NCF Nation: Roberto Aguayo

ESPN.com's All-ACC team

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
9:00
AM ET
Presenting the 2014 ESPN.com All-ACC team:

Offense

WR Rashad Greene, Florida State: Whenever FSU was in trouble, Greene was there to save the day. He made big catch after big catch, took big hit after big hit, and ended the season with 93 catches for 1,306 yards, helping him break both FSU's records for receptions and receiving yards.

WR DeVante Parker, Louisville: The senior caught 35 passes for 735 yards and five touchdowns, the latter two numbers among the top 10 in the ACC. Oh, did we mention he missed the first seven games?

TE Clive Walford, Miami: Was there a more complete tight end in the country? The numbers say there might not be: 44 catches (third nationally), 676 yards (third), 7 TDs (third nationally). Walford did this all with a true freshman QB, too.

OT Cameron Erving, Florida State: Erving repeated as the ACC's blocking trophy winner, moving from left tackle to center in Game No. 10 this season and staying there, further showing his value to a unit that had dealt with interior injuries but came on strong late to help running back Dalvin Cook bloom into one of the country's finest freshmen.

OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh: Clemmings ought to get at least a piece of James Conner's player of the year trophy. The converted defensive end was among the nation's most improved players, starting every game for the second season in a row while using his athleticism to ace a position switch he had resisted earlier in his career.

C Andy Gallik, Boston College: BC lost a Heisman finalist at running back and actually improved its rushing totals this season. A dual-threat QB explains part of that, but so, too, does a powerful offensive line, led by Gallik in the middle, who helped pave the way for the league's No. 2 rushing attack.

OG Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech: The only ACC team that rushed for more than BC? The only one that kept its QB unscathed more than Duke? The Yellow Jackets are the answer to both, with Mason captaining an oft-overlooked unit that was absolutely integral to the program's resurgence this season while running its famed triple-option attack.

OG Laken Tomlinson, Duke: The future pro turned in his best season yet, helping a Blue Devils offensive line that anchored a balanced offensive attack and kept QB Anthony Boone upright all season long, as Duke surrendered just 13 sacks, tied for 11th-best nationally.

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State: The reigning Heisman winner was not as sharp as last season, but he once again put up big numbers (3,559 yards, 24 TDs) while leading FSU to another perfect mark. Winston is 26-0 for his career as a starter. You simply cannot beat that.

RB James Conner, Pitt: The ACC player of the year rewrote the Pitt record books -- no easy feat for a place that boasts names like Tony Dorsett, Curtis Martin and LeSean McCoy. Conner rushed for 1,675 yards and 24 TDs, responding to each defense's best shot game after game.

RB Duke Johnson, Miami: Like Conner, Johnson set himself above his peers at a program that has produced plenty of great running backs. Coming off an injury-shortened 2013 season, the junior ran for 1,520 yards and 13 TDs, becoming Miami's all-time leading rusher and its career leader in all-purpose yards.

Defense

DE Vic Beasley, Clemson: The ACC's defensive player of the year has seen his decision to return for his senior season pay off, as Beasley led the ACC in sacks (11) and tackles for loss (18.5) while making Clemson's defense the top-ranked unit nationally.

DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State: Who can forget Goldman forcing a Clemson fumble late to keep FSU's perfect season alive? The junior was in the right place at the right time often, a versatile threat who moved back inside this season after playing end. He dominated the line of scrimmage, and one just needs to look at how FSU fared without Goldman -- giving up 331 rushing yards to Georgia Tech as he went down early -- to see his value.

DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson: Ends might get all the stats and glory, but Jarrett's impact on offenses might have been as big as Beasley's, as he helped form arguably the top defensive line in the country. Jarrett had 6.5 TFLs and 11 QB hurries, freeing up those around him and making running the ball next to impossible down the stretch for opponents.

LB David Helton, Duke: The senior led the ACC in tackles (125) and ranked 11th nationally. Helton helped Duke overcome the preseason loss of linebacker Kelby Brown and led a unit that continued its ascension under coordinator Jim Knowles, finishing fifth in the ACC in scoring average (20.6 ppg), and 20th nationally.

LB Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville: A step-up in competition for Mauldin and the Cardinals meant even better results, as the hybrid notched a career-best 45 tackles and led the team in tackles for loss (13), while notching 6.5 sacks. Louisville's defense was one of the most surprising units in the country this season in its first year under coordinator Todd Grantham, ranking No. 6 nationally.

LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson: The leading tackler (73) on the nation's top defense, Anthony impacted games in a number of ways for the Tigers, making 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage while forcing two fumbles and picking off one pass.

LB Denzel Perryman, Miami: The senior led the Hurricanes in virtually ever major category: Tackles (102), TFLs (8.5) and forced fumbles (3) among them. He validated his decision to return after last season, recording yet another 100-tackle season and making his case as perhaps the top linebacker in the ACC.

S Gerod Holliman, Louisville: Fourteen interceptions. Fourteen! What more needs to be said? Holliman broke the ACC record and tied the NCAA mark. He had four multi-pick games, including a three-pick performance at BC. And he did this all after transitioning from corner to safety under Grantham's tutelage.

S Jalen Ramsey, Florida State: The sophomore made big play after big play, giving FSU's D an edge at the star position. He clinched the Miami game with a late pick and had two on the season to go with two forced fumbles, 11 break-ups, 13 passes defended and 9.5 TFLs. He blocked a kick, too.

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech: The last in line of the storied Fuller family to come through Blacksburg, the sophomore showed plenty of the same NFL promise that has guided his older brothers. One of only a handful of Hokies to start every game, Fuller finished second in the ACC in passes defended (15), recorded 4.5 TFLs and recovered one fumble.

CB Garry Peters, Clemson: As overlooked as one can be on a defense loaded with stars, Peters quietly executed his job to a T, picking off one pass, breaking up 11 and defending 12. He forced a fumble and managed eight TFLs as well on a pass defense that ranked No. 3 nationally.

