ACC: Marcus Wright

Tweaks expected to Georgia Tech's lineup

September, 15, 2010
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Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said there could be some lineup changes by the end of the week, but nothing major is expected for Saturday's game against North Carolina.

"We will probably switch some people around by the end of the week," Johnson said. "Not just on defense, there will be different starters on a lot of teams. I don’t think you are going to see wholesale changes if that is what you are looking for, just a couple of guys on each side of the ball. From injury alone we will get Will Jackson back on offense, if he can go that is one. We are always looking at receiver and A-Back."

Jackson, a redshirt freshman guard, missed the Kansas game with a bruised ankle and knee. Georgia Tech has four A-backs that rotate a lot, so there's no telling who will start. Marcus Wright made his first career start this past Saturday.

Hokies to lay claim to best backfield in 2010

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
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Without B-back Jonathan Dwyer on the roster in 2010, Georgia Tech will be missing 3,226 career rushing yards, 517 rushing attempts, 17 100-yard rushing games, 3,966 all-purpose yards, 35 rushing touchdowns, and 36 total touchdowns. Oddly enough, Dwyer rushed for exactly 1,395 yards in 2008 and 2009.

Yeah, I'd say he'll be missed in Atlanta next year.

But Georgia Tech fans are quick to point out that Dwyer wasn't the only player in the backfield. Anthony Allen, Roddy Jones, Marcus Wright, Embry Peeples and, of course, quarterback Josh Nesbitt all return. (Ask Boston College coach Frank Spaziani if that sounds like a backfield in trouble, and he'd probably laugh, as he had no one to turn to this year but Montel Harris.) With Nesbitt and Allen leading the way, Georgia Tech shouldn't experience a major drop-off in offensive production next year.

But Virginia Tech will replace Georgia Tech as the ACC team with the best offensive backfield in 2010.

Darren Evans and Ryan Williams could be better than "the untouchables," former Hokie record-setters Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs. They could also be used in similar fashion, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing (though I doubt BC's defense will allow two 100-yard rushers in the same game next year, like the Eagles did with Jones and Suggs.) Add to that a much-improved quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, and the Hokies will be tough to beat. Their experience and talent, combined with the progress Taylor has made in the passing game, is what will separate them.

Georgia Tech widening the gap

October, 17, 2009
10/17/09
8:12
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA, Ga. -- The band has now begun to play Livin' on a Prayer. Looks like they're livin' on Paul Johnson's play-calling to me.

Virginia Tech's defense looks like it's losing focus, and Georgia Tech continues to make use of its numerous backs, the latest being Marcus Wright, who took off to the left for a 13-yard touchdown run and a 21-10 lead.

Anyone who doubts the credibility of Johnson's offense needs to check his own credibility, because Bud Foster is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country, and no matter how much he preaches assignment football to his players, it's up to them to execute. Virginia Tech's defense is struggling to do that here in the second half, and it only takes one missed assignment for this offense to explode.

The Hokies have finally met their match.

ACC injury reports: Week 6

October, 9, 2009
10/09/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


If you don't see it, that's because I didn't get it ...

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT FOR SEASON

LB Mark Herzlich (illness)

FOR VIRGINIA TECH GAME

WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee) – OUT

TE Jordon McMichael (hip) – OUT

FS Okechukwu Okoroha (leg) – OUT

LB Will Thompson (shoulder) – DOUBTFUL

DT Austin Giles (back) – DOUBTFUL

FB James McCluskey (Achilles) – QUESTIONABLE

CB Roderick Rollins (Leg) – PROBABLE

DE Alex Albright (ankle) – PROBABLE

DUKE

RB Jay Hollingsworth (ankle) -- Probable

OT Jarrod Holt (concussion) -- Probable

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT

CB Randez James (hand) -- OUT

LB Abraham Kromah (leg) -- OUT

WR Tyree Watkins (leg) -- OUT

S Anthony Young-Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

FLORIDA STATE

OUT

FB Daniel Gard (knee)

OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)

LB Aaron Gresham (knee)

OT John Prior (knee)

LB Vince Williams (back)

QUESTIONABLE

DT Justin Mincey (knee)

CB Patrick Robinson (ankle)

