ACC: Thurston Armbrister

Just a few weeks remain before fall camp opens around the ACC, and there are plenty of big questions still left to be answered. With that in mind, we’re looking at some of the conference’s biggest wild cards -- veterans without a distinguished track record who could make all the difference for their respective teams this season. One caveat: With so much of the conference breaking in a new QB, we ignored that key position for now. We’re also not including any true freshmen, since they all come with their share of intrigue. Instead, these are the Coastal Division’s biggest wild cards as we get set for 2014.

Duke: DE Dezmond Johnson

With fewer than five tackles for loss per game last year, Duke had the second-least-productive defensive front in the ACC. Then the Blue Devils lost three of their four starters on the D-line. That means there are major holes to fill and plenty of room for improvement. Johnson is a fifth-year senior coming off a solid spring, which makes him the first man up to fill the void.

Georgia Tech: DE Kenderius Whitehead

Talk about a wild card. Whitehead started his career at NC State, transferred to Georgia Military College, then became the first juco player to sign with Georgia Tech in the Paul Johnson era. Because he’s wrapping up his degree at GMC, he won’t even report to Tech until later this month, but the Yellow Jackets are so thin on the D-line that Whitehead could still be the starter at rush end. Aside from Adam Gotsis, Tech has virtually no established pass rushers, but before Whitehead can even begin to assert himself on Tech’s depth chart he has to take care of academics elsewhere.

Miami: LB Thurston Armbrister

A part-time starter last season, Armbrister has the ability to rush the QB and play the run. But after two linebackers were dismissed earlier this month, further diminishing an already thin group, the Hurricanes need their senior to blossom into a more well-rounded player in 2014. Aside from Denzel Perryman, Miami has little in the way of sure things in the linebacking corps. Getting some better production from that group -- Miami had the fewest tackles for loss in the conference and second fewest among Power 5 teams last season -- could be the key to the Canes’ defense.

North Carolina: DT Greg Webb

There’s ample depth on UNC’s defensive line, but there are plenty of question marks, too. After bandit Norkeithus Otis, the unit lacks an experienced pass rusher, and the Heels finished last in the ACC in rushing defense in 2013, allowing 182 yards per game on the ground. Right now, a handful of juniors and seniors are atop the depth chart, but last year’s struggles only underscore the need for younger talent to emerge. Webb could be the centerpiece. An ESPN 300 recruit in 2013, he has the size and quickness to make a difference up the middle. And if he can progress along with Nazair Jones, Dajaun Drennon and Junior Gnonkonde, there’s plenty of room for the unit to grow into a force in 2014.

Pitt: OT Adam Bisnowaty

A former four-star recruit, Bisnowaty has plenty of upside, but a back injury stemmed his progress early last season and sidelined him for the final four games and much of this spring. The left side of Pitt’s O-line has ample talent between Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson, but the unit was a sieve at times last year, with the Panthers allowing the most sacks per game of any Power 5 team in the country. If Bisnowaty is healthy, he has a chance to get much better. And if he can hold down the left tackle spot, Pitt’s pass protection -- combined with a more mobile QB in Chad Voytik -- has a chance to improve dramatically.

Virginia: WR Darius Jennings

Coming out of high school, Jennings was an ESPN 150 prospect, and he appeared close to blossoming as a sophomore in 2012, catching 48 balls for 568 yards. Last year, however, was a regression. He had 10 fewer catches and just 340 yards on the season. He flashed potential with a 13-catch, 119-yard, two-TD performance against Georgia Tech, but that accounted for a third of his season’s production. With Virginia’s QB situation improving, the Cavaliers are looking for Jennings to finally capitalize on his potential in his final season in Charlottesville.