Special teams

K Roberto Aguayo, Florida State: Just another year at the office for Aguayo: 25-of-27 on field-goal attempts, perfect on extra points and a number of crucial kicks, which wasn't always required last year when he first stepped into the national spotlight. Aguayo is a whopping 46-of-49 for his career on field-goal attempts.

P Will Monday, Duke: Monday averaged 43.4 yards per punt, with 12 of his boots going for 50 or more yards. Eight of his punts were touchbacks, 19 were fair caught and 17 were inside the 20-yard line.

KR DeVon Edwards, Duke: Edwards averaged 25.4 yards per kick return, including a 99-yard touchdown in a high-scoring affair at Pitt, which the Blue Devils ended up winning in OT.

AP Tyler Boyd, Pitt: Boyd was a jack-of-all trades for Pitt, catching 69 passes for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns. He was also the ACC's top punt returner, averaging 10.8 yards per return, which ranked 15th nationally.

CFB Awards Show: The numbers to know

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
10:10
AM ET
Did you know that only once in the past six seasons the Maxwell Award winner (Player of the Year) won the Heisman Trophy in the same year (Cam Newton, 2010)? Or that this is the first time in the history of the the Doak Walker Award that all three finalists are from the same conference (Big Ten)?

Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, here are some more fun facts and numbers that you need to know before tonight's Home Depot College Football Awards (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)...

Maxwell Award (Player of the Year)

RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
  • Fourth-most rush yards (2,336) in season in FBS history
  • Most rush yards in single season in Big Ten history
  • Set FBS record for rush yards in game with 408 vs. Nebraska on Nov. 15 (broken following week by Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine)
[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesWill Marcus Mariota become just the second player in the past six years to win the Maxwell and Heisman?
QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
  • Holds Pac-12 single-season and career records for TD Responsibility (131)
  • 101 career Pass TD, second-most in Pac-12 history
  • One pass TD shy of tying Pac-12 single-season record (39 by Matt Barkley in 2011)
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
  • Leads SEC in TD Responsibility
  • Holds school record for career TD Responsibility
  • Four games with 200-plus pass yards and 100-plus rush yards. No other player has more than two.
Davey O’Brien Award (Best Quarterback)

QB Trevone Boykin, TCU
  • First player in school history with 3,000 pass yards in single season
  • Leads Big 12 with 30 pass TDs this season
  • Broke school record for pass TDs in single season
QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
  • Leads FBS with 91.9 Total QBR
  • Leads FBS in Yards per attempt (10.2)
  • Leads FBS in TD/Int ratio (19.0)
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
  • Only FBS player with 2,900 pass yards and 900 rush yards this season
  • Single-season school record 3,935 yards of total offense this season
  • Needs 82 total yards to become school’s all-time sole leader in total offense
Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year)

DE Vic Beasley, Clemson
  • ACC Defensive Player of the Year
  • Leads ACC in sacks (11.0) and tackles for loss (18.5)
  • Clemson’s all-time leader and fifth in ACC history in sacks (32.0)
DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
  • Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
  • Leads Big Ten and in top 5 in FBS in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (20.0)
  • TFL in 17 of past 19 games, including school-record-tying 14 straight
LB Scooby Wright III, Arizona
  • Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year
  • Leads FBS in tackles for loss (28.0) and forced fumbles (6), and is second in tackles (153)
  • Leads Pac-12 and third in FBS in sacks (14.0)
Outland Trophy (Top Interior Lineman)

[+] EnlargeMalcom Brown
John Albright/Icon SMIMalcom Brown of Texas is the only defensive player up for the Outland Trophy this season.
DT Malcom Brown, Texas
  • First-Team All-Big 12 selection this season
  • Team-high 6.5 sacks this season, most among Big 12 DTs
  • Texas: leads Big 12 and T-10th in FBS in sacks (39)
C Reese Dismukes, Auburn
  • First-Team All-SEC selection this season
  • 49 career starts, tied for second-most in school history
  • Auburn: Led SEC in rushing each of past two seasons
OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
  • Big Ten Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year
  • First-Team All-Big Ten selection this season
  • Iowa: Third-lowest sack percentage in Big Ten over past two seasons (4.6 percent)
Doak Walker Award (Top Running Back)

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
  • Broke single-game school record for all-purpose yards with 341 vs. Rutgers on Oct. 25
  • Had four games of 200-plus rush yards this season
  • First player Nebraska player with three 1,000-yd seasons
Tevin Coleman, Indiana
  • Second in FBS in rush yards (a school-record 2,036)
  • Second in FBS in all-purpose YPG (181.4)
  • Career-high 307 rush yards vs. Rutgers on Nov. 15 are second-most in IU history
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
  • Fourth-most rush yards in single season in FBS history (2,336)
  • Most rush yards in single season in Big Ten history
  • Set FBS record for rush yards in game with 408 vs Nebraska on Nov. 15 (broken following week by Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine)
Biletnikoff Award (Top Wide Receiver)

Amari Cooper, Alabama
  • SEC Offensive Player of the Year
  • 115 receptions, SEC single-season record
  • Leads SEC in Rec, yards, TDs
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
  • Leads FBS in receiving YPG (149.1) and TDs (17)
  • School-record and FBS-high nine 100-yard games this season
  • Three straight games with 175+ Receiving yards, tied for most in single season since 2004
Kevin White, West Virgina
  • Leads Big 12 with 102 receptions this season
  • Broke single-game school record for receptions with 16 vs. Texas on Nov. 8
  • Set school record and tied for the national lead with seven straight 100-yard games
[+] EnlargeGerod Holliman
Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsLouisville's Gerod Holliman is one interception away from setting the FBS record for a single season.
Jim Thorpe Award (Top Defensive Back)

