NCF Nation: Ted Stachitas

We’ve already taken a look at the ACC’s Dream Team, which was comprised of the top position groups across the league. Now it’s time to go a little bit deeper and rank every position group for each team. We’ll start with the most difficult position -- the quarterbacks. More than half of the teams in the conference will usher in quarterbacks who are in their first season as a full-time starter, and many of the teams in the ACC are struggling with depth and experience at the position. This is not solely a ranking of the best quarterbacks in the ACC (stay tuned for that, it will look different), so backups are an important part of the equation.

Bottom line: Who's got the depth and talent to make it through a full season -- and win -- if more than one quarterback is needed?

Here’s a look at who’s stocked and who’s not at quarterback this year:

1. Miami: The Hurricanes have a proven albeit embattled option in Jacory Harris, and Stephen Morris also has significant starting experience. Whoever doesn’t win the job will be a more than capable backup. The Canes still need to add depth to the position, but they landed transfer Ryan Williams from Memphis.

2. Boston College: Starter Chase Rettig should be better in his second season as starter, but he’s not the only one on the roster with playing experience. Dave Shinskie has started 13 games, and Mike Marscovetra should be a familiar name to BC fans by now.

3. Duke: It’s possible coach David Cutcliffe could use three quarterbacks this year. He’s got one of the best in the league in starter Sean Renfree, backup Brandon Connette has seen significant playing time, and the emergence of redshirt freshman Anthony Boone this offseason could give the offense yet another option.

4. Wake Forest: Tanner Price is the undisputed starter, but Ted Stachitas had a better spring than coach Jim Grobe had anticipated, and Brendan Cross has always been in the mix to earn some playing time.

5. Florida State: The Seminoles haven’t settled yet on a backup to EJ Manuel, but depth isn’t a problem with both Clint Trickett and Will Secord competing for the No. 2 spot. It’s not like it was last year, though, when there was a Gator Bowl MVP sitting on the bench.

6. North Carolina: Not only is Bryn Renner unproven, so are his backups. Renner clearly distanced himself from the rest of the competition this spring. True freshman Marquise Williams will continue to compete with Braden Hanson and A.J. Blue, who was injured two years ago and redshirted last season, for the No. 2 spot.

7. Virginia Tech: Logan Thomas had an impressive spring and drew rave reviews from those within the program, but the backup situation remains a question. Redshirt freshman Mark Leal really pushed Ju-Ju Clayton for the No. 2 job and that competition will continue this summer.

8. Georgia Tech: It’s Tevin Washington’s job to lose, but Synjyn Days had the better spring game and made the competition a bit more interesting heading into fall camp. True freshmen Vad Lee and Demontevious Smith would have to have stellar performances in camp to make a move, but there’s definitely talent in the wings.

9. Clemson: Tajh Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback even on the roster until the early enrollees, Cole Stoudt and Tony McNeal, joined the team. The good news for Clemson fans is that Cole Stoudt, the son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, had a productive spring and earned the No. 2 job.

10. Virginia: If there’s one problem the Hoos don’t have, it’s depth at the quarterback position. Mike London has yet to name a starter, and all of them lack significant game experience. Ross Metheny, Michael Rocco, Michael Strauss and David Watford all have a shot. Since they’re all preparing as starters now, they should all have a good grasp of the offense if needed.

11. Maryland: First-year coach Randy Edsall had five quarterbacks to work with when he was hired, and now he’s down to two. He’s got one of the best quarterbacks in the league to work with in Danny O'Brien, but he’s got to keep him healthy. C.J. Brown and walk-on Troy Jones are the only other quarterbacks on the roster.

12. NC State: If Mike Glennon gets hurt, the Wolfpack is in trouble. Redshirt freshman Tyler Brosius has a strong arm but no experience, and he’s not ready for prime time yet. The departure of Russell Wilson might not affect the win-loss record, but it definitely hurt the depth.

Checking in with Jim Grobe

April, 14, 2011
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Wake Forest has its spring game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, so I caught up with coach Jim Grobe on Wednesday for an update on the Deacs' spring. Here are the highlights:

CONSISTENCY KEY: It's been a good spring for the defense, which he hasn't held back, and inconsistent for the offense. Grobe said he would like to see the offense close on Saturday with more consistency, particularly from the wide receivers. Grobe said the offense will make a good play and then follow with a busted blocking assignment, dropped pass or bad throw.

NAME YOUR PRICE: Tanner Price is the unquestioned starter, but Grobe said he liked what he saw from Ted Stachitas this spring. Stachitas eased Grobe's concerns about his durability, as he made every practice. Stachitas threw the ball better than Grobe expected he would after two shoulder surgeries on his throwing arm, and also showed he can run with it. Occasionally, Stachitas has to pull the ball down and get out of the pocket because of his size. Grobe said he's not looking for the quarterback situation to change, but option is part of the offense and would suit Stachitas better. Grobe said it wouldn’t be a problem to use Stachitas if he needed a spark for two or three series, but Price is the starter, and there's no doubt about it.

SOLID LINE: Grobe said the offensive line was "solid" this spring, and he liked what he saw from Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Harris, even though Harris missed a few practices with a hamstring injury.

SPEED ON D: One of the things Grobe was most pleased about was the energy on the defense. “That’s what’s been giving our offense problems, just the way the defense has been pursuing the football," Grobe said. "And they’re having fun. Sometimes they’re not going in the right direction, but they’re getting there in a hurry.”

KICKING CONCERNS: Punter/place-kicker Jimmy Newman sat out all spring with an injured hip, leaving the kicking game with an inconsistent walk-on. This is an issue that could extend into late summer for the Deacs. True freshman punter Alexander Kinal from Australia, and true freshman kicker Chad Hedlund from Texas could contribute as soon as they arrive on campus this summer. Grobe was told that rest this spring could be the answer, but there's no timetable for Newman's return.

LOOKING AHEAD: Grobe said he's not going to know what this team is truly capable of until Wake starts playing games. It's still a young group, but the players are all more comfortable with the system. Still, Grobe said he can tell from this spring that the Deacs are going to be a "much, much better football team."
Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price is the Demon Deacons' returning starter, but all five quarterbacks had a chance to make their case on Saturday in the second spring scrimmage. Price, Brendan Cross, Ted Stachitas, Patrick Thompson and redshirt freshman Keenon Rush each had at least one completion of 35 yards or longer in the hour-long scrimmage. Each of the top four quarterbacks either accounted for a scoring drive or drove the team into field goal range.

