NCF Nation: Alex Wujciak

You are going to argue about this. How do I know? Because I'm still arguing with myself over it ...

[+] EnlargeLuke Kuechly
Michael Tureski/Icon SMILuke Kuechly leads a deep group of Boston College linebackers.
1. Boston College: Luke Kuechly is one of the best in the country, but he’s not alone. The Eagles also have Kevin Pierre-Louis, who ranked second nationally among all freshmen in tackles per game last season with 7.15 -- ninth in the ACC. It won’t be easy to replace Mark Herzlich, on or off the field, but Steele Divitto played in 11 games last season, and Nick Clancy and Will Thompson both saw time on the second team.

2. Florida State: The Noles had to replace two starters, including Kendall Smith, the team’s second-leading tackler, last season, and Mister Alexander, but the upcoming talent could be even better. Nigel Bradham led the team with 98 tackles and five pass breakups last season, and Christian Jones, Jeff Luc, Telvin Smith and Vince Williams will also be competing for playing time.

3. Miami: Sean Spence, who has 30 career starts, should be one of the best in the country, and Ramon Buchanon, another senior, also returns. The Canes have five other linebackers with experience in Kelvin Cain, who started seven games, Jordan Futch, who had a great spring and will see the field, Tyrone Cornelius, Shayon Green and C.J. Holton.

4. North Carolina: Kevin Reddick, who led the Tar Heels with 74 tackles last season, returns for his third season as starter. Zach Brown is also a returning starter with game-changing capabilities, and there is plenty of depth with Dion Guy, Darius Lipford, Ebele Okakpu and Herman Davidson. Junior college transfer Fabby Desir could also have an impact.

5. NC State: Audie Cole and Terrell Manning have combined for 39 career starts, and Cole fared well this spring moving to the middle to replace Nate Irving. With the return of Sterling Lucas, Dwayne Maddox and Colby Jackson, there is plenty of experience, but not quite as much depth as some other programs.

6. Georgia Tech: The Jackets return both starters in Steven Sylvester and Julian Burnett. There is no shortage of depth with Jeremy Attaochu, Quayshawn Nealey, Brandon Watts, Albert Rocker, Malcolm Munroe and Daniel Drummond.

7. Clemson: This group has a lot of potential, especially if true freshmen Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony make an immediate impact. There’s no question they’ll be given a chance, but the Tigers already have a good group with Corico Hawkins, Quandon Christian and Jonathan Willard.

8. Virginia Tech: It seems like this rotation has been in flux for a while now. The Hokies’ leading tackler returns in Bruce Taylor, Barquell Rivers had 96 tackles as a starter in 2009 but was injured last season, and there are several young players adding to the competition. Chase Williams, Tariq Edwards, Telvion Clark and Jack Tyler are only a few. Whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow will have to earn his spot back over Alonzo Tweedy, Dominique Patterson and Nick Dew.

9. Maryland: The Terps were hit hard here with the losses of Alex Wujciak (381 career tackles) and Adrian Moten (14.5 career sacks). Demetrius Hartsfield returns with 20 career starts, and there are four lettermen returning including Darin Drakeford, Isaiah Ross, David Mackall and Bradley Johnson.

10. Wake Forest: Kyle Wilber’s move to outside linebacker will give this position a boost, as he led the Deacs with 14.5 tackles for loss and six sacks last season. His backup is Gelo Orange (22 tackles). The Deacs also have Tristan Dorty, Joey Ehrmann, Mike Olsen, Scott Betros, Riley Haynes and Justin Jackson.

11. Virginia: Starters LaRoy Reynolds and Ausar Walcott both return, but neither has started more than 11 career games. Junior Steve Greer has prior starting experience but played mainly as a reserve last season. Adam Taliaferro, Conner McCartin, Tucker Windle and LoVante Battle are also in the mix for playing time.

