ACC: LaRon Byrd

As mentioned in lunch links, Clemson announced the signings of undrafted lineman Landon Walker (Cincinnati Bengals) and punter Dawson Zimmerman (Atlanta Falcons). And a couple of generous readers have passed along a few more signings from ACC schools.

Virginia Tech guard Blake DeChristopher signed with the Cardinals, and Hokies defensive back Cris Hill signed with the Bills.

Big thanks to Matt from Alexandria, Va., Ben in Blacksburg, Va., and Lynn in Blacksburg, Va., for the head's up.

The updated, working list is below. Feel free to pass along any oversights.

BOSTON COLLEGE
CB Donnie Fletcher: New York Jets

CLEMSON
DE Kourtnei Brown: San Francisco 49ers
FB Chad Diehl: Baltimore Ravens
OL Antoine McClain: Baltimore Ravens
DT Rennie Moore: Houston Texans
OT Landon Walker: Cincinnati Bengals
P Dawson Zimmerman: Atlanta Falcons

DUKE
S Matt Daniels: St. Louis Rams

FSU
WR Bert Reed: Cleveland Browns
S Terrence Parks: Kansas City Chiefs
P Shawn Powell: Buffalo Bills

MARYLAND
CB Cameron Chism: Indianapolis Colts
RB Davin Meggett: Houston Texans

MIAMI
WR LaRon Byrd: Arizona Cardinals
OL Joel Figueroa: Miami Dolphins (rookie camp tryout)
TE Chase Ford: Philadelphia Eagles
DL Marcus Forston: New England Patriots
LB Jordan Futch: Tampa Bay Bucaneers
G Harland Gunn: Dallas Cowboys
QB Jacory Harris: Miami Dolphins (rookie camp tryout)
C Tyler Horn: Atlanta Falcons
S JoJo Nicolas: New York Giants
DL Adewale Ojomo: New York Giants
DT Micanor Regis: Atlanta Falcons

UNC
CB Charles Brown: Baltimore Ravens
C Cam Holland: Kansas City Chiefs
WR Dwight Jones: Houston Texans
S Matt Merletti: Indianapolis Colts
DT Tydreke Powell: Minnesota Vikings

NC STATE
TE George Bryan: Dallas Cowboys
FB Taylor Gentry: Kansas City Chiefs

VIRGINIA
CB Chase Minnifield: Washington Redskins
OG Austin Pasztor: Minnesota Vikings
S Rodney McLeod: St. Louis Rams
DT Matt Conrath: St. Louis Rams

VIRGINIA TECH
WR Jarrett Boykin: Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Jaymes Brooks: Green Bay Packers
G Blake DeChristopher: Arizona Cardinals
CB Cris Hill: Buffalo Bills
S Eddie Whitley: Dallas Cowboys

WAKE FOREST
TE Cameron Ford: Green Bay Packers
S Cyhl Quarles: Baltimore Ravens
Thirty-one players from ACC schools were drafted this past weekend, but many more signed free-agent deals with NFL teams in the aftermath of the draft.

The following is a list of ACC players, by school, who have signed undrafted free agent deals with NFL teams. It was compiled largely from NFL.com, along with official releases from NFL teams and ACC schools. Georgia Tech is the only ACC school currently without an undrafted free-agent signing.

By all means, feel free to let me know if I have overlooked anyone.

BOSTON COLLEGE
CB Donnie Fletcher - New York Jets

CLEMSON
DE Kourtnel Brown - San Francisco 49ers
FB Chad Diehl - Baltimore Ravens
OL Antoine McClain - Baltimore Ravens
DT Rennie Moore - Houston Texans

DUKE
S Matt Daniels - St. Louis Rams

FSU
WR Bert Reed - Cleveland Browns
S Terrence Parks - Kansas City Chiefs
P Shawn Powell - Buffalo Bills

MARYLAND
CB Cameron Chism - Indianapolis Colts
RB Davin Meggett - Houston Texans

MIAMI
WR LaRon Byrd - Arizona Cardinals
TE Chase Ford - Philadelphia Eagles
DL Marcus Forston - New England Patriots
LB Jordan Futch - Tampa Bay Bucaneers
G Harland Gunn - Dallas Cowboys
C Tyler Horn - Atlanta Falcons
S JoJo Nicolas - New York Giants
DL Adewale Ojomo - New York Giants
DT Micanor Regis - Atlanta Falcons

