NCF Nation: Lonnie Pryor

The first round of the NFL draft is just a week away, so it is time to provide you an update with the latest predictions, mock drafts and rankings from ESPN experts.

First, let us start with Mel Kiper Jr., who plays general manager for every single team and predicts the first three rounds of the draft Insider. It is Insider content, but here is a look at where he has placed players from ACC schools. Oh, and be sure to read his ground rules to have a better understanding of his thought process.

First round
Second round
Third round

As Kiper Jr. states, that piece is not a mock draft. It's his preference for each team at that spot. His mock draft features Cooper, Williams and Rhodes. Disagree with his first-round picks? Well you can make your own mock draft Insider. Two thumbs up on that tool.

Kiper also has updated his Big Board Insider, ranking the Top 25 prospects. Only Cooper and Williams make that list.

Meanwhile, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay has revealed the Scouts Inc. tier rankings Insider, which list prospects by their ratings. There are seven tiers and 109 players rated, with 17 from ACC schools (counting incoming members Pittsburgh and Syracuse).

McShay also has named his All-Satellite team Insider, comprised of the best prospects when playing in space. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard checks in at No. 5. McShay writes, "He has super-quick feet, good initial burst and outstanding lateral agility. Bernard can stop and start on a dime, strings together multiple moves and is a slippery runner between the tackles."

Want more? Kiper also has updated his top 5 prospects by position Insider.

ACC's 2012 All-Bowl team

January, 10, 2013
The ACC went 4-2 this bowl season, its first winning record since 2005. There were plenty of top performers to highlight, but these are the players who were most deserving of the ACC’s 2012 All-Bowl team:

Offense first team

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Tajh Boyd had a record-setting game in Clemson's victory against LSU.
QB -- Tajh Boyd, Clemson: He had 368 yards of total offense against LSU on 79 total offensive plays. He set a Clemson record for plays in a game by a quarterback.

RB -- Lonnie Pryor, Florida State: He had a career-long 60 yard touchdown in the first half of the Orange Bowl, which was the second-longest touchdown run in FSU bowl history. In his final game as a Seminole, he also had a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter for his second touchdown in the game.

RB -- David Sims, Georgia Tech: He rushed for a game-high and career-best 99 yards on 17 carries, and caught a touchdown pass in the 21-7 win against USC.

WR -- DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson: He finished the game with 13 receptions for 191 yards and finished the season with 82 receptions for 1405 yards. Hopkins tied his own Clemson record for receptions in a game with 13. He also had 13 in the opener against Auburn.

WR -- Conner Vernon, Duke: He caught 10 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. He helped Duke to 34 points against a Bearcats defense that entered the game ranked 12th nationally, allowing just 17.2 points per game.

TE -- Brandon Ford, Clemson: His nine receptions against LSU tied the overall Clemson single-game record for receptions by a tight end. He finished with 69 receiving yards, including one reception for 20 yards.

T -- Cameron Erving, Florida State: It was the sixth game this season with over 500 yards of total offense for the Seminoles. All three touchdown runs came between center and left tackle, and quarterback EJ Manuel had all day to throw.

T -- Perry Simmons, Duke: He led an offensive line performance that yielded zero sacks and allowed quarterback Sean Renfree to establish Belk Bowl records for pass completions (37), pass attempts (49) and passing yardage (358). Simmons also aided a running game that gained 200 net yards on 39 attempts as running back Josh Snead picked up a career-high 107 yards on just 17 attempts.

G -- Josue Matias, Florida State: The Noles racked up 243 rushing yards, 23 first downs and 534 yards of total offense. He was part of an offensive line that didn’t allow Manuel to be sacked once by Northern Illinois. Two of Pryor’s runs came between Erving and Matias.

G -- Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech: He helped pave the way for 294 rushing yards in the win against USC, and 369 total yards. He made his 39th career start, the second-most on the team.

C -- Dalton Freeman, Clemson: The Tigers had 100 plays and 32 first downs, and his blocking was a major factor.

Defense first team

DE -- Malliciah Goodman, Clemson: He set a bowl record with three sacks as Clemson held LSU to 219 yards of total offense.

DE -- Bjoern Werner, Florida State: In his last game with the Noles, the dominating end knocked down his eighth pass of the season, which is the second-most in the FBS by a defensive lineman. He finished with two tackles.