Offensive highlights:
  • Lovell Jackson scored on a 65-yard swing pass from Cross.
  • Brandon Pendergrass scored on a 12-yard run and led all rushers with 52 yard on four carries, including a 34-yard run.
  • Price drove the Deacons to the 11 and 29 while Stachitas had a drive that ended at the 9. Thompson led Wake to the 1 before a fumble at the goal line.
  • Michael Campanaro led all receivers with six receptions for 77 yards. Jackson had five catches for a team-high 91 yards while Matt James finished the scrimmage with 67 yards on three receptions.
Defensive highlights:
  • Zachary Allen, Riley Haynes and Mike Olson all recorded sacks during the scrimmage.
  • Kris Redding and Gelo Orange each recovered fumbles.
Quotable: “Last season doesn’t cut it,” coach Jim Grobe said of delivering a message to his players. “It’s not like we have a season like we had last year, we can’t all get together at Chuck E. Cheese and hand out trophies. At this level, it just doesn’t happen and our guys have to understand it. If you don’t practice, it’s going to be hard for us to be a good football team. We have to have durable and dependable guys.”

QB play the key for Wake Forest

November, 23, 2010
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Heading into this season, Wake Forest had spent the entire offseason preparing as if quarterbacks Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones would be running their offense, but injuries to those players early changed the game plan -- and the entire season.

[+] EnlargeTanner Price
Sean Meyers/Icon SMITanner Price has rewritten the record book for Wake Forest freshman QBs this season.
“A lot of the spring preparation and August preparation to be a gun-option team kind of went out the window," said coach Jim Grobe, "and we ended up scrambling from about the third game of the season on.”

Enter true freshman quarterback Tanner Price.

Price has started six of the past seven games, starting with the Sept. 18 game at Stanford. He’s one of three true freshmen to start for the Deacs this year, the most under Grobe. It’s been an up-and-down season for Price, but one that Grobe is convinced can be built upon heading into the future.

Price set almost every school single-game passing record in his first home start on Oct. 9 against Navy. He completed 37 of 53 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. It was the best performance by a true freshman quarterback in Wake Forest history. He now has seven touchdown passes, breaking the previous mark for true freshmen of three set by Anthony Young in 2000.

His 151 passing yards against Clemson brought his season total to 1,276 yards, breaking the previous record of 1,070 held by David Webber. Price also eclipsed Webber’s record for most completions by a true freshman (101) with 127.

Grobe said he is expecting even better things from Price next year and should have a reliable backup with Jones still in the mix.

“Honestly, I feel great about the progress we’ve made with Tanner,” Grobe said. “It’s not showing in wins right now, but I thought against a really tough, physical Clemson defense this past weekend, Tanner really grew up. … Going forward, you’re talking about a kid in Tanner that didn’t have the benefit of spring practice, and being a true freshman, he’s going to improve physically here in the offseason. I couldn’t be happier to be honest with you with Tanner Price’s development.”

Did you miss the Tanner Price show?

September, 11, 2010
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Wake Forest has its quarterback of the future.

Ted Stachitas started the game against Duke, but true freshman Tanner Price finished it off, and he did it in impressive fashion, leading the Deacs to a 54-48 win against the Blue Devils. It was the 11th straight win against Duke for the Deacs.

True freshmen are rare sightings under coach Jim Grobe, who strongly believes in redshirting players unless they're just too good to keep off the field -- or he doesn't have much of a choice. It's probably a little bit of both in Price's situation. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for another against Duke, completing 12 of 19 passes for 190 yards.

Of course, Duke's defense deserves some credit there, but it was definitely a performance he can build on.

ACC starts 2-0

September, 2, 2010
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Instead of Maryland, it was Minnesota tangling with Middle Tennessee.

Instead of Florida State struggling with Jacksonville State, it was Rutgers being baffled by Norfolk State.

The ACC? It took care of business. Finally.

Wake Forest clobbered Presbyterian 53-13 and Miami beat Florida A&M 45-0.

Yes, there are still plenty of games left to be played in Week 1, and yes, Florida A&M and Presbyterian were unheralded opponents Miami and Wake Forest were expected to beat, but things don't always go as expected in the ACC (See: William & Mary, Richmond). Both Miami and Wake Forest won convincingly, building enough of a cushion for the Deacs to play every quarterback on their roster and for Miami fans to catch a Seantrel Henderson sighting.

Of course, the real tests are yet to come, but for Miami, the Canes took an important step by not overlooking the Rattlers and ahead to Ohio State. Now they can focus all of their attention on what will be the biggest game of the season in the ACC's nonconference schedule -- and they can do it with a bit of momentum and confidence from a complete performance in their opener. Quarterback Jacory Harris threw three touchdowns and no interceptions.

For Wake Forest, it was a chance for new quarterbacks (all of them) to get the jitters out before facing Duke in a game that will play a huge role in determining the Deacons' bowl status. In two quarters, Ted Stachitas had 160 total yards in his first start. He was 7-of-13 for 84 passing yards and rushed for 76 more, including a 34-yard touchdown.

We'll find out a lot more about both of these teams as the competition increases, and those games will mean even more without Week 1 let-downs.

ACC predictions: Week 1

September, 2, 2010
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Thank you, Wake Forest and Miami, for ushering in the season early. The ACC begins the 2010 season tonight and the action continues through Monday with two games on Labor Day. Here are your first official predictions of the season (and yes, there’s a bit of competition, not to mention anyone’s Chris Low name.) Here's to a season of winning predictions:

Wake Forest 41, Presbyterian 6: New quarterback or not, this isn’t a win the Deacs should fumble away. Presbyterian was 0-11 last year. This should be a good initiation and confidence builder for Ted Stachitas.

Miami 38, Florida A&M 3: The Canes racked up 303 total yards in the first half alone last year in a 48-16 win against the Rattlers, and Damien Berry rushed for 162 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown run. The defense had 11 sacks. A similar outcome is likely.

Florida State 56, Samford 6: Expect Jimbo Fisher to win convincingly and leave no doubt about the tone he plans to set for the season. Samford returns 15 starters from last year’s 5-6 team, including the school’s all-time leading rusher in Chris Evans (3,469).

Boston College 31, Weber State 14: It might not be pretty, but it will help BC figure out just how much trouble they’re in on the defensive line and at wide receiver. It’s one of four straight home games to open the season for the Eagles.

Georgia Tech 51, South Carolina State 10: Yes, the Bulldogs are two-time MEAC champs, but they’re not going to be able to stop Paul Johnson’s offense. S.C. State has a quarterback to be respected in Malcolm Long, who set several school records last year, but he won’t be able to match the production of Joshua Nesbitt and Co.