12. Duke: Kelby Brown is the lone returning starter, but he’s a promising young player who led the nation last season as a freshman in fumbles recovered. He missed spring ball while recovering from a knee injury, but is expected to start with Tyree Glover or Kevin Rojas.
Tags:

ACC, Boston College Eagles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Clemson Tigers, Duke Blue Devils, Florida State Seminoles, Maryland Terrapins, Miami Hurricanes, North Carolina State Wolfpack, North Carolina Tar Heels, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Demetrius Hartsfield, Jordan Futch, Adrian Moten, Kendall Smith, Zach Brown, Gelo Orange, Nate Irving, Steve Greer, Alex Wujciak, Jeff Luc, Steven Sylvester, Barquell Rivers, Tariq Edwards, Sean Spence, Malcolm Munroe, Nigel Bradham, Bruce Taylor, Dwayne Maddox, Mark Herzlich, C.J. Holton, Will Thompson, Tristan Dorty, Luke Kuechly, Kevin Reddick, Christian Jones, Ausar Walcott, Audie Cole, Chase Williams, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Joey Ehrmann, Julian Burnett, David Mackall, Jack Tyler, Terrell Manning, Kelby Brown, Tyree Glover, Mister Alexander, Herman Davidson, Telvin Smith, Quandon Christian, Tony Steward, Kevin Rojas, Corico Hawkins, Darin Drakeford, Dominique Patterson, Daniel Drummond, Riley Haynes, Kevin Pierre-Louis, 2011 ACC position rankings, 2011 ACC summer position rankings, Justin Jackson, Adam Taliaferro, Albert Rocker, Alonzo Tweedy, Bradley Johnson, Brandon Watts, Colby Jackson, Conner McCartin, Darius Lipford, Dion Guy, Ebele Okakpu, Fabby Desir, Isiah Ross, Jeremy Attaochu, Jonathan Willard, Kelvin Cain, Kyle Wisber, LaRoy Reynolds, LoVante Battle, Mike Olsen, Nick Clancy, Nick Dew, Quayshawn Nealey, Ramon Buchanon, Scott Betros, Shayon Green, Steele Divitto, Stephone Anthony, Sterling Lucas, Telvion Clark, Tucker Windle, Tyrone Cornelius, Vince Williams

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland began spring practices on Tuesday with a new coach, new schemes and enough new terminology that quarterback Danny O'Brien compared it to learning a foreign language.

Many of the players, though, are the same ones who brought the Terps within two wins of clinching the Atlantic Division title last year.

[+] EnlargeO'Brien
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaMaryland quarterback Danny O'Brien and 13 other starters return to the Terps in 2011.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the program as Maryland begins its first week of spring practices under first-year coach Randy Edsall, but the players are confident there is enough talent remaining on the roster to build upon the success of last year’s nine-win season.

“The reality is all of those things are outside the box,” running back Davin Meggett said of the coaching transition. “The box is the white lines and the grass fields. We’re all the same. We lost a few key playmakers, but there’s no doubt in my mind we can’t match up, or replace them, or match up even better in between those lines. That really gives us a good look on how well we’ll play as far as next season.”

There’s reason for confidence in College Park. The Terps return 14 starters, including O’Brien, the 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year. Four offensive linemen return along with Meggett, the team’s leading rusher (720 yards). Defensively, seven of the top 10 tacklers return.

Maryland’s biggest holes to fill are at linebacker, where Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten have graduated, and at receiver, where standout Torrey Smith left early for the NFL.

The biggest reason for concern, though, isn’t in College Park. It’s in Tallahassee, where Florida State is seemingly on cruise control heading into coach Jimbo Fisher’s second season. The Seminoles eliminated Maryland from the division race last year with a 30-16 win in Byrd Stadium.

Despite Florida State’s success and Maryland’s transition year, the Terps agree there’s no excuse not to be in hunt again.

“As players we feel like we’re contenders for the ACC championship,” said receiver Kerry Boykins. “We’re just buying into what the coaches say and what the coaches believe because we know they want what’s best for us. They’re here to win championships just as well.”

