After an opening week that saw the United States dominate in the swimming pool — winning 33 total medals — the 2016 Summer Olympics have turned over to their other popular race events — ones that take place on land, not in water: track and field.
On Sunday evening, the world watched as Jamaica’s Usain Bolt reaffirmed his status as the fastest man in the world, winning his third straight gold medal in the 100 meters in dominating fashion. With the 4×100 meters relay set for this Friday, I wondered what would the ACC’s hypothetical relay team look like if we assembled a group of the four fastest football players from the conference.
These are all incredibly productive players on the gridiron, who have either achieved success on the track before or, in the case of one specific athlete, are still in the process of doing so. Without further adieu, here’s the ACC’s 4x100m relay squad:
Kermit Whitfield, Florida State, wide receiver
Whitfield was named to multiple All-ACC teams as a junior in Tallahassee after recording 57 receptions for 798 yards and six touchdowns; he also averaged nearly 27 yards per kick return. The 5-8 dynamo was also a prolific track star in high school, winning the 2012 Florida 3-A state championships in both the 100 and 200 meters. He has a personal best time of 10.21 seconds in the 100 meter dash, which would’ve been good for eighth this year at the Olympic Trials.
In the offseason, he has competed for Florida State’s indoor track program in the 60 meters. Whitfield is also the cousin for former FSU receiver Marvin Bracy, who left school in 2013 to pursue his professional career in track. Bracy actually competed in the 2016 Summer Games in the 100 meters; he ran his final semifinal heat a 10.08, but didn’t qualify for the finals.
He’s going to be our lead runner and catalyst for this race.
Ryan Switzer, North Carolina, wide receiver
Next up, it’s another one of the ACC’s most dangerous playmakers, and perhaps the best return man in conference history. Switzer has already been named All-America twice, and tied an NCAA record back in 2013 with five punt returns for touchdowns; he’s now has seven career punt returns for scores, which puts him just one shy of the record set by Wes Welker (Texas Tech) and Antonio Perkins (Oklahoma).
While in high school, Switzer was a part of multiple state championship relay teams (4x100m and 4x200m) in West Virginia.
DeVon Edwards, Duke, cornerback
Now, it’s a little disconcerting to have a Tar Heels passing the baton to a Blue Devil, but hopefully these two can work around those potential chemistry issues. We need a cohesive unit if we’re going to win a medal.
For three years now, Edwards has been an absolute terror in Duke’s defensive secondary and return game. Edwards was first team All-ACC as a return man in 2015 (three kick return touchdowns), and named to the league’s honorable mention defensive team, too. Edwards has taken six kick returns back to the house for scores during his career in Durham — at least one in every season he’s played.
According to the school, Edwards was a member of Duke’s track program in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, Edwards ran the 100 meters in 10.61 seconds (the fourth-fastest time in school history), and placed second in the event at the Duke Invitational. Later that same season, Edwards was the second leg on Duke’s 4x100m team at the Penn Relays; the Blue Devils came in 19th place.
Nyheim Hines, NCSU, running back
And finally, we get to our anchor. If you watched NC State football last season, you know what Hines is capable of. The multipurpose back scored a touchdown in three different ways in 2015, including a 100-yard kick return he housed against Clemson.
For his efforts, Hines was named honorable mention All-ACC as a returner. In the spring, however, Hines performed admirably for the Wolfpack’s track team. Hines competed in the 60 and 100 meters for NC State, earning All-ACC honors in both events. His time of 10.42 seconds in the 100 meters was the ninth-fastest recorded time by a college football player last season.
As a freshman, Hines was also a member of NC State’s 4×100 relay team. That four-man group won the ACC title, and finished seventh nationally with a time of 39.48 seconds at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
For what it’s worth, too, Hines told ESPN’s Andrea Adelson back in June that he believes competing in track at NC State will help him on the football field.
Artavis Scott, Clemson, wide receiver
Corn Elder, Miami, defensive back
Enjoy the rest of the Olympics, and know that not too long after the closing ceremonies, college football will be right around the corner. Hypotheticals such as this won’t be necessary.