NCF Nation: Willy Korn

It’s time to reload in the ACC. Here’s a look at the position needs for each team in the Atlantic Division for the 2011 signing class:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Offensive linemen: Six players on the final two-deep roster for 2010 were either juniors or seniors, and the Eagles will have to find replacements for Anthony Castonzo, Rich Lapham and Thomas Claiborne. There were two juniors at center in 2011, and the recruiting overall at this position hasn’t been as strong in recent years.

Defensive linemen: The Eagles have been thin at the position to begin with since the departures of Ron Brace and B.J. Raji. The interior line should be a priority, as tackle Damik Scafe will graduate, and Kaleb Ramsey will be a senior. Defensive end Brad Newman will also graduate.

CLEMSON

[+] EnlargeDa'Quan Bowers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesReplacing Da'Quan Bowers is a top priority for Clemson.
Defensive line: The early departure of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and the loss of Jarvis Jenkins makes this group a priority. Seven of the eight players up front on the final two-deep roster were either juniors or seniors.

Quarterback: Prior to the early enrollees, Clemson only had one scholarship quarterback on the roster -- projected starter Tajh Boyd. The depth needs to be rebuilt after the loss of starter Kyle Parker and transfer of backup Willy Korn.

Running back: The early departure of Jamie Harper to the NFL left a hole in the Tigers’ lineup. It’s not completely empty, as Andre Ellington remains the best back on the roster and Roderick McDowell was a redshirt freshman backup to Harper.

FLORIDA STATE

Offensive lineman – The departures of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon will leave gaping holes up front, and A.J. Ganguzza and Antwane Greenlee aren’t expected to return. Overall, the staff is looking for bigger, better players. With the exception of right guard, this was a veteran group.

Running back: Despite the current depth, the coaching staff still wanted to sign about three more running backs in this class.

Wide receiver: This would be the third priority for the staff. Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling will both be seniors, but the team has lacked some dynamic playmakers at the position.

Linebacker: The Noles lost two starters from last year’s Atlantic Division championship team, and there are several young players on the rise like Jeff Luc and Telvin Smith, but the staff wants more numbers at the position.

Safety: The Noles need an upgrade at this position.

Defensive line: This is a matter of mostly building depth and size and continuing to get better.

MARYLAND

Kicker/ Punter: Nick Ferrara has the ability to do both, but he also struggled at both in 2010. Travis Baltz was a four-year starter at punter who has to be replaced. The kicking game should be a top priority in this class, and a concern if Ferrara doesn’t become more consistent.

Wide receiver: The early departure of standout Torrey Smith to the NFL leaves quarterback Danny O'Brien without a favorite target. Seven of the nine receivers listed on the most current depth chart for 2010 were either juniors or seniors.

Running back: The Terps have to replace starter Da’Rel Scott, and Davin Meggett will be a senior. There is some talent behind Meggett in D.J. Adams, but the position could use more depth.

Secondary: Six of the top 10 players in the secondary were either juniors or seniors in 2010, including safety Antwine Perez, who will graduate. Kenny Tate and Cameron Chism will both be seniors, and the corner position is the biggest need.

Defensive end: Defensive coordinator Don Brown would like to bring in at least one player who can really bring some speed off the edge.

NC STATE

Kickers: The Wolfpack lost their starting punter and place-kicker, easily making kickers the biggest need in this recruiting class.

Defensive linemen: With the exception of sophomore Brian Slay, the entire 2010 line was comprised of juniors and seniors. The Pack have to replace two starters, and two returning starters, Jeff Rieskamp and J.R. Sweezy, will be seniors.

Linebackers: This was another veteran group for NC State, with five of the six players on the two-deep either juniors or seniors. Nate Irving’s graduation will be a big hit and Audie Cole will be a senior.

Quarterback: If Russell Wilson leaves early, the position will be even thinner, but backup Mike Glennon will be a junior, so the staff needs to build more depth.

WAKE FOREST

Offensive linemen: The Deacs will have four redshirt juniors returning up front, and have to replace redshirt senior center Russell Nenon. The staff is looking to increase the depth and talent up front.

Linebackers: The position hasn’t been the same since the 2008 class (Aaron Curry and Stanley Arnoux). They were both drafted and two of the fastest players the program has ever seen. The staff needs to bring in more talent and speed here.
Marshall quarterback Willy Korn has transferred to Division II North Greenville, the Charleston Daily Mail reported.