Virginia Tech: TE Ryan Malleck

OK, so pretty much the entire Virginia Tech offense feels like a wild card this year -- from leading rusher Trey Edmunds to a talented-but-inconsistent receiving corps to, of course, the mystery at QB. But for an offense in transition, its best friend can often be a reliable tight end. Coordinator Scot Loeffler plans to use Malleck, who missed last year with a shoulder injury, as a key contributor in 2014. When Loeffler was OC at Temple in 2011, his tight end led the team in receiving. When he moved to Auburn in 2012, the tight end finished second. Malleck was held out of contact drills this spring and has some competition at the position, but if he’s healthy, it’s reasonable to expect a big season.

Miami spring wrap

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
8:00
AM ET
Three things we learned in the spring about the Miami Hurricanes:

1. Dallas Crawford will help on D. Miami surprised many when it decided to move Crawford from running back to safety. But the switch should end up benefiting both the Canes' D and Crawford in the long-term. Initially recruited to play safety, Crawford made himself at home in the defensive backfield and impressed coaches. He was named most improved player on defense for the spring.

2. Bulked-up Duke Johnson. While Johnson was held out of contact drills as he rehabbed a broken ankle, he did participate on a limited basis this spring. But bigger than that was the way he transformed his body. Johnson put on 10 pounds and is now up to 205. The hope is that more weight translates into better durability. Miami will need to rely on him more than ever in 2014.

3. Depth at linebacker. Coach Al Golden said one of the biggest accomplishments his team made this spring was building depth at linebacker. Miami hopes to count on all-ACC performer Denzel Perryman (now in the middle), along with Alex Figueroa, Raphael Kirby, Thurston Armbrister, Jermaine Grace, JaWand Blue and early enrollee freshmen Juwon Young and Darrion Owens.

Three questions for the fall:

1. Who will cut it at QB? Miami caught a tough break when projected starting quarterback Ryan Williams tore his ACL during a scrimmage and underwent surgery. Though there is some hope Williams could return before the season ends, Miami has to prepare Kevin Olsen and Gray Crow for the starting job. Olsen, the favorite to win the starting job, did not impress in the spring game. Neither did Crow.

2. Improvement on D? Coaches insisted this spring that they saw a better, more cohesive defensive unit, one in which leaders emerged in Perryman and Tracy Howard, among others. Will the progress coaches saw in the spring translate into more consistent performances during the season? Chief on the list of improvements is a better four-man rush and improving on third downs.

3. Pass rush. Speaking of pass rush, Miami was pleased with what it saw out of hybrid rush ends Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyriq McCord this spring. Their emergence will be a huge key toward improving the Hurricanes’ pass rush. Ufomba Kamalu and Jelani Hamilton also started playing better as the spring went on, so Miami feels better about its depth across the line headed into the fall.

One way-too-early prediction:

Miami will take a step back this year. The Hurricanes go into the season with question marks at quarterback and continued questions on defense. Couple that with a difficult schedule -- featuring perhaps the most difficult crossover games in the ACC against Florida State, Louisville – and it will be tough for the Canes to match their nine-win total from last season.
Miami will open spring practice Saturday without eight players -- including five projected starters -- the school announced Friday.

Starters Thurston Armbrister, Malcolm Lewis, Shane McDermott and Gabe Terry will be held out, along with running back Eduardo Clements, receiver Robert Lockhart Jr. and defensive lineman Dave Perry. Linebacker Eddie Johnson remains suspended indefinitely.

Among the most notable items on the preseason depth chart:
  • Freshman Alex Figueroa is listed as the No. 1 strongside linebacker with Armbrister and Johnson out.
  • Sophomore Raphael Kirby is listed as the No. 1 middle linebacker ahead of Jimmy Gaines.
  • Sophomore Matt Goudis is listed at both kicker and punter as the Canes have to replace punter Dalton Botts and kicker Jake Wieclaw.
  • Tracy Howard is listed No. 1 at cornerback in the spot departed by senior Brandon McGee played last season.
Miami starting linebacker Ramon Buchanan will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury and safety Vaughn Telemaque is out for this week's game against Bethune-Cookman with a left knee injury, according to The Associated Press.

