ACC: Leonard Hankerson

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
12:30
PM ET
Expansion? What expansion?
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.
The quarterbacks in the ACC are not strong this year. They're not weak, either.

They're a complete unknown.

With more than half of the ACC introducing first-year starting quarterbacks, there's not enough on tape yet to determine how this group will fare. There is enough evidence, though, to pinpoint which position groups -- based on past performances and future potential -- enter this fall as the strongest and weakest in the ACC:

STRONGEST/OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeDwight Jones
AP Photo/Steve HelberDwight Jones had 62 receptions for 946 yards last season, both good for fourth in the ACC.
Wide receivers: The ACC overfloweth this year with veteran receivers. Virginia Tech, Florida State and Duke come to mind first, but don't forget about North Carolina. The Tar Heels didn't lose any receivers from last year, and Dwight Jones had 946 yards last year. Colin Larmond Jr. at Boston College, who is making his way back from a season-ending knee injury, Kris Burd at Virginia and Miami's fast and talented group will also highlight ACC passing games. With Leonard Hankerson gone at Miami, somebody is going to have to emerge as the go-to receiver, and Tommy Streeter gets my vote, but he must be more consistent.

WEAKEST/OFFENSE

Center: There are three above-average centers in the league this year: Cam Holland at North Carolina, Tyler Horn at Miami, and Dalton Freeman at Clemson. Beyond that, it's a thankless yet vital position that's in transition throughout the conference. Brian Moore is replacing a three-year starter at Duke, Florida State loses one of its best players in center Ryan McMahon, the same with Georgia Tech and Sean Bedford, Virginia Tech and Beau Warren, and Wake Forest and Russell Nenon. With the exception of Freeman (22), and Holland (20), no returning starter at center in the league has more than 13 career starts.

STRONGEST/DEFENSE

[+] EnlargeFlorida State's Brandon Jenkins
AP Photo/Steve CannonFlorida State's Brandon Jenkins had 13.5 sacks as a true sophomore.
Defensive ends: The ACC has had a reputation as a defensive conference, and this year shouldn't be any different. Conference fans should be excited about the talent up front. Brandon Jenkins at Florida State and Quinton Coples at North Carolina should be two of the best pass-rushers in the country, but they're not the only players with all-league potential. Andre Branch at Clemson, UNC's Donte Paige-Moss, Virginia's Cam Johnson, and Miami's Adewale Ojomo and Olivier Vernon are all going to cause opposing quarterbacks some pain.

WEAKEST/DEFENSE

Cornerbacks: Unless, of course, you're Florida State, where Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes should be one of the best duos in the country. Chase Minnifield at Virginia and Jayron Hosley should also be candidates for national honors, but that's about where the confidence in corners comes to a halt. North Carolina has to replace its entire secondary, and so does Georgia Tech. Clemson also lost two starting corners in Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell, and Miami lost two starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill.
The "spring shoes to fill" series looked at the most difficult player to replace in each program. Five of them were quarterbacks, four linemen, two receivers and one linebacker.

Boston College: Anthony Castonzo
Clemson: Da'Quan Bowers
Duke: Abraham Kromah
Florida State: Rodney Hudson
Georgia Tech: Joshua Nesbitt
Maryland: Torrey Smith
Miami: Leonard Hankerson
North Carolina: T.J. Yates
NC State: Russell Wilson
Virginia: Marc Verica
Virginia Tech: Tyrod Taylor
Wake Forest: Russell Nenon

Hudson was the most decorated offensive lineman in ACC history. Taylor was the winningest quarterback in school history. Nesbitt was the most prolific rushing quarterback in league history. Bowers was honored as the nation's top defensive player. Almost all of them were record-setters. The ACC lost some tremendous talent from 2010 rosters.

Of these 12 players, I took the liberty of narrowing the list down to five choices for the most difficult player to replace in the ACC.