S Landon Collins, Alabama
  • Unanimous first-Team All-SEC selection
  • Leads team in tackles (90) and Ints (3)
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
  • Three-time first-Team All-Pac-12 selection
  • Would become first Oregon player to win the Thorpe
S Gerod Holliman, Louisville
  • 1st-Team All-ACC selection
  • Shares FBS single-season record for interceptions (14), a record that has stood since 1968 (Al Worley, Washington)
  • He has more interceptions this season than 98 FBS teams
Lou Groza Award (Top Placekicker)

Roberto Aguayo, Florida State
  • Made 46 of 49 career FG (98.4 percent) and all 147 extra-point attempts
  • Seeking to become first back-to-back winner since Sebastian Janikowski (1998-99), also from Florida State. In fact, this would be the fifth time an FSU player has won the Groza (Tulane the only other school with two wins)
Brad Craddock, Maryland
  • Holds school record for most consecutive FG without a miss (24)
Josh Lambert, West Virginia
  • Leads FBS with 2.3 FG per game
Ray Guy Award (Top Punter)

Tom Hackett, Utah
  • Leads FBS with 35 punts downed inside opponent’s 20-yard line (35) and inside opponent’s 10-yard line (19)
Austin Rehkow, Idaho
  • Leads FBS for a second straight season with 47.8 yards per punt average (min. 40 punts)
JK Scott, Alabama
  • FBS-high 52.1 percent of punts downed inside opponent’s 20-yard line (minimum 40 punts)
The ACC announced its 2014 all-conference selections Monday, with a handful of noteworthy winners and snubs.

Florida State once again led the way with 17 players named, including 10 named first-team All-ACC. Duke had nine players named, Virginia had eight, and Coastal Division champ Georgia Tech had seven.

The most noteworthy first-team selection was FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, who has led the Seminoles to a second straight undefeated season, but also leads the league in interceptions. The battle for the top spot at quarterback was particularly close, with UNC's Marquise Williams (second team), Georgia Tech's Justin Thomas (third team), Miami's Brad Kaaya, Clemson's Deshaun Watson and NC State's Jacoby Brissett all having strong seasons, too.

Here's the first-team All-ACC selections:

QB: Jameis Winston (FSU)
WR: Rashad Greene (FSU)
WR: Jamison Crowder (Duke)
WR: Tyler Boyd (Pitt)
RB: Duke Johnson (Miami)
RB: James Conner (Pitt)
C: Andy Gallik (Boston College)
G: Laken Tomlinson (Duke)
G: Tre Jackson (FSU)
T: T.J. Clemmings (Pitt)
T: Cameron Erving (FSU)

DE: Vic Beasley (Clemson)
DE: Mario Edwards Jr. (FSU)
DT: Eddie Goldman (FSU)
DT: Grady Jarrett (Clemson)
LB: Denzel Perryman (Miami)
LB: David Helton (Duke)
LB: Stephone Anthony (Clemson)
CB: Kendall Fuller (Virginia Tech)
CB: P.J. Williams (FSU)
S: Jalen Ramsey (FSU)
S: Gerod Holliman (Louisville)

K: Roberto Aguayo (FSU)
P: Wil Baumann (NC State)
Ret: Jamison Crowder (Duke)

To see the full roster, click here.

Among the biggest snubs in the ACC:

Miami tight end Clive Walford is a Mackey Award finalist and has more yards, touchdowns and first downs and caught a higher percentage of his targets than fellow Mackey Finalist, Nick O'Leary. Still, O'Leary was named to the first team.

Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker was a third-team selection thanks to missing the first seven games of the season, but he ranks seventh in the league in yards in spite of just playing five games.

NC State's Shadrach Thornton is third among running backs in yards (811) but was not named to any of the All-ACC teams.

BC's Josh Keyes has 11 tackles for loss — good for 12th in the conference — but was not one of the 10 linebackers named to All-ACC teams.

Wake Forest's Marquel Lee ranks 10th in the league with 12 TFLs and ninth in tackles with 101 but did not even earn an honorable mention.

Georgia Tech's Shaq Mason has anchored one of the best offensive lines in the country, helping pave the way for the nation's No. 4 rushing offense, but he was not a first-team selection.
video
Another week, another close win for Florida State. The Seminoles booted a field goal in the final seconds of the game to upend Boston College 20-17 and keep their playoff hopes alive.

How the game was won: Florida State's final drive was all about the two sure things on offense -- Jameis Winston and Rashad Greene -- along with emerging star tailback Dalvin Cook. Winston connected with Greene twice for 26 yards -- the latter made Greene FSU's all-time leading receiver -- and Cook handled the rest. He had six touches for 29 yards to eat up clock and push the ball to the BC 13. Roberto Aguayo finished things off with a 26-yard field goal to secure the win.

Game ball goes to: Winston. It was hardly his finest game. In fact, it's the first time in his career as a starter Florida State failed to score 30. But Winston was better than his numbers showed, with several drops and misplays negating potential big gains, and a tip leading to his lone interception. Overall, Winston finished 22-of-32 for 281 yards and a touchdown, but most importantly, he won yet again.

What it means: Florida State survives yet again. For the fourth time in the past five games, FSU was on the brink of a loss late, but the Seminoles rallied to get the win. The buzzword of the week was “game control” after committee chair Jeff Long cited that metric in the rankings, but opponents at this point can never feel safe playing Florida State.

Playoff implication: As long as FSU keeps winning, it'll be in the playoff. And now the Seminoles have just two more to go to assure that happens. The close call against Boston College certainly won't have fans feeling overly confident the rest of the way, but it's been two full years since the Seminoles lost a game, so it's hard to envision a scenario they won't get it done.

