NCF Nation: Xavier Rhodes

Previewing ACC in NFL draft

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
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NFL draft coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET tonight on ESPN and WatchESPN.com, but here is a one-stop shopping post for all of your last-minute mocks and talk:
  • First, let's take a look at who will be there: Florida State and North Carolina will represent the ACC with Bjoern Werner, Menelik Watson, Xavier Rhodes, EJ Manuel, and UNC's Jonathan Cooper.
  • KC Joyner says Rhodes could be one of the biggest steals of the draft.
  • The experts at Scouts Inc. projected all seven roundsInsider -- and the ACC will have two top-10 picks, depending on your take of the ACC at this particular point in time. If you want to count former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, then "the ACC" will have the No. 8 overall pick, going to former Cuse coach Doug Marrone, now with Buffalo. If you're like me, and not really willing to count Nassib in this group, then former UNC OG Jonathan Cooper is the ACC's top dawg at No. 11 overall. This is Insider content, so it's just a sneak peek, but you're going to have to wait until the second round to see EJ Manuel and the third round for Mike Glennon.
  • Todd McShay posted his Mock 5.1,Insider but he will also have an update this morning with his latest on the first round.
  • On Monday, Mel Kiper Jr. also released his latest, Mock Draft 4.1,Insider but his will also be updated as the draft nears, so check back. Meanwhile, put your own spin on Kiper's draft.
  • Our NFL bloggers also held their mock draft this week.
  • And there will be a live blog from Radio City Music Hall beginning at noon today.
The first round of the NFL draft is just a week away, so it is time to provide you an update with the latest predictions, mock drafts and rankings from ESPN experts.

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

First round
Second round
Third round

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

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

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

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

Want more? Kiper also has updated his top 5 prospects by position Insider.
ESPN Insider Todd McShay recently released his latest mock draftInsider, and once again, it is looking like a strong first round for the ACC. If McShay is right, and seven former ACC players are chosen in the first round, it would be the most the conference has had drafted in the first round since 2008:

2008: 7
2009: 5
2010: 4
2011: 3
2012: 3 (No. 9 Luke Kuechly, BC; No. 16 Quinton Coples, UNC; No. 32 David Wilson, VT)

McShay's piece is Insider content, and he has analysis on each player, but here is a sneak peek at who he has going and when:
As far as ACC quarterbacks go, McShay says wait until Round 2. The only ACC players listed in his second-round mock draft are former FSU quarterback EJ Manuel and former NC State quarterback Mike Glennon.

ACC at the combine

February, 27, 2013
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The poking, prodding, interviews and drills have wrapped up at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Now let's take a quick look at who stood out from the ACC during the all-important event.