PROBABLE

ROV Korey Mangum (shoulder)

GEORGIA TECH

Out

Robert Hall, r-Jr., DE (knee)

Doubtful

Cooper Taylor, So., S (undisclosed)

Questionable

Dominique Reese, Jr., S (shoulder)

Marcus Wright, So., RB (shoulder

Out For Season

Kyle Jackson, r-So., LB (foot)

MARYLAND

Out for season:

Tyler Bowen (foot)

Nolan Carroll (leg)

Out:

Travis Baltz (ankle)

Mike Barbour (leg)

Louis Berman (leg)

Bruce Campbell (leg)

Danny Edwards (concussion)

Da’Rel Scott (wrist)

Joe Vellano (foot)

MIAMI

Probable

DL Olivier Vernon – Lower Extremity

Questionable

RB Graig Cooper - Lower Extremity

LS/TE Jake Byrne - Illness

Doubtful

DT Marcus Forston – Lower Extremity

DL Steven Wesley – Lower Extremity

Out

DL Dyron Dye - Leg

TE Richard Gordon – Upper Extremity

FB Patrick Hill – Lower Extremity

DB Ryan Hill – Upper Extremity

DB JoJo Nicolas – Upper Extremity

DE Adewale Ojomo – Jaw

DB Randy Phillips – Upper Extremity

Surgery and Out for Season

DE Gavin Hardin – Upper Extremity

LB Shayon Green – Lower Extremity

NORTH CAROLINA

Out (Season)

Carl Gaskins OT Knee

Matt Merletti S Knee

Trevor Stuart DS Knee

Out (Game)

Lowell Dyer C Shoulder

Doubtful

Zack Pianalto TE Foot

Ryan Taylor TE Knee

Questionable

Josh Adams WR Shoulder

Kyle Jolly OT Ankle

Mike Paulus QB Shoulder

Devon Ramsay FB Knee

Probable

Jonathan Cooper OG Ankle

Anthony Elzy FB Shoulder

Linwan Euwell LB Ankle

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON

Mario Carter, TE - knee

Ryan Cheek, LB - hip

Denzelle Good, OL - shoulder

Nate Irving, LB - leg

Colby Jackson, FB - knee

Everett Proctor, QB - shoulder

OUT

Jeff Rieskamp, DE - hip

Javon Walker, S - knee

QUESTIONABLE

Rashard Smith, CB - ankle

VIRGINIA TECH

Out for Season

Darren Evans (ACL)

Probable

Nekos Brown (illness)

Blake DeChristopher (ankle)

John Graves (ankle)

Georgia Tech still looking for separation in loaded backfield

August, 25, 2009
8/25/09
5:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Georgia Tech B-back Preston Lyons grew up in Atlanta just three or four exits up the highway from Georgia Tech. In fact, he was closer to the Jackets' campus than he was his own high school, the Marist School. Lyons, a redshirt sophomore who had been going to Tech games his whole life, was offered a spot on the roster as a preferred walk-on, but he chose to try something new and went to Colgate for a year, where he was a walk-on in 2007.

Now he's back, and he's one of about a dozen running backs competing for playing time this summer.

Georgia Tech fans know who Jonathan Dwyer is, but not even the coaching staff knows right now who his backup will be, or how the depth chart will shake out at A-back. Two of the players who are in the mix for playing time -- Lyons and Anthony Allen -- are transfers who sat out last season and are eager to get back on the field.

"I've got some good guys in this group with me," said Allen, who transferred from Louisville. "There's 12 of us, and we go balls to the wall every play, we try to be the 12 toughest guys on the field, so the competition is real intense, but I hope I come out on top."

When asked how bad he wanted to get back on the field after sitting out 2008 because of NCAA transfer rules, Allen said: "It's like they're holding a piece of meat over my head. They've got me chained to the ground, and I'm trying to get it."

The good problem for the Jackets is he's not the only one.

"It's real exciting," said Lyons, who is competing with Richard Watson to backup Dwyer. "We've got a bunch of good guys in our backfield, and I haven't played in a while, so I'm definitely hungry and excited to get back out there and start playing again."

