ACC: Ted Larsen

NC State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
7:30
AM ET
NC STATE

2009 overall record: 5-7

2009 conference record: 2-6

Returning starters

Offense: 7; Defense 5; Punter/Kicker 1

Top returners

QB Russell Wilson, WR Owen Spencer, OT Jake Vermiglio, LB Nate Irving, PK Josh Czajkowski, TE George Bryan, WR Jarvis Williams, LB Dwayne Maddox, LB Audie Cole

Key losses

C Ted Larsen, HB Toney Baker, DE Willie Young, DT Alan Michael Cash, CB DeAndre Morgan, LB Ray Michel

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Baker (773 yards)

Passing: Wilson* (3,027 yds)

Receiving: Ja. Williams* (547 yds)

Tackles: Cole* (73)

Sacks: Young (8)

Interceptions: C. Johnson (2)

Spring answers

1. Wilson will be back, but Mike Glennon is a capable starter. Starter Russell Wilson missed all of spring football to play baseball, but his season didn’t quite take the turn he had probably hoped, as Wilson wasn’t a starter. In his absence, Glennon impressed coach Tom O’Brien and completed 21 of 38 passes for 423 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Pack’s spring game. As long as Wilson picks up where he left off in 2009, it should be his job to lose.

2. Irving is back and can play. After missing last season with injuries he sustained in a serious 2009 summer car accident, it was unclear how much Irving would be able to contribute this spring. He moved to middle linebacker and eased his way back into full participation and played in half of the spring game.

3. Defensive linemen emerging. Even though all four starters from last year’s defensive line graduated, there was enough talent there this spring for optimism. Darryl Cato-Bishop, David Akinniyi, and Brian Slay impressed the staff. Their success is critical, as both J.R. Sweezy and Markus Kuhn are facing disciplinary action.

Fall questions

1. Who will run the ball? For the first time since 2005, NC State doesn’t have a running back with any starting experience. Brandon Barnes broke his ankle, and the competition is now between Curtis Underwood, who redshirted last year, and James Washington, who played in six games as a true freshman last year.

2. Punter, please. Nobody on the team has ever punted in a game situation. Chris Ward was the likely top option , but he was suspended for the spring and possibly the fall.

3. How much can the defense improve? With Irving back and former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta coaching the linebackers, it would seem as if the defense would get a boost. It’s going to have to if the Pack is going to make it to the postseason. NC State was No. 99 in the country last year in scoring defense, and No. 106 in pass efficiency defense. The secondary is lead by freshmen and sophomores.

Final Senior Bowl rosters released

January, 25, 2010
1/25/10
4:06
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The final rosters for the Under Armour Senior Bowl have been posted. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 30 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Duke and Georgia Tech are the only ACC schools that aren't represented in the game. The following is a list of ACC players who will participate:

NORTH

Chris Cook, CB, Virginia

Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson

Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest

Rashawn Jackson, FB, Virginia

Terrell Skinner, DB, Maryland

Matt Tennant, C, Boston College

Cam Thomas, DL, North Carolina

Ed Wang, OL, Virginia Tech

SOUTH

Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami

Ted Larsen, OL, NC State

Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

Myron Rolle, S, Florida State

Darryl Sharpton, LB, Miami

Dekoda Watson, LB, Florida State

ACC representatives at the NFL combine

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
3:30
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The Sporting News published a list of seniors invited to participate in the 2010 NFL scouting combine, Feb. 24 to March 2 at Indianapolis. Here are the ACC's representatives, but keep in mind it's not an official -- or final -- list.

Boston College: LB Mike McLaughlin, C Matt Tennant.

Clemson: OLB Kavell Conner, WR Jacoby Ford, DE Ricky Sapp, RB C.J. Spiller.

Duke: QB Thaddeus Lewis, Vince Oghobaase.

Florida State: CB Patrick Robinson, S Myron Rolle, OLB Dekoda Watson.

Maryland: CB Nolan Carroll.

Miami: TE Dedrick Epps, OT Jason Fox, TE Jimmy Graham, RB Javarris James, LB Darryl Sharpton.

