ACC: Travis Bond

Florida State followed up its big first round with a huge NFL draft weekend, as the Seminoles led every program in the nation with 11 total picks, setting a new school record.

That's right. The Noles had more picks than national champion Alabama (nine) and SEC power LSU (nine), two schools that played for the national championship following the 2011 season. More than in-state rival Florida (eight), too.

Those numbers are clear validation the Seminoles have restocked their cupboards with an inordinate amount of talent as they re-emerge in the national conversation.

"It’s a great indication of how the program is truly developing," coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. “I think it shows we’re getting back to national prominence. Our players are doing a great job of representing themselves on and off the field leading to chances at the next level. I’m happy for all of these guys and want to thank them for helping return this program back to the national spotlight."

Overall, the ACC had 31 players taken for the ninth straight season, finishing second behind the SEC.

Here is a quick look back at all the selections:

First round
  • No. 7 Jonathan Cooper, OG, Arizona
  • No. 16 EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo
  • No. 24 Bjoern Werner, DE, Indianapolis
  • No. 25 Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota
  • No. 27 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston
  • No. 28 Sylvester Williams, DT, Denver
Second round
  • No. 37 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
  • No. 40 Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, San Francisco
  • No. 42 Menelik Watson, OT, Oakland
  • No. 51 David Amerson, CB, NC State
Third round
  • No. 73 Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay
  • No. 89 Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
Fourth round
  • No. 127 Malliciah Goodman, DE, Atlanta
Fifth round
  • No. 136 Earl Wolff, S, Philadelphia
  • No. 141 Oday Aboushi, OG, New York Jets
  • No. 143 Jonathan Meeks, S, Buffalo
  • No. 149 Brandon McGee, CB, St. Louis
  • No. 154 Chris Thompson, RB, Washington
  • No. 162 Brandon Jenkins, LB, Washington
Sixth round
  • No. 171 Corey Fuller, WR, Detroit
  • No. 173 Vinston Painter, OT, Denver
  • No. 177 Dustin Hopkins, PK, Buffalo
  • No. 180 Nick Moody, LB, San Francisco
  • No. 187 Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona
  • No. 189 Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay
  • No. 206 Vince Williams, LB, Pittsburgh
Seventh round
  • No. 214 Travis Bond, OG, Minnesota
  • No. 215 Tommy Bohanon, FB, New York Jets
  • No. 224 Kevin Dorsey, WR, Green Bay
  • No. 229 Everett Dawkins, DT, Minnesota
  • No. 249 Sean Renfree, QB, Atlanta

Incoming member Syracuse had three players drafted as well: tackle Justin Pugh in the first round to the New York Giants; quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round to the Giants; and safety Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round to Pittsburgh.

And now a few notes:
  • North Carolina had the second-most picks from the ACC with five -- its highest total since five were picked in 2011. The Tar Heels had three offensive linemen selected, the most from UNC in the draft since 1967.
  • Miami had its NFL draft streak extended to 39 consecutive seasons with Brandon McGee and Mike James both getting selected.
  • Virginia also had its draft streak extended to 30 straight seasons with Aboushi's selection.
  • Tommy Bohanon Bohanon became just the third Wake Forest fullback to have his name called in the draft, joining Ovie Mughelli (Ravens, 2003) and Neil MacLean (Eagles, 1958).
  • With four selections in this year's draft, Clemson has now had 23 players chosen over the last five years, and at least four every year Dabo Swinney has been head coach. It is the first time in history Clemson has had at least four players drafted each of the last five years.
  • Georgia Tech did not have a player selected for the first time since 2005. Three players with draft hopes ended up with free agent deals: T.J. Barnes (Jacksonville), Izaan Cross (Buffalo) and Rod Sweeting (New Orleans).
  • Pitt did not have a player drafted for the second consecutive season. Running back Ray Graham, who was the Panthers' best hope for selection, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Texans.
  • Here are a few other notable free-agent signings: Conner Vernon (Oakland), Chibuikem “Kenny” Okoro (San Diego), Marcus Davis (New York Giants), Lonnie Pryor (Jacksonville).

ACC players on NFL combine list

February, 7, 2013
The official list of players invited to the combine is out.

Out of the whopping 333 invited players, the ACC will have 42 representatives at the big event, scheduled for Feb. 23-26 in Indianapolis. Every ACC team is represented. Florida State has the most players invited with 12; Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest have the fewest with one each.

Here is the complete list:
Ranking offensive linemen is not easy. But hey, either is being an offensive lineman. Here are your best "big uglies."