Boykins said the receivers and O’Brien met separately throughout the season and then had seven-on-seven drills every Wednesday, when O’Brien would help them grasp the concepts of what they were studying. They watched film of LSU, where offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was hired from. The biggest change in the offense will be the tempo, and the Terps will run more no-huddle, but how much is yet to be seen by even the players.

O’Brien said the offensive players are “not anywhere close to where we were last year by any means as far as familiarity with the offense,” but that they’re still probably further along than one might expect.

“There’s been a lot of change, but I think we’re really excited because it’s the same team coming back,” O’Brien said. “We might have a new scheme, new terminology, but it’s a lot of the same guys, and we’re a really tight family here at Maryland. We’re excited about what we’re going to put on the field this fall.”

Spring preview: Atlantic Division

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
9:00
AM ET
It's that time of year, ACC fans. Duke kicks off the ACC's spring football schedule with practice tomorrow, so it's time to take a look at three storylines to watch for each program. We'll start with the Atlantic Division:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
  • The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
  • The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.
CLEMSON

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
  • The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
  • Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.
FLORIDA STATE

Spring practice starts: March 21

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
  • Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
  • Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.
MARYLAND

Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
  • Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
  • Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.
NC STATE

Spring practice starts: March 17

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
  • A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
  • Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.
WAKE FOREST

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
  • A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
  • Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.

Recruiting rewind

January, 28, 2011
1/28/11
4:00
PM ET
There’s only one way to truly grade recruits -- look at their performances on the field after they sign. Some, like Clemson offensive lineman Chris Hairston, exceed their ranking expectations. Others, like Duke kicker Will Snyderwine, make names for themselves as walk-ons. And some, like Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, lend merit to the ranking system.

Using ESPN.com’s recruiting database, I took a look back at my 2010 all-conference team to see how each player fared in his respective recruiting class. Some players have flourished at other positions. Only five of the players were ranked among the ESPNU 150, and five were either unranked or joined the team as a walk-on.

Here’s a look back at the recruiting rankings for the ACC’s top players in 2010:

OFFENSE

QB: Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech:No. 16 player in ESPNU 150, No. 3 overall quarterback in the 2007 class

RB: Montel Harris, Boston College: No. 143 running back in the 2008 class

RB: Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech: No. 73 running back in Louisville’s class of 2007

WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami: No. 61 wide receiver in 2007 class

WR Torrey Smith, Maryland: No. 54 wide receiver in 2007 class

TE George Bryan, NC State: No. 16 tight end, class of 2007

C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech: Joined the team as a walk-on in 2006

OL Rodney Hudson, Florida State: No. 16 offensive guard in the 2007 class

OL Anthony Castonzo, Boston College: Not ranked in the 2007 class

OL Chris Hairston, Clemson: Not ranked in the class of 2006

OL Brandon Washington, Miami: No. 11 offensive guard in 2008 class

DEFENSE

DL Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson:No. 1 overall player in ESPNU 150 Class of 2008, No. 1 overall defensive end

DL Brandon Jenkins, Florida State: No. 18 defensive end in the 2009 class

DL Quinton Coples, North Carolina: No. 34 defensive end, class of 2008

DL Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson: No. 36 defensive tackle in the 2007 class

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College: No. 19 outside linebacker

LB Nate Irving, NC State: Not ranked, class of 2006

LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland: No. 18 inside linebacker class of 2006

CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech: No. 22 cornerback in 2009 class

CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia: No. 69 cornerback, class of 2007

S DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson: No. 105 in ESPNU 150 Class of 2006, No. 12 safety

S Kenny Tate, Maryland: No. 134 in ESPNU 150 Class of 2008, No. 19 wide receiver

SPECIALISTS

P: Matt Bosher, Miami: No. 4 kicker in 2006 class

K: Will Snyderwine, Duke: Joined the team as a walk-on in 2007 after an open tryout

PR: Tony Logan, Maryland: No. 21 quarterback in 2007 class

KR: David Wilson, Virginia Tech: No. 40 in ESPNU 150 Class of 2009, No. 5 running back

ESPN.com 2010 All-ACC team

December, 8, 2010
12/08/10
10:30
AM ET
This is usually one of the most difficult posts of the season, but for some reason, this year there seemed to be more separation between the good players and the great ones in the ACC.