  • The defensive backs were the last group to go, wrapping up Tuesday. And there were some pretty good performances. Miami cornerback Brandon McGee posted one of the fastest 40 times at the combine, running a 4.40 to rank him No. 13 among all participants. He also was a top performer in the bench press and 20-yard shuttle run. Those numbers will not do anything but help his draft stock.
  • [+] EnlargeDavid Amerson
    AP Photo/Dave MartinNC State cornerback David Amerson showed off his speed at the NFL combine, clocking a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash.
  • NC State cornerback David Amerson was out to prove himself at the combine after an up-and-down 2012 season. He definitely opened eyes with his performance, which NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock described as "excellent." Amerson ran a 4.44 in the 40 and was also a top performer in the vertical jump.
  • Those two guys were not the only fast defensive backs at the combine. Of the players with the top 15 times at the position, six have ACC ties. Rod Sweeting of Georgia Tech (4.42), Shamarko Thomas of Syracuse (4.42), Xavier Rhodes of Florida State (4.43) and Earl Wolff of NC State (4.44) were among the fastest.
  • Speaking of Rhodes, his vertical leap was incredibly impressive, at 40.5 inches to tie for first among all defensive backs and rank No. 3 overall. He also was a top performer in the broad jump, and certainly helped himself with his day. So did Thomas, one of the most underrated players in college football last year. Though Thomas made some headlines after he fell at the end of his 40, he had a huge day. He also leaped 40.5 inches and was a top performer in the 20-yard shuttle and broad jump.
  • The ACC had several top performers in the bench press as well. Wake Forest fullback Tommy Bohanon tied for No. 4 overall with 36 reps and was also a top performer in the vertical jump and 60-yard shuttle. Also in the top 15 overall for bench: North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper (35), NC State guard Zach Allen (32) and Virginia Tech offensive tackle Vinston Painter (32). Speaking of Cooper, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said the lineman "had one of the more impressive workouts."
  • Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel had a nice combine himself, though he was inconsistent with his throws. Manuel was a top performer in the broad jump, ranking No. 3 among all quarterbacks after jumping 9 feet, 10 inches. He also was a top performer in the 40 (4.65), vertical jump (34), 3-cone drill (7.08) and 20-yard shuttle (4.21) to rank among the top 5 in each category.
  • The folks at Scouts Inc. had this to say about Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a top performer at his position in the bench press and vertical jump (36): "His 4.57 in the 40 is about what we expected. His game is more about being physical, though, and Hopkins showed good ball skills. He is was one of the most natural pass-catchers on the field, with good focus in the gauntlet drill and the ability to extend fully for balls." He's got a second-round grade.
  • Virginia Tech receiver Marcus Davis put up some good numbers as well, topping his position with a vertical jump of 39.5 inches, while also posting good numbers in the 40 (4.56) and bench press (19 reps). It's never been about physical talent for Davis, so the numbers aren't much of a surprise. He has to put it all together on the field.
  • Now for running back: North Carolina's Giovani Bernard was a top performer in various categories. He ran a 4.53 in the 40; and was a top performer in the 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle. Miami running back Mike James also put up some good numbers.
Florida State got some good news for its defense Monday when leading tackler Christian Jones announced he is returning for his senior season.

“After a lot of conversations and time thinking about it, I’ve decided to return to Florida State for my senior season,” Jones said in a statement. "A lot of guys the past couple of years have helped to turn the program around, and I want to continue to be a part of that process. I’ve always talked with some of the guys I came in with and we’ve always talked about finishing together and that’s also something I wanted to do. This is the best decision for me and my family. I’m looking forward to coming back, working hard, improving my game but also helping Florida State continue with the success we’ve had."

Jones started every game in 2012 at weakside linebacker, totaling 95 tackles to rank seventh in the ACC. He also set a new career high for tackles for loss, pass breakups and fumble recoveries.

The Florida State defense already has lost defensive end Bjoern Werner and cornerback Xavier Rhodes as early entrants into the NFL draft. But Jones will return with safety Lamarcus Joyner, who announced earlier this month he would return for his senior season.

"I’m excited for Christian to return to Florida State and further his education, playing career and helping put Florida State back at an elite level," coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. "I think his decision shows great commitment to FSU and great commitment to his future. We’re fortunate to have the leadership he brings on and off the field."

What we learned in the ACC bowls

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
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The entire 2012 season is in the books. So what did we learn during bowl season?

1. The ACC had a rockin' bowl performance. You guys know as well as I do that the league did not exactly earn much national recognition for its performance in the regular season. The league only had two ranked teams and was forced to go with a 6-6 team in the ACC title game because of postseason bans. But who cares about the regular season when you have such an outstanding bowl season! The ACC went 4-2, its first winning bowl record since 2005, beating to a pulp the dismal 2-6 mark from a year ago. That means the ACC joined the SEC and Big East as the only leagues among the automatic qualifiers with winning bowl records. So sorry Big 12 (4-4), Pac-12 (4-4) and Big Ten (2-5). Better luck next year. You can check your ACC jokes at the door while you're at it.

