By Brandon Rink
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ACC Media Days kicks off in Greensboro, NC in what will certainly prove to be an interesting two days.
This weekend, Greensboro, N.C. becomes the center of the ACC football world with all 12 league coaches, a pair of players each and, of course, media folks like me descending upon the 2012 ACC Football Kickoff at the Grandover Resort.
The preseason picks and all-conference team are staples of these events, and the ACC’s meeting of the media minds has had its share of hits and misses.
After correctly picking the first division winners and champion in 2005 (FSU/Virginia Tech), 2006 happened, where last-place-preseason Wake Forest not only won the Atlantic, but the whole ACC.
But in the last five years, it hasn’t been quite as bad:
ACC Championship Teams/Preseason Projection
2007: Champion - Virginia Tech/correctly picked as ACC champion; Runner-up - Boston College/second in the Atlantic.
2008: Champion - Virginia Tech/first in the Coastal; Runner-up - Boston College/fourth in the Atlantic.
2009: Champion - Georgia Tech/second in the Coastal; Runner-up – Clemson/second in the Atlantic.
2010: Champion - Virginia Tech/correctly picked as ACC champion; Runner-up - Florida State/correctly picked as the Atlantic Division champion.
2011: Champion – Clemson/second in the Atlantic; Runner-up - Virginia Tech/picked correctly as Coastal champion.
All totaled, Virginia Tech-Florida State has been the projected ACC title game five of seven seasons, with the champion picked correctly three times in that span (2005, 2007 and 2011). In those years, the Hokies won the Coastal in all but 2009 and FSU missed the mark in ’07, ’09 and ’11. Only two other teams have been pegged to win the divisions – Miami (2006, Coastal/ACC pick) and Clemson (2008, Atlantic/ACC pick).
And it’d be quite the upset if this year’s edition of the ACC Kickoff doesn’t give us a dose of Hokies/’Noles round six, with FSU picked to win it all for the second year in a row and the third time since expansion.
According to the ACC, the preseason favorite has won the league 20 of the last 36 seasons (55.6 percent). When the writers have been wrong of late, they’ve been wrong – 2008, Clemson picked to win on 51 of 65 ballots (VT the champ); 2009, Virginia Tech picked to win on 69 of 87 ballots (GT the champ); 2011, Florida State picked to win on 50 of 71 ballots (Clemson the champ). But that seems to be the overall trend when right or wrong, as there’s typically a consensus favorite amongst the ACC media. Creativity isn’t exactly our thing, but I suspect the same trends hold in most conference preseason polls.
So without further ado, here’s what my 2012 ACC picks and All-ACC ballot will look like this weekend:
1) Florida State
3) NC State
4) Wake Forest
5) Boston College
1) Virginia Tech
2) North Carolina
3) Georgia Tech
ACC Championship Pick: Florida State (FSU’s defense is elite top-to-bottom, and if the injury bug doesn’t bite again, the Seminoles offense will improve enough to give Jimbo Fisher’s crew the edge in ACC matchups)
ACC Player of the Year: Sammy Watkins, Clemson. (Correctly picked David Wilson last year)
All-conference preseason teams are more of a task, and only two offensive players made both 2011 pre-and-postseason All-ACC lists (Virginia Tech OT Blake DeChristopher and Georgia Tech OG Omoregia Uzzi) and four defensively (UNC DE Quinton Coples, BC LB Luke Kuechly, Miami LB Sean Spence and Virginia CB Chase Minnifield).
Preseason All-ACC Team
QB: Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
RB: Giovani Bernard (UNC)
RB: Andre Ellington (Clemson)
WR: Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
WR: Conner Vernon (Duke)
TE: Matt Furstenburg (Maryland)
OT: Oday Aboushi (Virginia)
OG: Omoregie Uzzi (Georgia Tech)
C: Dalton Freeman (Clemson)
OG: Brandon Linder (Miami)
OT: James Hurst (UNC)
K: Dustin Hopkins (FSU)
KR/PR: Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
DE: Brandon Jenkins (FSU)
DT: Timmy Jernigan (FSU)
DT: Joe Vellano (Maryland)
DE: James Gayle (Virginia Tech)
LB: Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College)
LB: Demetrius Hartsfield (Maryland)
LB: Steve Greer (Virginia)
CB: David Amerson (NC State)
S: LaMarcus Joyner (FSU)
S: Earl Wolff (NC State)
CB: Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)
P: Dalton Botts (Miami)
All-ACC By Team: BC (1), Clemson (5), Duke (1), Florida State (4), Georgia Tech (1), Maryland (2), Miami (2), UNC (2), NC State (2), Virginia (2), Virginia Tech (2), Wake Forest (0).