1. North Carolina: Three starters and one part-time starter return from last year’s team, and this line could be the biggest and best since Butch Davis was hired. Guard Jonathan Cooper (22 starts), center Cam Holland (20) and tackle James Hurst (12) have combined for 54 career starts. Travis Bond has four starts and is the leading candidate to take over at the other guard position.

2. Miami: The Canes return nine of their top 10 offensive linemen including four starters from last year, and Joel Figueroa was granted a sixth season of eligibility. Even with the coaching change, the Canes should be strong up front. Center Tyler Horn is a veteran, Brandon Washington is a difference-maker, and there’s enough competition that Seantrel Henderson spent most of the spring as a backup.

3. Clemson: First-year offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has four returning starters to work with in Landon Walker, Antoine McClain, Dalton Freeman and David Smith. They also have top reserve Mason Cloy, who has 19 career starts and has played in 38 games. There is plenty of depth for a dependable rotation.

4. Virginia Tech: All four returnees started every game last year, and there is enough depth that the Hokies should be able to rotate the most players up front they ever have. It’s a veteran group led by Blake DeChristopher, Andrew Lanier, Jaymes Brooks and Greg Nosal.

5. Florida State: Despite the losses of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon, there’s experience up front. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of tackle Andrew Datko, left guard Bryan Stork or David Spurlock, center Jacob Fahrenkrug, right guard Spurlock or Stork, right tackle Zebrie Sanders. Just how good they’ll be remains to be seen as the majority of them were out with injuries this past spring.

6. NC State: The Pack lost Jake Vermiglio and will be without injured left guard Andrew Wallace for about half of the season, but Zach Allen, Camden Wentz and R.J. Mattes are returning starters. There’s also a lot of talent waiting to emerge with young players like Duran Christophe, Rob Crisp, Tyson Chandler, Torian Box and Andy Jomantas.

7. Virginia: Four players return with a combined 64 career starts in Anthony Mihota, Austin Pasztor, Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses, who started the final seven games of the season as a true freshman. Pasztor is in his fourth season as a starter and has 32 career starts.

8. Boston College: Despite the losses of Anthony Castonzo, Thomas Claiborne and Rich Lapham, the Eagles are almost settled up front, it’s the experience behind the starters that’s reason for concern. The No. 2 offensive line is comprised entirely of redshirt freshmen. Mark Spinney returns at center, the projected starting guards are Nathan Richman and Ian White, who started three games as a freshman, and the tackles are Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel.

9. Maryland: It’s been an injury-prone group the past two seasons and that didn’t change this past spring. 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.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets return three starters in guard Omoregie Uzzi, guard Will Jackson and tackle Phil Smith. Sophomore Jay Finch played extensively last season and Ray Beno and Nick McRae were key reserves. Redshirt freshmen Catlin Alford and Morgan Bailey could also work their way into the rotation. Uzzi will be the leader of the line, but they were outplayed by the defense this spring.

11. Wake Forest: Four starters are back, but the Deacs will sorely miss the experience and leadership of former center Russell Nenon. Garrick Williams started the final three games of 2010 -- two at guard and one at center, but he struggled with the snaps towards the end of spring and isn’t where the staff needs him to be yet.

12. Duke: The Blue Devils should take another step forward this season under offensive line coach Matt Luke, and they need to -- Duke’s running game was last in the ACC last year and 104th in the country. Brian Moore replaces a three-year starter at center, but given his experience at right guard the past two seasons, it should be a smooth transition. That will leave a hole, though, at the right guard position, where Laken Tomlinson and John Coleman are the top candidates.

ACC spring helmet stickers

May, 6, 2011
For those of you who follow the blog year-round, you know that helmet stickers are a tradition in the fall, and only five of them are given out following every Saturday during the season. This spring, the conference also had some top performers deserving of some recognition.

Here are the ACC’s helmet sticker recipients for spring ball:

Miami’s running backs: The trio of Lamar Miller, Storm Johnson and Mike James made it difficult for first-year coach Al Golden to sort his depth chart, but Miller finished the spring on top after an outstanding performance in the spring game. All three bring different styles and should make Miami’s running game one of the best and most versatile in the conference.

North Carolina’s offensive line: This could be the Tar Heels’ best offensive line since Butch Davis came to Chapel Hill. The recruiting efforts have paid off, as the staff finally has a rotation it is comfortable with, and the starting lineup was solidified this spring with Travis Bond at right guard and Brennan Williams at right tackle.