[+] EnlargeNorthern Illinois' Jordan Lynch
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State's defense dominated Northern Illinois and quarterback Jordan Lynch.
2. Heavy D! By all accounts, this was a down year for defense in the ACC (outside of Florida State), if only because offenses exploded and set league records left and right. But when it counted most, defenses stepped up big time in the four ACC bowl wins. I have gone back and forth on which team had the most impressive performance: Florida State and its complete shut down of Jordan Lynch? Georgia Tech holding USC to seven points? Clemson with its best defensive performance of the season? Virginia Tech giving up less than 200 yards of total offense in a game that went into overtime? No sense in picking. They were all outstanding performances -- just what the ACC needed after an up-and-down season across the league.

3. The ACC can beat the SEC. So the ACC split against SEC competition during bowl season, with Clemson beating LSU and NC State losing to Vanderbilt, but that beats the dreadful performance in the final week of the regular season when the league laid a big ol' goose egg against its SEC opponents. The highlight, of course, was Clemson beating No. 8 LSU with a thrilling come-from-behind 25-24 win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Not only was that game one of the best during bowl season, but the win marked the highest-ranked SEC team Clemson has beaten since taking down No. 6 Tennessee in the 2004 Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Tigers ended the year with the only two ACC wins over SEC competition. So maybe this should read: "Clemson can beat the SEC ..."

4. Duke still has a ways to go. Props to the Blue Devils for getting back to a bowl game, but this program still has a long way to go on the road toward respectability. Duke dropped its final five games of the season -- all to teams with winning records. In fact, it only beat one team with a winning record all season. There is no doubt that final stretch was brutal, but this team had opportunities to beat winning teams throughout the year. Duke blew first-quarter leads against Virginia Tech and against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl and had its chances late against Georgia Tech. To take it to the next level, the Blue Devils have to find ways to win these games. Next season is absolutely critical for momentum.

5. So long Werner and Rhodes. The Discover Orange Bowl marked the last time we got to see Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner and cornerback Xavier Rhodes in Seminoles uniforms. Both players declared early for the NFL draft in the days after the win over Northern Illinois. No doubt both were major impact players on a defense that ended the year ranked No. 2 in the nation. Werner was a unanimous All-American selection and ACC Defensive Player of the Year; Rhodes was an All-ACC first-team selection as one of the top shutdown corners in the nation. Good luck to both as they embark on their new careers.
1. Bill O’Brien owed it to himself and his family to listen to the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles. But the Bill O’Brien who pulled Penn State football out of the ditch this year and drove the Nittany Lions to a memorable 8-4 season would never leave after one season. The coach who preached loyalty and commitment and convinced a fractured community to come together behind him decided Thursday he couldn’t leave. And you thought he couldn’t endear himself any more to Penn State.

2. Given everyone who is leaving Florida State -- defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig and two other assistants, All-ACC defensive end Bjoern Werner and All-ACC corner Xavier Rhodes -- the news that safety Lamarcus Joyner will return for his senior season should calm a lot of Seminoles nerves. At 5-foot-8, Joyner might not be made for the NFL combine. But he is the glue that holds the secondary together. Amid all the change, that’s more important than ever.

3. NFL scouts measure physical attributes. Writers can tell when a college star is ready for Sunday football when he conducts an interview with a glaze of boredom descending over his eyes. Even the friendliest, most thoughtful players reach their limit. I saw it last season with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, and again Thursday with Alabama center Barrett Jones, who would make anyone’s All-Decade Interview team. Then again, if I had to answer the Dynasty question as often as Jones has, I would go robotic, too.
Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes and running back Chris Thompson have decided to enter the NFL draft, the first in what could be a wave of more players to leave.

Rhodes, a junior, said he has been projected as a late-first-round or early-second-round pick.

"I'm gone," Rhodes told ESPN on Tuesday. "I did all I could in college. If I was to come back, I don't think my status would be getting any better."

Thompson, who sustained season-ending injuries the last two seasons, told The Orlando Sentinel he would also head to the draft instead of trying to get a sixth year at Florida State.

Defensive end Brandon Jenkins has already declared himself eligible for the draft. Two more players -- defensive end Bjoern Werner and safety Lamarcus Joyner, said after the Orange Bowl game Tuesday they would take a few days before announcing whether they, too, would leave school for the NFL draft.

