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May 18, 2012

The Wolfpacker's ACC spring wrap up, Part II




Maryland


Last year: 2-10, 1-7 ACC
Coach: Randy Edsall, 2nd year at Maryland (2-10) and 14th overall (76-80)
Returning starters: 17 (Offense: 5, Defense: 10, Specialists: 2)
Key returners: DT Joe Vellano, LB Demetrius Hartsfield, LB Kenny Tate, S Eric Franklin, TE Matt Furstenburg, QB C.J. Brown, P/K Nick Ferrara
Key losses: OT R.J. Dill, OT Max Garcia, QB Danny O'Brien, RB Davin Meggett, CB Cameron Chism, OG Andrew Gonnella
Notes: The squad that Randy Edsall coaches heading into his second year on the job does not resemble the Terrapins team he inherited - 24 players have left since the coach was hired in Jan. 2011, including 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien, a quarterback ... Maryland returns 33 percent of last year's passing yards, 42 percent of their rushing yards, 61 percent of their receiving yards, 65 percent of their scoring, 80 percent of their tackles and 70 percent of their turnovers forced ... The Terps will be breaking in new offensive and defensive coordinators this season ... The defense returns 10 starters from last fall, and will also welcome back safety/linebacker Kenny Tate, a former All-ACC selection that played in four games last year and received a medical hardship waiver ... Two defenders who enjoyed breakout campaigns return for 2012 in defensive tackle Joe Vellano, a second-team All-American, and linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, who ranked fifth nationally with an average of 12 tackles per game despite playing in just nine contests; both should greatly aid the Terps in their switch to a 3-4 alignment ... Quarterback C.J. Brown, who split signal calling duties with O'Brien but started five times, takes over under center after rushing for 574 yards and five touchdowns last fall while throwing for 842 yards, seven scores and six interceptions; he was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster this spring ... After the losses of running backs Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams, the team's leading returning rusher, outside of Brown, is sophomore Justus Pickett, who rushed for 274 yards and a score last year ... Safety Eric Franklin finished last season with 106 tackles in 12 games, which ranked him 11th nationally among all defensive backs with an average of 8.8 hits per game.

Miami


Last year: 6-6, 3-5 ACC
Coach: Al Golden, 2nd year at Miami (6-6) and 7th overall (33-40)
Returning starters: 12 (Offense: 4, Defense: 6, Specialists: 2)
Key returners: QB Stephen Morris, S Vaughn Telemaque, DE Anthony Chickillo, S Ray-Ray Armstrong
Key losses: WR Travis Benjamin, WR Tommy Streeter, LT Brandon Washington, QB Jacory Harris, RB Lamar Miller, LB Sean Spence, C Tyler Horn
Notes: Last year, in Al Golden's debut campaign, Miami went 6-6 and recorded victories over three bowl-bound teams, but sat out the postseason due to a self-imposed punishment stemming from NCAA violations from previous years ... The squad's worst defeat was by just eight points and they defeated two of three opponents who were nationally ranked at kickoff, but the Hurricanes must replace last year's leading rusher, passer, receiver, tackler and interceptor ... Miami lost five players who entered the NFL Draft early, but will benefit from eight freshmen from their top-ten recruiting class enrolling early and taking part in the spring ... The team's 12 returning starters have combined for a total of 124 college starts if you exclude the two returning specialists, who have combined for 24 starts ... The team does return junior Stephen Morris under center; he didn't play much last year and missed the spring with a back injury, but he threw for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns in six games as a true freshman during the 2010 campaign; he is expected to compete with Memphis transfer Ryan Williams for starting duties ... Linebacker Denzel Perryman, who paced ACC rookies with an average of 5.8 tackles per game, and defensive end Anthony Chickillo earned various Freshman All-American last fall, including a first-team distinction for Perryman from Rivals.com ... Perryman is moving to middle linebacker for this season, while last year's man in the middle, James Gaines, bumps to the strongside ... Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong, who was limited to seven appearances and one start last season, earned second-team All-ACC laurels in 2010 despite starting just three games; he had 79 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, and three interceptions that season ... Running back Mike James, a 222-pound bruiser who handled short yardage situations and scored eight times in 2011, enters his senior campaign with 749 career rushing yards and 37 career catches.