North Carolina: OT Kyle Jolly, DT Cam Thomas.

NC State: C Ted Larsen, DE Willie Young.

Virginia: CB Chris Cook, FB Rashawn Jackson.

Virginia Tech: P Brent Bowden, S Kam Chancellor, CB Stephan Virgil, OT Ed Wang.

Wake Forest: OT Chris DeGeare, CB Brandon Ghee.

Counting down the ACC's top 30 players: Also considered

June, 26, 2009
6/26/09
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Agree or disagree with it, the ACC's top 30 Players for 2009 was a fun project, and I hope you enjoyed it. I might do another one at the end of the season to give these players a chance to prove me wrong -- or right.

There were tons of other players across the conference who were considered. Virginia Tech fans are wondering why quarterback Tyrod Taylor's name isn't on the list. Well, Taylor still has a lot to prove. He's got what it takes in the potential category -- the receivers and offensive linemen should be better this fall, and so should Taylor. But he comes up short in the past performance category, despite his 13-2 record as a starter.

His performance against Duke -- supposedly lowly Duke -- stuck with me when comprising this list. Taylor completed 2 of 5 passes for 15 yards and two interceptions at home against the Blue Devils. If that's a top-30 player, then I left out a lot of athletes. If it weren't for Macho Harris, the Hokies would have lost that game. It takes more than just quick feet to win football games, and Taylor's performance in losses to Boston College and Miami last year are evidence of that. He scored two rushing touchdowns against the Canes, and got his third career 100-yard rushing game against the Eagles, but he completed just 12 of 17 passes for 90 yards and an interception.

Taylor is a quarterback whose name doesn't appear among the ACC's leaders in passing efficiency or passing yards per game, but young receivers had a lot to do with that and he was able to compensate some with his feet. He was the No. 9 rusher in the conference with 61.5 yards per game, but two touchdowns and seven interceptions didn't cut it for this list.

Maybe next year.

In addition to Taylor, here are the other players who were considered (in no particular order):

Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Matt Tennant, OL, Boston College
Kendric Burney, DB, North Carolina
Deunta Williams, S, North Carolina
Marvin Austin, DL, North Carolina
Ricky Sapp, DL, Clemson,
T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina,
Boo Robinson, DL, Wake Forest
Brandon Ghee, DB, Wake Forest,
Jason Fox, OL, Miami
Orlando Franklin, OL, Miami
Graig Cooper, RB, Miami
Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami
Bruce Campbell, OL, Maryland
Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Roddy Jones, RB, Georgia Tech
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
Alan-Michael Cash, DL, NC State
Ted Larsen, C, NC State
Allen Bailey, DL, Miami
Ryan McMahon, OL, Florida State
Andrew Datko, OL, Florida State
Markus White, DL, Florida State
Patrick Robinson, DB, Florida State
Jermaine Thomas, RB, Florida State
Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
Vincent Rey, LB, Duke

ACC in the afternoon

May, 21, 2009
5/21/09
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

A few odds n' ends for you from around the league:

  • Florida State is hardly the only school interested in Christian Jones, but his father and brother both played for the Noles. The football ties in his family helped Jones get through a 0-10 season at Lake Howell High. Miami is also interested in Jones, who is on the ESPNU 150 watch list.
  • The Rimington Trophy committee released its 2009 Spring Watch List, and five ACC players are featured on it:
    • Lowell Dyer, North Carolina
    • Ted Larsen, NC State 
    • Ryan McMahon, Florida State
    • Bryan Morgan, Duke
    • Matt Tennant, Boston College

  • FSU walk-on receiver Louis Givens still hasn't been awarded a scholarship, a school spokesman said, but that's because the staff is waiting to see how the scholarship situation shakes out. It changes whenever a player like Willie Downs has to head to community college.
  • If you saw College Football Live today, you heard the mention of Jacory Harris, who has been working with former Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Harris is determined to be the leader of this team, and he's putting in the offseason work to do that. It's an impressive effort for a sophomore, and Miami's offense will be better for it. Miami might have lost some depth at the position with the transfer of Robert Marve, but the Hurricanes gained a true leader.

