ACC: Quintin McCree
2011 conference record: 1-7 (6th, Atlantic)
Returning starters: Offense: 5; defense: 10; kicker/punter: 2
LG Pete White, RG Josh Cary, C Bennett Fulper, TE Matt Furstenburg, WR Kevin Dorsey, DE Marcus Whittifield, DE Keith Bowers, NG Andre Monroe, DT Joe Vellano, LB Demetrius Hartsfield, LB Darrin Drakeford, LB Lorne Goree, LB Kenny Tate, CB Dexter McDougle, S Eric Franklin, S A.J. Hendy
LT R.J. Dill, RT Max Garcia, LG Andre Donnella, QB Danny O'Brien, RB Davin Meggett, WR Quintin McCree, CB Cameron Chism
2011 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Davin Meggett (896 yards)
Passing: Danny O'Brien (1,648 yards)
Receiving: Kevin Dorsey* (573 yards)
Tackles: Demetrius Hartsfield* (108)
Sacks: Andre Monroe* (5)
Interceptions: Dexter McDougle*/Cameron Chism (3)
1. Defense has come a long way: The unit passed with flying colors in its first public test under new coordinator Brian Stewart and his 3-4 scheme. It overpowered the offense in the squad's spring game despite missing Joe Vellano and Kenny Tate. Both players should be back for the fall, giving the defense 10 returning starters.
2. Who is there and who isn't: Spring No. 2 is in the books and the remaining players are on board with Randy Edsall, giving the program a chance to push forward with less doubt regarding those who may not be all-in. After the Terrapins' spring game, senior Justin Gilbert told the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star: "I hate saying it, but now that the guys who don't want to be here are gone, we can really focus on next season. We don't have any distractions anymore. Everybody who's here wants to be here. I really saw that this spring with guys. The chemistry was better. There was no cancers on the team. Everybody was all together."
3. C.J. Brown holding steady: Brown was the only quarterback this spring who had any actual game experience, so he received most of the attention. With five starts under his belt, Brown, whom colleague Heather Dinich has labeled the conference's most indispensable signal-caller, survived the spring and enters the fall as the No. 1 guy.
1. Will anyone challenge Brown? Despite said strengths, Brown, who rushed for more than 500 yards last season, is switching from a spread attack to new coordinator Mike Locksley's pro-style system. Recruits Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe enter this summer and, depending on Brown's transition, could challenge for some snaps.
2. How will the new coordinators transition? We said this earlier with Wake Forest: Things have gone smoothly this spring, but the ultimate test comes in game action this fall. How Locksley, Stewart and Andre Powell (special teams) adjust in-season will ultimately affect the ruling on the reshuffled staff.
3. Everything else … It would appear, at this moment, that the defections have subsided. Two dozen players have left Maryland since Edsall arrived, none bigger than quarterback Danny O'Brien. Some were calling for Edsall's job after Year 1, and a debut season that featured just one win over an FBS team didn't do the program any favors. The spotlight is on College Park this season for the wrong reasons, and how the program adjusts this fall can possibly dictate its fate.
Spotlight: Wide receivers.
2011 summary: This was a group that had too many drops to count, and two suspended players in Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree. While switching between quarterbacks Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown, Maryland had one of the worst passing offenses in the ACC. Kevin Dorsey was excellent through the first quarter of the season, but struggled, was injured, and his production dropped off after missing two games. He led the team with 573 yards and three touchdowns on 45 catches. Kerry Boykins had 37 catches for 430 yards.
The skinny: Hello, Stefon Diggs. This is the anticipated position for Maryland’s top recruit, who will join the team this summer. Tony Logan has graduated and Adrian Coxson, a redshirt freshman, has transferred to Stony Brook. Outside of Dorsey and Boykins, the rest of the receiving corps owns a combined 13 receptions for 102 yards. The Terps still have Marcus Leak, who caught eight passes for 61 yards and a score against Florida State, but he was then held without a catch against BC and didn’t play in the final four games. Devin Burns, a sophomore, is a former quarterback who has one catch for 17 yards. Tyrek Cheeseboro, who suffered a torn ACL on special teams last season, also returns. Regardless of who Maryland's quarterback is for 2012, the Terps will need their receivers to help him out more.
ACC: With Virginia Tech RB David Wilson, North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard, and Miami RB Lamar Miller leading the way, the ACC could set a league record for the most 100-yard rushing games in a single season in its history. Heading into Saturday, ACC runners have reached or surpassed the 100-yard mark in rushing on 47 occasions led by Wilson (9), Bernard (6) and Miller (6). The league mark of 55 100-yard rushing games was set last year. What makes this year’s total even more impressive is the fact that Boston College’s Montel Harris, who personally has 22 career 100-yard games, has contributed just one to the total this season due to an injury which has forced him to miss almost the entire 2011 season.