Lyons was on the scout team last year, so this was his first spring going through the offense while competing for a spot on the two-deep. Considering Dwyer has so much talent around him, it's possible he actually gets more time to rest and less carries this year, which leads Lyons to believe Dwyer's backup would have a "pretty realistic" shot at seeing some playing time.

There's no better player to learn from than the ACC's reigning player of the year.

"He's really helpful to me," Lyons said of Dwyer. "He's been helping me with different schemes and techniques. It's really nice being able to watch such a good player like him."

At the A-back position, there are about five or six players competing for two spots. Roddy Jones, who made a name for himself last season with 311 rushing yards over the last two regular-season games, will probably be listed as questionable for the season opener after dislocating his wrist lifting weights in June. He's been limited to non-contact this whole month, but it's possible he might finally get his cast off this week.

In addition to Jones and Allen, Lucas Cox, Embry Peeples, Marcus Wright and Orwin Smith are all still competing for starting jobs.

"I'm a lot more comfortable," said Allen. "I'm light years ahead of where I was at the beginning of spring. I'm feeling pretty confident right now in my reads, my counts and my ability on the field right now. Hopefully it carries over to game time."

Regardless of how much he plays, Lyons wants to win, and he said he's in the right offense to do that.

"I think this is home for me," Lyons said. "I think I found a spot and I'm definitely satisfied with where I am. I'm happy."

Ranking the ACC units: Running backs

July, 16, 2009
7/16/09
2:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This one will probably be the toughest ranking of them all because the position is so loaded. But somebody's has to be the best, right?

1. Georgia Tech -- This is the deepest, most proven group in the conference, and it's only expected to be better in Year 2 of Paul Johnson's offense. Reigning ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer led the league in rushing last year with 1,395 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Louisville transfer Anthony Allen and sophomore Roddy Jones, along with Embry Peeples and Marcus Wright give the staff a bundle of options.

2. Virginia Tech -- Ryan Williams and Darren Evans have stolen the spotlight, but don't forget about Josh Oglesby and Kenny Lewis Jr., whose status after a torn Achilles last season will be re-evaluated at the end of the summer. Oglesby can be a threat to catch the ball, but this is still Evans' show. Williams had a great spring game, but Evans is coming off a record-setting freshman season.

3. Miami -- Graig Cooper is the team's leading returning rusher and one of the most versatile players on the roster. He and Javarris James make a tough 1-2 punch, but Cooper has his sights set on a 1,000-yard season. They've also got a great recruit in Mike James, and Lee Chambers and Damien Berry give the position added depth.

4. Wake Forest -- Wake has three capable tailbacks in Josh Adams, Brandon Pendergrass and Kevin Harris, who each had a 100-yard game last year and started at least one game. They'll have an improved offensive line blocking for them this year.

5. Boston College -- Josh Haden and Montel Harris were two of the most productive freshmen in the country last year, as they combined for 106 yards per game. They'll benefit tremendously from that experience, plus be working behind one of the best offensive lines in the ACC.

6. Florida State -- The Noles lost their leading rusher in Antone Smith, but Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones have the skills to compensate for it and the FSU running game shouldn't miss a beat. Thomas lost only 10 yards rushing all of last year, and had a breakout freshman season. Jones showed his potential in the Champs Sports Bowl with 55 yards and a touchdown on four carries.

7. Maryland -- The Terps have a solid group in Da'Rel Scott, Davin Meggett and Morgan Green, who ran for a career-high 72 yards in the Humanitarian Bowl. Scott is their star, as he rushed for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns last year, but he's got to work on running lower and tougher between the tackles. He could be more of a complete back if he got better at running routes and improved his pass protection.

8. Clemson -- The Tigers have the most accomplished, versatile back in the ACC right now in C.J. Spiller, and he's going to get the bulk of the carries without James Davis to share it with this year. The question is if he can handle it. Sophomore Jamie Harper has been working hard this offseason for an increased role, but the Tigers definitely don't have the depth of the other teams, leaving the job almost entirely to Spiller.

9. NC State -- Just as the Wolfpack welcomed back Toney Baker, Jamelle Eugene went down with a shoulder injury and missed spring drills. Brandon Barnes and James Washington benefited from Eugene's absence, but the Pack will need to keep their top two backs healthy this fall. It will be interesting to see how effective Baker is considering he hasn't played in full pads since he was injured in the season opener two years ago.

10. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels return all of their running backs from a year ago, and should see more consistency now that everyone knows their roles. Shaun Draughn became the starter midway through last season and rushed for 866 yards, and Ryan Houston gave a powerful push off the bench, leading the team with eight touchdowns, including six from just a yard out. Freshman Jamal Womble impressed the staff this spring.

11. Duke -- The return of Re'quan Boyette will help the Blue Devils tremendously, and they're in a much better position than they were a year ago. While Boyette was out, Jay Hollingsworth led the team in rushing with 399 yards while catching 25 passes for an additional 188 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Jackson, a converted safety in his second year with the program, rushed for 259 yards while catching 12 passes for 106 yards and one touchdown.

12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers have to replace their leading rusher and team leader in Cedric Peerman, which means Mikell Simpson is going to have to revert to his 2007 form. Simpson was hampered by injuries and missed three games as a result last year. He ran for 570 yards in 2007 before dropping to 262 last year.

Hope and concern: Georgia Tech

June, 23, 2009
6/23/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Biggest reason for hope -- Deepest backfield in the ACC

Forget 1-2 punch. These guys have a 1-2-3 punch in ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer, Roddy Jones and Louisville transfer Anthony Allen. Jones, an A-back, was Mr. November last year, with 97 yards on seven carries and 148 all-purpose yards against Miami. He then made a name for himself nine days later with 214 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries against Georgia. Those guys will be in good company with Lucas Cox, Embry Peeples and Marcus Wright. Here's a stat for you: Georgia Tech ran for 881 yards in the last two regular-season games combined. And everyone who accounted for them is back. Sure, ACC defenses might start to catch on, but these players will execute it better this fall, too.

Biggest reason for concern -- Getting beat up front

Yes, Georgia Tech had one of the most productive ground games in the country last year, leading the ACC and ranking fourth nationally with 273.2 rushing yards per game. But that's the foundation of coach Paul Johnson's offense -- running the football, and he'll be the first to tell you it could have been executed better last year. That stems in part from some breakdowns up front, as the offensive line was arguably the weak link of the offense. Tech could be deeper this year, but it has to replace both starting tackles in Andrew Gardner and David Brown. And the defense loses three talented starters from its line, leaving junior Derrick Morgan the veteran of the group. The defensive line lost three starters who combined for 100 career starts and 100 tackles for loss.

Fully loaded in the ACC

May, 28, 2009
5/28/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There are some teams in the ACC that are stacked at a particular position or positions -- meaning there's not just depth there, but depth and legitimate all-conference talent. Here's a quick look at who in the conference is simply loaded:

UNC front seven: All four starters return on the defensive line, and there is outstanding depth both there and in the secondary. On the line, tackle Cam Thompson is coming off his best season at UNC, tackle Marvin Austin and end E.J. Wilson both started the majority of games last season, and Robert Quinn had 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles.

Linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant both started every game last season, and the position is the deepest it's been in recent years. Carter led the team with 11 tackles for loss and Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles.

Georgia Tech running backs: Jonathan Dwyer, Roddy Jones, Anthony Allen, Marcus Wright -- so many players, only one football.

Georgia Tech secondary: Morgan Burnett, Rashaad Reid, Mario Butler, Dominique Reese, and Cooper Taylor all have experience, and the group also welcomes back Jerrard Tarrant from a suspension.

Virginia Tech running backs: Darren Evans and Ryan Williams are all the Hokies will need, but they've also got Josh Oglesby and Kenny Lewis Jr. as players they can count on.

Boston College secondary: The Eagles return DeLeon Gause, Wes Davis and Roderick Rollins, who have combined for 32 career starts. This should be the best group BC has had in a while.

Clemson defensive line: The Tigers return three starters across the front, and coach Dabo Swinney has said this unit could be the strength of the entire team. Ricky Sapp is the leader, senior Kevin Alexander is a returning starter, and there are really three starters returning for the two defensive end positions, including DaQuan Bowers, who started six games last year and finished with 47 tackles, the most among the linemen.