DT -- Derrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech: He had four tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a sack. The sack was on Rutgers' first play of overtime, forcing them into long yardage which led to a long (and missed) field goal.

DT -- Grady Jarrett, Clemson: He had four tackles, including two tackles for loss, and one was a sack. He was a big reason Clemson held LSU to just 99 yards rushing.

LB -- Christian Jones, Florida State: Jones tied for the team lead with 10 tackles in the 31-10 Discover Orange Bowl win against Northern Illinois.

LB -- Vince Williams, Florida State: He tied Jones for the team lead with 10 tackles, and finished with one tackle for loss and a sack.

LB -- Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech: He led the Hokies with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and had a pass breakup. Virginia Tech’s defense held Rutgers to 196 yards and three offensive points, none in the last three quarters.

CB -- Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech: Even though his statistics were modest -- three tackles, two pass breakups and an interception returned for 21 yards -- Sweeting was voted the game’s MVP. He fared well in a tough assignment, matching up with Biletnikoff Trophy winner Marqise Lee.

CB -- Antone Exum, Virginia Tech: The Russell Athletic Bowl’s MVP led a stifling pass defense that allowed just 129 yards. He made the play of the game with an interception of Gary Nova to set up the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech’s defense allowed just 196 yards total, and just 17 completions from Nova on 40 attempts.

S -- Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State: He finished third on the team with six tackles, including one tackle for loss. The Northern Illinois receivers were no match for the FSU secondary and were rendered ineffective.

S -- Rashard Hall, Clemson: He led the team with nine tackles, including eight solo, in the win against LSU.


PK -- Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson: He kicked the 37-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to give Clemson and the ACC a monumental 25-24 win against LSU. It was the fourth walk-off field goal in Clemson history, and Catanzaro has two of the four.

P -- A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech: He tied the record under coach Frank Beamer for punts in a game with 11. He finished with an average of 42.2 with four punts inside the 20-yard line, and a long of 57.

SP -- Tobais Palmer, NC State: He returned a second-quarter kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the loss to Vandy, and became the first Pack player since Greg Golden in 2001 to return a kickoff for a score in a bowl game. He finished with 173 kickoff return yards, setting a new NC State season record with 1,130 KOR yards. Palmer and T.J. Graham (1,028 in 2008) are the only two Wolfpack players to go over 1,000 yards in kickoff returns in a single season. Palmer also went over 100 yards receiving for the third time in 2012, as he finished with eight catches for 111 yards.

Instant analysis: FSU 31, NIU 10

January, 2, 2013

It wasn't exactly the easy win so many predicted, but Florida State's size and speed advantage helped the Seminoles outlast upstart Northern Illinois 31-10 to win their first Orange Bowl since 1996.

Record-setting NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch found no room to work, and Florida State's dominant defense showed few flaws in its first game without departed coordinator Mark Stoops, while EJ Manuel accounted for 321 yards of offense and two touchdowns to lead the Seminoles.

It was over when: Xavier Rhodes forced a fumble from Da'Ron Brown on a second-down run with 11:15 left to play in the game. Northern Illinois had just converted a fourth-and-1 and was driving in hopes of cutting FSU's lead to seven, but the fumble was the dagger that ended any hopes of an upset. The play was reviewed, but officials ruled the ball was coming out of Brown's grip before his knee hit the ground, and the Seminoles quickly capitalized on the turnover with a Lonnie Pryor touchdown.

Game ball goes to: Pryor. The senior fullback has toiled in the shadows for four years at Florida State, earning immense respect within the locker room but relatively little fanfare outside it. Tuesday's game was different. While the rest of the FSU running game struggled, Pryor was brilliant. He opened the scoring with a 60-yard touchdown run -- the longest of his career -- and put the icing on the cake with his 37-yard touchdown after NIU's fourth-quarter fumble.

Turning point: There were plenty, but NIU's two turnovers were killer. The fumble by Brown was the last straw, but a third-quarter interception by Terrence Brooks squelched another promising Huskies drive. Brooks picked off Lynch at the FSU 13-yard line to protect a slim seven-point lead.