UNC
CB Charles Brown - Baltimore Ravens
C Cam Holland - Kansas City Chiefs
WR Dwight Jones - Houston Texans
S Matt Merletti - Indianapolis Colts
DT Tydreke Powell - Minnesota Vikings

NC STATE
TE George Bryan - Dallas Cowboys
FB Taylor Gentry - Kansas City Chiefs

VIRGINIA
CB Chase MinnifieldWashington Redskins
OG Austin Pasztor - Minnesota Vikings
S Rodney McLeod – St. Louis Rams
DT Matt Conrath – St. Louis Rams

VIRGINIA TECH
WR Jarrett Boykin - Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Jaymes Brooks - Green Bay Packers
S Eddie Whitley - Dallas Cowboys

WAKE FOREST
TE Cameron Ford - Green Bay Packers
S Chyl Quarles - Baltimore Ravens

The Hurricanes also announced that quarterback Jacory Harris and offensive lineman Joel Figueroa have both been invited to rookie camp tryouts with the Miami Dolphins.

Miami pro day notes

March, 12, 2012
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A trio of Miami players broke the 4.5 barrier in the 40-yard dash at the school's pro day, but two of the fastest Hurricanes decided to sit out the 40 on Thursday.

Lamar Miller and Tommy Streeter, both content with their 4.40 performances at last month's NFL scouting combine, participated only in position drills, with both performing the "L" drill and Miller participating in the vertical jump.
"I think I did pretty good," Miller said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I had a very good day catching the ball out of the backfield, doing the position drills."

Miller, whose 40-time led all running backs at the combine, is projected as a late-first or early-second round draft pick. Streeter figures to be a mid-round pick.

Leading the way for Hurricanes runners at their pro day was LaRon Byrd (4.41), followed by Lee Chambers (4.43) and Ben Bruneau (4.48). Defensive end Olivier Vernon, one of five Miami players to declare for the draft early, ran a 4.64 40, up from his 4.80 in Indianapolis.

Chambers topped all in the vertical, at 40.5 inches, with Bruneau just behind him there, as well, with a 39.5-inch jump. Jacory Harris and Travis Benjamin opted to rely on most of their combine numbers.

Linebacker Sean Spence, who benched 225 pounds just 12 times at the combine, told reporters a bone bruise in his left shoulder was the reason for the low number, saying he can usually do 19 reps.

Eight Miami players had participated in last month's combine, and 26 worked out at the school's pro day
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 recruiting nuggets

January, 19, 2012
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A few quick hits for you from our recruiting gurus that pertain to the ACC:
Also, for those of you keeping up with the Shrine Game news and notes, here are a few tidbits on Miami receiver LaRon Byrd and defensive tackle Micanor Regis, and Wake Forest linebacker Kyle Wilber.

Attaochu out for half, Bradham in

November, 15, 2011
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There were some questionable plays this past weekend, and upon further review, the ACC and Georgia Tech got two of them right.

Georgia Tech linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu will be suspended for the first half of Saturday's game at Duke for throwing a punch at Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas last Thursday night, and Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham will not be given any further punishment for the hit he delivered on Miami receiver LaRon Byrd.

In Attaochu's case, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is the one who issued the suspension -- not the ACC. It was the right move by Johnson and a necessary one, considering it was clear Attaochu lost his cool as he took a swing at Thomas' helmet, obviously frustrated he couldn't bring Thomas down. It was also fair, and Johnson took into consideration that it was "out of character" for Attaochu. Consider this a live and learn experience for Attaochu.

As for Bradham, the ACC also made the right call. As violent as Bradham's hit was, it actually looked clean in the replay. While it's understandable why the officials threw their flags on the play, it was wrong to eject Bradham.

This is football and linebackers are trained to hit. Bradham was doing his job without malicious intent. Attaochu took it one step too far, and it will cost him a half.