Best play: Winston's lone TD was a 30-yarder to Nick O'Leary that gave FSU a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter.

video

What's next: For Boston College, the Eagles wrap up the regular season against Syracuse with a chance to ensure they finish above .500. For FSU, rival Florida is up next, and it'll be Will Muschamp's last game as the Gators' coach. That doesn't mean Florida is going to roll over. If all these close calls have taught the Seminoles anything, it's that they can't take any team lightly.
There is no escaping the history for Florida State kickers. The FSU-Miami rivalry is synonymous with missed field goals, and the only memory crueler than Wide Right I, II and III is the irony of the kick sailing Wide Left in 2002, with Bobby Bowden once again left in disbelief, hands on hips.

The 2014 revival of this annual meeting has been pegged as the latest to come down to a field goal. Florida State opened as a 2.5-point favorite, its smallest spread since 2011.

There won't be any calm among Seminoles fans if the No. 2 Noles need a late field goal, but there should be confidence. The Seminoles have Roberto Jose Aguayo, who has become the country's best kicker, thanks in large part to a work ethic his father, Roberto, instilled in him.



It was an odd experience for a pre-teen Roberto Jose to stare at his own donated T-shirt while on a trip to a small Mexican town where alfalfa is harvested.

[+] EnlargeFlorida State's Roberto Aguayo
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsRoberto Aguayo has missed just two kicks in his two seasons at Florida State.
Video games and touch screens were obvious modern comforts that were foreign to like-aged boys in Capellanía, so Roberto Jose wasn't moved as children marveled and fiddled with his camera and Nintendo. Roberto Jose considered it an educational barter; he showed them how he killed suburban boredom outside Orlando, Florida, and in return they taught him canicas, a traditional Mexican game played with marbles.

But the T-shirt startled him. There was nothing distinct about it other than it was once his own and now part of a child’s ensemble that included ragged shorts and deteriorated shoes that succumbed to the arid terrain long ago.

“Every time we grew out of our clothes, my dad would pack a suitcase and send them over,” Roberto Jose said, “and when I went over there, I was like ‘Oh my god, I remember that shirt.’ ”

It is hard to humble an adolescent, but visiting Mexico and adopting the lifestyle of one of Capellanía's native sons -- his father, Roberto, among them -- changed perspectives for Roberto Jose. He saw where his father came from and how he overcame the punishing conditions, which is why the elder Roberto always felt a moral obligation to help his impoverished hometown. So those shirts Roberto Jose and his brother outgrew were rationed throughout Capellanía, where clean clothes are a luxury.

The visit's impact fostered an appreciation for his father’s tireless habits and remains with Roberto Jose, a Florida State sophomore and the reigning Lou Groza Award winner.

“He's talented,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher says, “but that guy puts the time and effort in to be a great player.”



There is not much for specialists to do outside game day. At the beginning of practice, Fisher stands behind Roberto Jose as he works on field goals. After three kicks, Fisher moves on.

Roberto Jose will still boot field goals, though, in working on a consistent kicking mechanic akin to pitchers repeating an arm slot. He practices the little things, such as laying up on kickoffs. He never wastes a moment.

His attention to his craft was passed down from his father, who hardly ever had time to relax around the ranch in Capellanía.

Roberto's parents forged a standard over years of working the land. His grandfather worked the fields while his grandmother stayed home. Breakfast was ready not long after sunrise. Then it was time to feed the livestock. Aguayo's grandfather would ride a mule to the alfalfa fields, cut a few plants, set it on the wagon and take it back for the cows and farm animals.

Roberto Jose's father carried those principles to Florida after forgoing professional soccer in Mexico.

"I came to the United States looking for a better life because the economic circumstances in Mexico were very limited," Roberto wrote in an email in Spanish. "… [Capellanía] was very difficult because of a lack of important resources. At first, as a child, we had no electricity, water, transportation and other things."

He landed a job as a foreman at a tree farm and worked 50-hour weeks. Yet on Saturdays, Roberto returned with his sons to run five miles along the dirt roads.

"I just wanted to hang by the pool with my friends, but he'd wake us up early, at 6 o'clock," Roberto Jose said. "He's out in the sun all day [at work], so I'm surprised he had the energy, and that motivated me. When people ask me how I have such a strong leg and this ability, I go back to those days."

If football is a religion in Texas, then youth football is a rite of passage in Florida. So as Roberto watched friends sign their children up for football, he did the same. As Roberto Jose showcased a natural skill striking the ball -- in football and soccer -- his father took a few long, metal poles and constructed a combination soccer goal slash football uprights that looked like an H.

"With all those reps over time and trying different styles, when I got to [Florida State], I could say I was finally close to being perfect," Roberto Jose said.



Perfection has barely eluded him through his first two seasons. He missed one field goal in 2013, the year he set the FBS single-season scoring record for a kicker, and has one miss this season. He holds the school record for most consecutive field goals made (23) and has converted all but two of his 174 kicks.

"My dad said, ‘It's news when you miss a kick,'" he said.

It's a short news cycle with him, though, and Florida State has the utmost confidence the Wide Rights and Lefts end with Roberto Jose because he has that same confidence in himself. He doesn't shy away from those opportunities, but rather, embraces them.

"I'm totally calm, totally relaxed, because I know the ball is in the best hands it can be in on our team," Fisher said in a September interview on "College GameDay."

"I'm 100 percent confident in Roberto," teammate Mario Edwards Jr. said. "I know he'll win the game for us."

Video: FSU's Roberto Aguayo is Mr. Perfect

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
11:55
AM ET

Florida State Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo set the NCAA single-season record for kickers with 157 points and won the Lou Groza award as a freshman in 2013. But Aguayo says there's still room for growth -- he wants to be perfect.

Preseason All-ACC team

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
9:00
AM ET
Presenting the 2014 ESPN.com preseason All-ACC team:

Offense

WR: Jamison Crowder, Duke. One of the most dynamic receivers in the ACC, Crowder has had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and gets the nod over Louisville receiver DeVante Parker in a close call. Given Crowder's past production in the offense, he should be in line to break school receiving records this season.