Honestly, the biggest internal debate was over the kicker, a battle between Virginia Tech’s Chris Hazley and Duke’s Will Snyderwine. The coaches voted Snyderwine an All-America selection, and that was hard to ignore, as was the fact that he is the master of the onside kick, and hit four that Duke retained. Duke isn’t the most athletic team, but because of Snyderwine’s ability to put the ball in a 3-yard square, the Blue Devils were right there with everyone else in kickoff coverage (No. 3 behind division champs Florida State and Virginia Tech). The frustrating part of compiling this team is that there is always a deserving player left off -- always. There’s no question, though, that everyone on this year’s ESPN.com All-ACC team deserves it.

Here’s a look at your ESPN.com all-conference team for 2010:

OFFENSE

QB: Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech

RB: Montel Harris, Boston College

RB: Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech

WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami

WR Torrey Smith, Maryland

TE George Bryan, NC State

C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech

OL Rodney Hudson, Florida State

OL Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

OL Chris Hairston, Clemson

OL Brandon Washington, Miami

DEFENSE

DL Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson

DL Brandon Jenkins, Florida State

DL Quinton Coples, North Carolina

DL Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

LB Nate Irving, NC State

LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland

CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech

CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia

S DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson

S Kenny Tate, Maryland

SPECIALISTS

P: Matt Bosher, Miami

K: Will Snyderwine, Duke

PR: Tony Logan, Maryland

KR: David Wilson, Virginia Tech

Terps finally get marquee win

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
10:00
AM ET
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen has been looking for some respect.

Even after a 6-2 start that had the program bowl-eligible before November, it was hard to come by. Critics pointed to a soft schedule and the lack of a marquee win as reasons to remain unconvinced by the Terps’ turnaround.

[+] EnlargeTorrey Smith
AP Photo/Nick WassMaryland receiver Torrey Smith caught a school-record four touchdown passes in the Terps' 38-31 upset of No. 23 NC State.
Saturday’s 38-31 upset of No. 23 NC State was exactly the kind of win the program needed to validate and punctuate its turnaround from a 2-10 finish in 2009. With nothing but pride and Senior Day on the line, Maryland showed up and knocked the Wolfpack out of the Atlantic Division race. The win snapped a three-game losing streak against opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

“Hopefully we’ll start getting some respect,” Friedgen said after the win. “I told them this week that you’re not going to find many 8-4 teams in the country, especially where we came from. We never seem, even when we’re doing well, to beat someone. Well, we beat somebody. And hopefully we’re going to get to a bowl, the best bowl we feel we can possibly get to, and I think we should be pretty attractive to a bowl. The story we had, and the way our kids play with attitude and enthusiasm. I’m hoping that people will recognize that and be very interested in us.”

The Terps won five ACC games for the first time since 2006, and finished 5-1 at home -- the lone loss coming to Florida State, which derailed Maryland’s chance at the Atlantic Division title. Still, it didn’t damper Maryland’s enthusiasm against NC State. Receiver Torrey Smith caught a school-record four touchdown passes, and quarterback Danny O'Brien became the first Maryland player to throw for 400 yards since Scott Milanovich in 1993.

O’Brien has played a key role in the Terps’ resurgence. He threw four touchdown passes against the Wolfpack and now has 21 this season. He’s only the second player in school history to throw at least 20 touchdowns in a single season.

“Coming in last year, my first year, going 2-10 was an awful experience for everybody,” he said. “So to hang in together like we did with virtually the same team, same scheme and everything, and to have success and go 8-4 feels really good. I’m just proud to say I’m these guys’ quarterback because we have some great receivers, great o-linemen and great running backs. I’m just another piece of the puzzle, but when we execute the way we can, we’re a pretty deadly team.”