Clemson 52, North Texas 10: The Tigers are defending Atlantic Division champs, and they should look like it against the Mean Green. Still, North Texas has amassed more than 4,000 yards of total offense in back-to-back years.

NC State 38, Western Carolina 17: As Tom O’Brien said, any opponent with “Carolina” in it should be taken seriously by his team, but the Wolfpack should come out on top as Western Carolina finished 2-9 last year.

Virginia 28, Richmond 24: Mike London is almost too familiar with his alma mater and former team, and that should keep things interesting. The first step in changing the program will be to avoid a repeat of last year’s loss to an FCS team.

Duke 31, Elon 20: Elon has a fifth-year senior at quarterback while the Blue Devils will play their first game with Sean Renfree as the new starter, so a blowout shouldn’t be expected. Quarterback Scott Riddle threw for 3,345 yards and 23 touchdowns last season and had only seven passes intercepted in 439 attempts. Elon will keep it close throughout before Duke takes charge later in the second half.

LSU 38, North Carolina 14: The suspension of Marvin Austin and the uncertainty with the depth chart in the weeks preceding the game will be too much to overcome. And that’s only on the Tar Heels’ sideline. They also have to worry about cornerback Patrick Peterson, who could make it a long day for T.J. Yates.

Navy 21, Maryland 20: The Terps are desperate to win this one, their tight ends are injured, and Navy returns five of its top six rushers from last year’s 10-4 team. It will take more than just linebacker Alex Wujciak to stop Ricky Dobbs and the triple option.

Virginia Tech 28, Boise State 17: It wouldn’t surprise me if the Hokies ran the ball 60 times, and there won’t be any aerial circus against Bud Foster’s defense. Expect a typical Virginia Tech performance that includes something like a blocked punt for a touchdown.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 1

September, 2, 2010
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There’s plenty on tap this weekend in the ACC, starting Thursday night with Miami and Wake Forest. Here are 10 things worth keeping an eye on in Week 1:

1. North Carolina’s revamped starting lineup: So far, we know standout defensive tackle Marvin Austin has been suspended, and more announcements are expected by the time the team boards the bus at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. Every time UNC makes a statement, the Tar Heels situation only seems to get worse.

2. Comeback kids: NC State linebacker Nate Irving is listed as the starter at middle linebacker against Western Carolina after sustaining serious season-ending injuries last summer. Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich is likely to play against Weber State after recovering from Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer and then suffering a broken foot this summer, and Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans is back to full speed after missing 2008 with a torn ACL. Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott, another 1,000-yard rusher, is also healthy after missing six games with injuries last year.

3. First-year coaches: It’s starting to become a trend in the ACC. This year, the Jimbo Fisher era has begun at Florida State and Mike London is looking to turn around a struggling Virginia program. Both coaches will be facing programs they once coached and attended.

4. First-year quarterbacks: At Duke, Sean Renfree takes over for one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in school history, and Ted Stachitas is going through the same thing at Wake Forest, where he will replace the winningest quarterback in school history. Jamarr Robinson enters his first full season as a starter at Maryland, and Marc Verica takes over at Virginia.

5. Boise State’s rushing defense vs. Virginia Tech’s dynamic duo. The Broncos were ranked No. 28 in the country last year in rushing defense (120.36 yards per game), but struggled against some of the country’s better runners. Darren Evans and Ryan Williams have each had 1,000-yard seasons, and David Wilson could give Boise State additional concerns.

6. Miami’s running back rotation. The Canes have Damien Berry and Mike James listed as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, but Lamar Miller also had an impressive camp, and if the conditions are right, coach Randy Shannon said he’d like to get Graig Cooper in the game.

7. NC State running back Dean Haynes. He has only recently switched to offense, and now he’s listed as the starter for the Western Carolina game. Tom O’Brien wouldn’t have promoted him to the top of the depth chart had Haynes not impressed him, but not even O’Brien knows what to expect.

8. Georgia Tech’s new 3-4 defense: The Yellow Jackets have been working on first-year coordinator Al Groh’s scheme all summer, and this will be the only chance for players to get comfortable in it before back-to-back road trips at Kansas and Coastal Division opponent UNC.

9. Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor. He’s expected to fill in for injured starter Barquell Rivers, and while there has been a lot of praise heaped upon Taylor this summer, ESPN’s Scouts Inc. says Rivers is “by far the unit’s best returning starter,” and that having Rivers sidelined will be “a major blow” to the defense.

10. UNC’s offensive line vs. LSU’s defensive line. The Tar Heels return more experience up front, and both of the Tigers’ defensive ends are first-year starters. T.J. Yates, who threw 15 interceptions a year ago, will need time and protection in order to avoid being pressured into mistakes against LSU’s fast, talented secondary.

ACC season predictions

August, 30, 2010
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The wait is over. Week 1 of the 2010 season is officially here, and so are the conference predictions. Here’s a look at how this season might unfold for the ACC:

Coastal Division winner: Miami

The Canes have all of the pieces in place to win their first division title since joining the ACC. They’ve got experience and depth in all of the right places, and have finally been under the direction of the same coordinators for two years.

Atlantic Division winner: Florida State

Jimbo Fisher has the advantage of starting his career in the weaker of the two divisions, and offensively, nobody else compares in the Atlantic Division. The Noles have a veteran offensive line and one of the league’s top quarterbacks. Defensively, FSU can only get better.

ACC champion: Loser of the regular-season matchup

Revenge is sweet, and the loser of the Oct. 9 rivalry game in Miami will get it. Final word? FSU redeems itself from last year’s loss to the Canes during the regular season, but Miami wins it all in December.

Offensive MVP: Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder

He could be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, and he’s got plenty of surrounding talent to work with.
Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams is also a legitimate candidate here, but he won’t get enough carries with Darren Evans joining him in the backfield this season.

Defensive MVP: Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel

He had eight interceptions for 128 yards and 102 tackles. The interception total was tied for third in the nation and he was the only player in college football last season with at least eight interceptions and at least 100 tackles. He was the first player in Clemson history to do both in the same season. He also had two sacks and a total of five tackles for loss.


Surprise team: Maryland

The Terps have enough talent to rebound from their abysmal 2-10 season – particularly at running back and wide receiver, but they’ll have to improve up front on both sides and will be under the direction of first-year starting quarterback Jamarr Robinson.