Instant analysis: FSU 31, NIU 10

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
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It wasn't exactly the easy win so many predicted, but Florida State's size and speed advantage helped the Seminoles outlast upstart Northern Illinois 31-10 to win their first Orange Bowl since 1996.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes talks about Northern Illinois' offense, and the team's preparations for the Orange Bowl.

2012 ESPN.com ACC all-conference team

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
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Despite the abundance of hype surrounding the quarterback position heading into this season, there was one player who quickly distanced himself from the rest. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd had a record-setting season and he was surrounded by several all-conference-caliber teammates. With five Tigers on the first-team offense, it’s no wonder Clemson was No. 6 in the country in scoring offense at 42.33 points per game. There was no running back in the ACC more electrifying than UNC’s Giovani Bernard, though, and to leave off his lead blockers in James Hurst and Jonathan Cooper would be unjust. Surprisingly, not one player from Florida State’s two-deep made the cut for first-team offense. There’s no question, though, the ACC champs dominated the defensive lineup with four first-team selections. Imagine a dream team made up of Clemson’s offense and Florida State’s defense.

Actually, the ACC’s dream team would look more like this, your 2012 ESPN.com ACC All-Conference team:

Offense First Team

QB -- Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB -- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

RB -- Andre Ellington, Clemson

WR -- DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

WR -- Conner Vernon, Duke

TE -- Brandon Ford, Clemson

T -- James Hurst, North Carolina

T -- Oday Aboushi, Virginia

G -- Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

G -- Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

C -- Dalton Freeman, Clemson

Defense first team

DE--Cornellius Carradine, Florida State

DE--Bjoern Werner, Florida State

DT--Joe Vellano, Maryland

DT--Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

LB--Nick Clancy, Boston College

LB--Steve Greer, Virginia

LB--Kevin Reddick, North Carolina

CB--Ross Cockrell, Duke

CB--Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

S--Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

S--Earl Wolff, NC State

Specialists

PK--Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

P--Will Monday, Duke

SP--Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd edged out North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard for ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors, winning both awards by one vote.

Meanwhile, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner was the overwhelming choice for ACC Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday. The players were selected in voting done by the 46 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesClemson QB Tajh Boyd edged out Giovani Bernard in the voting for ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year.
Boyd and Bernard had truly outstanding seasons this year, so it's no surprise the vote was close. Bernard led the ACC in rushing with 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns, despite playing in only 10 games. He also led the league in scoring, punt return average and all-purpose yards and was one of the most dynamic players in the league.

But voters felt Boyd was slightly better. Boyd really has had a remarkable Wednesday. Earlier in the day, he was voted first-team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association. On the season, Boyd leads the ACC and ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency with a 168.5 rating, on pace for a Clemson record. He has gone 251-of-377 for 3,550 yards and 34 touchdowns, and added nine scores on the ground. His 43 overall touchdowns are tied for first in the nation.

Boyd also leads the ACC and ranks eighth in the nation with 336.8 yards per game.

"I can’t tell you how proud I am of Tajh Boyd. He has had a terrific year in leading us to a second straight 10-win season. It has been 25 years since a starting quarterback has done that," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement.

"He has broken just about every record out there to the point where he is breaking his own records. I really believe he is the best quarterback in the nation and I am glad to see the American Football Coaches agreed with that today. This award means a lot to him because he has great respect for the players and teams in this league. He has also been a great leader all season. He is very deserving."

Werner is tied with South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney for the most sacks in the nation this season with 13. He also has 18 tackles for loss. Werner also was named to the AFCA All-America team Wednesday, and is one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

"There is not a more well-deserving award than this one for Bjoern, who’s had an unbelievable year for us and his statistics prove it ... but his worth goes well beyond his statistics," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement.

"The value he has to his team … the effect he has on his teammates, off the field and in the classroom and as a team leader is tremendous, and the things he’s sacrificed to give up for other guys to make plays on our defense. He’s a tremendous team player, he’s a tremendous leader and he’s a tremendous winner and I think he’ll go down as one of the great football players in Florida State football history. He has had a tremendous year this year and I can’t be happier for him."