Korn, who transferred to the Herd from Clemson, was told last week he was no longer in contention for the starting job. He had offered to switch to safety but was absent from both practices Sunday. Coach Doc Holliday said Korn was gone for "personal reasons."

The newspaper reported Korn could practice at his new school this afternoon. Since North Greenville is Division II, he is eligible to play immediately.

Quarterback transfers to watch

March, 3, 2010
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As spring football begins to hit its stride (most teams will open this month), it’s important to look at some of the key contributors that were sitting on the bench last year. I’m talking about the transfers, the guys who left schools from automatic qualifying conferences to help a non-AQ find success.

There are a lot of major transfers on non-AQ teams that are eligible to play this season, but none are more important than the quarterbacks. Several teams are looking to replace starters or just get some new blood under center.

Here’s a look at my top five quarterback transfers from AQ teams:

Wesley Carroll, FIU: Carroll comes to FIU after a pretty fantastic start at Mississippi State and is the favorite to replace graduated starter Paul McCall. Carroll started nine games as a true freshman in 2007 (played in all 13) and was named SEC freshman first-team. He started four games as a sophomore for the Bulldogs before deciding to transfer after he lost his job to junior college transfer Tyson Lee. During the FIU spring game last year, Carroll completed 11-of-17 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. FIU had a down year in 2009, mostly because of injuries, but with a couple key transfers and two strong recruiting classes, this could be the year the Golden Panthers reverse their fortunes.

Taylor Cook, Rice: The Owls will actually have two transfers vying for the starting quarterback position this year. Cook came over from Miami last year and sat out, and Nick Fanuzzi, who started eight games last season, transferred from Alabama after the 2007 season. Fanuzzi put up nice numbers last year, but didn’t have a lot of help. Cook enters the spring with a nice pedigree but doesn’t have any collegiate experience. Cook actually entered Miami’s 2009 spring practices as the No. 2 quarterback before opting to transfer.

Phil Bates, Ohio: Bates came over from Iowa State and was actually a wide receiver as a true freshman before switching to quarterback his sophomore year. He completed 14-of-24 passes for 137 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and he ran 24 times for 166 yards. He’s the type of dual-threat quarterback coach Frank Solich likes in his system and the battle with Boo Jackson, who missed last year with an injury, will be interesting. Bates’ versatility (he did catch five passes for 73 yards) will make it tough to keep him off the field.

Willy Korn, Marshall: Korn was a surprise pick up for new head coach Doc Holliday. Korn is graduating in May and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Since he won’t be around until the fall, it will be hard for him to wrestle the starting role away from Brian Anderson. Anderson threw for more than 2,600 yards and 14 touchdowns, but he also had 13 interceptions. In three seasons at Clemson, Korn completed 46-of-66 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. He also battled a shoulder injury.

Cannon Smith, Memphis: Smith was a big pickup for Memphis, especially since the Tigers graduated three senior quarterbacks. Cannon played in one game as a true freshman at Miami in 2008, but was injured and ultimately took a medical redshirt. Smith will challenge sophomore Tyler Bass, who played in four games and had three starts last year, and sophomore Will Gilchrist. The starting role will probably come down to Smith and Bass.

ACC recruiting rewind

February, 2, 2010
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You would think that with how well the ACC has fared in recruiting the past four years, it would have eventually made a bigger push on the national landscape during the season. Miami has had three top-10 classes, and Florida State has had two. Overall, the trend in the ACC has been that Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina have led the conference on the recruiting front. Three of those teams have appeared in ESPN.com's final Top 25 ranking in each of the past four years (UNC has been there three of the past four.) Only the Hokies, though, have had it translate into postseason success -- so far. There was a common thread, though, amongst the other programs -- a coaching change or, in Florida State's case, coaching questions.

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Paul Abell/US PresswireAldarius Johnson was one of 12 ESPNU 150 players in Miami's No. 1-rated 2008 class.
It was impossible to predict, though, that players like former Miami quarterback Robert Marve would transfer, or that former FSU linebacker Marcus Ball would have off-field troubles and ask for his release.

Here's a reminder at how highly ranked several teams in the ACC have repeatedly finished since 2006, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. rankings. You can click on the year to go to the full ranking. I mentioned a few of the top players in each class who were facing high expectations at the time, or players who weren't facing many expectations and have since proved otherwise (see: Virginia Tech).

2006

No. 6 FSU (Myron Rolle)
No. 13 Clemson (C.J. Spiller, Jamie Cumbie, Ricky Sapp)
No. 17 Miami (Kylan Robinson)
No. 23 Maryland (Pha'Terrell Washington, Drew Gloster)
No. 24 Virginia Tech (Rashad Carmichael, Nekos Brown, Kam Chancellor)
No. 25 UNC (Aleric Mullins, Johnny White)

2007

No. 9 Miami (Robert Marve, Allen Bailey)
No. 11 UNC (Quan Sturdivant, Marvin Austin)
No. 14 Georgia Tech (Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Josh Nesbitt)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Tyrod Taylor, Blake DeChristopher, Barquell Rivers)
No. 18 Clemson (Willy Korn, Scotty Cooper, Marcus Gilchrist)
No. 25 Florida State (Brandon Paul, Markish Jones)

2008

No. 1 Miami (Sean Spence, Jacory Harris, Aldarius Johnson)
No. 2 Clemson (DaQuan Bowers, Kyle Parker, Jamie Harper)
No. 12 FSU (Zebrie Sanders, E.J. Manuel, Nigel Carr)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Ryan Williams)
No. 20 NC State (Mike Glennon, Brandon Barnes)

2009

No. 7 Miami (Ray Ray Armstrong, Mike James)
No. 8 FSU (Greg Reid, Jacobbi McDaniel)
No. 13 UNC (Bryn Renner, Donavan Tate, Jheranie Boyd)
No. 18 Virginia Tech (Jayron Hosley, David Wilson, Logan Thomas)
No. 19 Clemson (Tajh Boyd, Bryce McNeal)

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


It’s a good thing for the ACC that backup quarterbacks weren’t needed in September the way they were needed throughout the rest of the country (SEE: Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Robert Griffin, just to name a few). Had Miami’s Jacory Harris or Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor gone down early against the ranked opponents each of those teams faced -- including each other -- the ACC would be in big trouble right now. (Remember the panic, Miami fans, when FSU’s Greg Reid whacked Harris’ funny bone in the opener?)

Here’s to a healthy season in the ACC, and here’s a look at which backup quarterbacks are ready to roll after one month of football:

READY TO ROLL

Sean Renfree, Duke: He’s Duke's quarterback of the future and has already been groomed as such. Renfree has appeared in 13 series, completing 29-of-43 pass attempts for 286 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Mike Glennon, NC State: He played in every game except last weekend against Pittsburgh, and has completed 10 of 13 passes for 85 yards. He’s a much more dependable option than the Pack had in the past.

Vic Hall, Virginia: He was actually the starting quarterback in the season opener, and is arguably the most athletic player the Cavaliers have, but injured his hip and hasn’t played since the William & Mary game. He’s a veteran leader who has already proven himself in a multitude of roles. Hall, Jameel Sewell and Marc Verica could all be backups any given Saturday, and they're all experienced and ready to roll. If Sewell is the starter, Hall can play just about anywhere else.

Jaybo Shaw, Georgia Tech: Shaw was finally cleared to play and could make his first appearance of the season this weekend at Mississippi State after breaking his collarbone this summer. He began throwing again on Sept. 7, and proved last year he’s a tough player who can run and pass well.

HAS THE HYPE

E.J. Manuel, Florida State: He’s definitely gotten more hype than he has playing time this fall, as Manuel played in two games and has completed just 1-of-2 passes for four yards. Manuel, recruited by Jimbo Fisher, was an ESPNU 150 prospect and the No. 6 ranked quarterback in the class of 2008.

Willy Korn, Clemson: Well, it’s more like he HAD the hype. It’s hard to believe Korn was the No. 12 quarterback in the class of 2007. Korn was relegated to the bench this summer in favor of Kyle Parker and has only played in two games. He’s also expressed his displeasure in the fact he’s only thrown two passes this year.

A.J. Highsmith, Miami: He earned a quick promotion after Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith both transferred, but all Highsmith has so far is hype and pedigree. He’s the son of former Miami and NFL running back Alonzo Highsmith, and was the No. 24-ranked quarterback in the class of 2009.

WHO KNOWS?

Ju-Ju Clayton, Virginia Tech – The former scout team quarterback was in on 23 snaps against Marshall, but threw three incompletions. Clayton won the job over Marcus Davis this past spring, who was moved to wide receiver. If Taylor is injured, uncertainty is the only thing behind him.

Jamarr Robinson, Maryland – The fact that Chris Turner has been sacked 14 times and hasn’t missed a snap makes you wonder about the confidence Ralph Friedgen has in his backup. Robinson, who was promoted after Josh Portis transferred, hasn’t seen the field yet.