Weekend rewind

August, 8, 2011
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Some schools file practice reports. Others don't. For those that do, here's a quick summary and where to find the highlights from this past weekend:
  • Miami practiced on Saturday and Sunday, and will resume practice on Monday. You can find the school's entire practice report here, but receiver LaRon Byrd and tight end Blake Ayles both stood out in the passing game, and the defensive line got off to a good start.
  • Wake Forest also began practicing on Saturday, and the Deacs will resume at 7:45 p.m. today. Coach Jim Grobe said this could be the year that Wake Forest gets back to being a strong running team. Fullback Tommy Bohanon will be integral in making that happen, and Grobe talked a little more in-depth about his offensive plans for the season.
  • Clemson practiced on Friday and Saturday, and the two biggest pieces of news were the healthy return of running back Andre Ellington, and the installation of a helmet cam in quarterback Tajh Boyd's helmet. This will allow coach Dabo Swinney to better hear the calls his quarterbacks are making and determine if that's where a mistake is being made. As if Boyd didn't already feel all eyes were on him.
  • Georgia Tech has a "preseason page" dedicated to summer practices with notes and quotes. Jackets fans will probably want to bookmark this.
You asked, I answered. Readers (particularly @AsylumGodfather) were calling for more position rankings, so the receivers are up next. This could be the strongest position group in the conference, and one of the more difficult to rank, so I looked back on a few stats to help me separate them, including how some of these guys did against their best competition (i.e. Danny Coale versus FSU, wow). Here’s the final verdict of which teams in the ACC have the best combination of depth and talent:

1. Virginia Tech: With Jarrett Boykin and Coale returning, the Hokies’ passing game has a chance to flourish this fall. Boykin, Coale and Dyrell Roberts were the team’s top three receivers last year for the second straight season, combining for 113 catches, 1,882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Add to that Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, E.L. Smiling -- it’s a bottomless cup of depth and talent.

2. Duke: Conner Vernon has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons and Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their combined 274 receptions are the most of any active duo in the ACC. They are the top two returning leaders in catches per game, and Vernon is the ACC’s returning leader in receiving yards per game. The Blue Devils also have sophomore Brandon Braxton (14 catches), who could make a name for himself as the third option this year.

3. Florida State: Every Seminole who caught a pass last season returns. Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith return with a combined 50 career starts. Reed ranks second among all returning ACC receivers with 141 career receptions. Willie Haulstead had 38 catches last season, Smith had 31, and there’s plenty of rising talent like Christian Green.

4. North Carolina: Like Florida State, North Carolina returns all of its receivers, including two who redshirted last season. Dwight Jones, who had 946 yards and 62 receptions, leads the group, but Erik Highsmith (25 catches, 348 yards and three touchdowns) must be accounted for as well. Defenses also can’t forget about Jheranie Boyd, who is a deep threat.

5. Miami: The Canes will miss the production of Leonard Hankerson, but they don’t have to if one or two of the other players show more consistency. Travis Benjamin has big-play capabilities and averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 catches last season. There is no shortage of other options with LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns and Kendal Thompkins. Which one will rise to the occasion?

6. Clemson: It was the DeAndre Hopkins show last season, and he should again highlight the Tigers’ passing game. As a true freshman, Hopkins had 52 catches, the most by a first-year player in school history. Jaron Brown returns with 10 career starts, and the Tigers also have Marquan Jones (21 catches) and Bryce McNeal (19).

7. Maryland: The Terps have to replace their top two receivers from a year ago in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, and no clear frontrunners emerged this spring. Quintin McCree leads all returners with 16 catches, followed by Kevin Dorsey (15), Ronnie Tyler (13), Kerry Boykins (10), and Tony Logan.

8. Boston College: True freshman Bobby Swigert led the Eagles last year with 39 catches and four touchdowns in five starts. The Eagles are hoping to get a significant boost from the return of Colin Larmond Jr., who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but the young group should be better regardless because of the experience gained last season.

9. Virginia: The Cavaliers will miss Dontrelle Inman, who averaged 16 yards per catch on 51 receptions, but returning starter Kris Burd finished fifth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (58). The group will also get a boost from the return of Tim Smith, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, and Matt Snyder (30 catches) and Ray Keys (three catches).

