- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Now that spring is over and teams throughout the ACC have learned a little bit more about themselves, it’s time to re-evaluate the conference hierarchy heading into summer camp. The very top stayed the same as the pre-spring rankings, as did the bottom of the barrel, but there were some tweaks in between. Here’s a look at how the ACC shakes out heading into summer camp:
1. Virginia Tech: The Hokies were encouraged by the rookie performances on defense this spring, but coach Frank Beamer has said he’s still looking for the young players to get stronger this offseason and spend some significant time in the film room. Offensively, the Hokies will be as good as the revamped offensive line, and that’s still a work in progress.
2. Florida State: What separates the Seminoles right now is the fact they only have to replace one starter on offense, and veteran quarterback Christian Ponder will be protected by one of the best lines in the country. The defense is better suited for the personnel under coordinator Mark Stoops, but overall remains a question.
3. Miami: The Hurricanes’ depth at running back should make the offense more productive in the second year under coordinator Mark Whipple. The Canes’ defensive line was also a highlight of the spring under first-year assistant Rick Petri, but they need to replace three starters up front offensively.
4. Clemson: Defense was the strength this spring, but running backs Andre Ellington and James Harper should ease the loss of C.J. Spiller. With four starters returning, the offensive line should improve. The key to Clemson’s run at a second straight Atlantic Division title will be the return of quarterback Kyle Parker to football instead of baseball.
5. Georgia Tech: Yes, they’re the defending ACC champs, but the Jackets were hurt the most by the NFL draft and are making the biggest transition defensively. There were positive reviews about the addition and style of coordinator Al Groh, and if the Jackets can replace three starters on the offensive line, they’ve got the skill players to defend their title.
6. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have an NFL-caliber defense, but this spring revealed little about how much progress they made offensively. Quarterback play remains a concern, as Butch Davis must choose between inexperience and inconsistency.
7. Boston College: The quarterback competition continues, and nobody is sure just how effective linebacker Mark Herzlich will be upon his return. The Eagles do have one of the better offensive lines, though, and a schedule conducive to another appearance in the ACC title game.
8. Maryland: Coach Ralph Friedgen was pleased with his spring practices, specifically the progress of the offensive line, which will be critical to Maryland's comeback this fall. The Terps have settled on quarterback Jamarr Robinson as their starter and have plenty of talent at running back and receiver to help him.
9. Wake Forest: Skylar Jones finished the spring atop the depth chart, but his main competitors -- Ted Stachitas and Brendan Cross -- were both injured. The Deacs will reveal a more run-based, option offense under their new quarterback. The interior defensive line remains a concern.
10. NC State: Coach Tom O’Brien just can’t seem to get through an offseason without a setback. The misdemeanor charges against four of his players -- including two starters from 2009 -- revealed poor decision-making from veterans.
11. Duke: Quarterback Sean Renfree is expected to be fully recovered from his torn ACL and be the starter this fall, but the Blue Devils’ running game is still in need of an upgrade and the defensive line remains a question.
12. Virginia: It’s still too early for first-year coach Mike London to put his stamp on the program, as he needs more recruiting classes to do that. This will be a transition year with a new staff, new philosophies and possibly a new quarterback.
8hDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman