ACC: Nigel Carr
Linemen: The depth here continues to be a priority on both sides. The decision of defensive end Max Holloway to declare early for the NFL draft was an unexpected loss, and tackle Dillon Quinn will be a senior. Offensively, the Eagles will have to replace two veterans and leaders in center Mark Spinney and guard Nate Richman.
Linebackers: All-American Luke Kuechly’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft was expected, but the staff is looking for about two or three more linebackers in this class.
Receivers: This was a young group to begin with, as Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert were both true sophomores, but the staff could use one or two more in this class.
Linemen: The Tigers will lose three starters on the defensive line and three more on the offensive line from the 2011 ACC championship team. Center Dalton Freeman is a returning starter, but he will be a senior. Six players on the final two-deep depth chart on the offensive line were either seniors or graduate students in 2011, and four on the defensive line two-deep must be replaced.
Running back: Andre Ellington is entering his senior year, and while Mike Bellamy is back in school and in the good graces of coach Dabo Swinney, the future of the position is uncertain. Rod McDowell played well in the bowl game, and D.J. Howard has been a backup.
Defensive backs: The Tigers could start three seniors in the secondary in 2012: Xavier Brewer, Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks.
Kickers: The Tigers will lose punter Dawson Zimmerman, opening up an opportunity for a true freshman to play immediately.
Pick and choose: The Noles have built up enough depth that they can now be selective. Instead of building a class heavy on offensive linemen, Florida State can now pick and choose the best at each position. The Noles need at least one running back, one or two quarterbacks, a few offensive tackles, a linebacker to help replace Nigel Bradham and a safety or two.
Kickers: The Noles have big shoes to fill with the graduation of punter Shawn Powell, and kicker Dustin Hopkins is entering his final season.
Running back: This is a position where a true freshman could see some playing time this year. Justus Pickett returns, along with Brandon Ross, who redshirted last year.
Quarterback: The Terps ended the 2011 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown. Both will be juniors and nobody is behind them.
Cornerback. Maryland has to replace Trenton Hughes and Cameron Chism at cornerback, leaving Dexter McDougle the only one with any significant playing time.
Defensive line: The staff already has about six linemen committed and ends were a particular focus. Half of the linemen in the two-deep depth chart for the Belk Bowl were either juniors or seniors.
Secondary: This should be a strength for NC State in 2012, but the staff needs to prepare for the future here. Cornerback C.J. Wilson will be a senior, along with safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop.
Quarterback: Mike Glennon is already listed as a graduate student, and his backup, Tyler Brosius, redshirted this past season. The position is thin and the future uncertain behind Glennon.
Offensive line: The Deacs will lose four starters up front, but coach Jim Grobe has only played one true freshman there in 11 years. He has several redshirt freshmen and sophomores who are expected to fill in, but the staff wants to continue to build the depth at the position.
Tight end: Wake Forest will graduate its top two tight ends and will turn to two redshirt sophomores in Neil Basford and Johnny Garcia who have yet to catch a pass. It’s possible this could be a spot where an exceptional freshman could see playing time.
Defensive backs: The Deacs have to replace starting free safety Josh Bush and starting strong safety Cyhl Quarles. Cornerback Kenny Okoro will be a redshirt senior.
Here's a look back at how the ESPNU 150 Class of 2008 fared:
Nos. 1-25 (Da'Quan Bowers, Arthur Brown, Jamie Harper, Sean Spence)
Nos. 26-50: (Ryan Williams, Marcus Forston, Brandon Harris, Mike Glennon, Kyle Parker, Terrance Parks, Brandon Thompson, Spencer Adams, Andre Ellington, Jermaine Thomas)
Nos. 51-75: (EJ Manuel, Ramon Buchanan, Nigel Bradham, Aldarius Johnson, Xavier Brewer, Davon Johnson, Nigel Carr)
Nos. 76-100: (Jordan Futch, Antoine McClain, Dwayne Allen, Brandon Barnes, Marcus Robinson)
Nos. 101-125: (C.J. Holton, Taylor Cook, Christian Wilson, Kyle Long)
Nos. 126-150: (Kenny Tate, Kerry Boykins, Travis Benjamin)
- NC State wide receiver Jarvis Williams says the Pack's offense will be tough to shut down this fall.
- Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe has changed his attitude toward playing freshman -- he's had to.