BOSTON COLLEGE: In BC’s 38-7 home loss to Florida State, a season-high 10 players were sidelined with injuries. In addition to the five players who have suffered season-ending injuries – WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee), DB C.J. Jones (knee), DL Connor Wujciak (shoulder), RB Montel Harris (knee) and DL Kaleb Ramsey (foot) – five veterans have suffered various recent injuries. They include senior OL Nate Richman, redshirt freshman RB Tahj Kimble, sophomore LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, junior DB Jim Noel and sophomore RB Andre Williams.
CLEMSON: The Tigers have defeated Wake Forest 23 of the past 25 meetings in Death Valley and have not lost to Wake Forest at home since 1998. Clemson has a 6-0 record at home this year and an average victory of 41-25. A win Saturday would also give Clemson a 7-0 record at home this year, the program’s first perfect home season since 1990 when Clemson was 6-0 in Death Valley.
DUKE: Duke has played five one-possession games (decided by eight points or less) this season with an average margin of difference of 2.40 points. The five games are tied for the third most in the nation. Duke’s 2.40 average is the sixth lowest nationally among schools that have played at least three one-possession games, with Buffalo ranking first at 1.67 average points in three games.
FLORIDA STATE: In 2011, 15 true freshmen have played, tied for the seventh-most among all FBS teams. The ‘Noles have played 11 redshirt freshmen for a total of 26 freshmen played. That number is tied for third among FBS schools, trailing only Clemson and Indiana, with 29 each. Five FSU true freshmen–-C Austin Barron, RB Devonta Freeman, WR Rashad Greene, OT Bobby Hart, and TE Nick O’Leary – have made starts, along with redshirt freshman QB Clint Trickett. FSU played 12 true freshmen in 2010 and 12 redshirt freshmen for a whopping 40 freshmen who have played to this point over the past two seasons.
GEORGIA TECH: The Jackets have allowed a 100-yard rusher in a game five times this season (all five have been ACC opponents). David Wilson’s rushing total (175 yards) was the most by a Tech opponent since 2009.
MARYLAND: WR Quintin McCree had his second career 100-yard receiving game with 117 yards against Virginia. It was also McCree’s second 100-yard effort in his last three games. WR Kerry Boykins also had the first of his career with 101 yards in Saturday’s Virginia game. McCree and Boykins are just the second Maryland duo in the past 16 years to post 100 receiving yards in the same game. Danny Oquendo (111) and Torrey Smith (115) both went over 100 receiving yards against Boston College on Nov. 29, 2008. Prior to that, the feat hadn’t occurred since 1995.
MIAMI: With his 202-yard performance against Duke on Nov. 5, Jacory Harris remains in second place in Miami’s records book with 8,097 career passing yards, surpassing Gino Torretta and trailing only Ken Dorsey (9,565).
NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina has never had a 1,000-yard runner and 1,000-yard receiver in the same season. Last week at NC State, Bernard became the 15th player in UNC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Jonathan Linton in 1997. Heading into the Virginia Tech game, senior wide receiver Dwight Jones, who has 913 receiving yards, needs 87 yards to become just the second player in UNC history with 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.
NC STATE: Tom O’Brien has won 42 games in BC’s Alumni Stadium, but is looking for his first win there as a visitor.
VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers enter Saturday’s game at Duke tied for third in the ACC in total offense at 427.7 yards per game. UVa is tied for 13th nationally with just eight sacks allowed this season (312 pass attempts). OG Austin Pasztor along with OT Oday Aboushi, OG Luke Bowanko, C Anthony Mihota and OT Morgan Moses have started all nine games this season. The only other ACC teams to start the same offensive line this year are NC State and Virginia Tech. The last time the same five players started an entire season on the offensive line at UVa was 2004. Coincidentally, that was the last time UVa averaged more rushing yards (242.8) per game than this year (190.1).
VIRGINIA TECH: The two rushing touchdowns by quarterback Logan Thomas against Georgia Tech gave him eight for the season, tying the single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a Tech quarterback. In 1999, Michael Vick rushed for eight touchdowns (he had another in the Sugar Bowl, but the NCAA didn’t count bowl statistics then). Thomas finished with 70 yards rushing,
WAKE FOREST: Wake Forest had come away with points on 11 straight trips to the red zone over four games heading into the Notre Dame game. Wake scored touchdowns on each of its first two trips to the red zone against Notre Dame and held a 17-10 halftime lead. But Wake’s string of 13 consecutive scoring trips came to a close when the Deacons failed on both red zone visits in the second half. The drives ended with a Brandon Pendergrass fumble at the Notre Dame nine-yard line and a missed field goal by PK Jimmy Newman.