Maryland was picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division, but no team in the ACC has reversed its fortunes this year like the Terps have. In fact, the only other FBS team in the country that has increased its win total by more than six games is Miami (Ohio), which was 1-11 last year and is 8-4 this season.

“We beat a ranked team here, we kept them out of the championship, which is something we wanted to do,” said linebacker Alex Wujciak. “I just think it was a hell of a turnaround this year from a team that was 2-10 to a team that’s 8-4, and hopefully 9-4.”

The only question now is whether or not the bowl selection process gives Friedgen the respect he’s looking for. After Saturday, the Terps have earned it.

ACC's Super Seniors for 2010

November, 26, 2010
11/26/10
3:30
PM ET
As the regular season comes to a close this week, I thought it would be a good time to honor the ACC’s Super Seniors, players who have made key contributions to the program on and off the field. There's more than one at every school, and all of them will be missed, but say farewell, ACC fans, to this year’s class of Super Seniors:

[+] EnlargeMark Herzlich
Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireMark Herzlich rejoined his teammates in 2010 after missing the '09 season because he had a rare form of cancer.
Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. He beat Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer and is now the third-leading tackler on the team with 54. He also has four pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and three interceptions, and 3.5 tackles for loss. It has to be the most remarkable comeback story in college football.

Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel. His 15 career interceptions rank him second in Clemson history and third among active FBS players. He’s the top tackler on Clemson’s defense with 47 and has six pass breakups and 4.5 tackles for loss.

Duke center Bryan Morgan. He’s been a role model on and off the field, and was one of 22 players selected to the All State AFCA Good Works team for his community service. He’s a third-year starter at center for the Blue Devils, is an amazing musician and has dedicated his time to helping hospital patients with serious illnesses and promoting reading and education to elementary school students.

Florida State guard Rodney Hudson. Some might call him the “big ugly” version of Christian Ponder. Hudson, a four-year starter, 2010 Outland Finalist and likely consensus All-American, was offensive line coach Rick Trickett’s first signee and has been a mainstay in the lineup since his arrival. It’s likely he’ll be a four-time All-ACC selection, only the second lineman in league history to earn that distinction. He’s been a calming force and mentor in the locker room and is a relentless blocker on the field.

Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. It was unfortunate to see an injury prematurely end Nesbitt’s career, but he still went out as a record-setter. With 2,806 career rushing yards, Nesbitt has rushed for more yards than any quarterback in ACC history and over 1,000 yards more than any quarterback in Tech history. He has rushed for 35 career touchdowns -- six more than any quarterback in the history of the ACC and 16 more touchdowns than any quarterback in Yellow Jacket history.

Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak. He has started a team-best 36 straight games. He is one of 11 active linebackers in the FBS with two career interceptions returned for a touchdown. UNC's Bruce Carter is the only other ACC player. He had 10 tackles against Florida State, giving him 105 on the season. The senior has at least 100 tackles in three straight seasons and is just the sixth player in school history to accomplish that feat.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Hankerson
Andrew Weber/US PresswireLeonard Hankerson is just 42 yards away from breaking 1,000 yards for the season.
Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson’s 9-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against Virginia Tech was his 12th of the season, breaking the single-season record held by Michael Irvin (11) in 1986. Hankerson became just the fourth Miami receiver to record 900 yards in one season, joining Eddie Brown (‘84), Andre Johnson (‘02), and Wesley Carroll (‘90). Only Brown and Johnson have recorded 1,000 yards in a season and Hankerson needs just 42 yards to join that club. Hankerson has scored a touchdown in six straight games and nine of Miami’s 11 games this season.

North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates. He’ll finish his career as Carolina’s all-time leader in passing yards, completions and attempts. He also holds the single-season mark for passing yards. Yates has 231 completions this year and needs four to break Darian Durant’s single-season record of 234 set in 2003.

