ACC: Torrey Smith

Week 9: Did you know?

October, 28, 2011
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Thanks as always to the sports information directors throughout the league for this week’s notes:

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.

Coaching 'em up: Maryland

July, 21, 2011
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The series highlighting one assistant coach from each team whose position group will be in the spotlight this fall continues today with Maryland:

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.
You asked, I answered. Readers (particularly @AsylumGodfather) were calling for more position rankings, so the receivers are up next. This could be the strongest position group in the conference, and one of the more difficult to rank, so I looked back on a few stats to help me separate them, including how some of these guys did against their best competition (i.e. Danny Coale versus FSU, wow). Here’s the final verdict of which teams in the ACC have the best combination of depth and talent:

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.
The "spring shoes to fill" series looked at the most difficult player to replace in each program. Five of them were quarterbacks, four linemen, two receivers and one linebacker.

Boston College: Anthony Castonzo
Clemson: Da'Quan Bowers
Duke: Abraham Kromah
Florida State: Rodney Hudson
Georgia Tech: Joshua Nesbitt
Maryland: Torrey Smith
Miami: Leonard Hankerson
North Carolina: T.J. Yates
NC State: Russell Wilson
Virginia: Marc Verica
Virginia Tech: Tyrod Taylor
Wake Forest: Russell Nenon

Hudson was the most decorated offensive lineman in ACC history. Taylor was the winningest quarterback in school history. Nesbitt was the most prolific rushing quarterback in league history. Bowers was honored as the nation's top defensive player. Almost all of them were record-setters. The ACC lost some tremendous talent from 2010 rosters.

Of these 12 players, I took the liberty of narrowing the list down to five choices for the most difficult player to replace in the ACC.

Maryland spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
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2010 overall record: 9-4

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 7, punter/kicker 0

Top returners

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

Key losses

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)

Spring answers

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.

Fall questions

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.

Terps' QB sharp in spring game

May, 2, 2011
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There's a reason he was named the ACC's 2010 Rookie of the Year.

Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien threw two touchdown passes to Ronnie Tyler, including a 65-yarder on the first play from scrimmage, leading the Red team past the White, 35-7, on Saturday in the annual Maryland Red-White Spring Game on Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.

O’Brien completed 16 of 23 passes for 199 yards. He also had a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tyler in the fourth quarter, capping a 12-play, 81-yard drive that was the final touchdown of the game.

While it was an encouraging performance, Maryland fans should remember O'Brien wasn't exactly facing Clemson's defense.

“The thing is, you’ve got to remember we didn’t let them do anything,” first-year coach Randy Edsall said, according to the team's scrimmage report. “We just basically played a couple of coverages and really one front the whole time. We had no movement (on the defensive line).”

Then again, the offense wasn't revealing anything, either.

"We really watered down our offense and only ran about half the playbook," O'Brien said. "We were focused on executing it. I think we did that. We didn't want to stall like we did after the first four drives, but overall we started off great. Over the summer we need to focus on getting some things polished up and be ready for Miami."

MARYLAND NFL DRAFT NOTES
  • Former Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott was selected with 18th choice in the seventh round (221 overall) of the NFL draft by the New York Giants, and Torrey Smith was chosen by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round.
  • The Terps have had at least two players selected in seven of the past eight NFL drafts and eight of the past 10.
  • Scott was the first Maryland running back taken in the draft since Bruce Perry in 2004 (seventh round to Philadelphia Eagles).
  • Smith was the second Terp selected in the top two rounds over the past three seasons (Darrius Heyward-Bey, seventh overall in 2009 by Oakland).
  • Over the past nine NFL drafts, there have been seven Maryland players selected in the top two rounds.

NFL draft rewind: ACC basics

May, 2, 2011
5/02/11
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ACC Players Taken in the NFL Draft