Stat of the game: Lynch entered the game as one of the most dynamic offensive players in college football, but he found out yards are far tougher to come by against Florida State. Coming into the game, Lynch had racked up 1,771 rushing yards -- fourth most in the nation -- and was averaging 6.5 yards per carry. But Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and the FSU linebacking corps was exceptional, hitting him repeatedly and giving him nowhere to run. Lynch had bragged earlier in the week that NIU planned to wear FSU down late, but the opposite was true, and the junior quarterback finished with just 44 yards rushing on 23 carries, while completing just 36 percent of his throws.

Unsung hero: It's tough to call Manuel an unsung hero, but in a season in which he's earned just as much criticism as praise -- and maybe more -- he wrapped up a five-year career at Florida State with a solid performance. Manuel completed 27 of 39 passes for 296 yards through the air and added another 26 rushing with a touchdown. He missed a few passes -- something his critics will be happy to note -- but he connected on far more. When the FSU offense needed him, he made the throws he had to make. Manuel never lived up to his immense promise at FSU, but he was surely a very good quarterback, and he ends his career as an Orange Bowl champion and winner of four straight bowl games.

What it means: Northern Illinois shrugged off the legions of doubters and proved an unexpectedly competitive opponent, but in the end, Lynch and the Huskies simply didn't have enough to make a late charge. For Florida State, it was yet another inconsistent performance in a season that has been filled with them. But it was also the school's first BCS win in 12 years, and it marked just the second time in program history that FSU has won 12 games in a season.

Video: Florida State's Lonnie Pryor

December, 31, 2012

Heather Dinich talks to FSU fullback Lonnie Pryor about the Noles' final practice in preparation for the Discover Orange Bowl game against Northern Illinois.

Q&A with FSU RB Devonta Freeman

October, 26, 2012
Florida State is No. 15 in the country and No. 2 in the ACC in rushing offense with 389.14 yards per game. The Seminoles’ offense took a hit this week, though, when leading rusher Chris Thompson suffered a season-ending injury. Thompson’s 7.5 yards per carry will be tough to replace, but there is no shortage of talent at the position. In the past two games, sophomore Devonta Freeman has led FSU with a combined 140 yards on 18 carries. Freeman’s two fourth-quarter touchdown runs sealed the win against the Hurricanes last week. I spoke with Freeman on Thursday to get his take on the situation heading into Saturday’s game against Duke. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

[+] EnlargeDevonta Freeman
Melina Vastola/US PresswireFlorida State RB Devonta Freeman has made an immediate impact in place of injured star Chris Thompson.
Tell me about what happened from your perspective in the game when Chris went down.

Devonta Freeman: Basically when Chris went down, I knew one of us had to step up. Actually, I wanted to be the guy to step up. I was just preparing myself when I wasn’t playing. When he went down I knew this could be my opportunity so I couldn’t take it for granted. I had to go out there and make something happen. I tried my best to contribute.

How has Chris responded? I’m sure it’s been devastating for him, but how has he been in terms of being a part of the team as a leader and trying to help you guys?

DF: He’s a strong kid. He’s been through a lot. He just continues to grow and learn. He’s not complaining or nothing like that. He just knows that’s God doing his job. All he’s doing is praying knowing God has a plan for him at the end of the day.

How much pressure are you feeling now that he’s out to step up and be the guy?

DF: There’s no pressure, nothing like that. Once upon a time I was the guy, I was a starting running back. I’ve played in a lot of big games, so these games, every game I play I just think of it as a regular game. I don’t look at it as, ‘Oh I need to prepare different than any other game.’ I just look at it as the same game. No pressure.

What’s it been like this week without Chris practicing?

DF: When somebody goes down like that, you’ve just gotta move on. When we’re on the field, we have to focus on our jobs and stuff. When we’re off the field, we’ve got to try to encourage him the best way we can. It’s been a little awkward he hasn’t been out there, but we know our part. We know what we’ve gotta do. We know what time it is. We just have to contribute.

Have you and [James] Wilder [Jr.] been splitting reps with the first team? How has that been working?

DF: Yes, actually we’ve all been rotating. Lonnie Pryor has been getting in there at running back, Debrale Smiley has been getting in at running back. All of us have been rotating. Me and Wilder have been splitting the carries. We’ll get, like, two plays apiece with the ones. I’ll even get two plays with the twos, he’ll get two plays with the twos.

The running game has been so much better than it was a year ago. What’s the biggest difference?

