NCF Nation: Shawn Powell

With national signing day quickly approaching, we’re going to take a look at the recruiting needs of each school in the ACC, starting with the Atlantic Division. These needs are based on current rosters and anticipated departures in the near future. Here’s a look at who has what holes to fill in the 2012 class:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Linemen: The depth here continues to be a priority on both sides. The decision of defensive end Max Holloway to declare early for the NFL draft was an unexpected loss, and tackle Dillon Quinn will be a senior. Offensively, the Eagles will have to replace two veterans and leaders in center Mark Spinney and guard Nate Richman.

Linebackers: All-American Luke Kuechly’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft was expected, but the staff is looking for about two or three more linebackers in this class.

Receivers: This was a young group to begin with, as Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert were both true sophomores, but the staff could use one or two more in this class.

CLEMSON

Linemen: The Tigers will lose three starters on the defensive line and three more on the offensive line from the 2011 ACC championship team. Center Dalton Freeman is a returning starter, but he will be a senior. Six players on the final two-deep depth chart on the offensive line were either seniors or graduate students in 2011, and four on the defensive line two-deep must be replaced.

Running back: Andre Ellington is entering his senior year, and while Mike Bellamy is back in school and in the good graces of coach Dabo Swinney, the future of the position is uncertain. Rod McDowell played well in the bowl game, and D.J. Howard has been a backup.

Defensive backs: The Tigers could start three seniors in the secondary in 2012: Xavier Brewer, Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks.

Kickers: The Tigers will lose punter Dawson Zimmerman, opening up an opportunity for a true freshman to play immediately.

FLORIDA STATE

Pick and choose: The Noles have built up enough depth that they can now be selective. Instead of building a class heavy on offensive linemen, Florida State can now pick and choose the best at each position. The Noles need at least one running back, one or two quarterbacks, a few offensive tackles, a linebacker to help replace Nigel Bradham and a safety or two.

Kickers: The Noles have big shoes to fill with the graduation of punter Shawn Powell, and kicker Dustin Hopkins is entering his final season.

MARYLAND

Running back: This is a position where a true freshman could see some playing time this year. Justus Pickett returns, along with Brandon Ross, who redshirted last year.

Quarterback: The Terps ended the 2011 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown. Both will be juniors and nobody is behind them.

Cornerback. Maryland has to replace Trenton Hughes and Cameron Chism at cornerback, leaving Dexter McDougle the only one with any significant playing time.

NC STATE

Defensive line: The staff already has about six linemen committed and ends were a particular focus. Half of the linemen in the two-deep depth chart for the Belk Bowl were either juniors or seniors.

Secondary: This should be a strength for NC State in 2012, but the staff needs to prepare for the future here. Cornerback C.J. Wilson will be a senior, along with safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop.

Quarterback: Mike Glennon is already listed as a graduate student, and his backup, Tyler Brosius, redshirted this past season. The position is thin and the future uncertain behind Glennon.

WAKE FOREST

Offensive line: The Deacs will lose four starters up front, but coach Jim Grobe has only played one true freshman there in 11 years. He has several redshirt freshmen and sophomores who are expected to fill in, but the staff wants to continue to build the depth at the position.

Tight end: Wake Forest will graduate its top two tight ends and will turn to two redshirt sophomores in Neil Basford and Johnny Garcia who have yet to catch a pass. It’s possible this could be a spot where an exceptional freshman could see playing time.

Defensive backs: The Deacs have to replace starting free safety Josh Bush and starting strong safety Cyhl Quarles. Cornerback Kenny Okoro will be a redshirt senior.

ACC's top 10 moments of 2011

January, 12, 2012
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There were plenty of memorable moments in 2011, some amazing individual performances, and numerous records set. It wasn’t easy to narrow the list down to 10, but I gave it my best shot. Feel free to drop me a note in the mailbag with your nominations, and if I get enough good ones, I’ll do a separate post on Friday with your suggestions. These are the top 10 in my book:

1. ACC expansion. It was the morning after Florida State lost to Oklahoma and I was scrambling to wake up and get on a plane home when the ACC announced its decision to add Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the league. It was an historic moment for the conference, and it was a strong, stable move in a time of great uncertainty throughout college football. A lot of things happened this season, but none affected the entire conference like this one.

2. Clemson goes 8-0 for the first time in 11 years. With a 59-38 victory over North Carolina, Clemson started 8-0 for just the fourth time in school history. That week, the Tigers were ranked No. 5 in the country in the BCS standings, and had a legitimate shot at playing for the national title.