10. NC State: NC State has to replace its top two receivers from a year ago, and T.J. Graham is the team’s leading returning receiver with 25 catches. Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton all have experience, and redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, Tobias Palmer and Everett Proctor have also been competing for playing time.

11. Wake Forest: Chris Givens (35 catches, 13.7 average), Michael Campanaro (10 catches) and Danny Dembry are the lead candidates to start, but the Deacs are missing a spark like Kenny Moore (2007) and D.J. Boldin (2008) provided. There were too many dropped passes in the spring game, so this group has some work to do in summer camp.

12. Georgia Tech: Yes, Georgia Tech throws the ball, just not often enough or efficiently enough to be anywhere but last place on this list. Stephen Hill led the Jackets last year with 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He should show progress this fall now that there’s no pressure on him to be the next Demaryius Thomas. If he doesn’t show more consistency, the Jackets could turn to Daniel McKayhan, Tyler Melton or Jeremy Moore.

Spring shoes to fill: Miami

April, 28, 2011
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Biggest shoes to fill: Receiver Leonard Hankerson

He had arguably the most productive season for a wide receiver in school history. His 12 touchdown catches last season was a Miami record, breaking Michael Irvin's mark of 11 set in 1986. In the Hurricanes' regular-season finale, Hankerson became just the third player in program history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season and the first to have 2,000 yards for a career and 1,000 yards in a season.

Spring replacement: Travis Benjamin

We talked about 1,000-yard receivers earlier this afternoon. Benjamin definitely has the potential to finish the fall on that list. He had 43 catches last year for 743 yards, a 17.3 average and three touchdowns. He has big-play potential and he has 90 career receptions for 1,537 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Summer outlook: Several receivers missed significant time this spring because of injuries, so the competition should increase with a healthier group this summer. Benjamin, LaRon Byrd and Tommy Streeter were the highlights of the spring, but overall it’s a group that needs to become more consistent.

More in this series:

Canes release new depth chart

March, 22, 2011
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Miami has released its second depth chart of the spring, and the most noticeable change is at quarterback, where Jacory Harris has moved back to the No. 1 spot, followed by Stephen Morris and Spencer Whipple. (And Miami fans aren't sure whether to celebrate or panic.)

Running back Storm Johnson has moved up to the No. 1 spot, and LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin are once again the top receivers.

Defensively, redshirt freshman Travis Williams is in the top linebacker spot Ramon Buchanan used to occupy before he was suspended this week. Sophomore Eduardo Clements, who played primarily on special teams in 2010, has moved from running back to cornerback.

Strong safety Ray-Ray Armstrong is back at No. 1 after being limited at the beginning of spring ball but is now back to full participation. True freshman cornerback Thomas Finnie is apparently the real deal. It was surprising to see a true freshman in a starting role on the first spring depth chart, but he has maintained his hold on that spot. Linebacker Jordan Futch has moved from the middle to outside.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 14, 2011
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Links only a mother could love ...

Friday mailblog

February, 4, 2011
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Ok, let's clear something up first: The grades assigned to each recruiting class in the ACC were not mine. They were from ESPN Recruiting. That's for all of the angry Clemson fans who are in the mailbag yelling at me for the Tigers' B+. Sorry, guys, not my department. That takes care of about half the mail for this week. Now on to other pressing issues ...

Steve in Atlanta, Ga., writes: Last year the ACC football schedule was announced the day after signing day. Any word on this year?

HD: I expect it some time next week, but that's not a guarantee. They're still working some things out. There, now I answered the second half of the questions in the mailbag this week. There was one or two more, though ...


Carl in New York writes: ok heather for real where do you see fsu in national picture in 2011?

HD: I see them in the ACC championship game and Discover Orange Bowl as a two-loss team, losing to Oklahoma and somebody in the ACC, not sure who. For real.


Ben in Blacksburg writes: Hey HD,Where do you foresee VT in the years to come with another sub-par recruiting class. I know the staff focuses on its ability to make players, not recruit them. But with the lack of depth in this class, I am truly worried about our ability to stay atop the ACC, never mind make any national title runs. Year after year, I see new coaches convincing highly touted players to believe in their new systems at a program and usually these coaches fail to deliver. But Ive always wanted to know how Beamer and Co. have so much difficulty attracting players to one of the most consistent programs in the nation? Any thoughts? What are we doing wrong?

