The ACC Kickoff is over, much earlier than usual this year, which means there are still 16 days until Virginia Tech opens up fall practice on Aug. 1 and 49 days until the Hokies kick things off against West Virginia at FedEx Field on Sept. 3.
We writers submitted our ballots picking an order in each division as well as a preseason All-ACC team in Charlotte. The consensus order will be released Monday, with the All-ACC team put out Wednesday. But, for the sake of transparency and possible (and likely) ridicule both now and in the future, this is what I submitted Friday:
- 1. Florida State
- 2. Clemson
- 3. Louisville
- 4. NC State
- 5. Wake Forest
- 6. Syracuse
- 7. Boston College
- 1. Miami
- 2. Georgia Tech
- 3. Virginia Tech
- 4. Pittsburgh
- 5. Duke
- 6. North Carolina
- 7. Virginia
ACC championship game
- Florida State over Miami
I tried -- I honestly did -- to come up with a reason not to pick the FSU-Miami matchup that everybody seems to have wanted to pick since the league added the Hurricanes more than a decade ago. I understand Miami's history. I understand that The U is not "back" to what it once was, as much as the national media seems to want them to be. But in a flawed division in which almost every team will be undergoing major rebuilds in some form or fashion, I liked the Hurricanes in a very tight Coastal race, particularly since they get both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at home.
A few years ago I reflexively refused to pick North Carolina to win the division, since the Tar Heels had never done it. That was the year UNC ran the table in the division and into the league title game. I wasn't going to fall down that trap again. I seriously considered both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech but couldn't convince myself of either. I think Justin Fuente will figure out how to move the ball with a young offense and put some points on the board, but there were too many games last year where the difference in the outcome was because of just how spectacular Jerod Evans or Isaiah Ford or Bucky Hodges were in big moments that I can't imagine a scenario where Tech doesn't take at least something of a step back this year with those play-makers gone.
I saw a lot of parallels between Miami and Virginia Tech, in fact, with a big question mark at quarterback and strong defenses, but I went with the 'Canes, partly because they finally have a capable coach in Mark Richt.
My preseason All-ACC team
- QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville
- RB: Mark Walton, Miami
- RB: Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
- WR: Ahmmon Richards, Miami
- WR: Cam Phillips, Virginia Tech
- WR: Deon Cain, Clemson
- TE: Cam Serigne, Wake Forest
- OT: Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
- OT: Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh
- OG: Tyrone Crowder, Clemson
- OG: Tony Adams, N.C. State
- C: Austin Davis, Duke
- APB: Jaylen Samuels, N.C. State
- DE: Harold Landry, Boston College
- DE: Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
- DT: Christian Wilkins, Clemson
- DT: Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
- LB: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
- LB: Micah Kiser, Virginia
- LB: Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
- CB: Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State
- CB: Jaire Alexander, Louisville
- S: Derwin James, Florida State
- S: Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech
- PK: Michael Badgley, Miami
- P: Mason King, Louisville
- Ret: Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh
Preseason Player of the Year
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville
That's three Hokies on the All-ACC team for me: Cam Phillips and the two Edmunds brothers, Tremaine and Terrell. I strongly considered Wyatt Teller at offensive guard (though Crowder and Adams were first- and second-teamers at the end of last year, while Teller was an honorable mention), Joey Slye at place-kicker (I thought he was actually better in 2015 than '16) and a couple of cornerbacks (they're hard to differentiate at Tech, which probably doesn't help their cause in instances like this).
When the team comes out Wednesday, my prediction is that you see Tremaine on the team and probably Phillips as well. Terrell might be a stretch, because Virginia's Quin Blanding has been a mainstay on All-ACC teams his entire career at safety (and everybody's going to pick Derwin James). I thought Edmunds was better than Blanding last year, however (he was my pick on my postseason ballot as well), so I made him my pick here too. Also, in an effort to get good representation for what I think will be strong defenses, I couldn't submit a ballot with two UVa defenders and one at Virginia Tech when I think the Hokies' defense will be superior.
Here are a few more links of interest for your Sunday reading ...
-- I touched on Phillips' wardrobe at the ACC Kickoff a little bit before, but I also wrote a longer piece for Sunday's paper on his approach as he enters the season as Tech's obvious go-to receiver.
-- Columnist Aaron McFarling wrote about how none of the players (understandably, given the layoff in the series) seem to understand how big of a rivalry West Virginia used to be.
-- Aaron and I did a video from Charlotte wrapping up Virginia Tech's day on the stage.
-- If you're an ESPN Insider, here's a link to Phil Steele's ACC picks. (Spoiler: he too picks Florida State and Miami to win the divisions. He has Virginia Tech second in the Coastal.)
-- Cam talking about his style ...
-- Linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka talking about the lunch pail.
-- If you missed video of Fuente's podium session Friday, here's some of it.
-- Cornerback Brandon Facyson had his right wrist in a cast at a recent kickoff event in the Tidewater. It slipped my mind to ask Fuente about it at the Kickoff, but the Daily Press' Norm Wood remembered to.