North Carolina


Last year: 7-6, 3-5 ACC
Coach: Larry Fedora, 1st year at North Carolina and 5th overall (34-19)
Returning starters: 15 (Offense: 8, Defense: 5, Specialists: 2)
Key returners: QB Bryn Renner, RB Giovani Bernard, OG Jonathan Cooper, OL James Hurst, LB Kevin Reddick, K Casey Barth, WR Erik Highsmith
Key losses: LB Zach Brown, DE Quinton Coples, WR Dwight Jones, CB Charles Brown, DT Tydreke Powell
Notes: Coach Larry Fedora takes over in Chapel Hill and will be trying to install his fast-paced spread attack on offense, which he hopes will run at least 80 plays per game, but the Tar Heels will be sitting out the postseason as a result of NCAA violations ... The offense returns quarterback Bryn Renner, who set a school record with 26 touchdown passes in his first year as the starter, four starting offensive lineman and running back Giovani Bernard, who totaled 1,615 yards from scrimmage last year, the second-best total ever by an ACC rookie ... The Heels do have some talent out wide at receiver returning, with Erik Highsmith totaling 726 yards and five scores through the air last year; Jheranie Boyd also hauled in five scoring catches in 2011 ... The defense is also changing its scheme, and will employ a 4-2-5 alignment this fall, with linebacker Kevin Reddick, a veteran of 31 college starts, expected to lead the way ... Defensive end Kareem Martin is also coming off of a productive campaign in which he notched seven tackles for loss and four sacks, while safety Tre Boston leads the way for the back line after a year with 70 tackles and three interceptions ... Kicker Casey Barth returns after missing almost all of last year with an injury; he ranks ninth among all FBS returners with 51 career field goals and third in field goal percentage (.8095) ... Returner T.J. Thorpe ranked 13th nationally in kickoff returns last season, and the speedster should also get a chance to contribute out wide this year ... Starting guard Jonathan Cooper was a second-team All-ACC honoree last season and is the ACC's most experienced returning lineman with 35 career starts.

Virginia


Last year: 8-5, 5-3 ACC
Coach: Mike London, 3rd year at Virginia (12-13) and 5th overall (36-18)
Returning starters: 11 (Offense: 7, Defense: 4, Specialists: 0)
Key returners: LT Oday Aboushi, RT Morgan Moses, QB Michael Rocco, RB Perry Jones, LB Steve Greer, RB Kevin Parks, LB LaRoy Reynolds, CB Demetrious Nicholson
Key losses: WR Kris Burd, OG Austin Pasztor, DT Matt Conrath, DE Cam Johnson, CB Chase Minnifield, S Rodney McLeod, S Corey Mosley
Notes: Mike London was named ACC Coach of the Year after leading the Cavaliers to the school's first bowl game since 2007; a loss in the regular season finale to Virginia Tech prevented them from representing the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship game ... His squad returns three starting offensive linemen, including a pair of mammoth tackles in Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi, starting quarterback Michael Rocco and a three-headed backfield of Perry Jones, Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson, which combined to rush for 1,990 yards and 21 total scores last season ... Jones also hauled in 48 passes, which led all ACC backs, and tossed a 37-yard touchdown pass ... Rocco made great strides last year and threw nine touchdowns against just four picks over the final six games of the campaign after tossing eight interceptions in the season's first seven contests ... However, the Cavs return just 11 total starters, and the 13 lost starters from 2011 combined for 427 college starts, with the defense being hit especially hard ... Linebacker should be a position of strength for the Cavs with Steve Greer and LaRoy Reynolds returning to Charlottesville; Greer was a second-team All-ACC honoree after tallying 103 tackles while Reynolds totaled a team-best 50 solo stops and eight tackles for loss ... Cornerback Demetrious Nicholson was named the team's top freshman this spring, but is the veteran of the secondary after playing almost every snap last fall ... The Wahoos were 4-0 last year in games decided by 3 or fewer points, and 6-1 in games decided by ten or fewer points ... The team has also added Alabama transfer Phillip Sims, who was ranked as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com ... The Cavs' 2012 non-conference slate features three FBS program with a combined winning percentage of .718, the best of any ACC school this year.