DF: The biggest difference is the offensive line and the coaches. They’ve prepared them for this year in getting them where they need to be. They’ve been so dedicated to the team this year. They knew last year we were struggling in running so they went harder this summer. They’d be here early in the morning, every day, like 6 in the morning. They were here before everybody. And the running backs, we knew we had to make better reads, better cuts. We just got more patient and all of us got better.

Do you guys feel like you can keep it up without Chris in the lineup?

DF: Yeah, of course. We can keep it up without him. We wish the best for him, wish he was healthy, but we’ll try our best to average some good yards per game.

Are you taking these guys seriously, or is Duke still Duke to you?

DF: I take them seriously. They put on one pants leg at a time, just like us. Anything could happen. Every team we play, I treat them like they’re the No. 1 team in the nation. We’ve got to give it our all. We’re not taking nothing for granted.

What have they done that leads you to believe they’re better this year?

DF: They’re bigger, faster stronger. They look more technically sound. They’re throwing the ball better, they’re running the ball better and tackling. They’re big up front, they have some great athletes on their team.

Is it hard for you guys to not look back at the NC State game and wonder what could have been?

DF: I mean, we always look back at it and say, ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda,’ but it’s something we had to learn from and move on from. Life is about learning and moving on. We just feel like we can’t lose no more games.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- No. 7 Florida State opened the season with a 69-3 victory over Murray State on Saturday behind three touchdowns from fullback Lonnie Pryor and a standout defensive performance by defensive end Bjoern Werner.

It was over when: James Wilder Jr. wrapped up Florida State's first drive of the second half with a 9-yard touchdown, putting the Seminoles up 35-3. The Racers managed to hold their own in the first half despite the score, but Wilder's run capped a dominant five-play, 72-yard drive in which FSU fully exerted itself.

Game ball goes to: Werner. With fellow defensive end Brandon Jenkins out with a foot injury for the majority of the game, Werner had a field day against the overmatched Murray State offensive line. The junior defensive end racked up four sacks, five tackles for loss and forced a fumble on the Murray State 2-yard line that set up a touchdown.

Stat of the game: 7. That's the number of rushing touchdowns for Florida State's offense Saturday, the most in any game for the Seminoles since 1992. Pryor scored three times and Wilder and Debrale Smiley each chipped in with two. Florida State averaged nearly 7 yards per carry, with a total of 285 rushing yards.

Turning point: EJ Manuel hit Kenny Shaw for a 6-yard touchdown just before the end of the first half. Murray State had hung tough early, and Shaw's bobble of what appeared to be an easy catch earlier in the half that turned into an interception was the most glaring of several FSU mental gaffes. But that last drive of the half, a five-play, 58-yard march, ended with Shaw gaining some retribution and the Seminoles reasserting themselves against an inferior opponent.

Unsung hero: Pryor. Well, it's not that Pryor flew under the radar Saturday. He scored three touchdowns, topping his total for the 2011 season. But Pryor, a senior, has spent his career blocking out of the backfield and doing FSU's dirty work on offense, so the moment in the sun -- all three of them -- was a nice way to start his final season with the Seminoles.

What it means: Odds are the thumping of an FCS opponent won't tell us much about Florida State's ability to meet the immense preseason expectations, but Jimbo Fisher should be pleased that his offensive line delivered an impressive push, the running game was able to move the ball well and the defense looked every bit as stout as the preseason hype touted. Things won't get much tougher next week against Savannah State, but thus far FSU looks the part of a contender, even if the test wasn't overly tough.
Florida State held its first scrimmage of the spring on Monday and on Tuesday evening released the stats. The Seminoles' practices and scrimmages are closed to fans and the media. Here are the highlights, based on the school's report:

Offensive highlights:
  • Quarterback EJ Manuel completed 29 of 42 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns (two to receiver Bert Reed and one to fullback Lonnie Pryor).
  • Reed had a six-yard touchdown reception and a 36-yard touchdown catch in a two-minute situation. Reed finished the day with seven receptions for 81 yards.
  • Pryor’s reception came from seven yards out in a red zone situation.
  • Running back Jermaine Thomas rushed nine times for 121 yards.
  • FSU’s starting offensive line of Henry Orelus, Jacob Stanley, Jacob Fahrenkrug, Bryan Stork and Garrett Faircloth each worked 65 plays. Fahrenkrug at center and Faircloth at right tackle both earned the highest grades on the line.
Defensive highlights:
  • Linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith each had eight tackles. Smith also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
  • Cornerback Greg Reid had five tackles with two pass breakups and Mike Harris had six solo tackles and a pass breakup.