Scouting the ACC's offensive lines

May, 14, 2009
5/14/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Thanks to reader "Bentongreen" for pointing out a great link in the Wall Street Journal that takes a look at offensive lines throughout the country and makes it easy to see who's got what coming back in the ACC in 2009.

It's no coincidence that the five teams with the most starting experience returning -- Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State, Boston College and Clemson, respectively -- are probably going to feature the best offensive lines this season. Just because the Hokies have the most starting experience, though, doesn't mean they'll have the best line.

Florida State could very well challenge them for that distinction, and they're good enough that the Noles should have one of their most productive seasons running the ball in recent years, despite the youth at running back. The inexperience and lack of depth at wide receiver can be masked by running the ball, so it wouldn't be surprising if FSU's passing game looked like Virginia Tech's did in 2008.

And Boston College takes great pride in its strong tradition up front, and has two all-ACC candidates in Matt Tennant and Anthony Castonzo. The Eagles return four starters, and like Florida State, will look to the running game for help. And the return of Chris DeGeare from academic struggles at Wake Forest will give the Demon Deacons an immediate boost. As for Clemson, we all know what a patchwork job that line was last season, but it should be a strength of the team in 2009.

Here are some of the ACC's top offensive linemen heading into 2009:

TACKLES

  • Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, Jr.
  • Chris Hairston, Clemson, Jr.
  • Kyle Hill, Duke, Soph.
  • Andrew Datko, FSU, Soph.
  • Jason Fox, Miami, Sr.
  • Kyle Jolley, UNC, Sr.
  • Will Barker, Virginia, Sr.
  • Ed Wang, Virginia Tech, Sr.

GUARDS

  • Thomas Austin, Clemson, Sr.
  • Rodney Hudson, FSU, Jr.
  • Cord Howard, Georgia Tech, Sr.
  • Orlando Franklin, Miami, Jr.
  • Aaron Stahl, UNC, Sr.
  • Sergio Render, Virginia Tech, Sr.

CENTERS

  • Bryan Morgan, Duke, Jr.
  • Phil Costa, Maryland, Sr.
  • Matt Tennant, Boston College, Sr.
  • Ryan McMahon, FSU, Sr.
  • Ted Larsen, NC State, Sr.

NC State spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009
5/07/09
9:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

North Carolina State Wolfpack

2008 overall record: 6-7

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters: Offense: 7, defense: 7, kicker/punter 1

Top returners: QB Russell Wilson, WR Owen Spencer, C Ted Larsen DT Alan Michael Cash, DE Willie Young, LB Nate Irving, PK Josh Czajkowski, TB Toney Baker, WR T.J. Graham, LB Ray Michel, TB Jamelle Eugene, CB DeAndre Morgan

Key losses: TE Anthony Hill, HB Andre Brown, S J.C. Neal, CB Jeremy Gray, DT Keith Willis, OG John Bedics, OG Meares Green

2008 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Andre Brown (767 yards)
Passing: Russell Wilson* (1,955 yards)
Receiving:
Owen Spencer* (691 yards)
Tackles:
Ray Michel* (85)
Sacks:
Willie Young* (6.5)
Interceptions:
Nate Irving* (4)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 South Carolina
Sept. 12 Murray State
Sept. 19 Gardner-Webb
Sept. 26 Pittsburgh
Oct. 3 at Wake Forest
Oct. 10 Duke
Oct. 17 at Boston College
Oct. 31 at Florida State
Nov. 7 Maryland
Nov. 14 Clemson
Nov. 21 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 28 North Carolina

Spring answers

1. Sweet relief. Mike Glennon impressed the coaching staff as the No. 2 quarterback this spring with his poise and arm strength and likely earned himself some playing time this fall. Glennon completed 23 of 38 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in the Kay Yow Spring Game.

2. Hit me. Baker hadn't played in almost two years, let alone been hit, but he held up physically throughout the spring despite not being entirely 100 percent. He and Jamelle Eugene should help compensate for the loss of Brown.