Team most likely to disappoint: North Carolina

(If it hasn’t already.) After back-to-back eight-win seasons that ended with losses to Big East teams in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, expectations have risen for Butch Davis in his fourth season. He has one of the best defenses in the country, a Top 25 team, and experience on offense. But the program has also been clouded by an NCAA investigation into possible improper contact with agents, and the university is investigating possible academic misconduct.

Surprise player: Wake Forest quarterback Ted Stachitas

He’s tasked with replacing the winningest quarterback in school history, but he was recruited for this offense and will find a way to move the chains.

Newcomer of the Year: Miami junior college transfer Chase Ford

He has already drawn comparisons to Jeremy Shockey, and is expected to contribute immediately. He led the Southwest Junior College Football Conference with 32 receptions and 545 receiving yards. He was the league's MVP at Kilgore Junior College.

Freshman of the Year: FSU cornerback Lamarcus Joyner

The USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year is a bigger version of Greg Reid and might contribute as a kickoff returner as well. ESPN Recruiting services ranked him the No. 1 cornerback in his class and the No. 6 prospect overall. He could also see some snaps on offense.

Coach of the Year: Duke coach David Cutcliffe

Last season’s 5-7 record was the best the program has seen since 1994. If Cutcliffe is able to take the next step and win six games, it will be the Blue Devils’ first bowl appearance since 1994. Cutcliffe has already made a case for his award.

Can’t-miss game: Virginia Tech at Miami, Nov. 20

These are the ACC’s two highest-ranked teams heading into the season, and it’s likely this matchup could determine the Coastal Division winner. The series is even the past two years.
Wake Forest senior center Russell Nenon had a decision to make this offseason -- either get an internship and go to work or continue his football training.

“It was kind of a no-brainer,” said Nenon, who has been in Franklin, Tenn., training at D1 Sports Training for five weeks. “I just wanted a challenge. We had some misfortunes last fall, so I have to make sure I do my best to not sit at home for Christmas.

[+] EnlargeRussell Nenon
Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMIWith the turnover on the offensive line, Wake Forest will be leaning on Russell Nenon's leadership.
“I think I was asked about 500 times how my season went when I was home for Christmas,” he said. “I don’t really like explaining why I’m not at a bowl game.”

Nenon is tired of sitting out. He missed this spring while recovering from January surgery on his torn left labrum. Part of the reason he chose extra training this summer was to help gain the strength back in his shoulder. Nenon has been working with a few free agents from the Titans, and a few players from Tennessee. Nenon’s health, his leadership and his contributions up front will be invaluable to an offense in transition.

Not only did the Demon Deacons graduate six offensive linemen, but they are also ushering in a new quarterback. Wake Forest must replace three starters who combined for 104 starts up front, leaving Nenon and guard Joe Looney as the veterans of the group.

“We’re really close, we work really hard,” Nenon said. “We’re going to try our hardest to be a strong point of our offense. Joe Looney is a great guy, a great player. Doug Weaver has improved a lot since he was younger. Steven Chase (former defensive tackle) came over this spring, he had a great spring. Dennis Godfrey had a great spring. They know they have a lot to learn, and Joe and I are going to try to make it as calm as an atmosphere as possible. We’re going to work hard and hopefully be ready for Presbyterian come the first game.”

Nenon said he’s confident in all three of Wake’s quarterback candidates.

“Being a spectator this spring, I kind of got a different view,” he said. “My confidence level with Skylar [Jones], Ted [Stachitas] and Brendan [Cross] is very high. I’m not worried about them. I’ve seen them play on the practice field all the time. I have no worries with them. As soon as they get that first snap, they’ll remember it’s just football. As far as the offense, it’s definitely different from having Riley [Skinner] back there, but I’m excited. It’s something different we’re bringing to the table. I know coach [Steed] Lobotzke is giving us the best chance to win, so hopefully we can turn things around this fall.”

Nenon is doing his part this summer.

Famous fathers in the ACC

June, 18, 2010
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On Monday, NC State quarterback Russell Wilson buried his father. Our thoughts and prayers are with him this weekend as our fathers are celebrated. Wilson’s father, Harrison, died on Friday after a long illness, but at his funeral, his son remembered fondly what an impact he had on his athletic career. Russell’s father played football at Dartmouth and then made it to the last cut for the San Diego Chargers AFTER completing his law degree.

According to school spokesman Annabelle Myers, Russell and his brother spoke at the funeral and told countless stories about their dad waking them to throw baseballs to them, and how the three of them would go out and one would play quarterback, one would play wide receiver, and one would play running back.

These are the moments and memories our dads deserve a big thanks for this weekend. In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a look at some of the ACC’s ‘Famous Fathers,’ and the players who share their legacies. Thanks to the sports information directors in the league and Mike Finn in the Greensboro office for making this post possible:

