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2015 All-ACC preseason team

8/24/2015
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ESPN Preseason All-Americans

Heather Dinich and Joe Schad look at the ESPN Preseason All-Americans.

The 2015 season is about to kick off, and while there’s ample debate about which teams will end the season in Charlotte, it’s even tougher to winnow the candidates for our All-ACC team. Nevertheless, we gave it a shot.

OFFENSE

QB: Deshaun Watson, Clemson, So.

We gave the spot to Watson because of his tremendous upside and the weapons around him, but Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas and Miami’s Brad Kaaya are right on his heels.

RB: James Conner, Pittsburgh, Jr.

RB: Jon Hilliman, Boston College, So.

If he were eligible to play, Dalvin Cook would surely be here, but for now we’re giving the honor to Hilliman, who racked up 13 touchdowns as a rookie last season. NC State’s Shad Thornton was a tough cut too.

WR: Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh, Jr.

WR: Mike Williams, Clemson, Jr.

Williams’ teammate, Artavis Scott, has a good case for All-ACC honors too, but we opted for Williams’ big-play ability over Scott’s elusiveness.

TE: Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech, RS-So.

Tight end is a deep position in the ACC with Cam Serigne, David Grinnage and a host of young talent warranting consideration, but Hodges might be the best red zone threat in the league.

OT: Roderick Johnson, Florida State, So.

G: Landon Turner, North Carolina, Sr.

C: Matt Skura, Duke, RS-Sr.

G: Trey Braun, Georgia Tech, RS-Sr.

OT: Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh, RS-Jr.

The only seniors on our All-ACC offense come on the line, and it’s a veteran group. Leaving off Georgia Tech’s Bryan Chamberlain and Virginia Tech’s Wyatt Teller were tough calls, but Bisnowaty and Braun were deserving selections.

DEFENSE

DE Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech, RS-Sr.

DT Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech, Sr.

DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech, RS-Sr.

DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson, Jr.

The All-ACC defensive line could’ve easily just been the Hokies’ front four, with Ken Ekanem and Corey Marshall certainly deserving credit. Still, Lawson appears primed to pick up where Vic Beasley left off at Clemson, and Gotsis has been an underappreciated gem for the Yellow Jackets throughout his career.

LB: James Burgess, Louisville, Sr.

LB: Terrance Smith, Florida State, RS-Sr.

LB: Brandon Chubb, Wake Forest, RS-Sr.

Boston College's Steven Daniels and Louisville’s Keith Kelsey certainly deserve a nod here too, but Chubb is the catalyst for Wake’s defense, Smith was a difference-maker at a thin position for Florida State and Burgess’ 10 tackles for loss in 2014 help him narrowly edge out his Louisville teammate.

S: Quin Blanding, Virginia, So.

S: Jeremy Cash, Duke, RS-Sr.

CB: Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, Jr.

CB: Jalen Ramsey, Florida State, Jr.

The secondaries across the ACC are particularly deep, which forced us to leave deserving candidates such as Mackensie Alexander, Deon Bush, DeVon Edwards and Maurice Canady off the list. But the four who made it are legitimate All-American candidates.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State, RS-Jr.

P: Alex Kinal, Wake Forest, RS-Sr.

AP: DeVon Edwards, Duke, RS-Jr.

Aguayo is the best kicker in the country, which made that an easy pick. Kinal’s 43 net yards per punt gave him the edge over Will Monday, and Edwards’ explosiveness at Duke narrowly edged Boyd and Ryan Switzer as our return man.