- Ray Keys, a legacy player at Virginia, has been rewarded with a scholarship.
- Maryland's new university president will have some input in hiring Ralph Friedgen's next boss.
- And Friedgen's former boss, Debbie Yow, is now pushing NC State to "set the ACC on fire," athletically and academically. Oh, and she can howl.
- So long to FSU linebacker Nigel Carr, who has been released from his scholarship.
- Lee Chambers' move from running back to cornerback shows Miami coach Randy Shannon isn't afraid of change.
- Got $7 million? Throw it Paul Johnson's way.
- Mark Herzlich's return is in a serious holding pattern.
- Odds are Virginia Tech offensive lineman Nick Becton has to play through some pain when he's finally cleared to return.
“Neither one was hit,” coach Jimbo Fisher said in the team's practice report. “They were cuts on the field and there wasn’t anyone around them. They just stuck their foot in the ground and it went out. It’s very unfortunate because they’re both great kids.”
The losses are adding up for Florida State, which also suspended junior linebacker Nigel Carr and dismissed receiver Jarmon Fortson from the team. None of the interior defensive linemen has more than one season of college experience. It's not an ideal situation for a defense in transition. It has been an opportunity, though, for younger plays to get important snaps this summer.
Sophomore wide receivers Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead, and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Demonte McAllister will now be called upon to provide more help. On the defensive line, Fisher will rely upon tackles Jaccobi McDaniel, Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud.
“For me it means I have an opportunity coming in behind Everett (Dawkins) and try to work my way into the rotation,” said McAllister. “Moses is a big loss for us, but we are going to continue to fight hard and make a difference."
“He has been dismissed for a violation of team rules,” Fisher said. “We wish him the best in everything he does. We love him."
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Fortson was dismissed for multiple failed drug tests.
This is a significant loss to FSU's passing game, as Fortson started six games last year and caught 45 passes for 610 yards and four touchdowns. It's still a deep group, though, as Bert Reed is the most productive returning receiver, Taiwan Easterling is back after spending the spring with the baseball team, and this recruiting class included five receivers.
The recent suspension of Nigel Carr, coupled with the news of Fortson, isn't something Fisher needs heading into his first full season as head coach. He'll be judged not only for wins and losses, but also for off-field incidents and disciplinary issues. So far, Fisher doesn't appear to be tolerating either.
What’s new: Everything. New coach, new coordinators, new attitude under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.
Sidelined: Linebacker Nigel Carr has been suspended indefinitely after facing a felony charge. Nobody else on the two-deep depth chart is expected to be missing.
Key battle: Boundary corner, where redshirt senior Ochuko Jenije, the only returning starter in the secondary, will be fighting off redshirt freshman Xavier Rhodes. Offensively, the tailback position is so loaded that Jermaine Thomas, the top returning rusher from a year ago, is not at the top of the preseason depth chart. That spot belongs to sophomore Chris Thompson. Ty Jones, Tavares Pressley and Lonnie Pryor will also be competing for time.
New on the scene: Defense. The whole thing -- the scheme, the personnel and coordinator Mark Stoops. He’s tasked with turning around a unit that ranked among the nation’s worst in nearly every relevant statistical category last year.
Breaking out: Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Everett Dawkins. Given all of the issues Florida State has had up front, he’s a player who is poised to make a difference. The staff is expecting a breakthrough season after earning “most dependable” honors this spring.
Don’t forget about: Junior tight end Beau Reliford. He came on to replace Caz Piurowski last year and caught the game-winning touchdown against North Carolina. He could help a receiving corps that lacks proven talent. Taiwan Easterling is back after missing spring practices to play baseball, and he could also help that group.
All eyes on: Quarterback Christian Ponder. The whole nation will be watching, especially during a trip cross country to play Oklahoma, to see if Ponder is truly worthy of the Heisman hype.
Quotable: “That’s why I’m here at Florida State, to win it all.” -- Ponder.
Stanley was granted his release from USC and has two years of eligibility remaining. It's perfect timing. This will help Florida State, especially after Nigel Carr's recent felony charges. Long says Stanley will play outside linebacker and defensive end.
BC should be helped by the fact that both its quarterback and its coach are in their second seasons.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher plans on being himself -- not Bobby Bowden.
Fisher has the chance to set the discipline tone following the arrest of Nigel Carr.