Ryan McManus, Wake Forest – The redshirt senior is also a holder and backup longsnapper. He played against Elon and completed 1-of-4 passes, the only four plays he was in on as quarterback.

Justin Tuggle, Boston College – There wasn’t much separation between Tuggle and Dave Shinskie until the Wake Forest game, as both of them started with zero experience. Both have been used in every game, but it’s unclear where Tuggle’s future is headed. He has 229 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions so far.

Braden Hanson, North Carolina – He was given a shot ahead of Mike Paulus this year, and was 0-for-2 with one interception in his only chance against The Citadel, but they’re both listed as the backups this week. Neither has proven anything yet.

Bowl bound in the ACC?

August, 11, 2009
8/11/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It's never too early to start making bowl predictions (or, in the ACC case it's never too late, as 11 teams were still bowl eligible in 2008 right up until the final week of the season). Today the bloggers are breaking down each team's chance to be bowl-bound, and the categories are "count on it," "possibly," and "forget about it." Will the ACC manage to get 10 teams bowl eligible again? Possibly. Take a look:

BOSTON COLLEGE
Bowl bound? Possibly.
Best case: Dave Shinskie looks like Chris Weinke, the entire team rallies around the absence and inspiration of linebacker Mark Herzlich, and once again the Eagles prove the doubters wrong.
Worst case: Dave Shinskie's fastball is better than his spiral, the defense fails to plug the holes at linebacker and up front, and the Eagles struggle to get more than four wins in a transition year.
Prediction: At-large bowl

CLEMSON
Bowl bound?
Count on it.
Best case: The offensive line paves the way for a 1,000-yard rusher and protects the new quarterback for a 1,000-yard receiver, and the Tigers shine when there are no expectations en route to the Atlantic Division title.
Worst case: Quarterbacks Kyle Parker and Willy Korn never quite get into a rhythm because they're sharing time, the offensive line isn't quite as good as people think it will be, and Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Billy Napier are outcoached en route to a mediocre season.
Prediction: Meineke Car Care Bowl

DUKE
Bowl bound? Forget about it.
Best case: Smart coaching plus the talent of quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and veteran tailback Re'quan Boyette earn the Blue Devils two conference upsets and they surprise Kansas on the road for a perfect nonconference slate.
Worst case: Duke's defense looks like it did against Georgia Tech last year, no receivers step up to replace Eron Riley, the offense line can't protect their little sisters, and the Blue Devils remain status quo from 2008.
Prediction: Christmas in Durham.

FLORIDA STATE
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: Florida State wins its appeal against the NCAA, the Noles find more talent at receiver than anyone knew they had, and the defense reloads as the program skyrockets back into the national picture with an ACC title.
Worst case: Florida State loses its appeal, and Bobby Bowden announces his retirement after a subpar season in which off-field distractions kept the Noles out of the hunt for the Atlantic Division.
Prediction: Chick-fil-A Bowl

GEORGIA TECH
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: Jonathan Dwyer wins the Heisman Trophy, the defensive line somehow finds a way to be even better than it was last year, and a home win over Georgia pales in comparison to an Orange Bowl win.
Worst case: The Jackets lose by a painful three points to Virginia Tech, lose in overtime to UNC, and Georgia studies the LSU film well enough to make it look like a regular-season rerun of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Prediction: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl

MARYLAND
Bowl bound? Possibly.
Best case: The offensive line lives up to last year's expectations, Chris Turner is as steady as a metronome, and Don Brown's defense has ACC opponents' heads spinning for a nine-win season.
Worst case: The offensive line looks like Clemson's did last year, Turner throws four picks against Middle Tennessee at home, and Maryland's front seven allows Darren Evans another career day.
Prediction: Eagle Bank Bowl

MIAMI
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: The Canes shock the country with a 4-0 start, Jacory Harris and Mark Whipple are hailed as the saviors of the offense, and Miami skyrockets into the top 10 ranking with an unforgettable upset of Oklahoma.
Worst case: Randy Shannon starts polishing his résumé after an 0-4 start.
Prediction: Champs Sports Bowl

NORTH CAROLINA
Bowl bound?
Count on it.
Best case: Quarterback T.J. Yates survives the entire season without so much as a scratch, the young receivers find a rhythm with him just in time for a road trip to Georgia Tech, and the Tar Heels knock off Miami and Virginia Tech to win the Coastal Division title.
Worst case: Yates goes down against Connecticut, and the Tar Heels are forced to muddle through six weeks without a proven backup.
Prediction: Emerald Bowl