Miami wide receivers: Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier, LaRon Byrd, Kendal Thompkins, Tommy Streeter ... the Hurricanes could field a team that consists entirely of receivers.

Florida State offensive line: The Noles are oozing with talent here. Tackle Andrew Datko, guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon combined to start all but one game last season. What was the youngest offensive line in the FBS last season could be one of the best this year. For the first time since 2004, all five starters return.

Wake Forest offensive line: The Demon Deacons return eight offensive linemen with a total of 118 career starts among them. Jeff Griffin and Joe Birdsong are Wake's returning starters at tackle while Barrett McMillin and Joe Looney each started at guard in 2008. Russell Nenon, who started the season at guard, moved to center at midseason following an injury to Trey Bailey. Bailey returns after fully healing from a broken ankle. The Deacons also welcome back Chris DeGeare who missed the 2008 season while getting his academics in order.

Georgia Tech spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009
5/07/09
9:35
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
2008 overall record: 9-4

2008 conference record: 5-3, Coastal Division Co-Champions

Returning starters

Offense: 9, defense: 8, kicker/punter 2

Top returners

RB Jonathan Dwyer, WR Demaryius Thomas, QB Josh Nesbitt, RB Roddy Jones, C Dan Voss, DE Derrick Morgan, S Morgan Burnett, S Cooper Taylor, K/P Scott Blair

Key losses

OT Andrew Gardner, DE Michael Johnson, DT Darryl Richard, DT Vance Walker, CB Jahi Word-Daniels

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing:
Passing: Josh Nesbitt* (808 yards)
Receiving: Demaryius Thomas* (627 yards)
Tackles: Morgan Burnett* (93)
Sacks: Michael Johnson (9)
Interceptions: Burnett* (7)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Jacksonville State
Sept. 10 Clemson
Sept. 17 at Miami
Sept. 26 North Carolina
Oct. 3 at Mississippi State
Oct. 10 at Florida State
Oct. 17 Virginia Tech
Oct. 24 at Virginia
Oct. 31 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 7 Wake Forest
Nov. 14 at Duke
Nov. 21 BYE
Nov. 28 Georgia

1. Significantly more depth at the skill positions. With the addition of Louisville transfer Anthony Allen, plus Marcus Wright and Embry Peeples, who played as true freshmen, and a few redshirt freshmen wide receivers, the Jackets have a lot of answers off the bench. Unlike last year, the Jackets now go three-deep at quarterback, as Tevin Washington, who redshirted last year, has shown this spring he can play.

2. Leadership on defense. Derrick Morgan and safety Morgan Burnett have clearly established themselves as leaders and arguably the top defenders on the roster. Burnett wasn't noticed as much last season because of his supporting cast, but that should change this fall. Both could be among the best defenders in the ACC this fall.

3. Unprecedented depth in the secondary. Jerrard Tarrant was cleared from his suspension, and redshirt freshman Kamaron Riley should give the secondary a boost. Plus, the Jackets have three returning starters in the secondary. Cooper Taylor and Rashaad Reid were impressive as true freshmen and now they've got legitimate experience.

Fall questions

1. The offensive line. It remains the biggest concern, in part because injuries slowed the progress this spring. Senior guard Cord Howard missed most of the spring, starting center Dan Voss missed all of the spring after shoulder surgery, Nick Claytor, who started at tackle last year after David Brown went down with an injury, missed all of spring and had back surgery, and the line was the weak link last year.

2. The kicking game. In the spring game, the kickers were 1 of 5 on field goals, including Blair, who was 0-for-3. There are a few walk-ons, but they are his only competition. Blair handled both kicking and punting duties last year and Chandler Anderson missed all of spring practice after bout with appendicitis.

3. Defensive changes. Because the staff knows it's going to be thin there, it tweaked the defense a little a bit and made one of linebacker positions a hybrid defensive back/linebacker position called the wolf. How the players grasp that will be a question, as will whether or not it will help take some pressure off the new players up front.

Georgia Tech's Wright making a push at A-back

April, 14, 2009
4/14/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

At 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, Georgia Tech A-back Marcus Wright is the smallest player on Georgia Tech's roster.