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said the staff was too nice to Josh Adams last year and this fall they’re going to hand the ball to him “until his tongue is hanging out.”
NC State’s defense took another injury hit as cornerback Rashard Smith is out for the season with a knee injury.
Should UNC’s Marvin Austin be penalized in the preseason polls for something he may or may not have done?
Miami coach Randy Shannon has gotten some help from the community in keeping his players out of parties -- and hence the recent news about agents.
Frank Beamer’s wife is doing better after her fall.
Meet your new "Dancing with the Stars" candidate -- Virginia quarterback Marc Verica.
Expectations for Virginia are the lowest they’ve been since1983.
School policy states that a player charged with a felony must be suspended.
Carr, 20, was arrested by Tallahassee police Sunday on two counts of auto burglary, criminal mischief, credit card theft and fraud.
"He's got some felonies so he's suspended until the judicial process runs its course," Fisher said. "It breaks my heart because I know it's somebody's baby. That's the way I look at it. He's got a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister. That's the way I look at it. It's very disappointing. You try to get all the facts before you make a decision."
Carr, 20, faces two counts of burglary of a structure and one count of property damage, theft of a credit card and fraud -- all felony charges. Under FSU policy, players are automatically suspended for felony charges.
The Seminoles' defense just took another hit and it didn't even get on the field yet. Between the NCAA investigation at North Carolina, NC State's off-field issues and now this, there's been plenty to talk about here besides football. Fisher is in the final session of coaches' interviews this afternoon, and this is bound to come up then.
Here's a reminder at how highly ranked several teams in the ACC have repeatedly finished since 2006, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. rankings. You can click on the year to go to the full ranking. I mentioned a few of the top players in each class who were facing high expectations at the time, or players who weren't facing many expectations and have since proven otherwise (see: Virginia Tech).
No. 6 FSU (Myron Rolle)
No. 13 Clemson (C.J. Spiller, Jamie Cumbie, Ricky Sapp)
No. 17 Miami (Kylan Robinson)
No. 23 Maryland (Pha'Terrell Washington, Drew Gloster)
No. 24 Virginia Tech (Rashad Carmichael, Nekos Brown, Kam Chancellor)
No. 25 UNC (Aleric Mullins, Johnny White)
No. 9 Miami (Robert Marve, Allen Bailey)
No. 11 UNC (Quan Sturdivant, Marvin Austin)
No. 14 Georgia Tech (Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Josh Nesbitt)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Tyrod Taylor, Blake DeChristopher, Barquell Rivers)
No. 18 Clemson (Willy Korn, Scotty Cooper, Marcus Gilchrist)
No. 25 Florida State (Brandon Paul, Markish Jones)
No. 1 Miami (Sean Spence, Jacory Harris, Aldarius Johnson)
No. 2 Clemson (DaQuan Bowers, Kyle Parker, Jamie Harper)
No. 12 FSU (Zebrie Sanders, E.J. Manuel, Nigel Carr)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Ryan Williams)
No. 20 NC State (Mike Glennon, Brandon Barnes)
No. 7 Miami (Ray Ray Armstrong, Mike James)
No. 8 FSU (Greg Reid, Jacobbi McDaniel)
No. 13 UNC (Bryn Renner, Donavan Tate, Jheranie Boyd)
No. 18 Virginia Tech (Jayron Hosley, David Wilson, Logan Thomas)
No. 19 Clemson (Tajh Boyd, Bryce McNeal)
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
This would be an entirely different list if the top two linebackers in the league -- Mark Herzlich and Nate Irving -- weren't sidelined right now. There are still a lot of standout linebackers in the conference, but this season just won't be the same without those two guys, not that Irving's return has been completely ruled out yet. Having spoken with NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer Wednesday, though, it's simply a miracle that Irving is even alive. In looking at the rest of the conference, it's tough to find teams that are deep at this position. It's a question mark for a lot of teams, and there's a lot of inexperience.
Here's a shot at ranking the best linebacking corps in the ACC:
1. Miami -- Sean Spence was one of the hardest hitters in the conference as a true freshman and will only be better this year, but the key to this group will probably be the return of a healthy Colin McCarthy, who injured his shoulder in the first half of the season last year. Darryl Sharpton, Arthur Brown and Jordan Futch still have something to prove.
