ACC Sports Journal editor David Glenn shares his preliminary All-ACC football ballot. Earlier we gave you his offensive picks. Today DG shares his All-ACC defense.
David Glenn is the long-time editor of the ACC Sports Journal (1994-present), the founding editor of ACCSports.com, and an Executive Board Member for the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA), which directs the media’s annual voting on various ACC honors in multiple sports.
As part of his job description over the last two decades, Glenn typically watches every ACC-vs-ACC football game, plus many non-conference games, for at least as long as they remain competitive. (Yes, his DVR works overtime.) It would be an understatement to suggest that he takes his ballot seriously.
Below, back by popular demand, is DG’s preliminary — after all, all 14 ACC teams still have one regular-season game remaining — 2013 All-ACC football ballot. (The actual votes from Glenn and other ACSMA members are due Sunday by 5 p.m.) As always, thoughtful, intelligent feedback is encouraged.
1 – Aaron Donald, Sr., Pittsburgh (51 tackles, 26 TFL, 10 sacks, 16 QBH, 2 PBU, 4 forced fumbles, 1 blocked kick)
1 – Nikita Whitlock, Sr., Wake Forest (70 tackles, 17 TFL, 9 sacks, 7 QBH, 1 PBU, 2 forced fumbles, 2 blocked kicks)
2 – Timmy Jernigan, Jr., Florida State (43 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 QBH)
2 – Derrick Hopkins, Sr., Virginia Tech (45 tackles, 7 TFL, 4 sacks, 11 QBH, 1 fumble recovery, 1 blocked kick)
3 – Grady Jarrett, Jr., Clemson (62 tackles, 8 TFL, 1 sack, 13 QBH)
3 – Luther Maddy, Jr., Virginia Tech (50 tackles, 11 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 13 QBH, 2 PBU, 2 PD)
Also: Jay Bromley (Syr.), Adam Gotsis (GT), Justin Foxx (Duke), Darius Kilgo (Md.), Thomas Teal (NCSU), Brent Urban (UVa).
Comment: Donald (one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the nation’s top defensive player) and Whitlock are absolutely amazing, relentless playmakers who do much of their handiwork despite game plans and double-teams designed to minimize their impacts. Jernigan and Hopkins also had games this season in which they completely dominated interior blockers to the point where entire sections of the playbook had to be abandoned by the opposing play-caller. Urban was on his way to an All-ACC campaign before a serious injury caused him to miss more than one-third of the season.
1 – Kareem Martin, Sr., North Carolina (70 tackles, 19 TFL, 11 sacks, 13 QBH, 3 PBU, 3 forced fumbles)
1 – Vic Beasley, Jr., Clemson (33 tackles, 17 TFL, 10 sacks, 9 QBH, 6 PBU, 3 forced fumbles)
2 – Kasim Edebali, Sr., Boston College (55 tackles, 14 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 4 PBU, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries)
2 – Kenny Anunike, Sr., Duke (61 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 QBH, 2 PBU, 2 PD, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked kick)
3 – Jeremiah Attaochu, Sr., Georgia Tech (32 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
3 – J.R. Collins, Sr., Virginia Tech (39 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 22 QBH, 1 forced fumble)
Also: Shayon Green (Miami), Eli Harold (UVa), Zach Thompson (WF), James Gayle (VT), Corey Crawford (Clem.), Anthony Chickillo (Miami), Andre Monroe (Md.).
Comment: This can be a tricky category because different defensive coordinators have varying job descriptions in mind for their ends, and that can skew the statistics dramatically. Beasley, Attaochu and Collins are examples of players who mostly wreak havoc in the opponent’s backfield and make opposing quarterbacks very uncomfortable. Martin, Edebali and Anunike are asked for a more balanced approach to defending the run and the pass. All six players are consistently good at being difference-makers, including against quality opponents, in exactly the ways their teams need.
1 – Kevin Pierre-Louis, Sr., Boston College (91 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 PBU, game-altering pick-six in VT win)
1 – Jack Tyler, Sr., Virginia Tech (89 tackles, 9 TFL, 4 sacks, 11 QBH, 1 forced fumble)
1 – Telvin Smith, Sr., Florida State (64 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 INT for TD, 4 PBU, 6 PD, 2 QBH, 1 fumble recovery)
2 – Kelby Brown, Jr., Duke (94 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 6 QBH, 2 forced fumbles)
2 – Christian Jones, Sr., Florida State (43 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, typically plays only into early 3rd quarter)
2 – Robert Caldwell, Sr., N.C. State (97 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 4 QBH, 1 PBU, 2 PD, 1 INT)
3 – Stephone Anthony, Jr., Clemson (72 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 QBH)
3 – Denzel Perryman, Jr., Miami (98 tackles, 4 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 3 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
3 – Marquis Spruill, Sr., Syracuse (58 tackles, 13 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 3 QBH)
Also: Marcus Whitfield (Md.), Mike Olson (WF), Henry Coley (UVa), Anthony Gonzalez (Pitt), Todd Thomas (Pitt), Steele Devitto (BC), Cole Farrand (Md.).