After a downfield block on Saturday that freed teammate Anthony Allen for a 15-yard burst, those within the program seem convinced the speedy back can play much bigger that his stature might indicate.

"Oh, he's playing so high right now," coach Paul Johnson said, according to the Macon Telegraph. "He's a little fireplug, and he's pushing to get out and start. He's really getting after it."

Wright, who grew up playing football in San Antonio, where cut blocking wasn't only allowed but encouraged, has used his blocking skills to help separate himself from an otherwise crowded backfield this spring. Wright ditched the redshirt in the sixth game of last season and served as the No. 2 A-back and a primary kick returner.

One of the most important things Wright said he learned from last year was the blocking scheme -- and that's been an emphasis for the A-backs this spring.

"I think we've gotten a lot better at that," he said. "We came in here having to cut block. Most people here weren't even allowed to cut in high school ball. We had to learn how to block a totally different way than what we're used to. The athletes you're trying to cut are a lot better. You got from cutting 190-pound linebackers to 250-pound grown men. Some of 'em even have kids and stuff. You've gotta put your face in the dirt."

Both Lucas Cox and Roddy Jones, who started every game at A-back in 2008, return, but Wright said he said he's hoping his playing time could increase this year and has been getting reps with both the first- and second-team offenses this spring. Allen is also competing for a spot there and facing high expectations.

"I hope it changes," Wright said of his role, "but that's for the coaches to decide after the spring. We still have the summer and a long ways to go. Hopefully I can make that transition."

Wright said this time around, he's got a much better grasp on the offense.

"Once you learn the offense, you can play a lot faster than what I was last fall," said Wright, who had just four carries but averaged 9.2 yards per carry. "It's a tricky offense to learn. You can study and watch film, but you have to go out there and play."

At this rate, odds are he'll be doing more of that this fall.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 7, 2009
4/07/09
12:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Things just aren't looking good for the Florida State receivers. In Monday's scrimmage, though, Bert Reed played like he's going to have to this fall, and Jimbo Fisher was pleased with the offense.

While FSU is losing receivers, Virginia Tech is getting them back. Here's a video clip of Brandon Dillard, who was sorely missed last year.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson thinks Marcus Wright can help the Jackets at A-back this fall. The AJC gives you the scoop on six redshirt freshmen at Georgia Tech who could also have an impact this fall.

Clemson first-year defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele, is already thinking outside the box with the Tigers' linebackers.

Speaking of linebackers, Duke's Vincent Rey wasn't highly recruited, but he's made a name for himself nonetheless.

Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times did a Q&A with the Terps' new special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, Charles Bankins.

ACC Mailblog: GT vs. VT

February, 24, 2009
2/24/09
3:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Matt in Baltimore writes: Heather, You forgot to mention in your discussion of the best backfield in the ACC a few key Virginia Tech Football players: Kenny Lewis Jr. - who will be back from an injury and was the opening day starter last year Greg Boone - Even though he is technically a tight end, he took a lot of snaps running the ball towards the end of the season. And by the way, he is an athletic 280lbs. David Wilson - If he isn't redshirted, he will be an absolute stud at Virginia Tech. I find it hard to believe that after all these players you and I mentioned that GT's backfield is better. 

Heather Dinich: You're right, Matt, my bad. But wait, there's more! (That's my SlapChop reference) ...

Ben in Carrolton, Ga. wrote: Heather, I thoroughly enjoyed your article on GT's 2009 backfield with quotes from Anthony Allen. I just wanted to point out that 2 significant contributors were missing from the article: Marcus Wright and Embry Peeples, both of whom got playing time as true freshman at the A-Back position. Cox and Dwyer are bruisers who are more natural B-Backs, but due to Jonathan Dwyer being entrenched at B-Back will see extensive time at the A-Back spots. Wright and Peeples are more in the mold of PJ's A-Backs at Navy - smaller, but extremely fast. Marcus Wright may very well be the fastest player on the GT roster, and would have to be in the discussion when talking about the best blocker at any of the RB positions.

Heather Dinich: I can't wait until Oct. 17. This needs to be settled on the field.