HD: Yet another hot topic in the mailbag. Look, until Virginia Tech starts LOSING, I see zero reason to be concerned about the players the Hokies are bringing in. Could Virginia Tech have done a better job this year overall and in-state? You don't know the answer to that unless you were in the living rooms and in these kids' heads. This staff has earned the reputation as one of the best in the country at evaluating talent and they didn't suddenly get worse. Do they need a higher-caliber athlete to win a national title? Yes, but they had a player like that in Ryan Williams, and he left too early.


Kelwin in Washington, D.C. writes: Where will Fla St be ranked in pre-season polls?

HD: I think the most consistent ranking will be somewhere in the top seven. I believe my colleague, Mark Schlabach, holds them in even higher regard. Realistically, I think they should be around 11 or 12 and play their way up, but based on what the teams ahead of them have coming back (or don't), I think you'll find them top seven in most polls.


Matt in Orlando writes: All the talk in Miami is about our quarterback situation, but I think the bigger problem might be at WR. With Hankerson gone who do you see stepping up?? Benjamin is too inconsistent. Johnson and Streeter barely could make it onto the field last year. Byrd has never lived up to the number 47 he wears. ... Does it even matter whose throwing the ball next year?

HD: An important question that has been overlooked by the quarterback situation and likely will continue to be. Travis Benjamin left a 1,200-yard season and at least four more touchdowns on the field last year with drops. If his hands improve, he’s the guy. Getting open is not the issue. LaRon Byrd was the clear third option last season in Mark Whipple’s offense. Now he steps into a lead role on the field and has already become a more vocal leader this offseason.
This morning we looked at the main recruiting needs for the Atlantic Division. Here are the priorities for each team in the Coastal Division:

DUKE

Offensive line: The Blue Devils will have to replace one starter in center Bryan Morgan, and it’s still a relatively young group, but with several redshirt sophomores on the roster, the staff wants to load up two grades behind them to fully stock the position for the future.

Defensive line: This has always been Duke’s deficiency, which means it will always be a priority to catch up and build depth. The Blue Devils will have to replace two starters in Wesley Oglesby and Patrick Egboh. Noseguard Charlie Hatcher will be a redshirt senior.

Cornerback: Duke only loses one starter, cornerback Chris Rwabukamba, but it’s another position that has been weak and needs better athletes.

GEORGIA TECH

Offensive line: The early departure of Nick Claytor to the NFL didn’t help the depth, but there were still several young players who gained valuable experience and others who redshirted to help the depth. While no true freshman is likely to make an immediate impact, the staff is still looking to build the numbers up front.

Linebacker/defensive line: The Jackets need to find more athletes who are suited for Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme. Fast athletes who are versatile enough to play a hybrid role, with the ability to move in space, will be a priority in this class.

MIAMI

Quarterback: With Jacory Harris being a senior, A.J. Highsmith moving to defense, and Spencer Whipple struggling in what little time he has played, the position needs a boost. It didn’t help that Teddy Bridgewater reneged on his commitment.

Linebacker: This is a position former coach Randy Shannon had put an emphasis on building, and there are young players and depth, but it was also a veteran group in the 2010 two-deep, with mainly juniors and seniors.

Wide receiver: The upperclassmen did all of the work in 2010, with Leonard Hankerson leading the way. Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson and Laron Byrd will all be seniors. An influx of young talent is needed.

Defensive end: The staff is looking to improve the depth here, get stronger up front, and build upon the success from 2010. Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, and Micanor Regis will all be seniors.

NORTH CAROLINA

Tailback: Injuries depleted this group in 2010, and Anthony Elzy, Johnny White and Shaun Draughn were both seniors. Ryan Houston was able to redshirt and will return as a fifth-year senior, but the Tar Heels need more dependable runners and a foundation for the future.

Defensive line: The Tar Heels have to prepare for some departures, especially on the interior, where all four players on the two-deep roster in 2010 were juniors.