Comment: Florida State’s defense (giving up just 11 points per game) this season has been truly awesome — most ACC teams have given up twice as many points, and some have yielded three times as many — and its linebacker corps has been a huge part of that success. Because the Seminoles have so many playmakers on defense, and because they rotate frequently to keep everyone fresh, it’s nearly impossible for anyone in their front seven especially to compile impressive numbers, but when you watch them play you can be overwhelmed by their athleticism and dominance. Pierre-Louis, Tyler, Brown and Caldwell are good examples of players who not only put up amazing numbers but also deserve kudos for their consistency, intelligence and big-impact plays.
1 – Jeremy Cash, So., Duke (96 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4 INT, 4 PBU, 8 PD, 2 QBH, 2 forced fumbles)
1 – Anthony Harris, Jr., Virginia (75 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 8 INT, 6 PBU, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked kick)
2 – Tre Boston, Sr., North Carolina (70 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 4 INT, 6 PBU, 10 PD)
2 – Jemea Thomas, Sr., Georgia Tech (64 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 8 PBU, 2 forced fumbles)
3 – Ray Vinopal, Jr., Pittsburgh (68 tackles, 2 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 3 INT, 5 PBU, 2 forced fumbles, awesome in ND victory)
3 – Durell Eskridge, So., Syracuse (78 tackles, 4 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 4 INT, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 forced fumble)
Also: Terrence Brooks (FSU), Robert Smith (Clem.), Sean Sylvia (BC), Sean Davis (Md.), Jason Hendricks (Pitt), Dontae Johnson (NCSU), Ryan Janvion (WF), Kyshoen Jarrett (VT).
Comment: You really have to watch Cash, an Ohio State transfer, to appreciate fully the impact he has for the Blue Devils from his safety position. He makes plays everywhere — tackling running backs behind the line of scrimmage, blitzing quarterbacks, making sturdy one-on-one stops in open space, and breaking up passing plays downfield. Duke basically asks him to do everything, and he rarely fails to deliver. Harris leads the nation in interceptions and projects as a high NFL draft pick. This is another ACC position group that boasts quality depth this season.
1 – Lamarcus Joyner, Sr., Florida State (55 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 4 PD, 2 QBH, 3 forced fumbles, MVP vs Clemson)
1 – Ross Cockrell, Sr., Duke (35 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, 11 PBU, 14 PD, huge clutch plays in close games/wins vs VT, Miami, WF)
2 – Bashaud Breeland, Jr., Clemson (62 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 4 INT, 13 PBU, 1 QBH)
2 – Kendall Fuller, Fr., Virginia Tech (48 tackles, 2 TFL, 5 INT, 6 PBU, 11 PD, 2 QBH, 1 forced fumble)
3 – Kevin Johnson, Jr., Wake Forest (49 tackles, 3 INT, 10 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
3 – Ladarius Gunter, So., Miami (40 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 6 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
Also: Merrill Noel (WF), Brandon Facyson (VT), Kyle Fuller (VT), Manuel Asprilla (BC), Louis Young (GT), William Likely (Md.), K’Waun Williams (Pitt), Jabari Price (UNC).
Comment: Joyner, who rejoiced and personally thanked us (“Defensive guys never make the cover!” he said) this summer when he saw his photo gracing the front of the 2013 football kickoff edition of the ACC Sports Journal, has many more — and even bigger! — honors coming his way this winter, from first-team All-ACC to All-America to the Nagurski/Thorpe national awards (he’s a finalist for both) to perhaps ACC defensive player of the year. (He and Pitt’s Donald are the top two candidates for the latter.) He was the best of an impressive group that at midseason lost potential All-ACC picks Kyle Fuller (VT), Demetrius Nicholson (UVa) and Dexter McDougle (Md.) to serious injuries.
1 – Pat O’Donnell, Sr., Miami (47.6 average #1 ACC, team net punting #2 ACC)
2 – Will Monday, So., Duke (43.0 average #3 ACC, team net punting #4 ACC)
3 – Tommy Hibbard, Jr., North Carolina (42.6 average #5 ACC, team net punting #1 ACC)
Also: Wil Baumann (NCSU), Nate Freese (BC), Riley Dixon (Syr.), A.J. Hughes (VT), Bradley Pinion (Clem.), Sean Poole (GT), Matt Yoklic (Pitt).
Comment: The best starting point for judging this group is looking at a combination of individual punting average and team punting statistics. (Long, low punts that result in long returns may improve your personal average while also hurting your team.) O’Donnell had the best personal numbers, and his Hurricanes had the second-best (best in ACC games) coverage stats, which is a rare and impressive combination. Monday was brilliant on coffin-corner attempts while mostly avoiding touchbacks (only four), as was Dixon. Hibbard was by far the best in the conference at minimizing the possibility of a quality return (less than a one-yard return average). Two-thirds of ACC programs got quality production from this position this season.