ACC: ACC players accounted for one-third of the total number of players chosen to be semifinalists for the prestigious Butkus Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Boston College’s Luke Kuechly, Miami’s Sean Spence, North Carolina’s Zach Brown and NC State’s Audie Cole all made the cut, the most of any league.
BOSTON COLLEGE: Linebacker Luke Kuechly extended his streak of games with 10 or more tackles to 29 in Saturday’s loss at Virginia Tech. Kuechly had 19 stops against the Hokies. He’s not the only Eagle on a streak, as receiver Bobby Swigert has caught at least one pass in 19 straight games.
CLEMSON: Defensive end Kourtnei Brown became only the third player since the NCAA began keeping records on defensive touchdown returns in 2000 to return a fumble and an interception for scores in the same game. Brown returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of Clemson’s 59-38 win over North Carolina and added a 26-yard fumble return for a score in the third quarter. He was named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week.
DUKE: Receivers Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon are both chasing the school’s all-time receptions leader, Clarkston Hines, who set the school record with a then ACC-record 189 catches from 1986-89. Varner is right behind Hines with 180 grabs while Vernon is in third place with 175 receptions.
FLORIDA STATE: Freshman tailback Devonta Freeman has had consecutive 100-yard rushing performances in back-to-back wins by the Seminoles. Freeman, who ran for 109 yards at Duke and 100 on 11 carries against Maryland, is the first FSU true freshman to reach 100 yards in consecutive games since Chris Parker did it in 1988. The Seminoles host NC State on Saturday, where Freeman will try and match Greg Allen, who in 1981 was the last FSU true freshman to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark in three consecutive games. Allen did it with 202 at LSU, 322 against West Carolina and 109 against Miami.
GEORGIA TECH: With their next ACC win, the Jackets will secure their 17th straight season at .500 or better in the league. That’s a conference record.
MARYLAND: Receiver Quintin McCree established career highs in catches with nine and yardage with 177 against Florida State last weekend. He entered the game with 269 career receiving yards. His total against FSU was the second-highest by a Terrapin in any game in the past decade. Torrey Smith had 224 against NC State last season.
MIAMI: Entering Thursday night’s game against Virginia, receiver Tommy Streeter ranked fifth nationally with 20.4 yards per reception. Of Streeter’s 28 receptions on the season, 12 have gone for 25-yards or more, including catches of 57, 51 and 26 yards against Virginia. The 6-foot-5 speedster also has seven touchdowns receptions on the season, leading the team.
NORTH CAROLINA: Freshman T.J. Thorpe leads the ACC and is 15th in the nation with a 29.3 kickoff return average. He returned a third-quarter kickoff against Clemson 100 yards for a touchdown. It is just the second 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in school history. The other was Tyrell Godwin at Stanford in 1998. It is just the 14th time in ACC history that a player has returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The last player to do so was Maryland's Josh Wilson against Georgia Tech in 2006.
NC STATE: The last six times that the Pack has played FSU when they were ranked, NC State has pulled off four victories. Florida State was not ranked in 2007, '08 or '09 and State dropped all three of those contests. The series is tied 5-5 in the past 10 matchups, and in nine of those games, the score was decided by 10 points or less. The average margin in those 10 games has been just 7.1 points.
VIRGINIA: Virginia held Miami scoreless in the first quarter. UVa has now held seven of eight opponents in 2011 scoreless in the first quarter. Only Southern Miss managed one touchdown, serving the only points yielded against UVa in the first quarter.
VIRGINIA TECH: Running back David Wilson has five straight 100-yard rushing games; he is the second Hokie (Ryan Williams, 2009) to do so. Wilson has totalled between 123 and 136 yards in all five games. He has seven 100-yard performances on the year. The ACC record is 10, held by Williams in 2009 and North Carolina’s Don McCauley in 1970.
WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe earned the 100th win of his career last weekend with a 24-23 win over Duke. Grobe posted a 33-33-1 record in six seasons at Ohio University from 1995-2000. He has gone 67-62 in 11 seasons at Wake Forest. Grobe has a record of 36-49 in ACC games during his tenure, a winning percentage of .424. Prior to Grobe’s arrival, Wake Forest had managed just a .282 winning percentage in ACC games. Overall, Grobe’s winning percentage at Wake Forest stands at .519 while his predecessors had managed just a .398 winning percentage.