NC STATE
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: The Pack starts off strong instead of making a desperate push at the end, the defense welcomes back linebacker Nate Irving, and quarterback Russell Wilson scurries his way to the Atlantic Division title.
Worst case: The Pack starts off 2-2 and the defense can't get the pieces together in the secondary or at linebacker, and NC State is forced to win its final five games to become bowl eligible.
Prediction: Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

VIRGINIA
Bowl bound? Forget about it.
Best case: Gregg Brandon's offense looks like Urban Meyer's, Mikell Simpson looks like he did in 2007, and the linebackers make a seamless transition en rout
e to helping Al Groh looking like a coaching genius in a year of serious transition.
Worst case: 2009 looks exactly like 2008, with embarrassing nonconference losses, three points against Duke, and a four-game losing streak to end a second straight bowless season.
Prediction: Home for the holidays.

VIRGINIA TECH
Bowl bound? Count on it.
Best case: The Hokies' offense comes alive under for the first time in four seasons, and Virginia Tech sets the tone for a national championship with a win over Alabama.
Worst case: For the fourth straight year, the Hokies are ranked 99th or worse in total offense, the Alabama game resembles last year's Clemson debacle, and Georgia Tech gets the nod in the Coastal Division race.
Prediction: FedEx Orange Bowl

WAKE FOREST
Bowl bound? Possibly
Best case: Behind an improved offensive line, quarterback Riley Skinner and a trio of talented running backs carry the team while the defense finds new playmakers, and the Demon Deacons knock off Florida State (again) for a surprise run at the Atlantic Division.
Worst case: The Demon Deacons bookend the season with losses to Baylor and Duke, and struggle to replace the NFL-caliber talent that departed on defense in between.
Prediction: GMAC Bowl

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

One of the major themes this fall in the ACC will be keeping starting quarterbacks healthy because of the lack of experience behind them. Virginia Tech, which saw both Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor get hurt against Florida State last year, knows this scenario all-too well. How will the Hokies fare this season if Taylor's ankle fails him again? Based in large part by experience and some on recruiting hype, here's a look at who's got the best backup situations in the ACC -- and who doesn't.

1. Virginia -- Say what you will about the Cavaliers' chances this fall, but no team has more experience at quarterback right now. Jameel Sewell, Marc Verica and Vic Hall have all started a game. That, in itself, is progress from last season. And they all have different strengths. Sewell is an elusive runner, Verica is more of a drop-back passer, and Hall, well, he was a cornerback with tremendous athletic ability.

2. Georgia Tech -- If need be, the Yellow Jackets can also go three deep, as starter Josh Nesbitt has experience behind him in Jaybo Shaw and a talented newcomer in redshirt freshman Tevin Washington. Shaw quarterbacked the Yellow Jackets almost exclusively in two games last season -- a 38-7 win over Mississippi State and a 27-0 victory over Duke. When Nesbitt hurt his hamstring eight snaps into the Mississippi State game, Shaw took over and promptly threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. By the final buzzer, Georgia Tech had accumulated 500 yards of total offense.

3. NC State -- The Wolfpack finally have a prized recruit to fall back on should Russell Wilson need some help. Mike Glennon, who is perfectly suited for Tom O'Brien's Matt Ryan-esque style, made significant progress this spring and could see some playing time even if Wilson is 100 percent. Glennon was rated the No. 3 quarterback in his class and No. 32 player overall in the ESPN 150.

4. Duke -- Sean Renfree earned himself some playing time behind Thaddeus Lewis this fall and will use this season to ease into the role of next year's starting quarterback. Renfree had originally committed to Georgia Tech, but was also recruited by Tennessee when David Cutcliffe was there. He's the real deal.

5. Florida State -- The Seminoles probably would have been moved up a notch or two on this list had E.J. Manuel actually made it through more than one spring practice without hurting himself. But FSU offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Jimbo Fisher has high hopes for his first hand-picked quarterback.

6. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels have the Paulus who actually IS a quarterback, and he's even got some experience at it. The problem is, Mike Paulus was 4-for-13 for 33 yards with two interceptions in four games last year. Paulus entered the Virginia Tech game when T.J. Yates was injured and was 3-for-8 for 23 yards and two picks. There's a reason Cam Sexton took over last year, but Sexton has since transferred.

7. Clemson -- If by chance Kyle Parker wins the starting job, then Willy Korn will be like 1a. Korn played two games as a true freshman in 2007 then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He played in six games last year, including a start against Georgia Tech in Dabo Swinney's first game as a head coach. His career efficiency rating is 132.9 and he has completed 69.4 percent of his passes. Those are starter stats, but Parker had an impressive spring.

8. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons at least have depth. They had a competition between Ryan McManus, Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones this spring, and McManus came out on top heading into summer camp. McManus is a former walk-on who has seen most of his playing time as a holder and on special teams, Stachitas is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Jones finished his first spring working exclusively at quarterback.

9. Miami -- At least Randy Shannon made a decision and decided Taylor Cook earned the No. 2 spot at the end of the spring, but it's not a done deal. Cannon Smith will continue to push Cook this summer, but neither one of them have taken a collegiate snap yet. Cook, though, was a very highly touted recruit, ranked the No. 9 quarterback in his class and No. 108 in the ESPN 150.

10. Virginia Tech -- Joseph Ju-Ju Clayton won the backup job over Marcus Davis, but he's still a redshirt freshman who hasn't been tested when the lights come on. Clayton was projected by some to be a better defensive back in college. He wasn't as highly touted a recruit as Manuel, Cook, Glennon or Renfree, but the Hokies are known for finding talent and making the most of somewhat unheralded recruits.

11. Maryland -- The Terps' depth took a hit when Josh Portis decided to transfer, but sophomore Jamarr Robinson had an impressive spring. He completed 15 of 19 passes, including his final 12 attempts, for 253 yards and four touchdowns.

12. Boston College -- The Eagles don't know who their starting quarterback is, let alone their No. 2. Dominique Davis struggled in the ACC championship game and the bowl game -- both losses -- but he has the most experience among Justin Tuggle and Codi Boek.

Checking in from Clemson

March, 23, 2009
3/23/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CLEMSON, S.C. -- A few quick observations before I call it a day:

  • First, Jacoby Ford truly looked like a senior at practice today. He caught a nice touchdown pass, prompting coach Dabo Swinney to challenge some of the younger guys to step up.
  • Mason Cloy is getting comfortable at center, which is good because that allows Thomas Austin, the leader of the line, to stay at guard. True freshman J.K. Jay looked impressive and capable of working his way into the rotation.
  • Swinney said he hopes to name a new defensive tackle coach in the next few days, and it will probably be former Tennessee assistant Dan Brooks. He was on the field today. It seems to be one of those things where the holdup in the announcement is the HR paperwork. "I've got a lot of respect for coach Brooks," Swinney said. "He's a great coach, great background, track record, recruiting and coaching. He's certainly a strong candidate."
  • Very impressed with new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. There are some coaches who immediately command respect for their knowledge of the game, and he gave that impression. Home run hire.
  • James Davis was watching practice and will be at pro day on Tuesday.
  • Both Willy Korn and Kyle Parker are competing hard. Through the first couple of practices Korn had been getting the most reps, but he also had the most experienced. They're trying to distribute the reps a little more evenly.

"A lot of people make the statement, if you have two quarterbacks you don't have one quarterback," Swinney said. "Well, I disagree with that. If you've got two good ones, you've got two good ones. That's the situation I see emerging there. It's going to be interesting. I really believe we've got a couple of good quarterbacks. And they're both the same age. ... Maybe one of them separates, I don't know. It looks like something that's going to play out for a while. That's a good thing for me."

Overall, it seems as if Clemson has the potential to surprise some people by the end of the season. The defense will lead the way in the beginning, but they definitely intend to get the ball to their playmakers this year. That, in itself, is an improvement. This offense definitely has big-play capabilities.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

They're young. They're inexperienced. They're ... green.

In keeping with our St. Patrick's Day theme, here's a look at the "greenest" units on each team in the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE -- If Dominique Davis wins the starting quarterback job, he's got a whopping three full games of starting experience to fall back on, and that's three more games than Justin Tuggle, who is also competing for the job.

CLEMSON -- The Tigers will be youngest at quarterback, where either sophomore Willy Korn or redshirt freshman Kyle Parker will inherit the offense.

DUKE -- The Blue Devils have to replace three starters on their offensive line and returning sophomore Kyle Hill moved from guard to tackle.

FLORIDA STATE -- Without Preston Parker, Greg Carr and likely Taiwan Easterling and Corey Surrency, the Noles will depend heavily upon a green group of receivers.

GEORGIA TECH -- Having lost three of four starters on the defensive line, it's easily one of the greenest groups in the whole conference.

MARYLAND -- Maryland lost five starters from its defensive front seven, but defensive tackles Travis Ivey and Dion Armstrong ended the year as starters and linebacker Adrian Moten had three starts.