3. NC State’s comeback over Maryland. It was the biggest comeback in school history and the second-biggest comeback in the ACC. NC State overcame a 27-point deficit to beat Maryland 56-41 and keep its bowl hopes alive. NC State trailed 41-14 with six minutes left in the third quarter before scoring six consecutive times. The Pack had 35 fourth-quarter points.

[+] EnlargeLuke Kuechly
Evan Habeeb/US PresswireLuke Kuechly of Boston College is one of five players to record 500 career tackles in ACC history.
4. Luke Kuechly wins it all. In a span of eight days, BC’s star linebacker won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award, Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy. He was a consensus All-American for the second consecutive season, and named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. His interception return for a touchdown against Miami helped the Eagles end the season on a winning note, and it was quite the encore performance for the NFL draft-bound Kuechly.

5. David Amerson’s record-setting Belk Bowl. The defensive back's two interceptions in the victory over Louisville broke the ACC’s single-season record and moved him into a tie for second place in FBS history for single-season interceptions with 13. He returned one 65 yards for a touchdown, and the other sealed the win on fourth down at the goal line.

6. Frank Beamer gets win No. 200 at Virginia Tech. A 17-10 victory over East Carolina on Sept. 10 gave Beamer his 200th win as head coach at his alma mater. Only nine other FBS coaches have won that many games at one school.

7. Sammy Watkins’ record-setting season. The true freshman was one of the nation’s most spectacular players, and he finished the season with school records for receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. His reception total was second best in school history, and his 2,288 all-purpose yards were the second best in ACC history. His most memorable performance came against Maryland, when he racked up 345 total yards.

8. Logan Thomas’ game-winning touchdown run against Miami. It was one of the most memorable games of the season, and Thomas provided the highlight. With 56 seconds remaining in the game, Thomas ran 19 yards for a touchdown on fourth-and-1 to help Virginia Tech beat Miami 38-35 on Oct. 8. He scored more touchdowns in that game (three) than he threw incompletions (two).

9. Virginia becomes bowl-eligible for first time since 2007. With a 31-13 win over Maryland on Nov. 5, the Cavaliers exceeded expectations in just the second season under coach Mike London. Virginia was picked to finish fifth in the Coastal Division, but a four-game winning streak proved otherwise.

10. Two BCS bowl teams for first time. Had Virginia Tech or Clemson been able to do anything with these opportunities, this would have been much higher on the list. It almost didn’t make the cut, but you can’t ignore it -- especially considering how shocking Virginia Tech’s selection was and what kind of national news it generated. For better or for worse, most college football fans aren’t going to forget the year the ACC had two BCS bids.

Just missed the cut, in no particular order:

• FSU almost blanks Florida with 21-7 win

• Record crowd at the ACC title game

• Beating Auburn and Ohio State in Week 3

Dwayne Allen wins Mackey Award

• Wake Forest defensive back Merrill Noel tied for national lead in passes defended

• North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard becomes the nation’s leading freshman runner

• Florida State's Shawn Powell leads the nation in punting average

• Wake Forest upsets Florida State

• Georgia Tech’s big day against Kansas

• Maryland’s Labor Day uniforms

Champs Sports Bowl keys

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
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Here are three keys for Florida State against Notre Dame:

1. Find the offense. The O disappeared over the final three games of the regular season, and Florida State hasn’t helped itself on third downs or with penalties. The Seminoles are last in the country with 8.17 penalties per game, costing themselves 69.25 yards per game with a total of 98 penalties this season. Only four teams in the country have more total penalties. The Noles also need to be more successful on third downs. They converted just 2-of-15 against Florida, 3-of-13 against Virginia and 4-of-11 against Miami.

2. Get pressure on quarterback Tommy Rees and cover receiver Michael Floyd. If the defense can get in Rees' face, it will disrupt Floyd’s opportunities. Floyd has 1,106 receiving yards and a school-record 95 catches. FSU’s defense is one of the best in the country, but Notre Dame’s offensive line has been one of the best at protecting its quarterback. The Irish have allowed just 13 sacks all season.

3. Continue to highlight special teams. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and FSU has two of the nation’s best kickers in punter Shawn Powell and kicker Dustin Hopkins. Powell is averaging 47 yards per punt, a figure topped only twice in a season in ACC history. Powell leads the FBS in yards per punt, and the Noles are first in net punting as a team (42.04). Hopkins has 61 field goals and 320 points in his career.

Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. FSU

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
9:00
AM ET
Florida State and Notre Dame entered 2011 with BCS-bowl expectations. They both went 8-4. A meeting between storied programs in a second-tier bowl provides an opportunity for one to finish a subpar season on a high note. The Seminoles are appearing in a bowl game for a 30th consecutive year, the longest active streak in the FBS. (Let's overlook that vacated 2006 Emerald Bowl appearance.) Brian Kelly, meanwhile, is looking to become the first Irish coach to win bowl games in each of his first two seasons. (Let's overlook the gap from 1926-68, during which the Irish had a self-imposed bowl ban.)

WHO TO WATCH: Shawn Powell. Seriously. The FSU punter led the nation in yards per punt (47.0) and is facing an Irish punt return unit that ranked last in the nation (0.3 yards per return). In a game featuring two strong defenses, the battle for field position becomes all the more important, putting the spotlight on the consensus All-American.

WHAT TO WATCH: The Tommy Rees-Andrew Hendrix dynamic. Rees will get the start, his 12th straight. Hendrix will play, though when and how much is anybody's guess. Rees is 12-3 as a starter but was replaced by Hendrix in the regular-season finale at Stanford, and Hendrix's rocket arm and quick feet have Irish fans giddy about their possible quarterback of the future. But Rees' record speaks for itself, and it remains to be seen what Hendrix can do against a defense like FSU's, which ranks sixth nationally.

WHY TO WATCH: This game is easily more recognizable than any of the other bowls that have taken place so far. Florida State and Notre Dame are two of the nation's most storied programs, each looking to put a nice cap on a season that failed to meet expectations. A victory could go a long way in carrying each team into 2012, and there's certainly some history here -- No. 2 Notre Dame upset No. 1 FSU in 1993 in what was then "The Game of the Century," only to see the Seminoles declared national champs when each team ended the season with one loss.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 21, Florida State 13. The Irish's front seven is finally healthy, ready to face a Seminoles offensive line that could feature four true freshmen. Throw in the big-play capability of Michael Floyd and the fact FSU has dealt with some unrest since the regular season ended -- two arrests, one player academically ineligible -- and it adds up to a favorable Thursday for the Irish, who will notch their first nine-win season since 2006.

ESPN.com's ACC all-conference team

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
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Editor’s Note: Tune into the “AT&T ESPN All America Team Show” on Saturday (ABC, 1:30 p.m. ET) to see who ESPN’s writers and experts selected.

ESPN.com is announcing its all-conference teams, and there was only one change here from the all-conference ACC team that the members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association voted on in late November. Offensively, the biggest toss-up was Wake Forest receiver Chris Givens versus UNC’s Dwight Jones, but Givens did more with fewer catches. Defensively, it was difficult. I can understand why Virginia Tech and Florida State coaches and players felt slighted, but in the end, there were better individual performances elsewhere. Here’s a look at ESPN.com’s All-ACC team:


ESPN.com is releasing its preseason all-conference teams today. You’ll notice this one has a few differences in it from what was voted on at ACC’s media days. Here are the ACC players who get my vote:

OFFENSE

WR Conner Vernon, Duke

WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina

TE George Bryan, NC State

T Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech

T Andrew Datko, Florida State

G Brandon Washington, Miami

G Omoregi Uzzie, Georgia Tech

C Dalton Freeman, Clemson

QB Danny O’Brien, Maryland

RB Montel Harris, Boston College

RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech

DEFENSE

DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina

DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State

DT Tydreke Powell, North Carolina

DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

LB Sean Spence, Miami

LB Kenny Tate, Maryland

CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia

CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech

S Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami

S Eddie Whitley, Virginia Tech

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Will Snyderwine, Duke

P Shawn Powell, Florida State

SP Greg Reid, Florida State

2010 ACC All-Bowl team

January, 14, 2011
1/14/11
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Disclaimer: With only four winning teams, this team wasn't easy, but there were plenty of players who had noteworthy performances in their respective bowls. Here is your 2010-11 ACC All-bowl team:

OFFENSE

QB Russell Wilson, NC State: He threw for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in what might have been his final collegiate game. He also ran for 41 yards and earned the Champs Sports Bowl’s MVP award.