“The expectation of our program is for our student-athletes to conduct themselves in the proper manner academically, athletically and socially,” coach Randy Edsall said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, Quintin and Ronnie fell short of these expectations.”
There is no timetable for their reinstatement.
McCree caught seven passes for 39 yards against Miami and Tyler had six catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
- The coaching staff liked what it saw from the running backs, and Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams are still the top two on the depth chart, but the Terps are still looking for a third who can play. Jeremiah Wilson, a redshirt freshman who moved to running back from defensive back in the spring, is an option, but true freshmen Justus Pickett and Brandon Ross have been particularly impressive and could see some snaps.
- Maryland has plenty of options at receiver, but Kerry Boykins, Kevin Dorsey, Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree got the majority of meaningful snaps this month.
- Keith Bowers is a true freshman from Florida who could figure into the rotation on the defensive line, but that rotation remains a question. There are several backup positions on defense that are up for grabs, including safety and linebacker.
- The staff has settled in on its starting five on the offensive line (Max Garcia, Andrew Gonnella, Bennett Fulper, Josh Carey and R.J. Dill), but the No. 2 positions still remain a question.
- A competition still remains at punter with Michael Tart and Nate Renfro, a true freshman who joined the team this month.
Coach: Lee Hull
Position: Wide receivers
Experience: Lee Hull is in his fourth season as wide receivers coach at Maryland. He spent the previous five seasons as an assistant coach at Oregon State. Prior to his five seasons at Oregon State, Hull spent five years (1998-2002) at his alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross. He coached linebackers for one season before becoming wide receivers coach, as well as overseeing the kickoff coverage and kickoff return units. He was also the passing game coordinator.
Of note: Hull was a standout wide receiver at Holy Cross from 1984-87, playing under former Maryland coach Mark Duffner in his final two seasons. The Crusaders were 21-1 his last two years and were ranked No. 1 in Division I-AA in 1987. Holy Cross also won the Colonial League title and the Lambert Cup that season. Hull was a preseason All-America choice as a junior.
He went on to play professionally with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. Hull spent 1990-92 with Winnipeg where he was coached by Mike Riley in his first season. Riley was the head coach at Oregon State during Hull's five-year tenure. The Blue Bombers won the 1990 Grey Cup. He also played for Toronto in 1992.
Hull was also a free-agent signee of the New England Patriots in 1998.
His challenge:Find the next Torrey Smith. OK, so maybe there’s not another Torrey Smith on the roster, but Hull needs to find a dependable target for quarterback Danny O’Brien. Maryland lost its top two receivers from 2010, but three emerged as potential go-to players this spring. Ronnie Tyler, Kerry Boykins and Kevin Dorsey were the lead candidates, and Quintin McCree, who missed several spring practices for study hall, is the leading returner with 16 catches. None of them have been in a starting role before. Expectations are soaring for O’Brien, who was the ACC’s 2010 Rookie of the Year, but he’s going to need some help on the receiving end if the Terps are going to contend for the Atlantic Division in Randy Edsall’s first season. It’s up to Hull to coach ‘em up.
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.
2010 conference record: 5-3
Offense: 7, defense: 7, punter/kicker 0
QB Danny O’Brien, RB Davin Meggett, WR Kerry Boykins, WR Kevin Dorsey, DT Joe Vellano, LB Kenny Tate, LB Demetrius Hartsfield, DT A.J. Francis, CB Cameron Chism
WR Torrey Smith, WR Adrian Cannon, RB Da’Rel Scott, LB Alex Wujciak, LB Adrian Moten, SS Antwine Perez, P/PK Travis Baltz
2010 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Meggett* (720 yards)
Passing: O’Brien* (2,438 yds)
Receiving: Smith (1,055 yds)
Tackles: Wujciak (117)
Sacks: Tate* (3.5)
Interceptions: Moten (4)
1. Receivers answering the call. Maryland lost its top two receivers from 2010, but three emerged as potential go-to players this spring. Ronnie Tyler, Kerry Boykins and Kevin Dorsey were the lead candidates to become O’Brien’s favorite target this fall, and Quintin McCree, who has missed the Tuesday and Thursday practices for study hall, is the leading returner with 16 catches. None of them have been in a starting role before, but all of them proved to be capable hands this spring.