Matt in Atlanta is worried about the backs in College Park: Give some respect to maryland. Da'Rel Scott ran for over 1133 and Davin Meggett had 457 as a backup. The only reason both techs (GA and VA) had more is because they were more run based. We also had D.H.B. and also the only of the three aforementioned teams that had a QB that could actually pass. Also, DJ Adams is coming and Ive seen him play in person. He's a straight up beast. Just thought I'd try to sell you a little, maybe.

Heather Dinich: It worked, a little, maybe. But what did Darren Evans do to Maryland last year? And didn't the Terps rush for minus 12 yards against the Hokies? I think they did. I think I was there for that.

Somebody in Raleigh wrote: Heather, who will be the team to beat this upcoming '09 season and what team has the most to prove?

Heather Dinich: Until somebody proves otherwise, Virginia Tech is the team to beat. They're the defending ACC and Orange Bowl champs. Miami has the most to prove. It will be Randy Shannon's third season, and their five-game winning streak last year was evidence the talent is there to contend for the Coastal Division. It's time to take the next step.

What to watch in the ACC, Week 7

October, 10, 2008
10/10/08
9:18
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Not an easy list to compile, considering half the teams are off and the only in-conference matchup was already played. Still, there's always something worth paying attention to in the ACC on Saturdays:

1. Jimmy Clausen against UNC's secondary -- Yes, the Tar Heels are much improved and already have more interceptions (12) than they did all of last season (11). But the pass defense is what coordinator Everett Withers is concerned about.

2. Virginia quarterback Marc Verica -- Can he do it again against East Carolina? Was last week's performance against Maryland the real deal from the former fourth-stringer? He completed 25 of 34 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Where was that all season?

3. Georgia Tech's youth movement -- Paul Johnson intends on playing just about everyone in this game, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see all three quarterbacks, too. Keep an eye on true freshman A-back Marcus Wright, a speedy player likely to burn his redshirt.

4. UNC running back Shaun Draughn -- He is listed as probable heading into this game, and they'll need him to provide a boost to an otherwise inconsistent running game. Draughn rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown on just 19 carries last week against Connecticut.

5. Miami's defense -- The Hurricanes have been struggling lately, and first-year coordinator Bill Young took the blame for it in his first public comments to the media. The Hurricanes have the ability to beat UCF, but will have to play smart football in an emotional game between players who are all-too familiar with each other.

6. UNC linebacker Bruce Carter -- How can you NOT watch this guy since he's blocked four straight punts?

7. UNC's ability to get to Clausen -- The Irish allowed more sacks than any team in the nation last year (58), but have only allowed five so far this season.

8. Georgia Tech's return game -- It's the only phase of the game left for the Yellow Jackets to have a breakout play. In the past two games, Georgia Tech has produced the longest run in school history (Jonathan Dwyer's 88-yard run against Mississippi State), and the third-longest pass play in Tech history (Jaybo Shaw's 88-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas). More like 80 yards and a cloud of dust.

9. Virginia's defense versus ECU quarterback Patrick Pinkney -- Pinkney hasn't entirely been able to compensate for the Pirates' struggles on the ground, but he is 37th in the nation in passing efficiency. Clint Sintim and the Cavaliers smothered Maryland, and every win they've had this season has been a shutout. Go figure.

10. Internal combustion at Clemson -- Athletic director Terry Don Phillips said he doesn't discuss personnel changes in the middle of the season, and Tommy Bowden said he won't make any staff changes, but after Thursday night's loss to Wake Forest, everything in the program should be under review.

Georgia Tech's Wright may burn redshirt Saturday

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
4:59
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Georgia Tech true freshman A-back Marcus Wright could burn his redshirt this weekend against Gardner-Webb. This is obviously a move out of necessity, as backup A-back Embry Peeples hurt his ankle in the Duke game, and B-back Quincy Kelly, the backup to Jonathan Dwyer, is out with an undisclosed medical condition.

When Kelly doesn't play, the staff has to use Lucas Cox, one of the starting A-backs, at No. 2 B-back behind Dwyer.

Wright will be a speedy addition who is eager to play, and he might also end up returning kicks before the season is over. He would be the seventh true freshman to play for the Yellow Jackets this season.

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