3. Going the distance. Placekicker Josh Czajkowski could be a difference-maker this fall. He was accurate last year (16 of 19 field goals and 33 of 34 PATs), but improved his distance this spring. Czajkowki made a 52-yarder in one of the scrimmages.

Fall questions

1. Winning in September. NC State has made a push late in the schedule over the past two seasons, and has had a tendency to get off to a slow, injury-laden start. If the Wolfpack is going to be a legitimate contender in Tom O'Brien's third season, they'll have to get off to a faster start.

2. Staying power. Can Russell Wilson stay healthy and handle the spotlight of Year 1 while Glennon is itching to see some playing time? Wilson showed improvement this spring by working through his progressions better, but O'Brien said there could have been more progress had Wilson not spent part of the spring with the baseball team.

3. Walker's return. Can the Pack get safety Javon Walker back in secondary? Walker tore his ACL in the second-to-last game of 2008. As a freshman he was starting, but he missed the spring. He is expected back this fall and could be the best player in secondary.

Checking in with NC State's Ted Larsen

August, 15, 2008
8/15/08
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

NC State center Ted Larsen said his move from defensive tackle has been a "huge learning process," but both he and the Wolfpack are likely to benefit from it.

Larsen, a redshirt junior, has spent most of his career as a backup tackle, but his new role on the offensive line will give him a chance to start and help NC State. John Bedics, a redshirt senior who had starting experience at left defensive tackle, also made the move this spring and is taking reps with the first team at offensive guard.

"I definitely feel like it's benefited the offensive line," Larsen said. "Me and John bring a lot of athleticism, and some speed and quickness that can definitely help out the line and some of the backs we have. We also bring a certain amount of leadership ... we've played in some big games. It helps bring everyone together."

Larsen said that despite some naysayers outside the program who say the Wolfpack have too many questions to contend for the ACC title this season, NC State has a good group of leaders who are "tired of mediocre seasons," and that everyone is buying into Tom O'Brien's philosophies.

"We've been working really hard over the spring and summer," Larsen said. "What you guys can expect is some more excitement compared to last year, and the will to win some tough games."

Mailblog: The Tobacco Road edition

August, 14, 2008
8/14/08
11:11
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- I'm still here. Waiting for Al Groh's 11 a.m. teleconference before scooting out to Wake Forest. While I'm waiting, I'm reading ...

Mike, from Raleigh, writes: You can't get the ACC motivated by saying the Big Ten is doing better than they are, you've got to say that Duke is raising more money than UNC, or State is Raising more than Duke. They'll get upset with that, and do anything to beat each other.

Heather Dinich: Ha ha, OK, then, fight among yourselves.


Kendall, from Murrells Inlet, S.C., writes: Does Tom O'Brien have enough weapons for NC State to contend for the ACC title?

Heather Dinich: First, please go to Drunken Jack's for me. I missed it this year. Second, O'Brien is getting there. With five starters back on offense and four on defense, plus shuffling of the offensive line and no clear-cut starter at quarterback yet, I'd say there are too many questions for the Pack to be a legit contender for the title this year.


Steve, from Kileeen, Texas, writes: My question is why is everyone sleeping on the canes who are probably the most talented team in the acc next to noles? And what is this talk about the tar heels winning the acc?

Heather Dinich: Steve, the baby Canes will get more respect once we see their quarterback -- whomever that might be -- throw the football in a college game. I haven't heard anyone say Miami isn't talented, just too young to make its comeback this season. As for the Tar Heels winning the ACC? I'd say they're headed in the right direction, but to win the whole thing is a little premature.


Somebody named Braska writes: Hi, Heather I'm a die hard NC State alum and fan. Why don't you give us any love? Did we break your heart? Did a NC State guy break your heart or something? Come to our practice and say something nice for a change.

Heather Dinich: I'll be in Raleigh on Saturday for media day. Meanwhile, trying to get Ted Larsen or John Bedics on the phone to check in on their new roles with the O-line.


Jeff from Charlotte writes: When are you heading to Raleigh to check out the pack? I like your blog and will keep an eye out for updates

Heather Dinich: Saturday! I promise.