WR: Rashad Greene, Florida State. Perhaps one of the most underrated receivers in the country, Greene is a virtual lock to catch every pass that comes his way. He is the picture of consistency, and as the top returning target for Jameis Winston, should reach 1,000 yards again.

TE: Nick O'Leary, Florida State. One of the best tight ends in the country, O'Leary had 33 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He should improve on all those numbers this season.

T: Cameron Erving, Florida State. Erving thought about leaving school early last season for the NFL draft but decided to return, and he now anchors the best offensive line in the country.

T: Sean Hickey, Syracuse. Hickey is going into his third season as a starter and has developed into one of the best tackles in the league. He also may be the strongest player in the ACC, too.

C: Andy Gallik, Boston College. Gallik helped spearhead a Boston College run game last season that averaged 212.5 yards on the ground. As a three-year starter, Gallik has grown into the best center in the league.

G: Tre' Jackson, Florida State. One of the best guards in the country, Jackson also opted to return to school for his senior year. He and Erving are the best players on that line.

G: Laken Tomlinson, Duke. A first-team All-ACC player a year ago, Tomlinson will be relied upon even more to lead an offensive line that has to replace two of its best players. If he has another stellar season, Tomlinson could be one of the first guards taken in next year's draft.

QB: Jameis Winston, Florida State. The returning Heisman Trophy winner had a rough season off-the-field but there is no questioning his credentials on the field. After throwing for more than 4,000 yards a year ago, the expectation is he will be even better this year.

RB: Duke Johnson, Miami. Johnson is one of the best backs in the country, averaging 6.6 yards every time he touches the ball. If he can stay healthy for the entire season, he's a virtual lock to gain 1,000 yards.

RB: Kevin Parks, Virginia. Parks is the only returning 1,000-yard back in the ACC and is hoping for more in 2014. Tough call here between Parks and Karlos Williams, the next two best backs in the league behind Johnson.

Defense

DE: Vic Beasley, Clemson. Beasley finished last season with 13 sacks (tops in ACC) and 23 TFL (4th in nation). He’s a preseason All-American and the biggest star on one of the country's top defensive fronts.

DE: Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State. The No. 1 overall recruit in the nation three years ago, Edwards is poised to come into his own in 2014. He was a critical piece of Florida State’s run-stuffing defense a year ago, finishing with 9.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks.

DT: Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech. No returning interior lineman in the ACC had more TFL last year than Maddy’s 13.5, and he was a key for the Hokies' dominant defense. This season, he'll be the centerpiece of a new-look D line.

DT: Grady Jarrett, Clemson. Dabo Swinney calls Jarrett one of the best defenders in the nation, even if he hasn’t gotten much national acclaim. He finished last season with 59 tackles, including 10.5 for a loss, and should be the foundation for a dominant defensive line at Clemson this season.

LB: Denzel Perryman, Miami. Perryman is Miami’s most productive defender, finishing with 108 tackles last season (fifth in the ACC). He’s the lone ACC defender returning for 2014 to have recorded at least 60 tackles in each of the previous three seasons.

LB: Stephone Anthony, Clemson. His 15 TFL last season ranked eighth in the ACC, and no returning linebacker in the conference had more. He added 86 tackles and 4.5 sacks to boot.

CB: Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech. One of the top freshman defenders in the nation last season, Fuller picked off six passes as part of Virginia Tech's exceptional secondary. His 17 passes defended tied for eighth nationally.

CB: P.J. Williams, Florida State. Williams racked up three interceptions and was dominant in coverage for Florida State, which finished with the best pass defense in the nation. He also won defensive MVP honors in the BCS national championship.

S: Anthony Harris, Virginia. Led the nation with eight interceptions last season for Virginia, including picking off at least one pass in five straight games in conference play in October and November.

S: Jalen Ramsey, Florida State. The first true freshman to start at cornerback for Florida State since Deion Sanders, Ramsey made the transition to safety midseason and didn’t miss a beat, finishing with 49 tackles and an INT.

S: Jeremy Cash, Duke. Cash finished last season second in the ACC in tackles (121), fifth in interceptions (4) and recorded 9.5 TFL, tops in the conference among defensive backs.

Specialists

K: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State. The Lou Groza Award winner in 2013, Aguayo broke the national record for points by a kicker in a season with 157 points. He is virtually automatic every time he steps onto the field, missing just one field goal attempt and zero extra points last season.

P: A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech. A second-team All-ACC selection a year ago, Hughes averaged 44.1 yards per punt. He placed 24 inside the 20, and had 22 punts of 50 yards or longer.

KR: Kermit Whitfield, Florida State. Whitfield led the nation last year in kickoffs, with an average of 36.4 yards per return. His speed makes him extremely difficult to stop, let alone slow down.

PR: Ryan Switzer, North Carolina. Teams have probably learned to kick away from Switzer at all times. Last season, he had five returns for touchdowns, tying an NCAA record.
The preseason All-ACC team was released Wednesday, and naturally quarterback Jameis Winston led the way with the most votes. There were not too many surprises, beginning with Florida State players littered throughout the list of 26 names.

Here is the 2014 preseason All-ACC team, as voted on by the media at the ACC Kickoff:

 
 
 

Thoughts: While the ACC had the second-most NFL draft picks in May, there is significant talent returning to the conference for the 2014 season. Of the 26 players, 21 were named to one of the three All-ACC teams at the end of last season. That doesn’t include Parker, who will play his first season in the ACC this coming season. Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the leading vote getter (although not a unanimous one), and Beasley, who received the second-most votes, are two of the three returning consensus All-Americans from the 2013 season.

Few conferences would be able to rival that offense with Winston throwing to 1,000-yard receivers Crowder and Greene and a 6-foot-3 target in Parker. O’Leary is one of the best tight ends in the country. There was a seemingly close battle at running back behind Duke Johnson, Williams got the nod over Virginia running back Kevin Parks, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.