They were injured in Saturday's 52-13 loss to Kansas State. Miami's defense has been an open door for opponents, and this obviously isn't going to help matters. It doesn't matter that they've got an FCS opponent at home this weekend: The Canes have two of the next three games on the road, including a trip to Coastal Division opponent Georgia Tech, and a date with Notre Dame in Soldier Field.

Coach Al Golden told reporters on Sunday that juniors Jimmy Gaines and Tyrone Cornileus are expected to compete for Buchanan's starting spot.

“Jimmy has made some progress,” Golden said, according to the Miami Herald. “He’s starting to play more snaps and feel healthier. Jimmy will certainly be in the mix there. Gionni Paul has to come through for us and Thurston Armbrister continues to make progress for us and of course Tyrone has been playing over there with Buck. Obviously Tyrone’s going to get a chance to be a starter, he’ll probably compete with Jimmy Gaines, but we need all of these guys to step up for sure.”

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
12:00
PM ET
Only TWO more Saturdays without college football!

Week 7 injury reports

October, 14, 2011
10/14/11
10:30
AM ET
All 10 teams that are playing this weekend have released their injury reports for Week 7:

CLEMSON

OUT
DE Joe Gore (knee)
PK Spencer Benton (shoulder)

WILL PLAY
QB Tajh Boyd (hip)
LB Stephone Anthony (ankle)

DUKE

PROBABLE
DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (leg)
DE Justin Foxx (leg)
C Dave Harding (leg)
RB Desmond Scott (leg)
RB Josh Snead (foot)
K Will Snyderwine (foot)

QUESTIONABLE
S Matt Daniels (leg)
CB Johnny Williams (leg)

DOUBTFUL
S August Campbell (leg)

OUT
S Lee Butler (leg)
QB Brandon Connette (upper body)
C Brian Moore (arm)

OUT FOR SEASON
TE Jack Farrell (leg)
DE Kenny Anunike (leg)

FLORIDA STATE

OUT
Willie Haulstead (head)
Henry Orelus (head)
Josh Gehres (knee)
Darious Cummings (hand)
Andrew Datko (shoulder)
David Spurlock (knee)

QUESTIONABLE

Rashad Greene (ankle)

GEORGIA TECH

DOUBTFUL
LB Jeremiah Attaochu

OUT
K-P Chandler Anderson
OL Morgan Bailey
WR Tyler Morgan

OUT FOR SEASON
S Fred Holton
DL Jimmie Kitchen
S Lance Richardson

MARYLAND

OUT FOR SEASON
OL Andrew Gonnella
DB Matt Robinson
DL Isaiah Ross
TE Dave Stinebaugh

OUT FOR GAME
DL Justin Anderson
OL Justin Gilbert
LB Demetrius Hartsfield
LB Garrett Lederman
DL Andre Monroe
LB Shaquan Virgil

DOUBTFUL
LB Kenny Tate

QUESTIONABLE
LB Darin Drakeford

PROBABLE
WR Marcus Leak

MIAMI

PROBABLE
Jalen Grimble (lower extremity)
Kacy Rodgers (lower extremity)
Adewale Ojomo (upper extremity)
Thurston Armbrister (upper extremity)
Davon Johnson (lower extremity)

OUT
Luther Robinson (lower extremity)
Shayon Green (lower extremity)
Curtis Porter (upper extremity)

SURGERY/OUT FOR SEASON
Marcus Forston (lower extremity)
Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity)
Cory White (lower extremity)
Erik Lichter (upper extremity)
Blake Ayles (upper extremity)

NORTH CAROLINA

OUT

OT Kiaro Holts (wrist)
FB Devon Ramsay (knee)

DOUBTFUL

PK Casey Barth (thigh)
C Cam Holland (back)

QUESTIONABLE

TB AJ Blue (ankle)
OT TJ Leifheit (ankle)
LB Kevin Reddick (ankle)
SS Jonathan Smith (ankle)

PROBABLE

WR Josh Adams (illness)

VIRGINIA

OUT
Pablo Alvarez (upper extremity)
Vince Croce (medical)
Tim Cwalina (lower extremity)
Darius Lee (upper extremity)
Charlie Richards (upper extremity)
E.J. Scott (medical)
Bobby Smith (lower extremity)
Tyler Smith (lower extremity)