BOSTON COLLEGE
  • Redshirt freshman defensive end Max Holloway’s father (Brian) played 10 seasons in the NFL (with Patriots and Raiders). His maternal grandfather, Johnny McKenzie, played 19 seasons in the NHL, winning two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins.
  • Junior wide receiver Chris Fox’s father (Tim) was an All-American at Ohio State under Woody Hayes and played 10 years in the NFL (with the Patriots, Chargers and Rams).
  • Redshirt freshman wide receiver Hampton Hughes’ father played for six years for the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Junior linebacker Mike Morrissey’s father (Jim) played nine seasons in the NFL for Chicago and Green Bay.
CLEMSON
  • QB Mike Wade, LB Chris Richardson and Landon Walker: Their fathers, Mike Wade Sr., Chuckie Richardson and Gary Walker, played on the national championship team in 1981.
DUKE
  • Kicker Paul Asack’s father Phil Asack was a 1971 Duke graduate who lettered for three seasons before joining the San Diego Chargers.
  • Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Conor Irwin’s father Tim Irwin played football at the University of Tennessee and in the NFL from 1981-94 with the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins. As an aside, his uncle, King Irwin, played football at Georgia Tech.
  • Wide receiver Matt Pridemore’s father Tom Pridemore played at West Virginia and for the Atlanta Falcons.
  • Receiver Brandon Braxton’s father David Braxton played for the Minnesota Vikings, Phoenix Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals.
FLORIDA STATE
  • QB Christian Ponder's father, David, was a defensive lineman at FSU from 1980-83.
  • Redshirt freshman defensive end Dan Hicks’ father is former FSU standout and NFL veteran Dan Footman.
  • Incoming freshman linebacker Christian Jones’ father, Willie Jones Sr., was a standout defensive end for the Seminoles (1975-78) and a second-round draft choice of the Oakland Raiders in 1980 and returned to FSU as a graduate assistant football coach in 1988.
  • Quarterback Clint Trickett, who enrolled as a freshman in January and took part in spring practice, is the son of FSU assistant head coach/offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Travis Trickett, another son who has been a videographer in the FSU football program, will be the graduate assistant on offense this season.
GEORGIA TECH
  • Junior safety Cooper Taylor’s father, JimBob Taylor, played quarterback at Tech.
  • Senior wide receiver Kevin Cone’s dad, Ronnie, played running back at Tech.
  • Senior running back Lucas Cox’s brother, Michael, was a three-year starter at fullback for Tech and now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
MARYLAND
  • Defensive lineman Joe Vellano’s father, Paul, played for Maryland (1971-73). He was an All-American defensive lineman in 1972 and All-ACC in 1972-73.
  • Defensive back Austin Walker and defensive lineman Alex Walker are the sons of Doc Walker, who starred at UCLA from 1974-77 before being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. He also started at tight end from 1980-85 for the Washington Redskins, playing for the 1982 Super Bowl championship team. Their father is currently a local sports-talk radio host for Sportstalk 980 and also covers ACC football for Raycom television.
  • Running back Davin Meggett’s father, Dave, played in the NFL for three different teams -- the New York Giants (1989-1994), the New England Patriots (1995-1997) and the New York Jets (1998).
MIAMI
  • Backup quarterback A.J. Highsmith’s father, Alonzo Highsmith, and running back Damien Berry’s father, Kenny Berry, played for Miami. Highsmith played at Miami from 1983-86 and in the NFL for seven years. Berry was at Miami from 1987-89.
  • Backup quarterback Spencer Whipple is the son of assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple.
NORTH CAROLINA
  • Punter C.J. Feagles’s father, Jeff, is currently the New York Giants punter and has played 21 seasons in the NFL.
  • Backup quarterback Bryn Renner’s father, Bill, was a punter at Virginia Tech and for the Green Bay Packers.
  • Offensive tackle Brennan Williams’ father, Brent, played in the NFL from 1986-93 with the Patriots, Seahawks and Jets.
  • Linebacker Shane Mularkey’s father, Mike, is the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
NC STATE
  • R.J. Mattes' father, Ron, played at Virginia, where as a senior in 1984 he was an all-ACC defensive tackle for George Welsh. He also played offensive tackle in the NFL for the Seahawks, the Bears and the Colts. He is now coaching at Virginia as offensive line coach.
VIRGINIA
  • Wide receiver Jared Green is the son of Darrell Green, who was a standout cornerback for the Washington Redskins and a 2008 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jared gave his father’s induction speech at the ceremony.
  • Cornerback Chase Minnifield is the son of Frank Minnifield, a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, playing from 1984-92.
VIRGINIA TECH
  • Zac Evans is the son of George Evans, who was a starter on the Hokies’ offensive line and lettered from 1979-82.
  • Kenny Lewis, Jr., is the son of Kenny Lewis, Sr., a standout running back for the Hokies who is enshrined in the Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Beau Warren’s father, Donnie Warren, played 14 years in the NFL for the Washington Redskins.
  • Freshman linebacker Chase Williams, who entered school in January, is the son of Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.
  • Linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow is the son of Kurt Gouveia, who was also a starter for the Redskins.
  • Wiley Brown’s father, Chuck Brown was deemed the Godfather of GoGo music.
WAKE FOREST
  • Quarterback Brendan Cross is the son of former 49ers center Randy Cross.
  • Linebacker Joey Ehrmann is the son of Joe Ehrmann, who played for the Colts and Lions.
  • Center Chance Raines’ father, Mike, was an All-American at Alabama under Bear Bryant.
  • Quarterback Ted Stachitas’ father, Len, is vice president of the National Football Foundation and the executive director of the NFF’s Play It Smart Program, a highly successful youth development program.
Now that spring is over and teams throughout the ACC have learned a little bit more about themselves, it’s time to re-evaluate the conference hierarchy heading into summer camp. The very top stayed the same as the pre-spring rankings, as did the bottom of the barrel, but there were some tweaks in between. Here’s a look at how the ACC shakes out heading into summer camp:

1. Virginia Tech: The Hokies were encouraged by the rookie performances on defense this spring, but coach Frank Beamer has said he’s still looking for the young players to get stronger this offseason and spend some significant time in the film room. Offensively, the Hokies will be as good as the revamped offensive line, and that’s still a work in progress.

2. Florida State: What separates the Seminoles right now is the fact they only have to replace one starter on offense, and veteran quarterback Christian Ponder will be protected by one of the best lines in the country. The defense is better suited for the personnel under coordinator Mark Stoops, but overall remains a question.

3. Miami: The Hurricanes’ depth at running back should make the offense more productive in the second year under coordinator Mark Whipple. The Canes’ defensive line was also a highlight of the spring under first-year assistant Rick Petri, but they need to replace three starters up front offensively.

4. Clemson: Defense was the strength this spring, but running backs Andre Ellington and James Harper should ease the loss of C.J. Spiller. With four starters returning, the offensive line should improve. The key to Clemson’s run at a second straight Atlantic Division title will be the return of quarterback Kyle Parker to football instead of baseball.

5. Georgia Tech: Yes, they’re the defending ACC champs, but the Jackets were hurt the most by the NFL draft and are making the biggest transition defensively. There were positive reviews about the addition and style of coordinator Al Groh, and if the Jackets can replace three starters on the offensive line, they’ve got the skill players to defend their title.

6. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have an NFL-caliber defense, but this spring revealed little about how much progress they made offensively. Quarterback play remains a concern, as Butch Davis must choose between inexperience and inconsistency.

7. Boston College: The quarterback competition continues, and nobody is sure just how effective linebacker Mark Herzlich will be upon his return. The Eagles do have one of the better offensive lines, though, and a schedule conducive to another appearance in the ACC title game.

8. Maryland: Coach Ralph Friedgen was pleased with his spring practices, specifically the progress of the offensive line, which will be critical to Maryland's comeback this fall. The Terps have settled on quarterback Jamarr Robinson as their starter and have plenty of talent at running back and receiver to help him.

9. Wake Forest: Skylar Jones finished the spring atop the depth chart, but his main competitors -- Ted Stachitas and Brendan Cross -- were both injured. The Deacs will reveal a more run-based, option offense under their new quarterback. The interior defensive line remains a concern.

10. NC State: Coach Tom O’Brien just can’t seem to get through an offseason without a setback. The misdemeanor charges against four of his players -- including two starters from 2009 -- revealed poor decision-making from veterans.