Here is how the voting went down:

ACC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (20)
  • Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina (19)
  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (2)
  • Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State (2)
  • Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (1)
ACC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (22)
  • Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina (21)
  • EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State (2)
  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (1)
ACC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Tajh Boyd headlines All-ACC team

November, 26, 2012
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Clemson had the best offense in the ACC this season, so it comes as no surprise that the Tigers dominated the All-ACC first team released Monday.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd and five teammates won first-team honors on offense, the first time Clemson has ever place six players on the All-ACC first-team offense and the first time any team has done it since Florida State in 1995.

Florida State and North Carolina each placed five players on the all-conference team, determined by a vote of 46 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Boyd is joined on the first team by running back Andre Ellington, receiver DeAndre Hopkins, tackle Brandon Thomas, center Dalton Freeman and tight end Brandon Ford. Boyd led the ACC with 34 touchdown passes while Hopkins had league-bests of 16 total touchdown catches and an average of 104 yards receiving.

Nine teams had at least one first-team selection. There were no unanimous picks to the first team, but North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard was chosen as a first-teamer on 45 ballots. Bernard, who had an ACC-leading 1,228 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns, joins Boyd as repeat first-team selections.

Bernard, a punt returner who also was picked as the first-team specialist, was joined by guard Jonathan Cooper, linebacker Kevin Reddick and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.

Four Florida State defensive players -- ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Lamarcus Joyner -- join kicker Dustin Hopkins on the first team.

Boston College (receiver Alex Amidon and linebacker Nick Clancy), Virginia (offensive tackle Oday Aboushi and linebacker Steve Greer) and Duke (cornerback Ross Cockrell and punter Will Monday) were the only other schools with multiple first-team picks.

You also should note that Virginia Tech and Miami did not have a first-team selection for the first time since they joined the ACC in 2004. Defensive end James Gayle, linebacker Jack Tyler and cornerback Antone Exum made the second team for Virginia Tech; Miami's Duke Johnson made the second team as a running back and specialist.

The league coaches will announce their all-conference team next week.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE
  • QB-Tajh Boyd, Clemson
  • RB-Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
  • RB-Andre Ellington, Clemson
  • WR-DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
  • WR-Alex Amidon, Boston College
  • OT-Oday Aboushi, Virginia
  • OT-Brandon Thomas, Clemson
  • OG-Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
  • OG-Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech
  • C-Dalton Freeman, Clemson
  • TE-Brandon Ford, Clemson
  • K-Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Specialist- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE
  • DE-Bjoern Werner, Florida State
  • DE-Cornellius Carradine, Florida State
  • DT-Joe Vellano, Maryland
  • DT-Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
  • LB-Nick Clancy, Boston College
  • LB-Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
  • LB-Steve Greer, Virginia
  • CB-Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
  • CB-Ross Cockrell, Duke
  • S-Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
  • S-Earl Wolff, NC State
  • P-Will Monday, Duke

For the second-team and honorable mention selections, you can click here.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 9

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
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Here’s a look back at the week that was in the ACC …

The good: Boston College’s first ACC win. The Eagles ended a five-game losing streak with a 20-17 win over Maryland on Saturday. It was also the first win over an FBS opponent this year.

The bad: Wake Forest’s defense. The Deacs allowed Clemson 534 total yards and to convert on 10 of 17 third downs.

The ugly: Georgia Tech’s offense on third downs. Oh-fer-10.

