NCF Nation: Chris Rwabukamba
Offensive line: The Blue Devils will have to replace one starter in center Bryan Morgan, and it’s still a relatively young group, but with several redshirt sophomores on the roster, the staff wants to load up two grades behind them to fully stock the position for the future.
Defensive line: This has always been Duke’s deficiency, which means it will always be a priority to catch up and build depth. The Blue Devils will have to replace two starters in Wesley Oglesby and Patrick Egboh. Noseguard Charlie Hatcher will be a redshirt senior.
Cornerback: Duke only loses one starter, cornerback Chris Rwabukamba, but it’s another position that has been weak and needs better athletes.
Offensive line: The early departure of Nick Claytor to the NFL didn’t help the depth, but there were still several young players who gained valuable experience and others who redshirted to help the depth. While no true freshman is likely to make an immediate impact, the staff is still looking to build the numbers up front.
Linebacker/defensive line: The Jackets need to find more athletes who are suited for Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme. Fast athletes who are versatile enough to play a hybrid role, with the ability to move in space, will be a priority in this class.
Quarterback: With Jacory Harris being a senior, A.J. Highsmith moving to defense, and Spencer Whipple struggling in what little time he has played, the position needs a boost. It didn’t help that Teddy Bridgewater reneged on his commitment.
Linebacker: This is a position former coach Randy Shannon had put an emphasis on building, and there are young players and depth, but it was also a veteran group in the 2010 two-deep, with mainly juniors and seniors.
Wide receiver: The upperclassmen did all of the work in 2010, with Leonard Hankerson leading the way. Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson and Laron Byrd will all be seniors. An influx of young talent is needed.
Defensive end: The staff is looking to improve the depth here, get stronger up front, and build upon the success from 2010. Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, and Micanor Regis will all be seniors.
Tailback: Injuries depleted this group in 2010, and Anthony Elzy, Johnny White and Shaun Draughn were both seniors. Ryan Houston was able to redshirt and will return as a fifth-year senior, but the Tar Heels need more dependable runners and a foundation for the future.
Defensive line: The Tar Heels have to prepare for some departures, especially on the interior, where all four players on the two-deep roster in 2010 were juniors.
Secondary: UNC will have to replace three starters in the secondary this spring, and three backups this year were juniors. Because of the NCAA investigation, this is a group in which backups had to develop quickly, so there are some experienced younger players, but the group still needs to reload.
Tight end: The loss of Zach Pianalto and his backup, Ed Barham, leaves the position thin.
Offensive line: With starting right guard B.J. Cabbell gone, starting center Anthony Mihota a senior, and starting left guard Austin Pasztor a senior, the staff has to prepare for some departures. Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi are talented young players, but the rotation needs more of them.
Defensive line: End Zane Parr’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft hurt the position’s depth, and the Cavs will also have to replace John-Kevin Dolce at tackle. Three other players in the two-deep will be rising seniors, and with Virginia switching back to a 4-3 defense under Mike London, the Cavs have to rebuild up front.
Secondary: Cornerback is of particular concern, as Chase Minnifield will be a senior, and starter Mike Parker will graduate.
Running back: The early departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to the NFL left David Wilson as the only tailback with any significant experience. Overall, the Hokies have four tailbacks on their current roster.
Defensive line: The Hokies will have to replace redshirt senior starters Steven Friday and John Graves, and starting left end Chris Drager will be a redshirt senior this year.
Wide receiver/tight end: Starters Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale will be seniors, and tight end Andre Smith will graduate.
Secondary: Half the players on the two-deep roster against Stanford were either juniors or seniors, and the Hokies will have to replace rover Davon Morgan and cornerback Rashad Carmichael.
Anthony Castonzo, offensive tackle, senior, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.
Mark Herzlich, linebacker, senior, Wayne, Pa.
Chris Hairston, offensive tackle, Senior, Winston-Salem, N.C.
DeAndre McDaniel, safety, senior, Tallahassee, Fla.
Bryan Morgan, center, senior, Hoover, Ala.
Chris Rwabukamba, cornerback, senior, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Christian Ponder, quarterback, senior, Colleyville, Tex.
Everett Dawkins, defensive tackle, sophomore, Spartanburg, S.C.
Roddy Jones, A-Back, junior, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Jason Peters, defensive end, junior, Baton Rouge, La.
Torrey Smith, wide receiver-kickoff returner, junior, Colonial Beach, Va.
Alex Wujciak, linebacker, senior, West Caldwell, N.J.
Matt Bosher, place-kicker/punter, senior, Jupiter, Fla.
Allen Bailey, defensive tackle/end, senior, Sapelo, Ga.