Defensively, that is one talented line. Beasley received the second-most votes for the preseason player of the year, and Edwards was the No. 1 high school recruit in the 2012 class. Maddy and Jarrett are two of the best defensive tackles in the country.

Duke has the second-most players on the team, which speaks to the program David Cutcliffe is building in Durham. The Blue Devils were not picked to win the ACC Coastal despite winning it last season and returning quarterback Anthony Boone. There is a constituency out there that still doesn’t believe Duke is the real deal and is bound for a letdown, but the media believes there is talent throughout the roster; the Blue Devils have a player at receiver, offensive line, linebacker and the secondary. Miami, which was picked to win the division, has two players on the list.

Even as Duke had four players, the Seminoles still had nine, only further signifying the gap between Florida State and the rest of the conference, although the league is undoubtedly improving. That list does not include Ronald Darby or Jalen Ramsey, two players who will almost certainly be on an All-ACC team by the end of the season. It is no surprise Florida State was ranked as having the most talent on its 2014 roster two weeks ago in ESPN.com's future power rankings.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 15

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
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That wraps it up. The regular season is over, and the bowl lineup is set. Let's see how we ended up here as we take one last look back at the week that was in our weekend rewind.

The good: What's not to love about this past weekend if you're from the ACC? The conference set an NCAA record by placing 11 teams in bowl games. That's topped, of course, by No. 1 Florida State, which is bound for the VIZIO BCS National Championship, where it will face No. 2 Auburn. The ACC broke its NCAA record of 10 teams in bowls, which was set in 2008. (The league also placed seven of its nine teams in bowls in 2002, which was then the NCAA's highest bowl participation percentage ever, at .778.)

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AP Photo/Bob LeveroneKelvin Benjamin and No. 1 Florida State head an impressive group of 11 ACC bowl teams.
The bad: It is tough to be really harsh on Duke considering just how many firsts the program accomplished this season. That said, the Blue Devils did themselves few favors to make it a game Saturday in a 45-7 loss to Florida State. Ross Martin missed a 48-yard field goal on Duke's third possession that would have broken a scoreless tie. Anthony Boone threw two interceptions. Kelby Brown dropped a potential interception. Duke did come up with two on the night, but could not manage any points from them. Redshirt senior right tackle Perry Simmons left the game with a torn ACL and a torn MCL in his left knee. The two-time All-ACC selection had started 50 consecutive games.

The records: Jameis Winston broke FBS records for both passing yards and passing touchdowns by a freshman, as the Heisman Trophy front-runner was 19-of-32 for 330 yards with three touchdowns (and two interceptions) to finish with 3,820 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns in the regular season. Duke receiver Jamison Crowder set a program single-season record in receiving yards Saturday and finished with 1,197. Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo's 45-yard second-quarter field goal helped him set an ACC record with 142 points.

The added bonus: The ACC title game had just kicked off when our Joe Schad reported that Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher had agreed to a five-year, $21 million contract extension with the program. Athletic director Stan Wilcox confirmed after the game that a deal had been reached, with details still being finalized. Just another bit of great news for the Seminoles on a night with no shortage of it.

Bowl subplots to watch: Boston College's Andre Williams (329) and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (322) lead the nation in carries and will square off in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. … Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson will get a shot at his in-state program, Pitt, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. … Miami can see its hometown product, Teddy Bridgewater, up close and personal in what could be the Louisville quarterback's final game, the Russell Athletic Bowl. (The teams face each other next year, too, when the Cardinals join the ACC.) … Let's not overlook the obvious historical note when Ohio State and Clemson meet in the Discover Orange Bowl, either, as the programs will meet for the first time since the 1978 Gator Bowl, which ended up being Woody Hayes' final game after the coach punched Tigers linebacker Charlie Bauman.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Devonta Freeman has never been to California, and he’s already concerned about the long flight west. Six hours on a plane is more than he’s accustomed to, never mind that it’s a trip he has been dreaming of since the spring.

The BCS made it official Sunday night, and No. 1 Florida State will face No. 2 Auburn in Pasadena on Jan. 6 with a national championship on the line. Freeman’s vacation plans in the interim are simple.

“I just want to grind,” Freeman said. “Get better.”

Freeman met with running backs coach Jay Graham on Sunday, asking for areas he could improve on before he takes the field again in 28 days. The work begins immediately.

There was celebration for Florida State, which wrapped up a conference title with a 45-7 win over Duke on Saturday, but Freeman’s mantra was the overwhelming narrative as the Seminoles begin the month-long wait for the final step on their march toward a national championship. They’ve come far, but the goal wasn’t simply to get here.

“It won’t mean nothing if we don’t go out and win this game and finish it the right way,” linebacker Telvin Smith said. “We’re going to go out, prepare well and play hard.”

There will be ample time for revelry between now and Jan. 6. A handful of Florida State’s stars will be on the banquet circuit, collecting awards for a season’s worth of goals met. Jameis Winston will be in New York next week for the Heisman Trophy presentation, which he’s the heavy favorite to win. There are holidays and vacations and down time, but Florida State is well prepared for the distractions. It has spent the entire season preparing for them.

From the Heisman hype to off-field legal drama, two turns on ESPN’s "College GameDay" and 11 other contests that seemed over before they kicked off, Florida State has ridden the roller coaster and still come away a bastion of consistency. Thirteen wins, all by at least two touchdowns, all because the mindset hasn’t changed.

And with one game left to go, the Seminoles insist it won’t change now.

“We’re 13-0. This is where we started the season off wanting to come here. Now we’re here,” said kicker Roberto Aguayo, who has outscored all 13 of FSU’s opponents by himself this season. “It’s been in our minds the entire time. It’s nothing new. We’re playing for a national championship and this is where we should be.”