2. A 'general' consensus. Some players within the program have nicknamed first-year coach Randy Edsall "the general" for his strict rules and high expectations, but they seem to have bought in. Overall, the team has adjusted well to the staff changes and embraced the new regime, its style, schemes and philosophies. Edsall has banned hats, earrings and do-rags in the football building, and facial hair must be neatly trimmed.
3. Kenny Tate’s move a good one. The biggest position change of the spring was Tate from safety to linebacker, and Tate showed this spring it was a good move -- especially following the departures of veterans Adrian Moten and Alex Wujciak. Tate adjusted well to the “star” position, a cross between strong safety and outside linebacker. The move also indicated the staff is confident in Eric Franklin and Matt Robinson as the starting safeties.
1. What will this team’s identity be? The players spent this spring learning new schemes and terminology, much of which has been kept under wraps by Edsall. O’Brien has said the offense will be more up-tempo, and has made every effort to study and learn the system this spring, but executing it in games remains a question. The defense also made a transition under first-year coordinator Todd Bradford.
2. Can the offensive line stay healthy? It’s been an injury-prone group the past two seasons and this spring wasn’t much different. Left tackle Justin Gilbert, one of the top linemen on the team, reinjured the same knee he had ACL surgery on and will be out until October. R.J. Dill was also injured this spring, though he played in the spring game, and Justin Lewis was rehabbing from offseason surgery. Pete White also missed practices, so the group needs to solidify the two-deep roster.
3. Who will be the starting fullback? Taylor Watson decided this spring to graduate and leave the team, leaving Rahsaan Moore and Haroon Brown as the lead candidates. True freshman Tyler Cierski, rated the No. 2 fullback in his class by ESPN Recruiting, should add to the competition this summer.
Maryland’s offensive MVP led the ACC and the team with 126.7 all-purpose yards per game last year. He was third in the ACC with 5.2 receptions per game, second in the ACC with 81.2 receiving yards per game and third in scoring with 5.5 points per game. He finished his career with 152 receptions (No. 3 in Maryland history), 2,215 receiving yards (No. 2 in school history) and 19 touchdowns (No. 2 in Terp history). Smith also had an ACC-record 2,983 kickoff return yards.
Spring replacement: Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins
So far there hasn’t been one player who has emerged as the obvious candidate, and if there has, coach Randy Edsall hasn’t revealed it. Dorsey is probably the best downfield threat, but Boykins also had a good spring. Neither of them started any games last year. Saturday’s spring game is another chance for Boykins to separate himself, as Dorsey is unlikely to play with a hip/groin strain. If Maryland lined up today, they'd be the two starting receivers.
Summer outlook: Ronnie Tyler, Boykins and Dorsey were the top three receivers this spring while Quintin McCree spent the majority of the time in study hall catching up on his academics. McCree is the team’s leading returner with 16 catches, but the competition will continue this summer. Tyler and Boykins spent time at slot receiver last season and combined for 23 receptions.
Maryland receiver Adrian Cannon is one of almost a dozen receivers on the Terps' roster who spent the summer trying to separate himself from a crowded group of potential playmakers.
"I'm always talking in the huddle like, 'Hey, I want the ball,'" he said.
Ask and ye shall receive.
After months with a muddled depth chart filled with talented young receivers eager to help compensate for the loss of star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to the NFL, the Terps' receiving corps has temporarily been put into order following Thursday's scrimmage. The official depth chart isn't out yet, but Cannon and Torrey Smith are expected to be the starters when Maryland lines up against Cal in next Saturday's season opener. And by naming the players who will travel, coach Ralph Friedgen helped give clarity to the position on the three-deep roster.
At X, it's likely to be Cannon, backed up by Kevin Dorsey and Emani Lee-Odai. At Z, Smith will be backed up by Quintin McCree and Tony Logan, and in the slot position Ronnie Tyler leads LaQuan Williams and Kerry Boykins.
"We're a deep group," Cannon said. "We have about nine or 10 guys who can play on Saturday. That's a blessing. We're all pushing each other, at the same time we're competing every day and making each other better. We're a very tight-knit group. We all love each other, but at the same time, we all want to make that play."
Since the spring, it seems like each of the receivers have had their moment to make that play, but Cannon had the most consistent summer, and Smith, after finishing a class, came on strong the past couple of weeks. Cannon has played in 20 career games, but spent most of his time as a backup. He started one game last year and caught three passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He said playing against first-year coordinator Don Brown's defense, which requires the corners to play on an island, has made him better.
"Right now I'm making a lot of plays against this type of defense and it's doing nothing but making me better," Cannon said. "We won't see another defense like this, it's a good thing."