QUESTIONABLE
Henry Coley (lower extremity)

VIRGINIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (foot)
Antoine Hopkins (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)

OUT FOR GAME
James Gayle (ankle)
Eric Martin (shoulder)
David Wang (foot)

FULL
Jaymes Brooks (ankle)

WAKE FOREST

DOUBTFUL
RB Josh Harris (leg)

OUT
TE Neil Basford (knee)
DT John Gallagher (back)

OUT FOR THE YEAR
OT Dylan Heartsil (back)
CB Dominique Tate (knee)
LB Kyle Jarrett (hip)
Tags:

Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Miami Hurricanes, ACC, Casey Barth, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Jaymes Brooks, Kevin Reddick, Matt Daniels, Matt Robinson, Justin Gilbert, Justin Anderson, Will Snyderwine, Adewale Ojomo, Ramon Buchanan, Kwamaine Battle, Dyrell ROberts, Tajh Boyd, Demetrius Hartsfield, Marcus Forston, Andrew Gonnella, Antoine Hopkins, Andrew Datko, Darin Drakeford, Spencer Benton, Johnny Williams, Devon Ramsay, Davon Johnson, Dave Harding, Josh Gehres, David Wang, Chandler Anderson, Josh Adams, Kenny Tate, Cam Holland, Luther Robinson, Desmond Scott, Kenny Anunike, Willie Haulstead, James Gayle, Lee Butler, David Spurlock, Cory White, Shayon Green, Bobby Smith, Isaiah Ross, AJ Blue, Curtis Porter, Tyler Smith, Jeremiah Attaochu, Josh Snead, Justin Foxx, Brandon Connette, John Gallagher, Dominique Tate, Josh Harris, Marcus Leak, August Campbell, Jonathan Smith, Henry Orelus, Eric Martin, TJ Leifheit, Stephone Anthony, Brian Moore, Fred Holton, Blake Ayles, Joe Gore, Dave Stinebaugh, Henry Coley, Morgan Bailey, Pablo Alvarez, Kacy Rodgers, Rashad Greene, Tim Cwalina, Darius Lee, Jack Farrell, Jimmie Kitchen, Kiaro Holts, Jalen Grimble, Thurston Armbrister, Andre Monroe, Darious Cummings, Garrett Lederman, Shaquan Virgil, Jordan DeWalt, Tyler Morgan, LOance Richardson, Erik LIchter, Vince Croce, Charlie Richards, E.J. SCott, Neil Basford, Dylan Heartsil, Kyle Jarrett

ACC injury reports: Week 6

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
10:30
AM ET
Here are your weekly injury reports, from the ACC schools that reported them:

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DL Connor Wujciak (shoulder)
TB Montel Harris (knee)
DL Kaleb Ramsey (foot)

DOUBTFUL
RB Andre Williams (leg)

QUESTIONABLE
OG Nate Richman (back)
OG Ian White (foot)

CLEMSON

OUT
DE Joe Gore (knee)
PK Spencer Benton (shoulder)

PROBABLE
RB Andre Ellington (hamstring)
RB D.J. Howard (hamstring)
RB Mansa Joseph (hamstring)

FLORIDA STATE

OUT
Willie Haulstead (head)
Henry Orelus (head)
Josh Gehres (knee)
Darious Cummings (hand)
Jarred Haggins (hand)

QUESTIONABLE
Nick Moody (leg)
Garrett Faircloth (head)
Andrew Datko (shoulder)

GEORGIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
S Fred Holton
DL Jimmie Kitchen

OUT
LB Brandon Watts

QUESTIONABLE
LB Jeremiah Attaochu
LB Daniel Drummond

MARYLAND

OUT FOR SEASON
DB Matt Robinson
TE Dave Stinebaugh

OUT FOR GAME
DL Justin Anderson
LB Darin Drakeford
OL Justin Gilbert
LB Garrett Lederman
DL Andre Monroe
DL Isaiah Ross
LB Shaquan Virgil