NC State linebacker Nate Irving. Against Wake Forest, in the last home game of his career, he had a school-record eight tackles for loss. That mark broke the previous mark of six held by Mario Williams, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL draft. Irving now ranks third nationally in tackles for loss for 2010. This year he has 89 tackles and 18.5 tackles for loss. That single-season tackles-for-loss currently ranks sixth in school history. He has tallied 37.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage for his career, the eighth-best mark ever by a Wolfpack defender.

Virginia running back Keith Payne. After a year away from the team, Payne has done everything coach Mike London has asked of him and then some. He leads the ACC and is tied for 16th nationally with 15 touchdowns. Payne has a team-high 741 rushing yards this season, an average of 4.8 yards per carry. He needs just four yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for his career.

Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He has started 39 games and has won 32 of them, the most wins for a starting quarterback in school history. He needs 153 passing yards to surpass Bryan Randall (6,508) as the all-time passing leader at Virginia Tech.

Wake Forest center Russell Nenon. The three-year starter started at guard in 2008, then moved to center where he has been a fixture since (though he did start two games at guard this fall due to injuries). His 36 career starts are currently the most on the team.

Mistakes adding up for Miami

November, 6, 2010
11/06/10
1:08
PM ET
A missed extra point and an interception return for a touchdown have contributed to Miami's 14-6 deficit to Maryland.

Freshman quarterback Stephen Morris made his first costly mistake of the game in the second quarter when he threw an interception to Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak, who brought it back 70 yards for a touchdown. Miami's staff had been doing a good job of running the ball and putting Morris in position to succeed. The defense was playing well on third down, but turnovers and mistakes continue to haunt Miami.

Not that there are many Miami fans there to see it on homecoming.
If ever there was a time for Maryland to beat Miami -- on the road, no less -- this would be it.

The Terps are hot, Miami is not.

Maryland has turned around its 2-10 2009 season and became bowl eligible with its 62-14 win over Wake Forest this past weekend. The Terps enter Saturday’s game in a tie with NC State for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Hurricanes not only lost to Virginia on the road last weekend, they also likely lost their starting quarterback, Jacory Harris, who suffered a concussion. The Canes will turn to a true freshman who was on the path to redshirting, Stephen Morris, while Maryland has a quarterback who is making his case for rookie of the year in Danny O'Brien.

[+] EnlargeDanny O'Brien
AP Photo/Nick WassDanny O'Brien has thrown seven touchdown passes in the past two games.
The Terps are still expecting the best from Miami.

"They are coming off a difficult loss, so we know that they are going to come into the game fired up,” linebacker Alex Wujciak told reporters at the team’s weekly news conference. “They have great athletes on offense from wide receiver to tight end and three good running backs. Whichever quarterback plays is going to be good and we saw that with their freshman coming in and playing well against Virginia. We have to be prepared no matter what quarterback plays."

Right now, it’s likely to be Morris, who shook off some butterflies in his first collegiate appearance against Virginia and accounted for three fourth-quarter touchdowns in the 24-19 loss. Morris had gone from fourth-string quarterback to first in a matter of minutes. Backup A.J. Highsmith was injured, and third-string quarterback Spencer Whipple threw two interceptions in six pass attempts.

“That shows a lot of promise on what we’ve done with [Morris], and how recruiting him shows what we see in him,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said. “He’s a guy that everybody thinks is a quiet guy, but around his teammates he’s happy-go-lucky, a get-after-it kind of guy. On the football field, his presence is unbelievable.”

It’s going to have to be if Miami is going to stay in the ACC race. The Hurricanes can’t afford another conference loss, even if it does come to an Atlantic Division opponent, and they still need one more win to become bowl eligible. A win would give Maryland a 7-2 record and a 4-1 start in ACC play for the first time since 2006.

Maryland and Miami have played each other just once since 1987 -- a 14-13 Maryland home win in 2006. There is more recent familiarity, though, as Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown worked with Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple at UMass.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I’m sure that there is a lot of familiarity, and that may be a good thing or it could be detrimental. I know that knowing someone so well, you can over-plan at times. But I know that they are very good friends; I think they talk with one another once a week, throughout the year, not just during football season.”