The team gathered Sunday for its annual awards night. They watched the BCS announcement together at the stadium. They cheered the inevitable, and then they prepared to go back to work.

It’s funny, Freeman said. A few weeks ago, Florida State was dogged with questions about what might happen if four or five teams finished undefeated. Now, the Seminoles are the only team with an unblemished record.

It was no accident, Freeman said, and all that matters now is that Florida State keeps doing what has gotten it this far.

“We’ve gotta win,” Freeman said. “We’ve gotta win. And I’m not doubting anything.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's only fitting that a season characterized by injuries and an ineffective offense would conclude with a whimper thanks to those same culprits.

But after losing 37-7 to No. 2 Florida State (12-0, 8-0 in the ACC) in the Swamp on Saturday, Florida (4-8, 3-5 SEC) can take solace that its season of misery is mercifully over.

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Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsDespite carrying the ball just twice, Trey Burton led the Gators with 47 yards rushing versus Florida State. Burton left the game with a shoulder injury in the first quarter.
"Very frustrating, difficult day that ends a very frustrating, difficult season," coach Will Muschamp said. "That’s the best way I can sum it up."

Not even an inspirational pregame speech by Gators great Tim Tebow could do more than delay the inevitable.

"What he said to us was, 'Any man that goes down, he has the ability to get back up. But the difference is how that man gets back up, because a man can get down and come back withered, can come back beaten. But a man that goes down and comes back up and is changed and is different from being down, that's who we are. That's who the Gators are. That's how we need to play and that's who we need to be,' " Florida left tackle Max Garcia recounted.

"So, I'm going to stick with that for the rest of my life. It really penetrated my soul."

With Tebow watching on the sidelines, the Gators were bouncing around and showing more emotion than they had in weeks. In front of a nearly full stadium, its fans at full throat, Florida's defense harassed Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston into one of his worst quarters (4-of-6 for 35 yards) of the season.

Winston threw his first interception in three weeks -- an excuse-me catch by Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, who broke up the pass with his back to the ball but was able to find and reel in the deflection. It was the Gators' first interception since the second quarter of the Missouri game on Oct. 19.

The crowd roared its approval, and there was more energy in the Swamp than at any point in the season.

Florida outgained FSU 81 yards to 33 in the first quarter, but 50 of those yards came on one Wildcat keeper up the middle by senior Trey Burton. Two plays later, Burton injured his shoulder on another keeper and did not return to the field.

With Burton went half of the offense the Gators were planning to run.

"We were probably going to have 30-35 plays with Trey [at Wildcat quarterback]," Muschamp said. "Some of the misdirection runs now go out of the game plan, so you've got to make adjustments and you've got to change.

"I hurt for Trey because he’s a senior, his last game in the Swamp, so [it's] very difficult for him. He’s a great young man. It just kinda sums up what’s happened this year. Very frustrating."

With Burton's injury, Florida was missing 16 scholarship contributors in this game. And with cornerback Marcus Roberson dealing with an ankle injury in the first half, UF was missing 10 of its original 22 projected starters on offense and defense.

Winston and the Seminoles still led 3-0 after the first quarter, as FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo converted the same 49-yard field goal that his Florida counterpart, Austin Hardin, missed.

A 12-play, 96-yard drive that culminated in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Kelvin Benjamin might have put the game out of reach, but more importantly, it quelled the enthusiasm of the Florida defense and the crowd.

FSU had weathered the early storm of defensive pressure and taken a 17-0 lead into halftime. It tied the lowest first-half scoring output of the season for the Noles, which happened previously against Nevada in Week 2.

A game that looked on paper like a colossal mismatch inevitably turned out that way. The Florida defense couldn't get off the field, thanks to FSU going 9-of-15 on third-down conversions. Meanwhile, Florida went 1-for-11 on third down and averaged 3.9 yards per play on the day.

"You got to maintain the ball against an offense like that," Muschamp said. "You got to take time off the clock. ... We weren’t able to do that. Give them credit. They made plays on third down, and we didn’t. I think we were 1-of-10 or -11 on third down. You got to convert those, and we’ve struggled to make explosives, make third-down conversions. You name it, we haven’t done it.”

In a season of making all the wrong history, the only drama Florida could muster against Florida State was whether the Noles would shut out the Gators for the first time in the 58-game series.

The answer was no, but it was close. And now the Gators boast the nation's second-longest streak of scoring in consecutive games (322, second to Michigan's 374 games in a row).

With one score in the fourth quarter, Florida finished the season with 11 passing touchdowns. It's the fewest since 1989, the season before Steve Spurrier was hired as coach. On the other sideline, sitting out the Noles' final series to let his backup play, Winston had already broken Florida State's single-season record for passing TDs, with three more on Saturday giving him a total of 35.

"It’s been a tough year, difficult to deal with, but it is what it is," a somber Muschamp said when it was over. "Those guys have persevered through some tough times and certainly this season being the iceberg of it all."

Now that it's in the history books, however, Florida's 2013 season might be remembered less as an iceberg and more as the ship that sunk when it struck one.
With half of the conference playing spring games this weekend, here’s a look at what to watch if you’re keeping an eye on the ACC as spring ball comes to a close:

CLEMSON

When: 4 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN3)

What to watch:
  • Quarterbacks of the future. You know Tajh Boyd is good. Expect Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly to take most of the snaps. Boyd played just four snaps in the last scrimmage. Let's see his backups.
  • The tight ends. Clemson tight ends Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford have been the first team All-ACC tight ends the past two years. Clemson tight ends have 118 receptions and 21 touchdowns the past two years, perhaps the most underrated area in Chad Morris’ offense. So who moves in there this year? Sam Cooper is the most experienced, but freshman Jordan Leggett has been impressive this spring.
  • How much better is the defense? All eyes will be on Brent Venables' group to see how much progress it has made this spring. If the D gets better, it could be a special season in Death Valley.
FLORIDA STATE