Secondary: UNC will have to replace three starters in the secondary this spring, and three backups this year were juniors. Because of the NCAA investigation, this is a group in which backups had to develop quickly, so there are some experienced younger players, but the group still needs to reload.

Tight end: The loss of Zach Pianalto and his backup, Ed Barham, leaves the position thin.

VIRGINIA

Offensive line: With starting right guard B.J. Cabbell gone, starting center Anthony Mihota a senior, and starting left guard Austin Pasztor a senior, the staff has to prepare for some departures. Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi are talented young players, but the rotation needs more of them.

Defensive line: End Zane Parr’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft hurt the position’s depth, and the Cavs will also have to replace John-Kevin Dolce at tackle. Three other players in the two-deep will be rising seniors, and with Virginia switching back to a 4-3 defense under Mike London, the Cavs have to rebuild up front.

Secondary: Cornerback is of particular concern, as Chase Minnifield will be a senior, and starter Mike Parker will graduate.

VIRGINIA TECH

Running back: The early departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to the NFL left David Wilson as the only tailback with any significant experience. Overall, the Hokies have four tailbacks on their current roster.

Defensive line: The Hokies will have to replace redshirt senior starters Steven Friday and John Graves, and starting left end Chris Drager will be a redshirt senior this year.

Wide receiver/tight end: Starters Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale will be seniors, and tight end Andre Smith will graduate.

Secondary: Half the players on the two-deep roster against Stanford were either juniors or seniors, and the Hokies will have to replace rover Davon Morgan and cornerback Rashad Carmichael.

Video: Miami's LaRon Byrd

September, 24, 2010
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LaRon Byrd talks about Miami's win over Pitt.
It’s possible that Miami could become a national contender before it wins a title in its own ACC Coastal Division.

Then again, it’s also possible things stay status quo in Coral Gables for at least another season.

[+] EnlargeRandy Shannon
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireIf Miami upsets the Buckeyes, it would be the program's first win over a top 5 team under Randy Shannon as head coach.
Saturday’s game at No. 2 Ohio State will reveal just how far Miami has come in four seasons under coach Randy Shannon. The matchup is reminiscent of Miami’s glory days, as it’s the first meeting between the two schools since they met in the national championship game at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

The difference this time around is that the Buckeyes are the ones who have been getting all the glory -- and deservedly so. Expectations are high for the Rose Bowl champs, who boast a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Terrelle Pryor and one of the stingiest defenses in the country.

The implications of a win loom large for Miami. An upset of the Buckeyes would immediately skyrocket Miami into the national picture and give the program its first win over a Top 5 team since beating No. 3 Virginia Tech, 27-7, in Blacksburg on Oct. 13, 2005. It would also be the first win over Ohio State since 1999.

“The opportunity we have on Saturday is going to be huge for us,” said linebacker Colin McCarthy. “It’s going to give us an opportunity to get back to where we know we should be. As far as our mindset going into this game, it’s going to be tough. The atmosphere at Ohio State is not the easiest place to play at, but we’ve played in big games and I think we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Ohio State is coming off a 45-7 win over Marshall last Thursday, in which the offense racked up 529 total yards. Pryor led a balanced offense with 247 yards passing and three touchdowns, while the Buckeyes held Marshall to just 199 yards.

McCarthy said the Canes respect Pryor and his offensive line, and they’re preparing for the Buckeyes to establish the run first and then try to beat them with deep passes.

“He’s a dual threat quarterback,” McCarthy said. “He can run the ball and pass the ball. We have to limit him to doing just one. I think that will put us in the best situation to win.”

The Hurricanes are 6-2 against Top 5 teams since the 2000 season, with the lone losses coming at No. 5 Florida in 2008 and against Ohio State in the 2003 national championship game. The loss to the Gators is the Hurricanes’ only loss against a Top 5 team in a true road game since the Canes lost at No. 2 Virginia Tech during the 1999 season.

“We’re looking at it as just another game on the schedule, but at the same time, there’s a lot of meaning behind this game,” said receiver LaRon Byrd. “They’re a great team. I know it’s going to be a good game, the media’s going to hype it up, the fans are going to be riled up. We’ve just got to go in and play confident and work on our assignments and execute.”

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