T. J. Yates, quarterback, senior, Marietta, Ga.
Robert Quinn, defensive end, junior, Ladson, S.C. .
Owen Spencer, wide receiver, senior, Leland, N.C.
Nate Irving, linebacker, senior, Wallace, N.C.
Marc Verica, quarterback, senior, Lansdowne, Pa.
Ras-I Dowling, cornerback, senior, Chesapeake, Va.
Tyrod Taylor, quarterback, senior, Hampton, Va.
John Graves, defensive tackle, senior, Richmond, Va.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
As we head into spring football, there will be plenty of starting jobs up for grabs. It's no secret UNC needs to find dependable receivers, and Georgia Tech needs to replace three of four starters on its defensive line. Will FSU quarterback Christian Ponder keep his job, or will E.J. Manuel win it from him? Despite several quarterbacks returning with starting experience, spring could bring change throughout the ACC. Here's a look at five key position battles to keep an eye on:
Clemson quarterback -- Will Kyle Parker assert himself as the Tigers' quarterback of the future this spring, or will Willy Korn lock up the starting job? Korn played in six games last year and started one, but he has been plagued by a nagging shoulder injury. Michael Wade and Jon Richt (Georgia coach Mark Richt's son) will also compete to take over as Cullen Harper's successor.
Boston College quarterback -- Considering how Dominique Davis struggled in losses in the ACC championship game and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (he combined to throw three touchdowns, four interceptions and complete 40.5 percent of his passes), nothing is guaranteed. The previous coaching staff had high hopes for Justin Tuggle, and this spring is a chance for him to show Frank Spaziani and Co. why.
Virginia quarterback -- With cornerback Vic Hall working out at quarterback this spring, and two players returning with starting experience in Marc Verica and Jameel Sewell, this spot appears to be wide open. Hall was the Cavaliers' fifth-leading tackler last year (the top four have to be replaced), and made 24 straight starts at cornerback before his surprise appearance at quarterback in the season finale at Virginia Tech. Hall only threw the ball once against the Hokies but scored on 40 and 16-yard runs.
Virginia Tech linebackers -- The Hokies will have to replace Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdivant. Barquell Rivers, who started for the injured Warren in the Orange Bowl, should be a frontrunner, but Cam Martin and Cody Grimm are also experienced returners at outside linebacker. It's also possible some players in the secondary could get a look.
Duke cornerback -- Returning starter Leon Wright missed the last six games due to injury, and while he was out, Chris Rwabukamba played well in the 10-7 win over Vanderbilt, grabbing an interception at the Duke one-yard line. He started two games. Lee Butler saw playing time as a freshman last year, and Zach Greene enrolled in January and will participate in spring practice so he'll get an opportunity, too.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Maryland fans have the right to expect more, writes the Baltimore Sun's Rick Maese, and a mid-tier bowl is no longer enough. Well, if the Terps continue to play like they did on Thursday night, that's exactly what they're gonna get. The Hokies, however, might have found their identity.
They definitely found a bowl game. Here's a breakdown of where at least one team might go bowling.
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has outlasted a lot of coaches in the country, including all three of his sons. It's amazing, isn't it?
The pain still runs deep for Bryan Pata's mother, who struggles every day with her son's unresolved murder.
Life has not been easy for Duke's Chris Rwabukamba, but it could have been much worse had he stayed in Rwanda.
North Carolina State receiver Owen Spencer has helped the Pack fill the void left by injured starter Donald Bowens. And he has appreciated every minute of the opportunity.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks -- His four touchdowns sparked an offense that had been missing Brandon Tate and led the Tar Heels to a 45-24 win over Boston College. He finished with eight catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns, and he also ran for another score.
Virginia tailback Cedric Peerman -- He rushed for 118 yards, including the game-winning touchdown over a ranked Georgia Tech team that was playing its homecoming game. He also caught five passes for 55 yards in the 24-17 upset.
Duke's defense -- The Blue Devils had four sacks and three turnovers, including Chris Rwabukamba's interception at the Duke 1-yard line that sealed the win over Vanderbilt with 38 seconds remaining. They beat Vanderbilt on the road despite 250 yards of total offense.
Florida State receiver Greg Carr -- His height and his hands were the difference in the Seminoles' 30-20 win over Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-6 receiver had three catches for 100 yards, including two impressive grabs on long pass plays that led to a pair of third-quarter touchdowns.
Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott -- He had his best game since the season opener, and when he was injured in the fourth, his leadership and words to backup Davin Meggett kept the momentum going in the rainy win over NC State. Scott finished with 23 carries for 163 yards and a touchdown.