Virginia Tech’s defensive line: With the move of Chris Drager back to tight end, the Hokies entered the spring having to replace three starters up front, but by the end of spring practices the front four showed they were capable of being even better than their predecessors. Antoine Hopkins and his brother, Derrick Hopkins, and defensive ends J.R. Collins and James Gayle each elevated their games and alleviated any concerns the staff might have had about the revamped line.

Clemson’s offensive line: The Tigers, under the direction of a new offensive line coach and new offensive coordinator, were and will continue to be the foundation and dependable group in a season of change. Four starters return, and this spring, their strength -- run blocking -- was featured as the Tigers ran more than they passed. Three different players in the spring game rushed for at least 100 yards each.

Duke quarterback Sean Renfree: Yes, there were a lot of standout performances from ACC quarterbacks this spring, but only one coach went so far as to say his had a “tremendous spring,” not a “good spring.” His sense of timing was better, he was aggressive without taking risks that didn’t make sense, and he’s athletic and healthy. I’m telling you now: Do not sleep on Renfree. He's only thrown two picks in his past 188 pass attempts. He’s got a talented group of receivers to throw to. And he’s only going to get better.

North Carolina spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
2010 overall record: 8-5

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Dwight Jones, WR Erik Highsmith, OT James Hurst, OG Jonathan Cooper, C Cam Holland, DE Quinton Coples, DT Jared McAdoo, DE Donte Paige-Moss, DT Tydreke Powell, LB Kevin Reddick, CB Charles Brown

Key losses

QB T.J. Yates, TE Zack Pianalto, TB Johnny White, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendric Burney, S Deunta Williams, S Da’Norris Searcy

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Johnny White (720 yards)

Passing: T.J. Yates (3,418 yds)

Receiving: Dwight Jones* (946 yds)

Tackles: Kevin Reddick* (74)

Sacks: Quinton Coples* (10)

Interceptions: Da'Norris Searcy (4)

Spring answers

1. The offensive line should be the best since Butch Davis arrived in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels had to replace two starters in OT Mike Ingersoll and OG Alan Pelc, but Travis Bond has earned the starting job at right guard and Brennan Williams at right tackle. The left side of the line will be particularly strong with guard Jonathan Cooper (22 career starts), and OT James Hurst. This is also a large group, averaging 319 pounds.

2. There’s depth on the defensive line. There was enough depth this spring to move Coples from tackle back to end, his natural position. The Tar Heels have Paige-Moss at right end, Jordan Nix and Powell at tackle, and junior college transfer Sylvester Williams was pushing Nix for the starting job. Jared McAdoo has played both positions, and the staff has four tackles it feels good about.

3. Bryn Renner has taken over. Heading into the spring, Davis wouldn’t anoint Renner his 2011 starter just yet. Now, there’s no question it’s Renner’s job, as none of the other candidates came close to him this spring. True freshman Marquise Williams went through a major learning curve, and A.J. Blue and Braden Hanson didn’t close the gap.

Fall questions

1. Looking for a linebacker. Outside linebacker Zach Brown and middle linebacker Kevin Reddick have starting jobs locked up, but Herman Davidson and Darius Lipford will take their competition into summer camp.

2. Helping hands at tight end. Last year, 79 of the receptions were to tight ends, and Ryan Taylor and Zack Pianalto were two of the top three receivers on the team (combined for 66 catches last year). The staff recruited well at the position, but those players didn’t enroll early. Nelson Hurst, Christian Wilson and Sean Fitzpatrick were the lead candidates this spring.

3. Revamped secondary. All four starters must be replaced, but Jabari Price started the final four games at corner last season. There are six candidates for the safety positions, but Brown, Jonathan Smith and Brian Gupton all missed last season because of the NCAA investigation. Senior Matt Merletti emerged as a leader last year, safety Gene Robinson is in the mix, and safety Josh Hunter had a good spring game with six tackles and an interception. Tre Boston moved from corner to safety.

Stepping up in the bowls: UNC

December, 23, 2010
A total of 35 scholarship players have missed at least one game for North Carolina this year because of injuries and/or the NCAA investigation. The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl against Tennessee will continue that trend.

Who needs to step up?