DOUBTFUL LB Kenny Tate

PROBABLE PK Nick Ferrara
TE Matt Furstenburg

MIAMI

OUT
Luther Robinson (lower extremity)
Jalen Grimble (lower extremity)
Thurston Armbrister (upper extremity)

SURGERY/OUT FOR SEASON
Marcus Forston (lower extremity)
Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity)
Corey White (lower extremity)
Curtis Porter (upper extremity)
Eric Lichter (upper extremity)
Blake Ayles (upper extremity)

NORTH CAROLINA

OUT

PK Casey Barth (thigh)
OT Kiaro Holts (wrist)
FB Devon Ramsay (knee)

DOUBTFUL

WR Josh Adams (illness)
RB Matt Kolojejchick (thigh)
LB Norkeithus Otis (foot)

QUESTIONABLE

RB AJ Blue (ankle)
C Cam Holland (back)
OT TJ Leifheit (ankle)
LB Ebele Okakpu (ankle)
LB Kevin Reddick (ankle)
CB Terry Shankle (knee)
SS Jonathan Smith (ankle)

VIRGINIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Antoine Hopkins (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)

OUT
Eric Martin (shoulder)
David Wang (foot)

Week 5 ACC injury reports

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
10:30
AM ET
Here are the injury reports for Week 5 from the ACC schools that reported them:

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DL Connor Wujciak (shoulder)

DOUBTFUL
OG Nate Richman (back)

QUESTIONABLE
DT Kaleb Ramsey (foot)
LB Nick Clancy (shoulder)

CLEMSON

Out
Mansa Joseph, RB, Special Teams, hamstring

Probable
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, hamstring
Dawson Zimmerman, P, knee
D.J. Howard, RB, hamstring
David Smith, OG, shoulder

DUKE

CB Ross Cockrell (leg) – Probable
K Will Snyderwine (foot) – Probable
CB Johnny Williams (leg) – Probable
RB Desmond Scott (leg) – Questionable
RB Josh Snead (foot) – Questionable
QB Brandon Connette (upper body) – OUT
S Lee Butler (leg) – OUT
C Brian Moore (arm) – OUT
DE Kenny Anunike (leg) – OUT FOR SEASON
TE Jack Farrell (leg) – OUT FOR SEASON

GEORGIA TECH
OUT
Morgan Bailey, r-Fr., OL

PROBABLE
Preston Lyons, Sr., BB

OUT FOR YEAR
Fred Holton, So., S
Jimmie Kitchen, r-Fr., DL

MIAMI

Out:
Luther Robinson—Lower Extremity
Jalen Grimble—Lower Extremity
Thurston Armbrister—Upper Extremity

Surgery/Out for the season:
Corey White—Lower Extremity
Curtis Porter—Upper Extremity

NORTH CAROLINA

Out
Casey Barth, PK Thigh
Kiaro Holts, OT Wrist
Devon Ramsay, FB Knee

Doubtful
Josh Adams, WR Illness
Matt Kolojejchick, RB Thigh
Jonathan Smith, SS Ankle

Questionable
TJ Leifheit, OT Ankle
Ebele Okakpu, LB Ankle
Terry Shankle, CB Knee

Probable
Erik Highsmith, WR Ankle
Jabari Price, CB Finger

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON
Jarvis Byrd, CB - knee
Sterling Lucas, LB - knee

OUT
A.J. Ferguson, DT - knee
Mustafa Greene, HB - foot
Terrell Manning, LB - knee
Quintin Payton, WR - ankle
Jeff Rieskamp, DE - shoulder
Brian Slay, DT - ankle
Thomas Teal, DT - foot
Curtis Underwood, HB - knee
Andrew Wallace, OG - knee

QUESTIONABLE
J.R. Sweezy, DT - foot

VIRGINIA TECH

Out for season:
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)

Out
Eric Martin (AC joint)
David Wang (foot)

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