When we ranked the top players in each conference a year ago, there were 30 players who made the list. This year the ranking was shortened to a top 25. Here are five more players who just missed the cut and could sneak into a postseason ranking:
Andrew Datko, LT, Florida State: He shut out the entire ACC last season of sacks. That includes former Georgia Tech star Derrick Morgan, UNC’s Robert Quinn, Clemson’s Ricky Sapp, NC State’s Willie Young and Miami’s Allen Bailey. Datko is tough, smart, he can run block and he’s invaluable as he protects the edge and Christian Ponder’s shoulder. He was penalized only three times last year.
Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: He has been hampered by injuries his first two seasons and hasn’t quite lived up to the recruiting hype, though he has been impressive when he’s been on the field. He suffered a knee injury on the first play of the Coastal Carolina game and missed most of three games. He finished eighth on the team with 58 tackles, and had a career-high 11 tackles against ACC champ Georgia Tech in the title game. He had three sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech: He isn’t quite back to where he was in 2008, but he should be by the end of the summer. He became the first Hokie freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. At the time, his 1,265 yards ranked as the highest season total in ACC history by a freshman. He set a school single-game record for rushing with 253 yards against Maryland. He was named MVP of the 2009 Orange Bowl.
Matt Bosher, P/K Miami: He was ranked No. 30 a year ago and was a first-team all-conference place-kicker in 2009. He ranked third in the ACC in field goal percentage (.875) and has made 90 straight PATs in his career. He leads the nation among active returning field goal kicks with an .889 accuracy (32 of 36). He also finished second in the ACC in punting (42.5) with 44 of his 51 punts either inside the 20-yard line or fair catches.
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech: He led the team in receptions, receiving yards, yards per catch and touchdown catches in 2009. His 20.9 yards per catch average ranked fourth best among FBS players. He had four 100-yard receiving games and 10 catches of 30 yards or more. He also recovered a fumble for a touchdown against rival Virginia. Boykin is a natural, and he still hasn’t reached his potential yet.