2. North Carolina -- Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter started every game last year, and there are high expectations for sophomore Zach Brown. Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles last year and ranked third in the ACC in total tackles per game. This is one of the deepest groups the Tar Heels have had recently, but they are lacking some experience.
3. Virginia Tech -- Cam Martin and Cody Grimm combined to play all but nine plays at the whip linebacker spot, but they've got to replace Purnell Sturdivant and Brett Warren. Barquell Rivers proved he's up to the task when he filled in in the Orange Bowl, and Jake Johnson will have an increased role, too. There's a lot of potential in this group.
4. Clemson -- The Tigers return two starters plus a third player with starting experience. Kavell Connor started all 13 games last year and was the team's top tackler with 125. Brandon Maye had an impressive season as a redshirt freshman, and finished with 87 tackles. Scotty Cooper was a part-time starter at strongside linebacker.
5. Georgia Tech -- Even with Kyle Jackson possibly out for the whole summer with an injured right foot, the Yellow Jackets till have plenty of depth with Sedric Griffin, Brad Jefferson, Anthony Barnes and Steven Sylvester. Barnes and Jefferson are both finally healthy after injury-plagued seasons and there should be good competition for starting jobs. This group can't afford anymore injuries though.
6. Florida State -- With the graduation of Derek Nicholson and Toddrick Verdell, the Noles lose their top two tacklers. Dekoda Watson will be back from elbow surgery this spring, but it's a young group counting on sophomores like Nigel Bradham and Nigel Carr. Junior Kendall Smith is the only other upperclassman on the two-deep roster.
7. Maryland -- Alex Wujciak could be a star at this position for the Terps, and he'll definitely need to be a leader there this fall. Maryland lost four linebackers who combined to play 144 games and 54 starts. Adrian Moten is one of the few experienced faces in the group, and he earned his first start last year in the Humanitarian Bowl.
8. Duke -- The Blue Devils have to replace the ACC's leading tackler in Michael Tauiliili, but they've still got Vincent Rey, who made 109 tackles last year. The problem is, Rey is the only experienced linebacker they've got. Competition remains among Damian Thornton, Abraham Kromah, and Adam Banks.
9. NC State -- It's not clear when Nate Irving will return, but for as long as he's out, the Wolfpack will be missing their best player on both sides of the ball. The Pack still have senior Ray Michel, who is a returning starter in the middle, and Dwayne Maddox started in place of Irving when he was out last year. But this is an entirely different group -- and defense -- without Irving.
10. Boston College -- The Eagles' linebacking corps took a huge hit when Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer, and they still don't know when Mike McLaughlin will be cleared to play from a torn Achilles. BC has a reputation for its defense, so odds are this group will be OK, but there are too many unknowns right now.
11. Wake Forest -- All three starters from last year are gone, and the Demon Deacons have big shoes to fill after the departure of Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry. It's going to have to be a group effort, but there's still some athleticism and depth to work with. Matt Woodlief and Hunter Haynes are the most experienced players retuning.
12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers graduated the veteran group of Jon Copper, Clint Sintim and Antonio Appleby, and because they were so good, their backups didn't see much playing time. This group is the feature in Al Groh's 3-4 defense, and it's going to have a whole new look. There were good reports about Steve Greer this spring, and Groh said Greer tried to mimic his game after Copper, which is reason for hope.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
With Miami kicking off spring practice on Feb. 24, it's never too early to start thinking about spring football in the ACC. There are plenty of story lines heading into the 2009 season -- like backup quarterbacks and new coordinators.
Here are a few things to watch for each team in the ACC this spring:
Spring practice starts: March 17
Spring game: April 25
What to watch
- Replacing 325-pound defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace will be a large challenge -- literally. Damik Scafe could be a starter, but beyond him it's anybody's guess.
- Quarterback Dominique Davis only has three games of experience over everyone else, so it's definitely not a given that it's his job to lose. Davis was thrown into the fire at the end of 2008, but former coach Jeff Jagodzinski and former offensive coordinator Steve Logan liked freshman Justin Tuggle, who redshirted this past season. Whether the new staff is as high on Tuggle remains to be seen.
- Including former defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, who was promoted to head coach, the Eagles will have six coaches in new positions this spring. With two new coordinators, a new offensive line coach, tight ends coach and a linebackers coach, this spring will be a chance for a few introductions.