Brown’s defense has shown a lot of improvement in his second season. Maryland held Wake Forest, which was averaging 206.6 rushing yards per game, to minus-3 yards on the ground (the lowest total by an opponent in 11 years). The Terps have held each of their past four opponents under 100 rushing yards. Miami, meanwhile, has been racking up the yards but not the points. Miami is coming off its lowest scoring output of the season.

“We had 177 yards rushing, but we need points,” Shannon said. “Let’s face it: We’re running the ball well, but we need points. Like I said earlier, if we’re doing all the discipline things off the field and in the classroom, we need to take it on the field. That’s the thing that’s disappointing me -- we’re not transitioning that onto the field. Those penalties have been hurting us, hurting the drives. We get a 26-yard run, bring it back, or we get down to the 5-yard line, and bring it back. Those are things that really get you in bad situations that you don’t want to be in.”

Situations like having to beat Maryland in order to stay in the ACC race.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 2

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
2:06
AM ET
Can I give a helmet sticker to James Madison? ...

Here are this week's top performers in the ACC:

Wake Forest safety Alex Frye: He had two interceptions, a forced fumble and four tackles in Wake Forest’s 54-48 win over Duke on Saturday. Frye’s first interception led to a Wake Forest touchdown which put the Deacons ahead 21-14 in the second quarter. His second interception, also in the second quarter, was returned 28 yards to the Duke 16 and the Demon Deacons scored two players later for a 35-21 lead. Frye has now intercepted a pass in each of his last three games dating back to last season. He has five career interceptions and three this season.

BC's defense. The Eagles held Kent State to 4 rushing yards and forced five turnovers in a 26-13 win. Kent State had two fumbles and three interceptions. Alex Albright had his first career interception, and Wes Davis also picked off a pass for the Eagles.

Virginia coach Mike London. He has already proven himself as an FBS coach. London took his team across the country -- a team picked to finish last in the ACC -- and put it in position to beat No. 16 USC. He flew the Cavaliers out there on Thursday, took them to the Coliseum on Friday to help ease their nerves, and almost beat the Trojans on Saturday. There were one too many mistakes and penalties, but it was a gritty effort to be commended.

Maryland's defense.The Terps held Morgan State to just 85 total yards and forced three turnovers in a 62-3 rout. It was the fewest yards allowed under coach Ralph Friedgen. Freshmen Matt Robinson and David Mackall were Maryland's leading tacklers with seven each. Demetrius Hartsfield's pick-six in the second quarter was Maryland's first since Alex Wujciak scored on a 70-yard interception return on Nov. 14, 2009 at NC State.

NC State linebacker Audi Cole. He led the team with 12 tackles, including 3.5 for loss (19 yards), one sack (10 yards) and an interception in the Pack's 28-21 win over UCF.
The ACC released the 2010 preseason all-conference team, as voted on by 52 members of the media at the conference media days in Greensboro, N.C. UNC led all schools with five players selected, followed by Boston College with four players.

Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel got the most votes, being named on 48 of the 52 ballots, while North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn (47 votes) and Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams (45) were the next highest. Virginia and Wake Forest were the only two schools not represented here.

Offense

WR Donovan Varner, Duke

WR Torrey Smith, Maryland

TE George Bryan, NC State

T Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

T Chris Hairston, Clemson

G Rodney Hudson, Florida State

G Thomas Claiborne, Boston College

C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State

RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

RB Montel Harris, Boston College

Defense

DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina

DE Allen Bailey, Miami

DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina

DT Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson

LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland

LB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

CB Kendric Burney, North Carolina

CB Brandon Harris, Miami

S DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson

S Deunta Williams, North Carolina

Specialists

PK Matt Bosher, Miami

P Matt Bosher, Miami

SP Torrey Smith, Maryland
Each school brings two players to the annual ACC media days, which will be held July 25-26 in Greensboro, N.C., and the conference today announced the attendees.