MIAMI -- The Canes are still young everywhere, but remember quarterback Jacory Harris has only started two games and his backups have no collegiate experience.

NORTH CAROLINA -- The Tar Heels lost their top three receivers and will be counting heavily on inexperienced players to replace Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster.

NC STATE -- The Wolfpack needs to replace both offensive guards in John Bedics and Meares Green, who combined for 43 starts.

VIRGINIA -- Outside linebacker Denzel Burrell is the only returning starting linebacker in the Cavaliers' 3-4 defense.

VIRGINIA TECH -- The Hokies have to replace two starting linebackers in Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdivant.

WAKE FOREST -- The Demon Deacons have to replace three starters at linebacker, including Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry.

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 10, 2009
3/10/09
12:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Hang on for your daily trip around the ACC ...

  • FSU will be without linebacker Dekoda Watson, who had elbow surgery, this spring. It was a position that already lacked experience.
  • If Willy Korn and Kyle Parker can't get it done at Clemson, highly touted recruit Tajh Boyd isn't at practice for decoration. One thing is for sure -- the race is wide open
  • Former Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson always wanted to be a Marine. It looks like he'll have to settle for the NFL.
  • Here's a leftover from the weekend I missed, but it hits every school in the conference with a breakdown of what to watch this spring. Also, Miami freshman cornerback Brandon McGee will be out for six weeks with a fractured finger.
  • FSU AD Randy Spetman said there's no doubt the school is going to appeal the NCAA ruling that the Seminoles vacate victories.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

As we head into spring football, there will be plenty of starting jobs up for grabs. It's no secret UNC needs to find dependable receivers, and Georgia Tech needs to replace three of four starters on its defensive line. Will FSU quarterback Christian Ponder keep his job, or will E.J. Manuel win it from him? Despite several quarterbacks returning with starting experience, spring could bring change throughout the ACC. Here's a look at five key position battles to keep an eye on:

Clemson quarterback -- Will Kyle Parker assert himself as the Tigers' quarterback of the future this spring, or will Willy Korn lock up the starting job? Korn played in six games last year and started one, but he has been plagued by a nagging shoulder injury. Michael Wade and Jon Richt (Georgia coach Mark Richt's son) will also compete to take over as Cullen Harper's successor.

Boston College quarterback -- Considering how Dominique Davis struggled in losses in the ACC championship game and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (he combined to throw three touchdowns, four interceptions and complete 40.5 percent of his passes), nothing is guaranteed. The previous coaching staff had high hopes for Justin Tuggle, and this spring is a chance for him to show Frank Spaziani and Co. why.

Virginia quarterback -- With cornerback Vic Hall working out at quarterback this spring, and two players returning with starting experience in Marc Verica and Jameel Sewell, this spot appears to be wide open. Hall was the Cavaliers' fifth-leading tackler last year (the top four have to be replaced), and made 24 straight starts at cornerback before his surprise appearance at quarterback in the season finale at Virginia Tech. Hall only threw the ball once against the Hokies but scored on 40 and 16-yard runs.

Virginia Tech linebackers -- The Hokies will have to replace Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdivant. Barquell Rivers, who started for the injured Warren in the Orange Bowl, should be a frontrunner, but Cam Martin and Cody Grimm are also experienced returners at outside linebacker. It's also possible some players in the secondary could get a look.

Duke cornerback -- Returning starter Leon Wright missed the last six games due to injury, and while he was out, Chris Rwabukamba played well in the 10-7 win over Vanderbilt, grabbing an interception at the Duke one-yard line. He started two games. Lee Butler saw playing time as a freshman last year, and Zach Greene enrolled in January and will participate in spring practice so he'll get an opportunity, too.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Sophomore Kyle Parker is on a football scholarship at Clemson, but he might be more easily recognized by fans when he's wearing his No. 25 jersey -- his baseball uniform -- instead of his No. 11 quarterback jersey.

That might change this spring.

 
  AP Photo/Brett Flashnick
  Kyle Parker will spend time playing football and baseball again this spring.

Parker, the son of former NFL wide receiver Carl Parker, enrolled in Clemson last January after graduating high school early, and immediately made a name for himself as a first-team All-ACC baseball player. He started 55 games and hit .303 with 44 runs scored, 12 doubles, 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. On the side, he happened to be going to spring football practice every day.

This year, there will be a bit more emphasis on spring football, as the graduation of quarterback Cullen Harper leaves the position wide open -- and Parker at the heart of the competition.