1 12 Christian Ponder, Florida State, QB Vikings
1 14 Robert Quinn, North Carolina, DE Rams
1 22 Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, T Colts
2 33 Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, CB Patriots
2 38 Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, RB Cardinals
2 40 Bruce Carter, North Carolina, LB Cowboys
2 41 Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson, DT Redskins
2 46 Orlando Franklin, Miami, OL Broncos
2 50 Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson, CB Chargers
2 51 Da’ Quan Bowers, Clemson, DE Buccaneers
2 52 Marvin Austin, North Carolina, DT Giants
2 55 Rodney Hudson, Florida State, C-G Chiefs
2 58 Torrey Smith, Maryland, WR Ravens
2 59 Greg Little, North Carolina, WR Browns
2 60 Brandon Harris, Miami, CB Texans
3 67 Nate Irving, NC State, LB Broncos
3 79 Leonard Hankerson, Miami, WR Redskins
3 81 DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami, CB Raiders
3 86 Allen Bailey, Miami, DE Chiefs
4 100 Da’Norris Searcy, North Carolina, S Bills
4 109 Colin McCarthy, Miami, ILB Titans
4 122 Chris Hairston, Clemson, T Bills
4 127 Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech, CB Texans
4 130 Jamie Harper, Clemson, RB Titans
5 133 Johnny White, North Carolina, RB Bills
5 152 T.J. Yates, North Carolina, QB Texans
6 171 Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina, LB Cardinals
6 173 Byron Maxwell, Clemson, DB Seahawks
6 180 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, QB Ravens
6 181 Richard Gordon, Miami, TE Raiders
6 192 Matt Bosher, Miami, P-PK Falcons
7 218 Ryan Taylor, North Carolina, TE Cowboys
7 221 Da’Rel Scott, Maryland, RB Giants
7 224 Markus White, Florida State, DE Redskins
7 225 Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech, RB Ravens

ACC Selections by Rounds

First 3
Second 12
Third 4
Fourth 5
Fifth 2
Sixth 5
Seventh 4

ACC Selections by Teams

North Carolina 9
Miami 8
Clemson 6
Florida State 3
Virginia Tech 3
Maryland 2
Boston College 1
Georgia Tech 1
NC State 1
Virginia 1

Spring shoes to fill: Maryland

April, 29, 2011
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Biggest shoes to fill: Receiver Torrey Smith

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.

Ponder ACC's highest draft pick in '11

April, 29, 2011
4/29/11
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It what might have been the biggest surprise of the entire first round of Thursday night's NFL draft, former Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder was the first player drafted from the ACC when he was chosen 12th by the Minnesota Vikings.

Ponder, whose durability has been a question but his talent hasn't, was picked ahead of former ACC defensive ends Da'Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn, and Boston College offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo -- all of whom were projected by many to be the ACC's top draft picks this year. Instead, the ACC's string of five straight seasons with a top-10 pick was broken, and a quarterback who wasn't even a second-team all-conference selection was the first of three ACC players chosen in the first round.

That's not a knock on Ponder -- when healthy, he is undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, if not the best. He was my 2009 first-team all-conference quarterback. It's puzzling why Bowers' previous injury is more of a concern. In spite of it, he was still one of the best players in the country last year. Ponder would have been had he stayed healthy.

Ponder became the highest quarterback in FSU history taken in the NFL draft as well as the first FSU player taken in the first 12 picks since linebacker Ernie Sims in 2006 by the Detroit Lions. Ponder also became the highest offensive Florida State player drafted since offensive lineman Alex Barron in 2005. Before Ponder, Gary Huff was the highest drafted FSU quarterback as the 33rd overall pick in the second round of the 1973 draft.

Mel Kiper's take on this surprise pick:
First of all, this is no shot at Ponder, who some personnel folks believe might be the most ready-to-play quarterback in this draft. But the Vikings looked like a team that panicked with this pick, given the context. They had no shot to trade down? Andy Dalton is still available going into the second day, and in taking Ponder, you also passed on Fairley and Quinn, a couple of guys who can help this team. Again, it's not called "Pick your favorite player." It's a draft. Order and the value of each pick are components that factor in. Should note: This doesn't mean the Vikings are done looking for solutions at quarterback. They could target one in a trade or via free agency.

Much of the pre-draft attention went to Bowers and Quinn. Bowers, whose previous knee injury has obviously scared away some teams, is still available.

Quinn was selected with the No. 14 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams. Quinn becomes Carolina's 19th overall first-round selection and the highest pick since defensive tackle Ryan Sims (No. 6) in 2002. He became the first UNC defensive end taken in the first round since Julius Peppers was chosen No. 2 by the Carolina Panthers in 2002.

Castonzo was the No. 22 pick, taken by the Colts.

Round 2 could be a big day for the ACC. Along with Bowers, former players in the latest mock draft include:

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 25, 2011
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Thank you, Maryland, for keeping spring ball alive in the ACC ...

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 1

March, 21, 2011
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No. 1. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech

Tyrod Taylor
AP Photo/John BazemoreVirginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor was the ACC Player of the Year.
2010 numbers:He led the ACC and was No. 13 in the nation in passing efficiency with 154.8, was fourth in the league in total offense at 243 yards per game, and fifth in passing average per game at 195.9. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 2,743 yards, 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also ran for 659 yards and five touchdowns.