Chris, in Myrtle Beach, writes: After your visit to Clemson, How confident do you think the coaches are in the offensive line? I figure they are not going to give them much praise as a way to motivate them and incourage competition. But did you get a since that it wont be as big of a deal as the media is making it?

Heather Dinich: As Tommy Bowden said this past spring, they're "not recruiting zeros." I actually asked Tommy Bowden if the media was making too big of a deal out of it -- simply because they had to replace four starters there last season and turned out OK -- and he was quick to remind me that the guys coming in last year as replacements were fifth-year seniors. I still say James Davis and C.J. Spiller are good enough to compensate for early mistakes there.


Mark, in Sydney, Australia, writes: Hi Heather, I read with interest your articles and the sometimes negative feedback you get from doing a tough job like yours. To be impartial as a journalist you are going to tread on toes . I'm an almost 40 year old Miami Hurricane fanatic and unfortunately we don't get to see the best game on ther planet - college football down here too often - maybe half a dozen times a year. Can Miami get back to their stellar days of the 80's in your opinion and hopefully challenge for a championship (National or ACC) in 2009 and beyond. As spring approaches for us Aussies - I'm sweating on it. P.S. Robert Marve will deliver - Kirby and Kyle are gone and the future looks much brighter. Sorry for the long email but I need to know.

Heather Dinich: Sigh. I wish I thought the turnaround was right around the corner for you, but I just think this team is too young and this summer has been filled with nagging injuries for these guys. (Eric Moncur is still out). I don't doubt that Miami will again be a national contender -- Randy Shannon is bringing in an abundance of talent for that to happen. But now he needs to develop it and those guys need experience.

NC State position battles

July, 18, 2008
7/18/08
11:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

We're almost through the league, as I break down the remaining spots up for grabs at each school. Today it's the Wolfpack's turn. Here's a look at the position battles to watch this summer in Raleigh:

Quarterback -- Returning starters Harrison Beck and Daniel Evans haven't been counted out just yet, although Evans missed some time this spring after shoulder surgery. Russell Wilson had a promising spring, but has spent his career thus far on the scout team. Justin Burke also got a fair amount of reps in the spring. There are also high expectations for true freshman Mike Glennon, who hasn't taken an official practice snap yet.

Running back -- Yes, there is talent and experience here, but will anyone separate himself? Two guys return with more than 1,000 career rushing yards in Toney Baker and Andre Brown, and Jamelle Eugene rushed for 667 last year with five touchdowns. He started the last six games of the season and averaged 83.8 yards a game in the last seven games.

Offensive line -- There are three returning starters, but it's still a work in progress. Former defensive linemen Ted Larsen (center) and John Bedics (left guard) are penciled in as starters, but neither of them has taken a snap on offense yet in a college game. Jake Vermiglio moved to guard behind Bedics. Andy Barbee, a redshirt junior, was a longtime backup at center.

Linebacker -- All three linebacker spots could be wide open. The surest thing to a lock might be weakside linebacker Nate Irving, who started four of the last five games. Middle linebacker Ray Michel started the last game of 2007 and has played in 24 games in his two years. He has the most game experience of the top six on the depth chart at the three linebacker spots. Thomas Barnes played in 10 games last year as a backup and scored a touchdown on his third collegiate snap (against Wofford on a fumble return).

Safety -- Four players are after two spots. Two redshirt-freshmen -- Justin Byers and Jimmaul Simmons -- are competing with J.C. Neal and Javon Walker, who both have legitimate experience.

ACC position rankings: Defensive line

July, 17, 2008
7/17/08
6:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Georgia Tech: This veteran defense should help take some heat off the offense while it figures itself out. Senior tackles Vance Walker and Darryl Richard, along with defensive end Michael Johnson are legitimate NFL draft picks and should have their best seasons yet under first-year coordinator Dave Wommack.

2. Clemson: Three of the four starters return, including seniors Dorell Scott and Rashaad Jackson, and junior Ricky Sapp, who had 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and 22 quarterback pressures as a sophomore when he started all 13 games. And don't forget freshman Da'Quan Bowers, who will work his way into the rotation at defensive end with Kevin Alexander as they try to fill the void left by Phillip Merling.