"To be able to compete for the job, he's gotta be there," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "Obviously football is paying the bills, but he's here to do both. It's in my and [baseball] coach [Jack] Leggett's best interests that we work out a good schedule for him, and I'm real comfortable with what we've got resolved."

Parker isn't the only ACC quarterback who will be pulling double duty with baseball this spring, and it's no easy feat considering how strong the conference is (North Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Florida State are all ranked among Baseball America's preseason Top 25, and Miami and NC State are both consistent championship contenders).

The three quarterbacks playing both sports are each at different points in their career. NC State's Russell Wilson is a returning starter at quarterback, and also a second baseman for the Pack, Florida State's D'Vontrey Richardson was a backup quarterback last year but moved to safety recently and is an outfielder for the Noles.

This year, because he's competing for a starting role, Parker said he is feeling a bit more pressure from the football staff to be around this spring. After all, he was the No. 4-ranked quarterback in the country, according to Scouts Inc., and he was recruited by Swinney.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It looks like Georgia Tech is nearing a new deal for the ACC Coach of the Year. The original seven years and an annual $1.6 million apparently didn't cut it after a win over Georgia. It's not like Paul Johnson is thinking about bolting, though. The Yellow Jackets' gain is Auburn's loss.

At the end of this story, you'll see that Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich is expected back for his senior season, and defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani would like to see him return.

NC State juniors Willie Young and Jamelle Eugene want to know their status and are submitting their names to the NFL draft advisory board.

Miami's defense faded down the stretch. Here's a look at what the Canes will have to work with in 2009. At the top of the list should be linebacker Sean Spence.

When I sat in Tommy Bowden's office in August and asked him about his young quarterbacks, he gave the impression that Kyle Parker was the one fans should be excited about. It looks like he might have been right, as Parker is expected to give Willy Korn some competition. That is, if baseball doesn't get in the way. Hey, if Russell Wilson can do it ...

ACC's lunchtime links

October, 28, 2008
10/28/08
1:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

We already drew the conclusion that the ACC was a wide-open, defensive league, and this weekend further enforced that. There are four teams with one conference loss in the Atlantic Division (Wake Forest, Maryland, Florida State and Boston College). But upon further review, the Coastal seems to have narrowed down a bit to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, with the Hokies still having the advantage because of their win over the Yellow Jackets.

Still, there are always a few things to learn from a week of ACC football:

1. Clemson is still Clemson. It doesn't matter who the head coach is, the personnel is still the same -- loaded with offensive talent that can't go very far unless somebody blocks for them. It didn't matter that Willy Korn started on Saturday because Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan was able to get to him, and now Korn has a bruised shoulder and is questionable for the Boston College game. Interim head coach Dabo Swinney pulled from his grab-bag of offensive plays, and it almost worked. The third quarter was another tease for Clemson fans, a peek at the potential that always seems to fizzle by the fourth.

2. No Sam Swank, no points for Wake Forest. It's worst than we thought. Sure, you have to give some credit to the Maryland defense for handing the Deacs their first shutout in a decade, but you also have to take some credit away from the No. 21-ranked team in the nation for not being able to move the ball. Wake Forest has now scored one offensive touchdown -- one -- in three league games.

3. Out with the old, in with the new. Rookie quarterbacks throughout the league -- Chris Crane, Christian Ponder, Jacory Harris, Josh Nesbitt, Jaybo Shaw, Marc Verica, and even Russell Wilson -- are having just as much success if not more than the veterans in the league in the season. All of them but Wilson won on Saturday. It's amazing what Harris can do when given the time. Crane is 5-1 as a starter. Nesbitt looked rusty against Clemson, but has proven more than capable of running that offense, as has Shaw. Verica came out of nowhere. And Wilson is the one quarterback on the roster Tom O'Brien can win with.

4. It's a sloppy league. Clemson had six turnovers. Boston College had five. Maryland's Da'Rel Scott fumbled three times -- in the first half. And it's not like this weekend was the exception. Florida State turned it over seven times against Wake Forest. The Deacs turned it over six times against Navy. Clemson has lost the ball 18 times this season, Virginia 16, and Boston College 15. Duke and Virginia Tech are the only teams with less than 10 giveaways, and the Hokies lead the country in turnover margin.

5. North Carolina's season went from breakout to bust in a matter of overtime. It's not that this season won't be regarded as a success -- the Tar Heels have only lost two games and are still just one win shy of bowl eligibility -- but it's who they lost to that will cost them. Coastal Division losses to Virginia Tech and now Virginia are devastating to their hopes of winning the division, let alone the ACC title in Butch Davis' second season.

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