11. Duke: Quarterback Sean Renfree is expected to be fully recovered from his torn ACL and be the starter this fall, but the Blue Devils’ running game is still in need of an upgrade and the defensive line remains a question.

12. Virginia: It’s still too early for first-year coach Mike London to put his stamp on the program, as he needs more recruiting classes to do that. This will be a transition year with a new staff, new philosophies and possibly a new quarterback.

Going green in the ACC

March, 17, 2010
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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, ACC fans. Being that I’ve got a quarter Irish in me, I couldn’t let the holiday go by without acknowledging it. Besides, there’s an Irishman in this conference who could use a little luck in 2010. Thanks in large part to injuries, NC State coach Tom O’Brien has been one of the unluckiest guys in the conference since he came to Raleigh, and he’s got two of the greenest position groups this spring. (Did you know that in 2005, O’Brien received the John F. Kennedy National Award, given to “an outstanding American of Irish descent for distinguished service to God and country?”)

Since it’s a good day to be green, here’s a look at the ACC’s youngest and most inexperienced groups throughout the conference:

1. NC State’s defensive line: The Pack have to replace all four starters up front, including two of the top five tacklers from a year ago, Willie Young and Alan Michael Cash.

2. NC State’s running backs: For the first time since 2005, the Pack don’t have any tailbacks with starting experience.

3. FSU’s secondary: Aside from Ochuko Jenije, none of the defensive backs have played more than one season.

4. Miami tight ends: There are only two participating in spring practice, and one is a redshirt freshman. The Canes signed four in this recruiting class, but none were early enrollees.

5. Wake Forest quarterbacks: The Deacs will replace the winningest quarterback in school history with somebody who has never had any starting experience. Ted Stachitas is the veteran of the group, with one series against Elon.

QB uncertainty looms in the ACC

February, 15, 2010
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At Duke, former scout team quarterback Sean Schroeder has been reciting the names of plays so he can spit them out a little easier in the huddle as the No. 1 signal-caller this spring. At Wake Forest, coach Jim Grobe would like nothing more than to say he feels good about his quarterbacks, but he hasn’t seen any of them play significant game time yet. And at NC State, backup Mike Glennon plans on working to unseat his friend and teammate Russell Wilson as the starter this spring.

[+] EnlargeMike Glennon
AP Photo/Gerry Broome Mike Glennon will get extra reps under center this spring while incumbent starter Russell Wilson plays baseball.
Bring on the competition in the ACC.

All across the conference, uncertainty looms at quarterback heading into spring practices. The biggest transitions will occur at Duke and Wake Forest, where two of the ACC’s most accomplished quarterbacks -- Thaddeus Lewis and Riley Skinner -- have graduated. Virginia is also starting from scratch to replace Jameel Sewell, and nobody on the roster but Marc Verica has experience. Maryland's Jamarr Robinson has two starts ahead of the competition. Some schools, like North Carolina and Boston College, have experienced starters returning, but have welcomed an audition from the backups. At NC State and Clemson, the position’s future depends on whether or not starters Kyle Parker and Wilson decide to pursue their baseball careers.

“My goal is to prepare to be the starter, regardless of what decision [Wilson] makes, whenever he has to make a decision,” Glennon said. “… Once spring comes around, I’ll be getting all of those extra reps I wouldn’t have been given if he was there. Every ball I throw is really an advantage to me.”

Florida State is the only school in the Atlantic Division without any questions about who the starter is, as Christian Ponder will return from a shoulder injury and has the potential to factor into the Heisman race. The Coastal Division is a little more secure, with Georgia Tech’s Josh Nesbitt, Miami’s Jacory Harris, and Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor all established and on the brink of their best seasons yet. Whether or not that gives them an edge in the conference race will depend upon how quickly the league’s rookies can catch up.

“It’s always difficult to replace a guy who had the ability [Lewis] had,” said Duke offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper. “He’s obviously very, very talented, and then the experience factor. You don’t have a four-year starter very often ever at many positions, especially at quarterback.”

Boston College is in a much better position than it was this time a year ago, as the staff had no idea who its quarterback would be until 25-year-old Dave Shinskie arrived on campus. Shinskie is the front-runner heading into the spring, but Mike Marscovetra and two true freshmen -- Chase Rettig and Josh Bordner -- are on campus and will be given a chance.

“I think there should always be competition,” said offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Gary Tranquill. “It’s Shinskie’s job, and if they can unseat him, then they can unseat him.”

Duke’s quarterback depth took a hit after Lewis graduated and his backup, Sean Renfree, tore his ACL. Renfree is expected to be the Blue Devils’ starter this fall, but he will miss all of spring drills while he recovers.

Next man up? Schroeder.

“I’m expecting to really get a hold of the offense,” he said. “I’ve got a year under my belt as a redshirt freshman. That helped a lot. I’m looking to grow from that and master the offense and different schemes we have.”

Wake Forest has to replace the winningest quarterback in school history in Skinner. Truth is, there really is no front-runner. Not when the most experienced player, Ted Stachitas, has one series against Elon to fall back on.

“It is legitimately wide open,” said quarterbacks coach Tom Elrod.

The contenders include Skylar Jones, who was moved to wide receiver last year; Stachitas, who has had two shoulder surgeries on his right shoulder but said he feels almost 100 percent; Brendan Cross; walk-on Turner Faulk; and true freshman Tanner Price.

“I can’t tell you that I’m very confident, just because we haven’t seen the guys in live fire,” Grobe said. “I don’t know that we’ll feel good about them until they get a real game under their belt. I like what we’ve got – I like the kids who are playing quarterback for us, but even in practice and the scrimmages, it’s just really hard to tell who the guys are until they get out in games that really mean something.”

The one thing Grobe can take some solace in? He’s hardly alone this spring in the ACC.

What to watch in the ACC this spring

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
10:00
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Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program heading into the spring:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring practice starts: March 18

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• How linebacker Mark Herzlich progresses. Herzlich, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer last May, has been going through winter conditioning with his teammates, and he plans on participating in spring drills. How quickly he regains his form will be worth watching, as he and sophomore Luke Kuechly could give the Eagles one of the most formidable linebacking corps.

• The quarterback battle. After one season, Dave Shinskie has the most experience on the roster, but he’ll get some competition from Josh Bordner and Chase Rettig, two early enrollees. There were times last season when Shinskie looked like the future of the position and there were others when he looked like any other freshman.

• Defensive linemen. For the second straight year, BC is looking for some stability up front. The Eagles have to replace left tackle Austin Giles and defensive end Jim Ramella. They return Kaleb Ramsey, Giles’ backup, and Brad Newman, Ramella’s reserve, but some young faces are likely to be seen in the rotation.

