Since being on the Virginia Tech beat, I had yet to vote on All-ACC teams until recently. My first year was abbreviated. Last year, I wasn’t part of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, something that was remedied.
Naturally, this is the first year that the media had to select three teams, having a much larger pool with Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the league. So it was quite the process.
In the end, I had seven Hokies on my list – Logan Thomas, Andrew Miller, Derrick Hopkins, Jack Tyler, Kendall Fuller, Kyshoen Jarrett and A.J. Hughes. Only Fuller was a first-teamer. I had Tyler and Hughes on the second team and Thomas, Miller, Hopkins and Jarrett on the third team.
(Quick aside: Miller took ACC offensive lineman of the week honors, while Fuller was the defensive back of the week after their performances in the UVa game.)
I’m sure to get flogged for some of these picks (either I’m a homer or not enough of a homer) and probably owe some royalties to the estimable David Teel for borrowing his idea and making this a blog post, but here it is anyway.
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Player of the Year
QB Jameis Winston, Florida State: I’m on double secret probation by the Heisman Trophy trust for revealing my picks in advance of the ceremony the last two years, so let’s just say Winston is in consideration for my ballot this year. And that puts him far and away ahead of everyone in the ACC.
Offensive Player of the Year
Winston: Over Andre Williams. Had a bigger impact in bigger games.
Defensive Player of the Year
DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: A one-man wrecking ball in the middle of that Pitt line who had 26.5 tackles for a loss. I don’t think anyone else on defense had quite that impact.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Winston: If he’s the best player in the league, it stands to reason that he’s the best offensive rookie too.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech: I don’t know if a freshman had as much thrown on him and handled it as seamlessly as Fuller, who played nickel, boundary and field corner and stood out at all of them. His six picks were second most in the ACC.
Rookie of the Year
Winston: He’s pretty good.
Coach of the Year
David Cutcliffe, Duke: It says something about the job that Cutcliffe has done if the coach of the No. 1 team in the country that’s about to play for the BCS title, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, didn’t get the nod here. Fisher’s done a great job, sure. But Cutcliffe has done more with less. The fact that Duke is at the top of the ACC Coastal Division in something other than graduation rates is incredible.
First — Winston; Second – Tajh Boyd, Clemson; Third – Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
I think the first two are pretty obvious. The third QB pick in the league was a head-scratcher. Anthony Boone didn’t play the whole year. Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams played half a year each. C.J. Brown got hurt. Tom Savage was OK. Stephen Morris was hit or miss. So was Thomas, but in the end, he still was third in the league with 262.9 yards of total offense per game, shouldering a lot of VT’s rushing load, so I gave him the nod.
First — Williams, Boston College; Duke Johnson, Miami; Second – Kevin Parks, Virginia; Devonta Freeman, Florida State; Third – Roderick McDowell, Clemson; Robert Godhigh, Georgia Tech
Williams was a no-brainer. I know I’m going to get criticized for putting an injured guy like Johnson in the No. 2 spot, since only played in eight games. But he had 920 rushing yards in that time, which still was good enough for fourth in the league by the end of the year. Parks had 1,031 yards, topping Johnson by only 111 yards despite having four extra games.
First – Sammy Watkins, Clemson; Jamison Crowder, Duke; Allen Hurns, Miami; Second – Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh, Rashad Greene, Florida State, Alex Amidon, Boston College; Third – Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest; Devin Street, Pittsburgh; Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Watkins is the best receiver in the league, but Crowder wasn’t too far behind. Hurns had 1,138 receiving yards, which was second to Watkins’ 1,237. It was tough to figure out exactly what to do with injured guys like Campanaro and Street, but I put them on there on the third team.
First – Eric Ebron, North Carolina; Second – Nick O’Leary, Florida State; Third – Braxton Deaver, Duke
Easiest position to pick, in my opinion. I barely had to think about it.
First – Cameron Erving, Florida State; Morgan Moses, Virginia; Second – James Hurst, North Carolina; Matt Patchan, Boston College; Third – Brandon Thomas, Clemson; Perry Simmons, Duke.
Thank god the Jacobs Blocking Trophy results came out Sunday. Erving took the top spot, and even though I was relatively sure I’d put him there in this, that the coaches agree on that is comforting. I’m an admitted novice when it comes to offensive line film, so I fell in line with the coaches’ picks after that, with Moses third in the voting and Hurst fourth.
First – Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech; Tre’ Jackson, Florida State; Second – Tyler Shatley, Clemson; Brandon Linder, Miami; Third – Kalon Davis, Clemson; Andrew Miller, Virginia Tech.
Mason had a couple of ACC Player of the Week wins, so he was one that was fairly easy to pick out. I’ll admit it’s tough to differentiate the rest, but the Noles’ offensive line is pretty dang good.
First – Bryan Stork, Florida State; Second – Macky MacPherson, Syracuse; Third – Andy Gallik, Boston College.
Like I was saying, Florida State has a pretty good offensive line.
First – Vic Beasley, Clemson; Kareem Martin, North Carolina; Second – Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech; Kasim Edebali, Boston College; Third – Eli Harold, Virginia; Kenny Anunike, Duke
Beasley was a beast. He was the only other guy I thought about when putting Donald for Defensive Player of the Year. Martin had 11 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss. Not bad numbers at all.
First — Donald, Pittsburgh; Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest; Second – Jay Bromley, Syracuse; Timmy Jernigan, Florida State; Third – Derrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech; Andrew Malone, Maryland
Donald was a lock. I put Whitlock second. Numbers-wise (19 TFLs, 9 sacks) he was great. This is kind of where Florida State’s guys get short shrift. It’s a lot like Bud Foster‘s a lot of years. It’s such a well-rounded unit that few individuals really put up huge stats (and the fact that FSU’s starters probably didn’t play an entire game is probably another reason). I’ll admit, I’ve only seen a couple FSU games this year (it’s impossible to when covering a different team on Saturdays) and Jernigan possibly could have been higher. I gave Hopkins the nod over Luther Maddy, despite inferior stats, since the Virginia Tech coaches have repeatedly spoken about Hopkins as the linchpin on that line.
First – Kelby Brown, Duke; Robert Caldwell, N.C. State; Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College; Second – Steele Divitto, Boston College; Stephone Anthony, Clemson; Jack Tyler, Virginia Tech; Third – Marcus Whitfield, Maryland; Telvin Smith, Florida State; Denzel Perryman, Miami.
I probably had a tougher time with this group than any on this list. They don’t split up outside linebackers and middle linebackers, so it’s comparing two different skill sets and stats for many players. I went with Brown, Caldwell and Pierre-Louis on the first team, although I could have easily swapped in a lot of players. Again, FSU’s linebackers had me somewhat perplexed. I know Christian Jones is a good player. He doesn’t have a ton of stats this year, though (42 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 2 sacks). It’s hard for me to put him above guys who are putting up big production numbers on this list. That might be the wrong approach to this, but it’s how I did it.
First – Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State; Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech; Second – Ross Cockrell, Duke; Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech; Third – Bashaud Breeland, Clemson; Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
Joyner is a finalist for a couple national awards, so he was an easy pick. I went with Fuller over Cockrell. He had more interceptions and passes defended and, having watched him all year, I know the different roles that the Hokies asked him to play on a weekly basis. That’s not easy.
First – Anthony Harris, Virginia; Jeremy Cash, Duke; Second – Tre Boston, North Carolina; Terrance Brooks, Florida State; Third – Durell Eskridge, Syracuse; Kyshoen Jarrett, Virginia Tech
Harris, the national leader in picks, was an easy choice. Cash was third in the league with 109 tackles. Hard to find a more active safety than that.
First – Ryan Switzer, North Carolina; Second – DeVon Edwards, Duke; Third – William Likely, Maryland.
The ACC might have the deepest group of return specialists anywhere. Switzer’s four punt returns for touchdowns clinched the top spot. Edwards had two kick returns for touchdowns. Crowder probably could have made this as a punt returner (he had two punt return TDs), but Likely had one too, as well as a 12.8-yard punt return average and a 27.0-yard kick return average. Just imagine how crowded this field would have been if Duke Johnson or Stefon Diggs would have been healthy all year.
First – Nate Freese, Boston College; Robert Aguayo, Florida State; Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson
This is a pretty results-oriented spot. Freese was 18-for-18 with a long of 52.
First – Pat O’Donnell, Miami; Second – A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech; Third – Matt Yoklic, Pittsburgh
Same thing for punters. O’Donnell’s average was nearly 3 yards better than anyone else in the league.