RB Da'Rel Scott, Maryland: The MVP of the Military Bowl, Scott rushed for a school bowl-game record 200 yards on 13 carries. His 91-yard TD run in the fourth quarter was the longest in Maryland bowl-game history. It was also the longest Maryland touchdown in seven years and only the eighth 90-plus yard run in ACC history. He also set the school record for yards per carry in the game with 15.4.

RB Chris Thompson, Florida State: He was the Chick-fil-A Bowl's Offensive MVP after he racked up 147 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown run against the SEC's then-top-ranked rushing defense.

WR Jarvis Williams, NC State: His 3-yard touchdown reception with 3:44 remaining sealed the win over West Virginia. He finished with six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.

[+] EnlargeNC State's Russell Wilson
Scott A. Miller/US PRESSWIRERussell Wilson passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns on his way to earning MVP honors at the Champs Sports Bowl.
WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami: Despite the loss to Notre Dame, Hankerson set the school record for receiving yards in a single season (1,155) after totaling 70 yards against the Irish to pass Eddie Brown's mark of 1,114 yards set in 1984.

TE Brandon Ford, Clemson: Despite the loss to South Florida, Ford had four catches for 45 yards, including two touchdown receptions. He became the first player in Clemson history with two touchdown catches in a bowl game.

OL Jake Vermiglio, NC State: He helped the Pack score more points against West Virginia than any other opponent had all year. NC State controlled the clock and had 378 total yards.

OL Paul Pinegar, Maryland: He had three big blocks for the Terps, who rolled up season highs in rushing yards (297) and rushing touchdowns (6), including runs of 61 and 91 yards by Da’Rel Scott. The Terps also did not allow a sack to the Pirates, the 11th time the squad surrendered two or fewer on the season.

OL Rodney Hudson, FSU: He graded out at 86 percent against South Carolina and didn’t have any penalties or missed assignments. He also had two knockdowns.

OL Zebrie Sanders, FSU: He graded out at 88 percent in final game and didn’t have any penalties or missed assignments. He helped neutralize South Carolina’s pass rush.

OL Mike Ingersoll, UNC: He graded out as the team's top offensive lineman and was named one of the offensive players of the game by the coaching staff. Carolina had 180 positive rushing yards against Tennessee.

DEFENSE

DE Brandon Jenkins, FSU: Despite the fact he missed a series-and-a-half, he finished with a team-leading eight tackles, including two TFLs and a sack.

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: On an off-day for Da’Quan Bowers, Branch stepped up and had two sacks. He finished with six tackles.

DT Quinton Coples, UNC: He finished with six tackles, 1.5 sacks, forced a fumble and had two quarterback hurries in the Heels’ win over Tennessee.

DT Donte Paige-Moss, UNC: He had six tackles, 1.5 sacks, forced a fumble and blocked an extra point attempt. The extra point block was key, as Carolina later kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime.

LB Nate Irving, NC State: He had four solo tackles against West Virginia and finished with one 7-yard sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and quarterback pressure and a pass breakup.

LB Quan Sturdivant, UNC: He had a season-high 12 tackles, including two tackles for losses, and made a key interception in overtime against Tennessee in the Music City Bowl. Sturdivant picked off a Tyler Bray pass in the second overtime and Carolina scored on its next possession to win the game.

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College: He no doubt looked the part of an All-America. Kuechly was the defensive MVP of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl with 12 tackles (8 solos), and one interception he returned 31 yards.

DB Greg Reid, FSU: He was named the defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Bowl and was an obvious choice. He finished with five tackles, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles (one that came with his hit that ended Marcus Lattimore’s night on the first series), and he had two punt returns for 53 yards leading to scores.

DB Antwine Perez, Maryland: He made eight tackles, including a game-high seven solo stops and two tackles for loss, as the Terps clamped down on the seventh-ranked passing offense in the nation. Perez had seven or more tackles in each of the last five games of the season.

DB Kendric Burney, UNC: He finished with six tackles and an 11-yard return on an interception.

DB Brandon Bishop, NC State: His fourth interception of the season was a diving interception at the West Virginia 10 in the fourth quarter. He snagged the pass intended for Jock Sanders, and prevented the Mountaineers from cutting the lead to 16-14 with plenty of time left.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Dustin Hopkins, FSU: He nailed all four field-goal attempts against South Carolina (29 yards, 48, 35, 45), and he had four touchbacks.

P Shawn Powell, FSU: He had three punts for an average of 51 yards, and gave the Noles winning field position.

KR Greg Reid, FSU: He had one kick return for 18 yards and two punt returns for the Noles. His two punt returns led to scores.

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