Miami spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
8:30
AM ET
MIAMI

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

WR Travis Benjamin, RG Brandon Washington, C Tyler Horn, QB Jacory Harris, QB Stephen Morris, DE Olivier Vernon, DT Micanor Regis, DT Marcus Forston, LB Sean Spence, S Vaughn Telemaque, S JoJo Nicolas, RB Lamar Miller, RB Mike James

Key losses

WR Leonard Hankerson, LT Orlando Franklin, RB Damien Berry, P/PK Matt Bosher, DT Allen Bailey, LB Colin McCarthy, CB Brandon Harris

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Berry (899 yards)

Passing: Harris* (1,793 yds)

Receiving: Hankerson (1,156 yds)

Tackles: McCarthy (119)

Sacks: Bailey (7)

Interceptions: Ryan Hill, Vaughn Telemaque* and Ray-Ray Armstrong* (3)

Spring answers

1. Stacked at running back. Lamar Miller finished the spring atop a depth chart deep with talent at running back, including Mike James and Storm Johnson. All three have different styles, as James is the power/slasher, Johnson gets the tough yards and is elusive in the open field, and Miller is the fastest and the home run threat.

2. The Golden era has been embraced. First-year coach Al Golden made his debut this spring with a new staff and new schemes, and all of the players have bought in. The Canes now eat breakfast together every day, and the seniors were the first to latch on to Golden, as they know time is running out to win. They seem willing to follow whoever wants to lead, and the players also started to take ownership this spring.

3. Jordan Futch has helped the linebacker depth. He was a role player for most of his career and was going to move to tight end, but, as it turns out, he can play inside or outside linebacker, and he played well enough this spring to convince Golden he deserves a spot somewhere on the field. Colin McCarthy was the only starter who had to be replaced, and there was some shuffling of positions, but Futch or Gaines emerged as the leaders to take over that spot.

Fall questions

1. And the quarterback is? Golden said the quarterback competition will likely go into mid-August, as neither Jacory Harris nor Stephen Morris separated himself. It’s one of the main storylines in the ACC, and could be the difference in Miami’s season. Both struggled in the spring game, as they threw two interceptions each, but first-year offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is evaluating them on more than just picks.

2. Who will take over the secondary? It’s so wide open that true freshman Thomas Finnie enrolled early and worked his way onto the two deep. It’s a young, inexperienced group with big shoes to fill after the departures of Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Lee Chambers, Nicolas, Telemaque and Armstrong will have to rise to the occasion or leave it to the rookies like Finnie. This spring, Golden said Nicolas and Armstrong were the leaders of the secondary.

3. Baffled without Bosher. Matt Bosher, an all-conference kicker and punter during his career, did it all, and the kicking game is a major question without him. Jake Wieclaw is next in line, but he only played against Florida A&M and has yet to attempt a collegiate kick. Incoming freshmen kickers Matt Loudis and Dalton Botts will challenge Wieclaw for the starting job.

NFL draft rewind: ACC basics

May, 2, 2011
5/02/11
8:00
AM ET
ACC Players Taken in the NFL Draft

1 12 Christian Ponder, Florida State, QB Vikings
1 14 Robert Quinn, North Carolina, DE Rams
1 22 Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, T Colts
2 33 Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, CB Patriots
2 38 Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, RB Cardinals
2 40 Bruce Carter, North Carolina, LB Cowboys
2 41 Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson, DT Redskins
2 46 Orlando Franklin, Miami, OL Broncos
2 50 Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson, CB Chargers
2 51 Da’ Quan Bowers, Clemson, DE Buccaneers
2 52 Marvin Austin, North Carolina, DT Giants
2 55 Rodney Hudson, Florida State, C-G Chiefs
2 58 Torrey Smith, Maryland, WR Ravens
2 59 Greg Little, North Carolina, WR Browns
2 60 Brandon Harris, Miami, CB Texans
3 67 Nate Irving, NC State, LB Broncos
3 79 Leonard Hankerson, Miami, WR Redskins
3 81 DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami, CB Raiders
3 86 Allen Bailey, Miami, DE Chiefs
4 100 Da’Norris Searcy, North Carolina, S Bills
4 109 Colin McCarthy, Miami, ILB Titans
4 122 Chris Hairston, Clemson, T Bills
4 127 Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech, CB Texans
4 130 Jamie Harper, Clemson, RB Titans
5 133 Johnny White, North Carolina, RB Bills
5 152 T.J. Yates, North Carolina, QB Texans
6 171 Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina, LB Cardinals
6 173 Byron Maxwell, Clemson, DB Seahawks
6 180 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, QB Ravens
6 181 Richard Gordon, Miami, TE Raiders
6 192 Matt Bosher, Miami, P-PK Falcons
7 218 Ryan Taylor, North Carolina, TE Cowboys
7 221 Da’Rel Scott, Maryland, RB Giants
7 224 Markus White, Florida State, DE Redskins
7 225 Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech, RB Ravens