CLEMSON

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Life without C.J. Spiller officially begins. The backs behind him had a pretty good year, so there’s no need for full panic mode. Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington actually combined for a higher yards per carry average (6.1 to 5.6 yards). Clemson will also be looking to replace Spiller’s lost kickoff return yardage. The Tigers had a 13-yard advantage in average starting field position, as their start was their own 37-yard line compared to opponents’ 24-yard line. Ellington is a candidate in the return game.

• Kyle Parker’s batting average. No, really. How well Parker does this spring with the baseball team will help determine whether he remains Clemson’s quarterback or turns to the MLB draft. He didn’t have a great 2009 season, but he was still the fastest player to 25 home runs in school history. It remains to be seen this spring if he’ll become a high enough draft choice to give up college football.

• Secondary shuffling. It seems like eons ago since Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor weren’t the Tigers’ starting corners, as Butler started 40 straight games and Chancellor started 42. Butler finished his career second in school history in interception return yards. Now it’s time for a new duo. Will Marcus Gilchrist move to corner, which he’s capable of doing? Might Rashard Hall move to safety with DeAndre McDaniel?

DUKE

Spring practice starts: Feb. 14

Spring game: March 27

What to watch:

• Quarterback competition. Somebody has to take over for the graduated Thaddeus Lewis, but his backup – Sean Renfree – will miss the spring with a torn ACL. Redshirt freshman Sean Schroeder should be heavily in the mix to be the starter, pending Renfree’s recovery.

• Defensive line makeover. It’s wide open. Charlie Hatcher is entrenched at nose guard, but it’s really anyone’s game. The staff might move redshirt senior Wesley Oglesby, who played the majority of his career at defensive end, inside. Other options are defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento, a redshirt freshman, and Curtis Hazelton, who played sparingly last season.

• Johnny Williams’ move from wide receiver to cornerback. He had 31 catches in 2009 – the fourth-best on the team. Now they need his help in the defensive backfield. Duke will lose starter Leon Wright and his 10 career interceptions, and the pass defense, which allowed 215.75 yards per game, could use a boost.

FLORIDA STATE

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Christian Ponder’s return from shoulder surgery. Ponder is expected to practice this spring, though it could be on a limited basis, at least early. He’s ahead of schedule, but the coaches won’t subject him to any risks now. Yes, E.J. Manuel is talented and played well at the end of the season, but make no mistake – Ponder is FSU’s starter and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.

• The defense under first-year coordinator Mark Stoops. His secondary, in particular, will be interesting to watch, as will how quickly he can help the front seven generate a pass rush and plug the middle. Stoops has been a secondary coach, and the Noles lost three starters there. The fourth, Ochuko Jenije, could be pushed to retain his job.

• New faces, new opportunities. In addition to the fab freshmen who are coming in, FSU has a handful of unfamiliar players already on the roster who played sparingly or not at all. We'll see how they fit in this spring. RS-So DT Anthony McCloud and RS-So RB Debrale Smiley are both junior college transfers and former teammates. Physically, freshman linebacker Jeff Luc is already a man, but how quickly can he mature on the field? Two young wide receivers worth watching are Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead.

GEORGIA TECH

Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• The defensive transformation. The Jackets will switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 under first-year coordinator Al Groh. In addition to learning the new scheme, the staff has to figure out who goes where. Linebackers might play defensive end and vice versa, safeties might play outside linebacker. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this team lines up in the spring.

• The replacements. From Georgia Tech’s coaching staff to the new faces who will be tasked with filling in for the Fab Four -- Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett and Demaryius Thomas -- the Jackets will need some “Hello My Name Is” tags this spring.

• The offensive line. Three offensive linemen redshirted who could start, and Georgia Tech might need them to, especially if guard Joseph Gilbert decides to transfer to pursue his MBA. The Jackets lose two starters on the offensive line, and Gilbert, who graduates this spring, would be a third if he leaves. Center Sean Bedford and tackle Austin Barrick return as seniors.

MARYLAND

Spring practice starts: March 23

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• The quarterback competition. Chris Turner has graduated, leaving Jamarr Robinson the top option going into the spring, but he has limited experience. The staff liked what he did when Turner was injured, but Danny O’Brien, Miami (Ohio) transfer Clay Belton and C.J. Brown will all be given an opportunity. Look for O’Brien to start the spring at No. 2 on the depth chart.

• Cornerback: Cameron Chism is the only returning starter in the secondary, but right now the staff has fewer concerns about the safeties. Maryland will have to find some bodies at corner, and Dexter McDougle, who redshirted as a true freshman last year, is one option. Michael Carter and Trenton Hughes, who was the third corner last year, are also among a handful of candidates.

• The offensive line. Losing Bruce Campbell to the NFL hurt, but the Terps also lost starter Phil Costa. Justin Gilbert, a redshirt sophomore, could inherit Campbell’s job. And there’s always Mr. Versatility -- Paul Pinegar. He has helped the Terps at both tackle spots and left guard, and this spring he’ll likely be given a shot at center.

MIAMI

Spring practice starts: Feb. 23

Spring game: March 27 (tentative)

What to watch:

• Tight end/offensive line: Jimmy Graham is gone, and the Canes don’t return any tight ends with any experience other than Richard Gordon, who was injured the majority of last season. Miami signed four tight ends in this recruiting class, but none of them were early enrollees. Miami has to replace three starters up front, including both tackles and the center.

• How the two young quarterbacks perform: The health of Jacory Harris was precious last year, as he had nobody behind him with any experience after the transfers of Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith. The depth has improved a bit with A.J. Highsmith, who played sparingly last year, and Stephen Morris, one of the early enrollees.

• Upgrade on the d-line? Progress up front began with the hire of Rick Petri as defensive line coach, and it’s up to Petri to help the Canes become better pass rushers. Miami will depend upon its two mainstays -- Allen Bailey and Josh Holmes. The right end position was a group effort last year, and Miami has to replace Joe Joseph and Eric Moncur.

NORTH CAROLINA

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Quarterback T.J. Yates. It’s his job to lose, and the coaching staff still has confidence in him, but Bryn Renner is waiting in the wings, and Braden Hanson will also be given an opportunity. The staff is looking for the offense to improve its passing efficiency and cut down on turnovers.

• The offensive line. It was a patchwork effort in 2009, thanks to injuries and inexperience, and will be a major key in how much UNC improves offensively this year. The Heels have to replace two starters, and Jonathan Cooper is likely to move from guard to center, and right guard Alan Pelc will miss spring drills while recovering from shoulder surgery.