Smith had a breakout 2008 season and made a name for himself as a kick returner. He started the final six games and averaged 141.2 all-purpose yards per game over the last five games. He also averaged a school record 21.3 yards each time he touched the ball (1,425 yards on 67 attempts). And he set the ACC single-season record with 1,089 kickoff return yards.
He appears to have picked up right where he left off. In Thursday's scrimmage, Smith set up Davin Meggett's 3-yard touchdown run by making an impressive 30-yard reception from Chris Turner, setting up first-and-goal. He also returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
Smith isn't the only one who has drawn the praise of Friedgen this summer.
Williams had a good camp and made his presence known with his versatility, while McCree has shown the ability to get open, but has dropped too many balls. Tyler and Williams were dead even for most of the summer.
"LaQuan can play any of the positions, so I might even bump him out to Z," Friedgen said. "He's got good hands and a lot of shake. He seems to have gotten a lot quicker, and when he catches the ball, he’s making guys miss. He's making big plays. He's got very strong hands and catches the ball very well. He's a big, physical receiver. At one time I didn't know whether he ran well, he's probably a 4.5 and change, but he's got good quickness. They have trouble when he goes up, he gets a lot of jump balls."
And this fall, he's just one more option for Friedgen.
With the help of a few sports information offices and the hometown newspapers of the teams with practice reports, here's a quick trip around the league as we head into our final weekend of summer without any ACC football (thank God) ...
The Terps had their final scrimmage of the summer, and while there were some bright spots, it doesn't sound like a lot was determined. However, coach Ralph Friedgen did put some order to the deep group of receivers he has. Friedgen said he thinks nine receivers will travel with the team. At X, it's likely to be Adrian Cannon, Kevin Dorsey and Emani Lee-Odai. At Z, expect to see Torrey Smith, Quintin McCree and Tony Logan, and in the slot position Ronnie Tyler, LaQuan Williams and Kerry Boykins.
Here are a few highlights from the scrimmage, according to the practice report:
Sophomore Torrey Smith, who will be counted on to be a big-play receiver this season, had a hand in two touchdowns. He set up Davin Meggett's 3-yard score by making an acrobatic 30-yard reception from Chris Turner, setting up first-and-goal. Smith also fielded a short kickoff and raced up the left sideline for an 87-yard touchdown. Freshman Nick Ferrara made two 48 yards-yard field goals and added a 45-yard extra point after Meggett's touchdown. Mike Barbour, also competing for the No. 1 place-kicking job, made a pair of 46-yard extra points. Chris Turner completed 6 of 8 passes for 102 yards. The defense also had two other interceptions with linebackers Hakeem Sule and Alex Wujciak forcing turnovers. In addition, coordinator Don Brown's unit posted four sacks.
FSU isn't the only one with injury problems on the defensive line. Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson broke his hand - again.
Clemson spent Thursday's short practice working on Middle Tennessee's tendencies.
Brandon Ford was in a yellow jersey as he continues to heal from a foot injury. Spencer Benton was out again, but is expected to return to kicking duties on Saturday when the team holds its annual "Beannie Bowl." Jacoby Ford continues to improve from a hamstring injury and should be ready for the opener. Brandon Clear is back at full strength after a rib injury.
"The Beannie Bowl is a full rehearsal for the first game," coach Dabo Swinney said. "We will go through our pregame warm ups, even run down the hill. They we will kick off right at 6:00 PM and practice various special situations."
It was a good day for the Noles on Thursday, both at practice and in recruiting. FSU picked up two more recruits, bringing its 2010 class to 13. Florida State also got its first workout in the rain. There's one problem - all three of the senior defensive tackles are injured. You know what that means? It's time to meet Jacobbi McDaniel.
From the practice report:
Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson swatted away a touchdown pass intended for Jarmon Fortson in the end zone during 11-on-11 work. ... The best collision of the day came when linebacker Kendall Smith buried tailback and lead blocker Jermaine Thomas o
n a running play. ... Tight end Beau Reliford shook off the doldrums from several long afternoons with a 30-yard grab. ... With senior defensive tackles Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) held out of contact work for a second consecutive day, heralded freshman Jacobbi McDaniel continued to receive significant snaps alongside Moses McCray with the first-team defense. Fellow freshman Demonte McAllister is also getting a load of repetitions. "They are getting a lot of work, which is what they need," Bowden said of the youngsters. "They look like they can handle it."... Redshirt freshman Everett Dawkins, who began the preseason at defensive tackle and moved out to defensive end, was moved back inside to bolster position coach Odell Haggins' under-manned unit. ... There are quite a few position battles still being waged as the Seminoles head into Saturday's closed scrimmage, including cornerback, rover, defensive end, offensive guard, tailback, wide receiver and kicker. The competition is a welcome sign, reflecting the team's improved depth. "We let (the players) know those scrimmages are so important because they are game-like," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We've got ACC officials out there, so it's time to show your stuff if you've got it." ... The Seminoles will practice Friday afternoon.