When: 2 p.m. Saturday, (ESPN3)

What to watch:
  • The quarterbacks. It's been one of the hottest topics this spring in the ACC and arguably the biggest position battle in the conference. Check out Clint Trickett, Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston as they all battle to replace starter EJ Manuel.
  • The defensive line. The competition is on to replace Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. Mario Edwards Jr. is ready to jump in, along with Giorgio Newberry.
  • Don't forget the kicker. It's big at FSU. The Noles have to replace Dustin Hopkins, the ACC's all-time leading scorer and the NCAA's all-time kick scorer. It's your chance to see Roberto Aguayo, who was one of the nation's top kickers coming out of high school.
MARYLAND

When: 7 p.m. on Friday in Byrd Stadium

Parking/admission: Free

What to watch:
  • The running backs. Both Brandon Ross and Albert Reid have had strong springs and will be competing for playing time come the fall.
  • The receivers. This group should be a strong point for the team this year, as Stefon Diggs, Deon Long and Nigel King are a talented trio.
  • New faces on defense. The Terps have to replace six starters on defense, including some of their best leaders in Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis.
DUKE

When: 4 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN3) in Wallace Wade Stadium

Parking/admission: Free

What to watch:
  • Booooooone. Anthony Boone takes over at quarterback, and there have been rave reviews about him from within the program all spring. He's got a strong arm and is mobile.
  • New faces at safety. Some big names are gone, as Duke has to replace graduates Jordon Byas and Walt Canty, and Brandon Braxton, who moved back to receiver. Jeremy Cash, eligible now after transferring from Ohio State and sitting out last fall, headlines the group that includes sophomore Dwayne Norman (60 tackles in 2012 as true freshman) and redshirt freshman Corbin McCarthy.
  • Front and center: There is one hole to fill on the offensive line and Matt Skura takes over at center for Brian Moore.
MIAMI

When: 3 p.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium (ESPN3)

Gates open: 12:30 p.m.

Parking/admission: Free

What to watch:
  • Defensive improvement. Is there any? The Canes were one of the worst in the country last year, but they return every starter up front.
  • The No. 2 QB. Who is it? Gray Crow started the last scrimmage as the backup to Stephen Morris and completed 8 of 13 passes for 73 yards, with a touchdown and interception. Ryan Williams, who entered the spring as the expected No. 2, completed only six of his 12 passes with a touchdown and an interception. The coaches will be watching these guys closely on Saturday, so should you.
  • Running back Dallas Crawford. You know Duke Johnson. It's time to get to know this guy. Those within the program have said Crawford has had a great spring and could be a rising star this fall. He scored two touchdowns in a scrimmage in Naples earlier this month.
NORTH CAROLINA

When: 3 p.m. ET on Saturday at Kenan Stadium (ESPN3)

Admission: Free

Parking: $5/vehicle

What to watch:
  • Gio's replacement(s). A.J. Blue and Romar Morris have been working to ease the loss of leading rusher Giovani Bernard. Can they be as effective as he was, how much progress have they made and who will replace Bernard in the return game?
  • The O-line. Former guard Jonathan Cooper should be a first-round draft pick later this month, and it won't matter how good Blue and Morris are if they can't find anyone to help block for them. A total of three starters have to be replaced on the offensive line.
  • Replacing big names on D. Cooper and Bernard aren't the only big names that will be missing. The defense is going to miss tackle Sylvester Williams, who could be another first-round draft pick, and linebacker Kevin Reddick (85 tackles, 8.5 for loss). How does the D look without them?
PITTSBURGH

When: 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Bethel Park High School (ESPN3)

Gates open: 5:30 p.m.

Admission: Free

What to watch:
  • The quarterbacks. Fifth-year senior Tom Savage has taken most of the reps with the first team, and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik appears to be the backup, but coach Paul Chryst has yet to name a starter.
  • The running backs. Earlier this month, it was announced that Rushel Shell has decided to transfer. Since then, the bulk of the carries have gone to junior Isaac Bennett, sophomore Malcolm Crockett and senior Desmond Brown. How they fare will go a long way in determining how Pitt fares in its first season in the ACC.
  • The offensive line. It's been problematic for the Panthers in each of the past two seasons, and Pitt now has to break in two new starters in Gabe Roberts and Adam Bisnowaty.
Florida State lost a ton of talent off its ACC title team, including two All-Americans.

Much of the focus this offseason has been on how the Noles will replace one of them -- defensive end Bjoern Werner. Much less has focused on a replacement for the other -- kicker Dustin Hopkins.

While it is true that more people focus on the star players like Werner, you cannot overlook what Hopkins meant to the Noles program. He was as automatic as you can get at the kicker position, setting a new NCAA career scoring record for kickers (466 points), while establishling new NCAA, ACC and school records with 88 career field goals.

Simply put, kicker has been a position the Noles have not had to worry about in years.

But let's just say the cupboard isn't bare. Coach Jimbo Fisher is supremely confident in the next man up -- redshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo, who was rated the sixth-best kicking prospect in the class of 2012.

"We’ll be very pleased with him," Fisher said earlier this week. "I expect great things out of Roberto. He’s extremely talented, extremely explosive, very strong leg, very similar to the guy we just lost. He hasn’t done the things Dustin’s done in a pressure situation but from a talent standpoint, a very good guy. That’s why we signed him a year ago. I loved him in camp and I thought it very beneficial for him to follow Dustin around, learning how to prepare, and how to work and do those things."

The hope, of course, is that Aguayo can end up starting for four years the way Hopkins did, and allow Seminoles coaches and fans to breathe easy every time he steps onto the field. If all goes according to plan, his first game as a Seminole will come in an intensely pressure filled situation -- on the road in Pittsburgh in a nationally televised game, at a stadium known for being unfriendly to kickers.

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