Final: Florida State 45, Miami 17

October, 9, 2010
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Here's a quick recap of Florida State's 45-17 win over Miami on Saturday night:

How the game was won: Florida State’s defense was better and the Seminoles ran the ball more effectively. The Seminoles disrupted Miami’s passing game, and dared Jacory Harris to beat them with his arm. While he didn’t turn it over, Harris had to play from behind and tried to do too much. Miami’s defense missed too many tackles and FSU executed a balanced offense led by running back Jermaine Thomas.

Turning point: Lonnie Pryor’s 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put the Seminoles ahead 31-7, and Florida State was in control from that point.

Player of the game: FSU running back Thomas. He ran for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 34 yards and a touchdown.The last person to have three touchdowns here was Antone Smith when FSU won two years ago.

Unsung hero of the game: FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. This did not look like the defense that rolled out the red carpet for Oklahoma. Jacory Harris completed just 40 percent of his passes, and the Seminoles were better up front. Miami was held to 6 of 18 third down conversions.

What it means: There was no question that Florida State was the better team and played like it wanted it more. Florida State and NC State are the teams to beat in the Atlantic Division, and the Seminoles are now the team to beat in the ACC. With Miami and Florida State the ACC’s only two ranked teams in the Associated Press poll, the Seminoles should now jump the Canes as the ACC’s top team.

Fully loaded in the ACC

June, 8, 2010
Florida State fans can rest assured their quarterback situation is in good hands. After all, how many other teams could lose their starter and have the backup earn MVP honors in a Gator Bowl win?

Darren Evans/Ryan Williams
US PresswireVirginia Tech has the luxury of two 1,000-yard rushers in the same backfield.
E.J. Manuel proved Christian Ponder isn’t irreplaceable last season, and that’s a good thing for a program vying to win the Atlantic Division title in the first season under Jimbo Fisher. When it comes to the offense, there isn’t much Florida State is missing, but the Seminoles are just one of several teams in the ACC prepared to replace key players if need be.

The deepest position throughout the ACC appears to be at running back, where numerous programs have to figure out how to divvy up the carries this fall. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech are all at least two deep at the position -- at least. The Hokies are fortunate enough to have two former backups turned 1,000-yard rushers in Darren Evans and Ryan Williams, both of whom got their opportunities at the expense of an injured teammate.

At Florida State, running back Chris Thompson passed Jermaine Thomas on the unofficial post-spring depth chart, but there’s also Lonnie Pryor, Tavares Pressley, Ty Jones and junior-college transfer Debrale Smiley, who is a fullback/tailback like Pryor. Both Florida State and Boston College return at least four starters each on their offensive lines, which immediately helps the depth there.

Miami has four returning receivers who had at least 200 yards receiving a year ago, and Duke had so much depth at receiver that it was able to move one of its top four pass-catchers -- Johnny Williams -- to cornerback this past spring.

Miami is also stocked on the defensive line, where the defensive ends go about three-deep on each side. The same can be said at Clemson, which returns three starters on the defensive line, and can also depend upon DE Andre Branch (38 tackles, 7.5 for loss) and DE Malliciah Goodman (26 tackles, 6.0 for loss).

Maryland returns all three of its starting linebackers and their backups. At Boston College, defensive coordinator Bill McGovern’s scheme utilizes a lot of players, which helps continue the strong defensive tradition there because the players are always prepared. Reserves from 2009 such as CB Donnie Fletcher (51 tackles), DE Brad Newman (45 tackles), LB Dominick LeGrande (36 tackles), LB Anthony DiSanzo (28 tackles) and CB Isaac Johnson (27 tackles) all saw significant playing time.

No team in the ACC, though, is as loaded on defense as North Carolina, which returns nine starters. They have combined for 234career starts -- the most of any team in the ACC, with S Deunta Williams and CB Kendric Burney making 38 starts each. The challenge for Butch Davis this fall will be getting the backups some playing time in preparation for 2011.

The goal of course for all coaches is to use their backups when they want to -- not when they have to.