Rise n' shine, it's practice time. The Canes started at 5:45 a.m. in shells under the lights on Mark Light Field. Dyron Dye was held out of practice with a leg injury. Leonard Hankerson and A.J. Trump returned to practice after being limited the last few sessions.
The Miami Herald is reporting that Taylor Cook is heading to Rice. With the transfer of Cook and Cannon Smith, A.J. Highsmith got a lot more work on Thursday. Here's what offensive tackle Jason Fox had to say on the transfers:
"Sometimes it can be a distraction but as a football team you have to limit the distractions, not think about it and remember why we are here. We are here to play football and win football games and anything else besides that, we have to push off to the side. You can't really do anything about it. Those were personal decisions they wanted to do for their careers that is going to help them out personally. As a team, we have to send them on their way and wish them good luck, but we still have to get ready."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Good morning, ACC fans. I'm in Tallahassee, and getting ready to head out to FSU practice, but first I wanted to catch you up on a few Monday practice reports from around the league:
The Terps started practice on Monday, and coach Ralph Friedgen is a shell of his former self after losing more than 100 pounds. Here are a few tidbits from Monday's practice, as reported by the sports information office:
- Two-year starter Chris Turner and Jamarr Robinson were the lone quarterbacks on the roster in the spring, but they have been joined by a pair of talented true freshmen in C.J. Brown and Danny O'Brien.
"I looked at the young quarterbacks and they did pretty good for the first day," Friedgen said. "We put a lot of stuff in and they had the extra meeting today. I thought Chris was very sharp. I though Jamarr showed some signs of improving. I was impressed with the quickness of [Caleb] Porzel, He is a quick little kid. We have to get him and D.J. Adams in on Saturday [for the scrimmage]. I want to see what they can do."
- Practice Tidbits: Junior WR Adrian Cannon made a number of impressive catches during individual drills, including a one-handed grab along the sidelines. ... During one of the 7-on-7 drills, O'Brien went 6-for-6, including a long completion to Quintin McCree. O'Brien and McCree also connected again in 11-on-11s on a long completion. ... Running back Gary Douglas redshirted last season as a true freshman, but was impressive during fall practice. Douglas continued to show impressive athleticism. He had good runs after the catch Monday and showed some elusiveness.
- Return Game: Torrey Smith, who set an ACC record for kickoff return yards last season, is penciled in as the primary kickoff return man, but the Terps are in search of a new punt returner with the departure of three-year starter Danny Oquendo. Sophomore Tony Logan, who handled the job in the Humanitarian Bowl, is listed No.1 on the depth chart. Anthony Wiseman and Kenny Tate are backups for new special teams coordinator Charles Bankins heading into the preseason, but Porzel and Travis Hawkins also fielded punts during individual drills.
- Switching Lines: True freshman Cody Blue, who enrolled in January and participated in spring drills, has moved from the defensive line to the offensive line. Blue was a backup at defensive end, but will slide in at tackle. "Cody has the height and I think he's going to get a lot bigger," Friedgen said. "It's going to take him time to learn it, and we'll see how he does. If he doesn't adapt, we can always move him back to defense. I think this gives him the best chance of playing."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Tuesday we broke down the quarterbacks in the ACC, so let's figure out who the best targets are in the conference:
1. Miami -- No doubt this is the deepest group in the ACC, and it comes with a wide range of abilities. Seven freshmen were introduced last season, and five of them -- Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier and Davon Johnson -- scored touchdowns. Both Tommy Streeter (wrist surgery) and Kendall Thompkins (shoulder surgery) redshirted last year but should be factors this fall. Leonard Hankerson, a junior, is the veteran of the group.
2. Maryland -- The Terps had nine different scholarship wideouts show promise this spring, so replacing Darrius Heyward-Bey should be a smooth transition. Quintin McCree was the star in the spring game, but all of them have had their moments and should excel in the second season under offensive coordinator James Franklin. Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler should build upon last year's success, especially with a veteran quarterback throwing to them in Chris Turner.