3. Boston College: The Eagles had the No. 1 rushing defense in 2007 (75.5 yards per game), and that was without academically ineligible B.J. Raji and injured end Alex Albright, who had 8.5 sacks despite missing the last few games with a broken left forearm. Now they're back, along with senior tackle Ron Brace.

4. Florida State: Defensive end Everette Brown is the leader of this group and could be one of the best in the ACC. He led the team in sacks last year, when he was in a part-time role, and led all linemen in tackles and tackles for loss. Benjamin Lampkin converted from linebacker to end in the Music City Bowl. Budd Thacker started eight games last season and missed four because of an injury. Paul Griffin didn't start a game last year, but had 6.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

5. Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have to replace their top end in Jeremy Thompson, and fifth-year senior Anthony Davis, his backup, will inherit the job. Matt Robinson missed 2006 with a broken kneecap and then suffered a high ankle sprain last season and missed the three games. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility and will play as a grad student. Their strength will be inside with returning starter Boo Robinson at nose guard. John Russell is simmering with potential. Ted Randolph moved from tight end to defensive tackle midseason last year.

6. Virginia Tech: Only three ends with playing experience and one tackle return. Redshirt senior Orion Martin is the only returning lineman who started every game last season. Redshirt sophomore Jason Worilds should be No. 1 at the other end spot heading into fall and Nekos Brown and Steven Friday are competing for the backup spots. Demetrius Taylor has moved inside to tackle and will compete with John Graves, Cordarrow Thompson and a few others.

7. Duke: Junior tackle Vince Oghobaase is the real deal. He had 12 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. He's one of four returning starters, along with defensive ends Greg Akinbiyi and Wesley Oglesby, and defensive tackle Ayanga Okpokowuruk.

8. Miami: Hurricane fans have good reason to be excited about freshman Marcus Forston, but there's little that's certain about this line. Allen Bailey's move here from linebacker should help, but this offseason he's been slowed by a pectoral injury. Eric Moncur has struggled to stay healthy, along with Courtney Harris. Senior left tackle Antonio Dixon, Joe Joseph and Dwayne Hendricks are competing with Forston for the tackle spots.

9. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have to replace two of the league's best linemen in tackle Kentwan Balmer and end Hilee Taylor. There are plenty of options at tackle, where Aleric Mullins is a returning starter, but Taylor's absence will be felt. Darrius Massenburg broke his wrist and didn't participate this spring, Darius Powell is more of a third-down guy, and Vince Jacobs is a converted tight end.

10. Maryland: Jeremy Navarre is the veteran of this group, having started a team-high 35 games, and should move from end to tackle. Mack Frost is expected to take Navarre's end position, but he missed this spring because of knee surgery. Trey Covington has plenty of experience at the Terps' LEO position, which is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. More is expected of nose tackle Travis Ivey, who played sparingly last year mostly in goal-line situations. Walk-on Bemi Otulaja passed him on the depth chart this spring.

11. NC State: Defensive end Willie Young and tackle Alan-Michael Cash are two certainties in an otherwise questionable line. While the move of Ted Larsen and John Bedics helped out the offensive line, it hurt the depth on defense. Markus Kuhn is a viable option at defensive end, and Antoine Holmes could help at tackle.

12. Virginia: With Chris Long and the lone answer to his departure, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, no longer on the team, the Cavaliers have a serious hole to fill, and there's not much experience at end to choose from. Alex Field played sparingly in every game and Sean Gottschalk played in nine.

ACC position rankings: Offensive lines

July, 16, 2008
7/16/08
5:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here they are, the unheralded linemen. The guys who do the dirty work and make their teammates look good. Check out who's got the best:

1. Maryland -- The Terps have just one starting job open here and five of the top six linemen are seniors. The experience younger players like Bruce Campbell and Paul Pinegar gained last year at the misfortune of injured teammates should pay dividends this season. The Terps' depth is why they're ahead of the Hokies.