Boston College:
Anthony Castonzo, offensive tackle, senior, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.
Mark Herzlich, linebacker, senior, Wayne, Pa.

Clemson:
Chris Hairston, offensive tackle, Senior, Winston-Salem, N.C.
DeAndre McDaniel, safety, senior, Tallahassee, Fla.

Duke:

Bryan Morgan, center, senior, Hoover, Ala.
Chris Rwabukamba, cornerback, senior, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Florida State:

Christian Ponder, quarterback, senior, Colleyville, Tex.
Everett Dawkins, defensive tackle, sophomore, Spartanburg, S.C.

Georgia Tech:

Roddy Jones, A-Back, junior, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Jason Peters, defensive end, junior, Baton Rouge, La.

Maryland:

Torrey Smith, wide receiver-kickoff returner, junior, Colonial Beach, Va.
Alex Wujciak, linebacker, senior, West Caldwell, N.J.

Miami:

Matt Bosher, place-kicker/punter, senior, Jupiter, Fla.
Allen Bailey, defensive tackle/end, senior, Sapelo, Ga.

North Carolina:

T. J. Yates, quarterback, senior, Marietta, Ga.
Robert Quinn, defensive end, junior, Ladson, S.C. .

NC State:

Owen Spencer, wide receiver, senior, Leland, N.C.
Nate Irving, linebacker, senior, Wallace, N.C.

Virginia:

Marc Verica, quarterback, senior, Lansdowne, Pa.
Ras-I Dowling, cornerback, senior, Chesapeake, Va.

Virginia Tech:

Tyrod Taylor, quarterback, senior, Hampton, Va.
John Graves, defensive tackle, senior, Richmond, Va.

Wake Forest:

Josh Adams, running back, senior, Cary, N.C.
Russell Nenon, center, senior, Memphis, Tenn.

A few observations:
  • It will be nice to have BC linebacker Mark Herzlich and NC State linebacker Nate Irving back and talking about football again. Get ready for a lot of injured-linebackers-return stories.
  • Nine of the players are linemen, as over half of the conference has some studs up front. Hopefully a lot of folks will take some time to talk to Duke center Bryan Morgan, an unheralded guy who is super-smart, much improved and downright interesting.
  • No Nesbitt? No problem. I like the guy, really I do, but he's one of the quietest players in the league. I've asked him dozens of questions every which way and every time it seems like the last thing in the world he wants to do is an interview. Jones and Peters will represent the Jackets well and say all the right things.
  • No Clemson quarterback? No kidding.
  • Who doesn't want to talk to Miami's kicker?
  • Oh c'mon, leave Yates alone. I feel like his big sister. Yeesh.
  • Best interview not on the list: Georgia Tech's Anthony Allen.
  • Speaking of ... Man, is Bobby Bowden gonna be missed at this thing. Prime time entertainment at that table.

ESPN.com's All-ACC team

December, 8, 2009
12/08/09
3:18
PM ET
There were a lot of outstanding players in the ACC this year, but the following players rose above the rest and made ESPN.com’s All-ACC team:

Offense

QB -- Christian Ponder, Florida State

RB -- Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech

RB -- Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

WR -- Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech

WR -- Donovan Varner, Duke

TE -- George Bryan, NC State

TE -- Michael Palmer, Clemson

OL -- Jason Fox, Miami

OL -- Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

OL -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State

OL – Sergio Render, Virginia Tech

OL -- Cord Howard, Georgia Tech

K -- Matt Bosher, Miami

Spc -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson

Defense

DL -- Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech

DL -- Robert Quinn, North Carolina

DL -- Nate Collins, Virginia

DL -- Ricky Sapp, Clemson

LB -- Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech

LB -- Luke Kuechly, Boston College

LB -- Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina

LB -- Alex Wujciak, Maryland

CB -- Kendric Burney, North Carolina

CB -- Brandon Harris, Miami

S -- DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson

S -- Deunta Williams, North Carolina

P -- Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

A few quick hits from around the league before kickoff here in Atlanta:

SPONSORED HEADLINES