Linebacker: FSU’s biggest loss here will be Dekoda Watson, but two other players on the two-deep are juniors. The Noles were hurting at every position defensively, and while the bulk of players return, they need an overall upgrade in talent.
Defensive line: Save for defensive end Markus White, who will be a senior, and Budd Thacker, who will have to be replaced, this was a relatively young group. Still, the Noles struggled to stop the run and fluster quarterbacks most of the season, and it all starts up front.
Secondary: FSU will lose cornerback Patrick Robinson, Korey Mangum and Jamie Robinson. The addition of Lamarcus Joyner should give this unit an immediate boost.
Secondary: Three starters -- Anthony Wiseman, Jamari McCollough and Terrell Skinner -- were all seniors, and standout Nolan Carroll, who was injured, will also have to be replaced. It’s time to usher in the next wave of talent here.
Linebackers/ends: The staff needs to find players here who can better fit defensive coordinator Don Brown’s scheme. Some of those linebackers could end up being defensive end/hybrid players, but the Terps need some speed off the edge.
Linemen: The Pack will lose three starters on the offensive line and all four on the defensive line. Those positions are what almost half of the staff’s commitment list is comprised of so far, and the depth at those positions had to be completely rebuilt under Tom O’Brien. Some junior college transfers could help.
Halfback: With the news that Toney Baker decided to forgo his sixth year of eligibility, and the graduation of fifth-year senior Jamelle Eugene, it couldn’t hurt the Pack to start to reload at this position.
Offensive line: Seven members on the two-deep roster were redshirt seniors in 2009, and one, starting center Russell Nenon, was a redshirt junior. Three starters will have to be replaced in 2010.
Tight end: This position will be very thin, but the staff has added two in this year’s recruiting class. Wake could also help itself by adding a fullback or two to help with the blocking.
Linebackers: It was a unit comprised mainly of redshirt seniors and juniors in 2009, so the Deacs will have immediate holes there, as well as the need to restock for the future.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Boston College is still looking for a starting quarterback, and Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest are both looking for backups. Here are a few more reports from scrimmages and spring games from sports information directors around the ACC this past weekend:
The Eagles held their second scrimmage of the spring on Friday, and sophomore quarterback Dominique Davis completed 9 of 20 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Tuggle completed 1 of 4 passes for 17 yards. Sophomore quarterback Codi Boek completed 7 of 9 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
The ball was spread around between the wide receivers, with a total of eight players catching passes. Redshirt freshman Clyde Lee led all receivers with four catches for 72 yards and one touchdown. Junior Billy Flutie had a 40-yard touchdown catch from Davis, finishing the day with three catches for 57 yards. Senior Rich Gunnell caught three passes for 23 yards and one touchdown, while senior Justin Jarvis had a 22-yard touchdown reception.
A few younger Eagles got an opportunity to showcase themselves on defense. Redshirt freshman linebacker Alexander DiSanzo led the team with seven tackles. Redshirt freshman defensive end Max Halloway had a great day all around with three tackles, one fumble recovery, one sack, and a blocked extra point. Sophomore defensive end Dan Williams totaled five tackles for the day. Junior defensive tackle Damik Scafe and senior Brendan Deska each recorded sacks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
As we get closer to signing day, recruiting moves to the forefront of the discussions, and this week I'll be breaking down each school's recruiting needs. Today we'll hit the Atlantic Division, tomorrow the Coastal.
Let's kick it off with BC:
This staff has arguably one of the toughest challenges in the league because of the timing of the coaching change, and its recruiting needs appear to be where games are won and lost -- up front.
The biggest losses on defense will be defensive tackles Ron Brace and B.J. Raji, and filling their gaping 324-pound holes won't be easy. The defensive line should be a priority for this recruiting class, as Brace's backup, Jerry Willette, is also a senior, and next season's starting defensive line will have two senior defensive ends.
The good news is the Eagles don't have to replace the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Mark Herzlich, but they will lose starter Robert Francois to graduation, and both Herzlich and starting middle linebacker Mike McLaughlin will be seniors next season. BC will also have to replace two of its four starters in the secondary.
The Eagles have a reputation for developing offensive linemen, and this season's unit was one of the best. They'll lose starting left guard Clif Ramsey, and center Matt Tennant will be a senior, as will two backups, so the staff needs to build some depth there.
Tight end Ryan Purvis and receiver Brandon Robinson are also graduating, and starting receiver Rich Gunnell and his backup, Justin Jarvis, will both be seniors, so the Eagles also need to load up on some receivers.
|Dale Zanine/US PRESSWIRE|
|Aaron Kelly is the leading returning receiver in the conference.|
Welcome to Day 3 of ACC position rankings. Once again, Clemson is on top. That speaks just as much to the Tigers' talent level this year as it does to the lack of superstars throughout the rest of the league. On Wednesday, I'll check out the unheralded offensive linemen. Here's a look at the ACC's top pass catchers, with depth AND experience being the top two factors considered.
1. Clemson -- Aaron Kelly is the leading returning receiver in the ACC, but he's not the only one with capable hands in this offense. Tyler Grisham had 60 receptions for 653 yards last year, and is also a top blocker. Jacoby Ford was in the midst of a breakout season last year, leading the team with 18.2 yards per catch, but his season was derailed by a broken ankle.
2. Boston College -- The sheer depth here puts these guys up high. Ryan Purvis could be one of the best tight ends in the ACC (54 catches for 553 yards and four touchdowns), and the Eagles also have experience in Rich Gunnell, Justin Jarvis and Clarence Megwa.
3. Florida State -- For the first time in school history, the Seminoles had three receivers over 700 yards each last season and two of them -- Preston Parker and Greg Carr -- will be back. Expectations are soaring for junior college transfer Corey Surrency, the top receiver in the Seminoles' 2008 recruiting class.
4. North Carolina -- The combo of Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate justify this spot. Nicks set a single-season school record with 74 catches for 958 yards and five touchdowns last season, while Tate averaged 19.2 yards per catch and scored five touchdowns on 25 receptions.
5. Maryland -- This is the Terps' deepest position as they return Darrius Heyward-Bey, Isaiah Williams, Danny Oquendo and LaQuan Williams. They'll be under the direction of Lee Hull, who joined the staff in March.
6. Duke -- Eron Riley led the league with 20.8 yards per catch and was fourth in the ACC last season with 69.2 receiving yards per game. Sheldon Bell had a strong spring, and if Raphael Chestnut makes a full recovery from last year's torn ACL, it could help take some attention off Riley.
7. NC State -- The Wolfpack welcome back tight end Anthony Hill, the team's leading receiver in 2006, and have depth and experience in Donald Bowens, who led the team with 15 yards per catch last year. Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer both played in every game last year as reserves.
8. Virginia -- The return of Kevin Ogletree, the team's leading receiver in 2006 who missed last season with a torn ACL, will help tremendously. There is plenty of depth behind him.
9. Miami -- Miami was last in the league in pass offense, 11th in scoring offense and 11th in total offense. The return of Jermaine McKenzie, who missed last season because of a neck injury he suffered in a car accident, along with the addition of true freshman Aldarius Johnson, could help that.
10. Wake Forest -- The departure of ACC receptions leader Kenneth Moore leaves the Deacs looking for a go-to guy. Tight end Ben Wooster was the playmaker this spring, but veteran Chip Brinkman and D.J. Boldin must also be dependable options.
12. Virginia Tech -- The Hokies fell to the bottom here because they have to replace their top four receivers from a year ago, and Brandon Dillard is now out for the season with an injury. That's not to say there isn't talent here, but it's unproven. The top two coming out of the spring were Zach Luckett and Danny Coa