ACC Selections by Rounds

First 3
Second 12
Third 4
Fourth 5
Fifth 2
Sixth 5
Seventh 4

ACC Selections by Teams

North Carolina 9
Miami 8
Clemson 6
Florida State 3
Virginia Tech 3
Maryland 2
Boston College 1
Georgia Tech 1
NC State 1
Virginia 1

Spring shoes to fill: Miami

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
5:00
PM ET
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:

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 1

March, 21, 2011
3/21/11
9:00
AM ET
No. 1. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech

Tyrod Taylor
AP Photo/John BazemoreVirginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor was the ACC Player of the Year.
2010 numbers:He led the ACC and was No. 13 in the nation in passing efficiency with 154.8, was fourth in the league in total offense at 243 yards per game, and fifth in passing average per game at 195.9. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 2,743 yards, 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also ran for 659 yards and five touchdowns.

Previous ranking: No. 17

Making the case for Taylor:It should come as no surprise that the ACC's Player of the Year landed the No. 1 spot. Not only did he throw the fewest interceptions and gain more rushing yards than any quarterback in the ACC, he was also invaluable as the leader of the team that became the first to go undefeated in conference play since Florida State in 2000. Taylor led the Hokies to the ACC championship game and had one of his best performances of the season in the win over Florida State. His trademark scrambles will be missed this year and impossible to duplicate, and what made him special this year was his improvement in the passing game. Taylor set school records in 2010 for career total offense, career passing yards, career rushing yards by a quarterback, career wins by a starting quarterback, career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and touchdown passes in a season. Virginia Tech was once again No. 1 in the ACC, and couldn't have done it without this No. 1.

The countdown:

No. 2 Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
No. 3 Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

No. 4 Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 2

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
9:00
AM ET
No. 2. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

[+] EnlargeDa'Quan Bowers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesDa'Quan Bowers was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
2010 numbers: He led the nation and the ACC with 15.5 sacks, and he led the ACC and was second in the country with 26 tackles for loss. He also had 20 quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, one interception, one forced fumble, and was second on the team with 74 tackles.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Bowers: There's a reason Bowers wasn't on this list in the preseason. He had yet to live up to the hype he drew in 2008 as the nation's No. 1 recruit. That changed last year, when Bowers had a breakout season that led many to believe he could be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft. That's because he was so disruptive in the passing game, he tackled well and was quick to get into opponents' backfields. He tossed blockers aside and also escaped double-teams. He won the Bronko Nagurski and Hendricks Awards, and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Had Clemson fared better as a team, Bowers probably would have been No. 1 on this list.

The countdown:

No. 3 Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

No. 4 Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 3

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
10:30
AM ET
No. 3. Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

[+] EnlargeFlorida State offensive linesman Rodney Hudson
Chuck Cook/US PresswireFlorida State offensive linesman Rodney Hudson didn't allow a single sack last season.
2010 numbers: He started all 14 games at left guard, where he played 904 snaps and posted a team-leading grade of 88 percent. He also led the team with 48 knockdown blocks. He was penalized once all season and missed only four assignments. He was the lone Seminole lineman to not relinquish a sack.

Previous ranking: No. 9

Making the case for Hudson: He’s the most decorated offensive lineman in ACC history. He posted his highest grade -- 97 percent -- when it mattered most, in the ACC championship game against Virginia Tech. He was also a major reason why the Noles were able to rush for 218 yards against the SEC’s top rushing defense.