• Defensive line tweaks. There aren’t many questions on a defense that should be one of the best in the country, but somebody has to replace Cam Thomas and defensive end E.J. Wilson. Tydreke Powell is the frontrunner to take over at defensive tackle and Quinton Coples at defensive end. Both were backups last year at their respective positions.

NC STATE

Spring practice starts: March 9

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

• Backup quarterback Mike Glennon. Russell Wilson is the starter, but he’s going to be playing baseball all spring. Keep an eye on his backup to see if Glennon can make it any more of a competition in Wilson’s absence.

• Chris Ward at punter. No, it’s not usually, the highlight of the spring, but in this case, it’s necessary. Ward is it -- he’s their only option right now, and it’s a position the Pack struggled with last year. Ward was expected to be the starter last season, but he was inconsistent. He’s definitely got the talent to be the guy.

• The recovery of linebacker Nate Irving. After being severely injured in a one-car crash last summer, Irving is hopeful he can go through spring drills. He has been lifting with the team and running with the sports medicine staff, but it’s still uncertain how limited his contact will be.

VIRGINIA

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Quarterback competition. Marc Verica is the only one with any experience, and first-year offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor hasn’t been in Charlottesville long enough to evaluate any of the candidates. That’s what the spring is for, and true freshman Michael Strauss is the lone incoming quarterback on campus, so he’ll have a head start on the playbook. Of the four quarterbacks Virginia signed in this year’s class, Strauss is the only one listed as a true quarterback. The Cavs also have Ross Metheny, who redshirted last year, and Riko Smalls, who redshirted in ‘08 and was No. 2 on the depth chart when Verica was out with a concussion.

• Coaching transition. First-year coach Mike London has hired almost an entirely new staff, and they’ll bring changes in philosophy and scheme. London has said he wants to get the defense back to the traditional 4-3, and revert to the tradition of featuring the tight ends, offensive linemen and running backs.

• Running back. The Cavs will have the help up front, but they need to replace their four leading rushers in Mikell Simpson, Rashawn Jackson, Vic Hall and Jameel Sewell. The staff will look at true freshman Kevin Parks, but also have Torrey Mack and Dominique Wallace, who had just seemed to be coming on at Southern Miss when he was injured and missed the rest of the season.

VIRGINIA TECH

Spring practice starts: March 31

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• Revamped defensive line. The Hokies have to replace three of four starters up front. The only defensive ends with significant playing time are Chris Drager, who the staff wanted to move back to tight end, and Steven Friday. Redshirt freshmen will be given a chance – Duan Perez-Means, Tyrel Wilson, James Gayle and J.R. Collins – but they’ve never played. Isaiah Hamlette is the only other end who’s played and that was a skinny minute. At defensive tackle, Antoine Hopkins will be the frontrunner to replace Cordarrow Thompson.

• Darren Evans’ comeback. Evans, the team’s leading rusher in 2008, is working his way back from a season-ending ACL injury, and one of the biggest questions in Blacksburg is how the staff will divide the carries in such a talented backfield that includes Ryan Williams. With two returning 1,000-yard rushers, will David Wilson decide to redshirt? The spring will help him in that decision.

• The evolution of Tyrod Taylor. He’s going to be a senior, and with so many questions on defense heading into the season, the offense will be leading the way. This should be a breakout year for Taylor, who by now should have mastered the offense and should consistently be a passing threat to compliment his running abilities.

WAKE FOREST

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

• The quarterback competition. It’s the most glaring hole the Deacs have to fill this spring, as they’re tasked with replacing the winningest quarterback in school history, Riley Skinner, and his backup, Ryan McManus. Redshirt sophomores Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones, and sophomore Brendan Cross, will compete with rookie Tanner Price for the top spot.

• Offensive line. The Deacs will take a huge hit here, as seven players in the two-deep depth chart were redshirt seniors, including all four tackles. Three starters have to be replaced.

• The interior defensive line. Nose guard Boo Robinson and John Russell have graduated, and Russell’s backup, Michael Lockett, was also a redshirt senior. The Deacs are in good shape at the ends, but will need some help inside.
Tags:

ACC, Russell Wilson, Darren Evans, Marc Verica, Boo Robinson, Phil Costa, Jamarr Robinson, Mike Glennon, David Wilson, Jimmy Graham, Jamie Harper, Michael Carter, Sean Renfree, Mikell Simpson, Austin Barrick, E.J. Wilson, Jacory Harris, Joe Joseph, Skylar Jones, T.J. Yates, Sean Bedford, Jonathan Dwyer, John Russell, Nate Irving, Thaddeus Lewis, E.J. Manuel, Ryan Williams, C.J. Spiller, Eric Moncur, Bruce Campbell, Demaryius Thomas, Rashawn Jackson, Cannon Smith, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan McManus, Chris Turner, Dave Shinskie, Cordarrow Thompson, Richard Gordon, Christian Ponder, Johnny Williams, Morgan Burnett, Riley Skinner, Derrick Morgan, Jameel Sewell, Allen Bailey, Mike London, Mark Herzlich, Taylor Cook, Leon Wright, Ted Stachitas, Jim Ramella, Jonathan Cooper, Mark Stoops, Cameron Chism, A.J. Highsmith, Braden Hanson, Bryn Renner, Paul Pinegar, Austin Giles, Kaleb Ramsey, CHris Chancellor, Andre Ellington, Luke Kuechly, Cam Thomas, Marcus Gilchrist, Chase Rettig, Michael Strauss, Tanner Price, Anthony McCloud, Debrale Smiley, Brendan Cross, Antoine Hopkins, Bill Lazor, Brad Newman, C.J. Brown, Charlie Hatcher, Chris Drager, Chris Hazelton, Chris Ward, Clay Belton, Crezdon Butler, Danny O\'Brien, DeAndrew McDaniel, Dexter McDougle, Dominique Wallace, Duan Perez-Means, Isaiah Hamlette, J.R. Collins, James Gayle, Joseph Gilbert, Josh Bordner, Josh Holmes, Justin Gilbert, Kevin Parks, Kyle Paker, Michael Lockett, Ochuko Jenije, Quinton Coples, Rahsard Hall, Rick Petri, Rodney Smith, Roko Smalls, Ross Metheny, Sean Schroeder, Stephen Morris, Sydney Sarmiento, Torrey Mack, Trenton Hughes, Tydreke Powell, Tyrel Wilson, Wesley Oglesby, Willie Haulstead

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