Previous ranking: No. 17

Making the case for Taylor:It should come as no surprise that the ACC's Player of the Year landed the No. 1 spot. Not only did he throw the fewest interceptions and gain more rushing yards than any quarterback in the ACC, he was also invaluable as the leader of the team that became the first to go undefeated in conference play since Florida State in 2000. Taylor led the Hokies to the ACC championship game and had one of his best performances of the season in the win over Florida State. His trademark scrambles will be missed this year and impossible to duplicate, and what made him special this year was his improvement in the passing game. Taylor set school records in 2010 for career total offense, career passing yards, career rushing yards by a quarterback, career wins by a starting quarterback, career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and touchdown passes in a season. Virginia Tech was once again No. 1 in the ACC, and couldn't have done it without this No. 1.

The countdown:

No. 2 Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
No. 3 Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

No. 4 Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 2

March, 18, 2011
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No. 2. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

[+] EnlargeDa'Quan Bowers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesDa'Quan Bowers was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
2010 numbers: He led the nation and the ACC with 15.5 sacks, and he led the ACC and was second in the country with 26 tackles for loss. He also had 20 quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, one interception, one forced fumble, and was second on the team with 74 tackles.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Bowers: There's a reason Bowers wasn't on this list in the preseason. He had yet to live up to the hype he drew in 2008 as the nation's No. 1 recruit. That changed last year, when Bowers had a breakout season that led many to believe he could be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft. That's because he was so disruptive in the passing game, he tackled well and was quick to get into opponents' backfields. He tossed blockers aside and also escaped double-teams. He won the Bronko Nagurski and Hendricks Awards, and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Had Clemson fared better as a team, Bowers probably would have been No. 1 on this list.

The countdown:

No. 3 Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

No. 4 Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 3

March, 17, 2011
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No. 3. Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

[+] EnlargeFlorida State offensive linesman Rodney Hudson
Chuck Cook/US PresswireFlorida State offensive linesman Rodney Hudson didn't allow a single sack last season.
2010 numbers: He started all 14 games at left guard, where he played 904 snaps and posted a team-leading grade of 88 percent. He also led the team with 48 knockdown blocks. He was penalized once all season and missed only four assignments. He was the lone Seminole lineman to not relinquish a sack.

Previous ranking: No. 9

Making the case for Hudson: He’s the most decorated offensive lineman in ACC history. He posted his highest grade -- 97 percent -- when it mattered most, in the ACC championship game against Virginia Tech. He was also a major reason why the Noles were able to rush for 218 yards against the SEC’s top rushing defense.

The countdown:

No. 4 Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 4

March, 16, 2011
3/16/11
2:00
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No. 4. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

2010 numbers: He led the nation and his team in total tackles with 183 (14.08 per game) and solo tackles (110). He also had three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

[+] EnlargeLuke Kuechly
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireLinebacker Luke Kuechly led the nation with 183 tackles.
Previous ranking: No. 14

Making the case for Kuechly: He is literally one of the best in the country. Kuechly earned unanimous All-America honors as a sophomore. He was all over the field in the bowl game against Nevada with 12 tackles and a key interception. Kuechly now has had 22 consecutive games in double figures in tackling, with 341 hits in a 26-game collegiate career, and is the NCAA’s leading active career tackler averaging 13.1 per game.

The countdown:

No. 5 Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

Revised top 25 countdown: No. 5

March, 15, 2011
3/15/11
2:00
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No. 5. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

[+] EnlargeAnthony Castonzo
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireAnthony Castonzo has been the rock of the Boston College offensive line since arriving on campus.
2010 numbers: He started all 13 games and was the Eagles' most productive offensive lineman in eight of the 13 games. He gave up only one sack this past season and missed seven assignments. He had 40 knockdowns and consistently graded out as the highest on the offensive line. He had only two penalties in 820 plays.

Previous ranking: No. 10

Making the case for Castonzo: He's a smart, disciplined, durable player who was the anchor on the line that paved the way for the ACC's leading rusher, Montel Harris. Castonzo's 54 starts were the most of any current ACC player, and he started every game since arriving on campus in 2007. He was an all-conference selection as both a player and a student. Most importantly, he's a biochemistry major who hopes to conduct cancer research someday. All that and NFL potential. No doubt one of the ACC's top five.

The countdown:

No. 6 Russell Wilson, QB, NC State

No. 7 Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

No. 8 Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

No. 9 Nate Irving, LB, NC State

No. 10 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 11 Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

No. 12 Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State

No. 13 Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina

No. 14 Kenny Tate, S, Maryland

No. 15 DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Montel Harris, RB, Boston College

No. 18 T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

No. 19 Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland

No. 20 Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

No. 21 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

No. 22 Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

No. 23 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 24 George Bryan, TE, NC State

No. 25 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

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