The great: Quarterbacks. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon threw for a career-high 467 yards and tied a school record with five touchdowns. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for a school-record 428 yards with five touchdown passes. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns against Duke. UNC quarterback Bryn Renner completed 30 of 47 passes for 358 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

[+] EnlargeGiovani Bernard
Bob Donnan/US PresswireGiovani Bernard capped off a day in which he gained 230 yards from scrimmage with a 74-yard game-winning punt return.
The spectacular: Returns for TDs. UNC running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown to beat NC State with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter. On only his third punt return ever, FSU sophomore Tyler Hunter returned it 75 yards for a touchdown against Duke, the Noles’ longest punt return of the season. And Georgia Tech sophomore Jamal Golden had a 97-yard kickoff return for touchdown Saturday against BYU, and finished with 174 yards on his five kick returns. The kick return for a touchdown broke a streak of 177 games without one for Georgia Tech.

The quote: “It feels great, just getting a win it feels so good. You can feel the atmosphere in the locker room. Everyone’s just so excited about it. It doesn’t fix everything, but it just feels awesome. We’re 1-0 today, that’s how I think about it.” -- Boston College WR Alex Amidon.

The quote II: "We feel like we're ready to prove everybody wrong, that we had that one loss but we let that go and we're ready to move on," FSU cornerback Xavier Rhodes told NoleNation’s David Hale. "To prove to everybody this is the team they thought it would be."

The record: FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins’ 56-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was a career-best and also set a new ACC record for career field goals with 81, breaking former Maryland kicker Nick Novak’s mark of 80 set from 2001-04. The 56-yard field goal also tied for the second-longest in FSU history with Sebastian Janikowski, who made a 56-yarder against Wake Forest in 1997.

The milestone: Clemson became the second ACC team in history to score at least 37 points in seven straight games.

The stat: UNC and NC State combined for 1,104 yards, the most in a UNC game since 2002, when the Tar Heels and Arizona State combined for 1,135 yards in a 38-35 Carolina victory.

The streaks: BC’s losing streak has ended, Duke’s losing streak against FSU was extended to 18 games. UNC ended a five-game losing streak to rival NC State.

Instant analysis: FSU 30, USF 17

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
10:02
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It lacked the emotion of last week's win over Clemson or the style points that underscored Florida State's early season dominance, but the Seminoles remained unbeaten and earned a touch of retribution for a 2009 loss to USF, defeating the Bulls 30-17 Saturday.

EJ Manuel completed 19 of 26 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, while the Florida State defense had two takeaways that keyed the win.

It was over when: B.J. Daniels felt the pressure and tossed a fourth-down pass out of bounds with 2:18 remaining in the game. USF battled throughout, largely stifling the high-powered FSU offense in the second half, but Daniels couldn't solve the Florida State defense.

Game ball goes to: Cornellius Carradine. The FSU defensive end had a monster game, leading the Seminoles with nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks. His devastating hit on USF backup quarterback Matt Floyd forced a fumble that Christian Jones scooped up for a touchdown. On a night when the FSU offense struggled to find its footing, Carradine's forced fumble provided the turning point.

Stat of the game: 183. That's the total rushing yardage for FSU -- a solid effort but well off the big numbers the Seminoles had been posting through the first four games of the season. Meanwhile the Bulls defensive front failed to make a single tackle behind the line of scrimmage in a loss to Ball State last week, but USF turned up the pressure and gave FSU's revamped offensive line its first real test of the season. The results were mixed. The Seminoles mustered just enough to win, but Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr. and the running game took a big step back from the huge numbers they'd posted against Clemson.

Unsung hero: Xavier Rhodes. The FSU cornerback picked off a Daniels' pass late in the first half to set up a Dustin Hopkins field goal. Rhodes was exceptional in coverage throughout the game, holding USF's big-play receiver Andre Davis to just one catch for 3 yards.

What it means: It was a classic trap game for Florida State, which just won an emotional victory against Clemson last week and was making its first road trip of the season. The Seminoles certainly didn't look sharp, particularly early on, but they managed to sneak past USF to remain unbeaten and earn a small bit of retribution for the 17-7 loss it suffered at the hands of the Bulls in 2009. Jimbo Fisher is now 5-0 career against in-state rivals. Meanwhile, USF falls to 2-3 but its defense turned in a far more impressive effort than it had a week earlier, giving coach Skip Holtz some cause for optimism as the Bulls turn their focus toward Big East play.

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