3. Virginia Tech -- There are plenty of talented options here, but this was a young group a year ago and it's still a young group. The Hokies have something to prove on offense, and this is the year to do it. They started to turn the corner in the last two or three games of 2008 and can build on that momentum. Jarrett Boykin, Xavier Boyce, Danny Coale, Dyrell Roberts, Brandon Dillard ... depth should not be a problem. Boykin earned eight starts as a true freshman and was second with 30 receptions.
4. Boston College -- When the Eagles figure out who their quarterback is, he'll have dependable options to throw to. Rich Gunnell caught a team-high 49 passes and four touchdowns with 551 yards last year. He also returned punts and brought one back 65 yards for a score against Virginia Tech. Justin Jarvis caught 25 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns last season and will work for the other starting job. Ifeanyi Momah will look to prove that he can be more than just a situational receiver while Clarence Megwa is working to return in the fall after suffering a devastating leg injury against Clemson last season.
5. NC State -- Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer are ready to elevate their games as redshirt juniors, and now have one season as starters to build upon. Their chemistry with Russell Wilson should be better and they were No. 3 in the ACC in passing offense a year ago. Williams caught 26 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns in 2008. Spencer could be a big-play threat if he cuts down on the dropped balls.
6. Clemson -- Jacoby Ford and ... Jacoby Ford. He's one of the fastest athletes in the country and will likely be the best solo receiver in the ACC, but he'll draw all of the coverage until one of his teammates becomes a legitimate concern for opposing defenses. It will be up to Xavier Dye, Marquan Jones and Terrence Ashe to help Ford out.
7. Georgia Tech -- This should be one of the more improved units on the Jackets' roster. It was very thin last year (they started a freshman walk-on at Virginia Tech), but should have better depth this season. Demaryius Thomas should be one of the best wideouts in the conference, and he'll have more help this year with the return of sophomores Tyler Melton and Luke Fisher.
8. Florida State -- It's the Noles' lone question mark on offense, but the cupboard isn't completely bare, and Christian Ponder has plenty of confidence in the players who are there. Louis Givens, Jarmon Fortson and Bert Reed. If Taiwan Easterling heals from his Achilles injury and they get their suspended players back, this group could impress.
9. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons have to replace D.J. Boldin, but they've got enough players that the depth and speed should actually improve overall. Chris Givens and Terence Davis, both redshirts last year, impressed the staff this spring. They'll team with Devon Brown, Marshall Williams and Jordan Williams.
10. Duke -- Zero seniors. Not a good sign for a team trying to win more than one ACC game. It's not like the cupboard is bare, though. The Blue Devils will be led by sophomores Johnny Williams and Donovan Varner, who had six catches for 116 yards in the spring game. Williams finished second on the team last year with 30 catches for 327 yards. Freshmen Conner Vernon, Corey Gattis and Tyree Watkins could all push for playing time.
11. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels took a huge hit in this department and it's obviously their biggest concern heading into summer camp. It's not like they don't have players ready and willing to start, but there's nothing that can compensate for game experience, which only Greg Little has. The next most experienced receiver is Rashad Mason, who played in the Rutgers game.
12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers lost their top four receivers from last year, and coach Al Groh didn't notice that "go-to guy" yet this past spring. Sophomore Jared Green leads the returnees with 12 catches for 144 yards a year ago. Kris Burd caught seven passes as a redshirt freshman last year, and the expectations are obviously higher now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Biggest reason for hope -- Talented young playmakers
Nine different receivers showed promise this spring, including Quintin McCree, who caught three touchdown passes in the spring game. Sophomores Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler showed flashes of potential last season that they built upon this spring, and Smith has already established himself as one of the conference's most exciting return threats. As a true freshman last year, Davin Meggett was second on the team in rushing and rushing touchdowns. There is plenty of depth to compensate for the departure of Darrius Heyward-Bey to the NFL. It's not just the receivers the staff is excited about. Strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt said he's seeing better, faster athletes in the weight room this offseason, and they have a veteran quarterback throwing to them in Chris Turner.
Biggest reason for concern -- The offensive line
There's no question the Terps have a few playmakers, but they won't get too far if the offensive line doesn't come together quickly. Assistant coach Tom Brattan lost five of his top seven linemen from a year ago, including starters Edwin Williams, Jaimie Thomas and Scott Burley. The staff is extremely excited about left tackle Bruce Campbell, a freakish athlete who has already been compared to Vernon Davis, and they're confident in center Phil Costa, but replacing 116 career starts will be difficult. Campbell is the only player returning to the same position from a year ago, and it's possible a walk-on or two will be heavily depended upon.