The countdown:

No. 4 Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 4

March, 16, 2011
3/16/11
2:00
PM ET
No. 4. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

2010 numbers: He led the nation and his team in total tackles with 183 (14.08 per game) and solo tackles (110). He also had three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

[+] EnlargeLuke Kuechly
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireLinebacker Luke Kuechly led the nation with 183 tackles.
Previous ranking: No. 14

Making the case for Kuechly: He is literally one of the best in the country. Kuechly earned unanimous All-America honors as a sophomore. He was all over the field in the bowl game against Nevada with 12 tackles and a key interception. Kuechly now has had 22 consecutive games in double figures in tackling, with 341 hits in a 26-game collegiate career, and is the NCAA’s leading active career tackler averaging 13.1 per game.

The countdown:

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 5

March, 15, 2011
3/15/11
2:00
PM ET
No. 5. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

[+] EnlargeAnthony Castonzo
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireAnthony Castonzo has been the rock of the Boston College offensive line since arriving on campus.
2010 numbers: He started all 13 games and was the Eagles' most productive offensive lineman in eight of the 13 games. He gave up only one sack this past season and missed seven assignments. He had 40 knockdowns and consistently graded out as the highest on the offensive line. He had only two penalties in 820 plays.

Previous ranking: No. 10

Making the case for Castonzo: He's a smart, disciplined, durable player who was the anchor on the line that paved the way for the ACC's leading rusher, Montel Harris. Castonzo's 54 starts were the most of any current ACC player, and he started every game since arriving on campus in 2007. He was an all-conference selection as both a player and a student. Most importantly, he's a biochemistry major who hopes to conduct cancer research someday. All that and NFL potential. No doubt one of the ACC's top five.

The countdown:

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 6

March, 14, 2011
3/14/11
9:00
AM ET
No. 6. Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

[+] EnlargeRussell Wilson
Mitch Stringer/US PresswireThe Wolfpack's Russell Wilson led the ACC with 3,563 passing yards this past season.
2010 numbers: He led the ACC in passing average per game with 274.1. He was fifth in passing efficiency (127.5), and completed 58.4 percent of his passes for a league-high 3,563 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Previous ranking: No. 7

Making the case for Wilson: He’s a record-setter, a phenomenal two-sport athlete, and the best quarterback the program has seen since Philip Rivers. In 2010, Wilson ranked among the top 15 in the country in passing, passing yards per game and total passing yards. Wilson tied Rivers for the single-season record in touchdown responsibility with 37, while his 3,563 passing yards and 308 completions rank as the second-highest marks in school history. His 527 pass attempts for the season set a new school record, and his 3,998 yards of total offense is the second-highest ever for an NC State player.

The countdown:

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 7

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
5:00
PM ET
No. 7. Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

[+] EnlargeVirginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley
AP Photo/Steve HelberVirginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley had a league-high 17 passes defended last season.
2010 numbers: He led the team, the country and the ACC with nine interceptions for 110 yards, and eight pass breakups and a league-high 17 passes defended (fifth in the country). He was second in the ACC in punt return average. He had 19 punt returns for 239 yards (12.6) and a touchdown, and nine kick returns for 190 yards (21.1). He started all 13 games and had 39 tackles.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Hosley: He was the top player at the field corner position on the team that went undefeated in ACC play. He was a first-team all-conference selection, and as his stats indicate, he was also one of the best players in the country. He made game-changing plays as a corner and return man, and is also a solid tackler. Some of his best plays came in clutch situations.

The countdown:

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 8

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
2:00
PM ET
No. 8. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

2010 numbers: He caught 72 passes for 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns. He averaged 88.9 receiving yards per game.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Hankerson
AP Photo/Lynne SladkLeonard Hankerson had one of the most productive seasons ever for a wideout at Miami.
Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Hankerson: Hankerson is coming off one of, if not the most productive season for a wide receiver in school history. His 12 touchdown catches this season is 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.

The countdown:

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State


No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State


No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

SPONSORED HEADLINES