The backups. This should be old hat for the Tar Heels, who have had to rely on backups and walk-ons all season as a result of the NCAA investigation, and the losses of starting guard Alan Pelc and linebacker Bruce Carter to injuries will force them to do it once again. It won't hurt as much at linebacker, where it's possible the staff could move Zach Brown from Will to Sam, but the loss of Pelc is significant. Travis Bond, a sophomore, is Pelc's backup at right guard, but the problem extends to center, where Pelc was the backup to Cam Holland. If anything happens to Holland -- which has happened before -- Pelc has been the one to move over. Bond will have to rise to the occasion. At linebacker, Herman Davidson, a career reserve, is No. 2 behind Carter. If Brown moves over, it will allow Davidson to continue that role.

UNC spring wrap

May, 7, 2010

2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense: 9, punter/kicker 2

Top returners

WR Greg Little, QB T.J. Yates, TB Shaun Draughn, TE Zack Pianalto, DE Robert Quinn, DT Marvin Austin, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendrick Burney, S Deunta Williams, S Da’Norris Searcy, CB Charles Brown

Key losses

OT Kyle Jolly, DE E.J. Wilson, DT Cam Thomas

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Ryan Houston* (713 yards)

Passing: Yates* (2,136 yds)

Receiving: Little* (724 yds)

Tackles: Sturdivant* (79)

Sacks: Quinn* (11)

Interceptions: Williams* (6)

Spring answers

1. Offensive line potential. There were signs this spring that UNC fans can expect the offensive line to be better -– as long as everyone stays healthy. Center Jonathan Cooper started nine games as a freshman last year, guard Alan Pelc will be a three-year starter, Carl Gaskins has drawn rave reviews the past two years, and Travis Bond played well in his start against Pitt’s physical defensive line in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

2. Little leader. After the success he had last season cementing his position as the team’s top receiver, Greg Little took more ownership of an offense that needs it. His success carried over to spring drills, and it’s clear he’ll be the leader of a group that returns its top 13 receivers from a year ago.

3. Draughn back on top. He was injured in the ninth game and missed the rest of the season, but reasserted himself as the main man this spring with Houston out to concentrate on his academics. (Houston wasn’t suspended, he just needed some extra time to focus). Draughn appears to be the likely starter heading into the fall.

Fall questions

1. The Yates debate. It’s one of the biggest questions in the conference this season: Will rookie Bryn Renner unseat Yates as the starter? Coach Butch Davis has said that Renner will play against LSU, but how much and when is anybody’s guess. Odds are it would take a remarkable performance by Renner in summer camp or an injury to Yates for him to lose his job before the season opener.

2. Overall offensive improvement. How much better can the offense be? It has to be better than 108th in the country in total offense. The Tar Heels have got to run the ball better, no matter who the quarterback is. There are no longer three freshmen on the offensive line, and if everyone stays healthy, that leaves no more excuses.

3. Defensive line tweaks. Even one of the most talented defenses in the country has a few holes to fill, and it’s up front for the Tar Heels, were defensive end E.J. Wilson and tackle Cam Thomas have to be replaced. Tydreke Powell is the frontrunner to take over at tackle and Quinton Coples and Michael McAdoo will continue to compete this summer. McAdoo had four sacks and an interception in the spring game, a performance that kept him in the conversation.

ACC position superlatives: North Carolina

March, 9, 2010
We resume our series of the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the ACC with North Carolina:

Strongest position: Defensive backs

Key returnees: Deunta Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Kendrick Burney and Charles Brown

Key departures: Melvin Williams

The skinny: This might be the deepest position/unit in the conference, as North Carolina returns 14 players who were defensive backs a year ago, including all four starters. UNC was 14th in the country last year in both pass efficiency defense and pass defense. Both Burney and Williams opted to return to Chapel Hill instead of enter the NFL draft and the Heels will be better for it. They combined for 11 interceptions and 314 interception return yards in 2009. Burney had five interceptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns, while also recording 52 tackles and three pass breakups. Williams led the team with six interceptions for 114 yards and had 47 tackles and eight pass breakups.

Weakest position: Offensive line

Key returnees: T Mike Ingersoll, G Alan Pelc, C Jonathan Cooper

Key departures: Kyle Jolly, Lowell Dyer

The skinny: The staff’s goal this spring and summer is to find the biggest and most athletic players up front. Cooper, the top returning player on the line, played guard last year as a redshirt freshman and will move to center this spring. That’s where the staff had hoped Cooper would wind up when they first signed him. Cam Holland will likely be relegated to a backup role. The staff recruited well at the position and will get some help immediately from James Hurst, the top recruit in the class. Both Hurst and T.J. Leifheit have already enrolled. Travis Bond started the bowl game at guard, and with Pelc, Bond and Cooper on the interior, this group could get a much-needed upgrade.