2. Virginia Tech -- Four starters are back, including Ed Wang, who moved from right to left tackle; left guard Nick Marshman, who at 6-foot-5, 357-pounds was the largest man on the roster but dropped 25 pounds in the offseason; center Ryan Shuman, who missed the spring because of offseason knee surgery; and right guard Sergio Render, who has already caught the eye of NFL scouts. Wang's backup, Greg Nosal, is a redshirt freshman moving from tight end. Marshman's reserve is Hivera Green, who hasn't played.

3. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels have struggled in the past, but with four starters returning and the second season under Butch Davis, it should see improvement. Senior tackle Garrett Reynolds and junior tackle Kyle Jolly -- who missed the spring with an injured left foot -- lead a group that has 67 total starts.

4. Wake Forest -- This group should be better than people think, despite having to replace center Steve Justice. Barrett McMillin has starting experience at right guard, and left tackle Joe Birdsong and right tackle Jeff Griffin both split time at one of the tackle spots last season. Left guard Russell Nenon didn't start but picked up a lot of playing time toward the end of the season. Center is a question mark. Because he was stuck behind Justice, center Trey Bailey has the most catching up to do.

5. Boston College -- There are still two spots up for grabs. Sophomore Anthony Castonzo, who holds the distinction of becoming the school's first offensive lineman in a decade to start as a true freshman, moved from right to left tackle to replace Gosder Cherilus. Matt Tennant is back at center along with returning staritng guard Clif Ramsey. Former defensive lineman Thomas Claiborne moved to right guard this spring.

6. NC State -- Moving defensive linemen Ted Larsen to center and John Bedics to left guard will only help this football team, but neither of them has taken a snap on offense yet in a college game. Jake Vermiglio, a hulking tackle who played well against Chris Long as a freshman last year, moved to guard behind Bedics (which shows Tom O'Brien's confidence in that move). Andy Barbee, a redshirt junior, was a longtime backup at center. Depth is a question mark, but the Wolfpack has three returning starters in right tackle Meares Green (who played at guard, center AND tackle last year), right guard Curtis Crouch, and Julian Williams, who is in his second full year starting at left tackle.

7. Miami -- The Hurricanes are looking for a starting center but have two starters back in Jason Fox and Reggie Youngblood. They've got experience in Orlando Franklin, Joel Figueroa (a key reserve) and Chris Rutledge (split time as a starter).

8. Virginia -- The loss of Branden Albert and two other starters left a gaping hole. The best thing the Cavaliers have going for them is senior Eugene Monroe, who might be the best offensive lineman in the ACC. He didn't allow a sack last year at left tackle. There's also experience at right tackle, where Will Barker has 25 career starts.

9. Georgia Tech -- The good news is that left tackle Andrew Gardner came back instead of heading for the NFL. The bad news is the cohesiveness of this unit is mostly gone because Gardner is the lone full-time returning starter. Cord Howard missed the spring because of foot surgery, but he and Dan Voss, who started the final seven games of last season at left guard, at least have starting experience.

10. Clemson -- Finally. A flaw. Tommy Bowden had to replace four starters, and named all but the two guard spots. Still, Cory Lambert has never started a game at left tackle and three of the four players competing to be guards are redshirt freshmen. Freshman Antoine McClain, who was ranked the No. 6 offensive tackle prospect [Insider] in the country by ESPN.com, could help.

11. Duke -- The Blue Devils have three starters back, including both tackles -- Fred Roland and Cameron Goldberg -- and guard Rob Schirmann. The reason they're not last? They've got one more body with experience than the 'Noles.

12. Florida State -- For the first time in school history, there's not one junior or senior on the line. That doesn't mean there's not talent, but much of it is unproven. What the Seminoles do have is sophomores Ryan McMahon and Rodney Hudson. McMahon was the only freshman or sophomore in the FBS to take every offensive snap for his team at center. Redshirt freshman Antwane Greenlee, a bulky 302-pound tackle who was very highly recruited, still hasn't played. A true freshman will most likely start somewhere, but first the coaches have to find the best one they have.

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