Virginia Tech


Last year: 11-3, 7-1 ACC, ACC Coastal Division Champions, finished No. 17 in USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 21 in AP
Coach: Frank Beamer, 26th year at Virginia Tech (209-98-2) and 32nd overall (251-121-4)
Returning starters: 13 (Offense: 3, Defense: 9, Specialists: 1)
Key returners: QB Logan Thomas, WR Marcus Davis, DE James Gayle, LB Bruce Taylor, S/CB Antone Exum, CB Kyle Fuller
Key losses: WR Danny Coale, Entire OL except C, RB David Wilson, CB Jayron Hosley
Notes: Frank Beamer has led the Hokies to eight consecutive campaigns with at least ten wins, which is the best such streak in the land and third-longest in NCAA history; Beamer also ranks as the winningest active coach in the FBS ... Since the Hokies joined the ACC, Beamer has a record of 84-24 (.778), which is the highest winning percentage in league history, and led the school to four ACC Championships ... Despite the loss of three 2010 starters for the majority of last year, the defense still ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense, 10th in total defense and 14th against the run; and all three of those defenders return this season, including big-time junior middle linebacker Bruce Taylor, who was named All-ACC honorable mention despite playing in just eight games ... The defensive front that helped the Hokies pace the league in sacks last year also returns intact, the only losses come in the defensive backfield with the graduation of ballhawk cornerback Jayron Hosley and safety Eddie Whitley ... Defensive end James Gayle and cornerback Kyle Fuller return on defense after earning All-ACC second-team laurels last fall ... Fuller split time between whip linebacker and cornerback last fall, and totaled 14.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, but played exclusively at cornerback in the spring ... Last fall's leading tackler Antone Exum, who totaled 89 stops in 2011, is also back and is moving from rover to cornerback, which will probably give the program the top tackling cornerback duo in the land ... It's the opposite story on the offense, where only three starters return ... Quarterback Logan Thomas is being touted as a possible high-round draft pick after running and passing for a school-record 3,482 yards and 30 total scores last year in his first campaign as the starter ... Thomas will need to find new weapons after the loss of ACC Offensive Player of the Year David Wilson at running back and the departure of receivers Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, who combined for 99 career starts and more reception yards (5,542 yards) than any other pass catching duo in ACC history ... Tech does return a few proven commodities out wide, including senior Marcus Davis, who started in three wide-out sets last fall and totaled 30 catches for 510 yards, as well as classmate D.J. Coles, who hauled in 36 passes for 480 yards. Dyrell Roberts also returns after missing almost all of 2011 with injuries, and he was limited this spring, but he tallied over 300 receiving yards in 2010 ... Kicker Cody Journell, an All-ACC honorable mention, was suspended indefinitely prior to the Sugar Bowl, and his status is still up in the air, although the school confirmed in Feb. that he was still in school and on scholarship.

Wake Forest


Last year: 6-7 overall, 5-3 ACC
Coach: Jim Grobe, 12th year at Wake Forest (68-67) and 18th overall (101-100-1)
Returning starters: 12 (Offense: 3, Defense: 7, Specialists: 2)
Key returners: QB Tanner Price, WR Michael Campanaro, CB Merrill Noel, S Kenny Okoro, NG Nikita Whitlock
Key losses: WR Chris Givens, Entire OL except C, DE/LB Kyle Wilber, S Cyhl Quarles, S Josh Bush
Notes: Jim Grobe coached his team to within a field goal of appearing in the ACC Championship Game, but they must do better out of conference (1-3 in 2010) in 2011; they square off with Liberty, Army, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt this season ... The Demon Deacons did drop some close games, with four of their seven losses coming by seven points or less ... Junior signal caller Tanner Price is one of three returning starters on offense after completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns against just six interceptions ... Price recorded the seventh-best interception avoidance ratio (.142) in ACC history last season, and he has not thrown a pick in his last 173 attempts, the seventh longest streak in ACC annals ... He loses last year's top rusher and receiver, but does return junior Michael Campanaro, who hauled in73 passes for 833 yards last year ... Junior running back Josh Harris, who has battled injuries throughout his career, also returns following a season in which he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and totaled 432 yards on the ground, to go along with three scores ... Harris ranked fifth in the league for rushing yards per game in 2010 with an average of 65.5 yards, he torched the stout Virginia Tech defense for 241 yards that year ... On defense, second-team All-ACC nose guard Nikita Whitlock, a veteran of 25 career starts, and sophomore cornerback Merrill Noel, the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year after tying for the national lead with 21 passes defended as a true freshman, lead the way for seven returning starters ... Whitlock has averaged one tackle for loss per game during his college career, which ties him for the fifth best average of any returning FBS player ... Kicker Jimmy Newman went 17-of-22 on field goals last year, including a school-record 14 consecutive, and he has a career field goal percentage of .769.


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