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2012 Preseason All-ACC Football Team Announced

Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina Lead With Four Selections Each; 18 of 25 Earned All-ACC First- or Second-Team Honors in 2011.

July 22, 2012; Greensboro, NC, USA; Flordia State Seminoles defensive end Brandon Jenkins talks to the media during ACC media day at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro NC. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
July 22, 2012; Greensboro, NC, USA; Flordia State Seminoles defensive end Brandon Jenkins talks to the media during ACC media day at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro NC. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The ACC's official release on its preseason all-conference teams:

Florida State, Clemson and North Carolina led all Atlantic Coast Conference schools each with four players selected to the 2012 Preseason All-ACC Football team in voting conducted by the media at the annual ACC Football Kickoff, which was held July 22-23 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

The Preseason All-ACC team was announced Wednesday.

In all, 19 of the 25 honorees on the team earned first or second-team All-ACC honors last fall, with eight having been selected to the All-ACC first team. Four of the selections are returning first-team or second-team 2012 All-Americas.

One of those returning All-America selections, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Fort Myers, Fla.), who was named by the media as the ACC preseason Player of the Year on Monday, was the only unanimous selection on the team, being named on all 68 ballots.

Florida State, tabbed by the media at the ACC Football Kickoff to win its first ACC Football title since 2005, was represented by defensive end Brandon Jenkins (Tallahassee, Fla.), safety Lamarcus Joyner (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), placekicker Dustin Hopkins (Houston, Texas) and cornerback Greg Reid (Valdosta, Ga.), who was named as the specialist for his abilities as a punt and kickoff returner.

Jenkins was named to the preseason watch lists for four national awards (Nagurski, Bednarik, Lombardi, Walter Camp) while Joyner was named to three awards watch lists (Nagurski, Bednarik, Thorpe). Hopkins, who was a finalist last year for the Lou Groza Award, need just 68 points to become the ACC's career leading scorer. Reid ranks 5th on the ACC career punt return yardage list and is 180 yards away from the ACC career record.

Clemson, which captured the 2011 ACC Championship and was selected by the media at the Kickoff to finish second to the Seminoles in the Atlantic Division, also had four players selected in Watkins, quarterback Tajh Boyd (Hampton, Va.), center Dalton Freeman (Pelion, S.C.) and running back Andre Ellington (Moncks Corner, S.C.)

Boyd, named to four pre-season watch lists including the Davey O'Brien Award, set an ACC record with 38 TDR last fall. Freeman, has been recently named to the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi and Rimington Awards. Watkins was the 2011 ACC Rookie of the Year, who set ACC freshman standards for passes caught (82) , reception yardage (1,219) and receiving TDs (12), and became only the fourth true freshman in history to be named first-team All-America by the Associated Press and is on the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Trophy watch lists. Ellington rushed for 1,178 yards and has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award.

North Carolina also had four players chosen preseason All-ACC in running back Giovani Bernard (Davie, Fla.), offensive tackle James Hurst (Plainfield, Ind.), offensive guard Jonathan Cooper (Wilmington, N.C.) and linebacker Kevin Reddick (New Bern, N.C.).

Bernard, who ran for 1,253 yards, the third-best in ACC history for a freshman, has been named to the pre-season watch lists for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. Cooper and Hurst have both been named to the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award. Reddick has been named to four pre-season watch lists (Nagurski, Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi).

Virginia Tech, selected by the media to capture its sixth Coastal Division title in eight years, placed three players on the team, all from its defense, in defensive end James Gayle (Hampton, Va.), linebacker Bruce Taylor (Riceboro, Ga.) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (Baltimore, Md.).

All three Hokies have been named to the preseason watch list for the Nagurski Trophy, with Fuller and Taylor also named to the Bednarik watch list. Fuller is also on the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list.

Three schools-Maryland, NC State and Virginia-each had two players chosen. Maryland was represented by All-America defensive tackle Joe Vellano (Rexford, N.Y.) and tight end Matt Furstenburg (Flemington, N.J.). NC State saw its All-America cornerback David Amerson (Greensboro, N.C.) and safety Earl Wolff (Raeford, N.C.) chosen to the team, while Virginia had linebacker Steve Greer (Solon, Ohio) and offensive tackle Oday Aboushi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) selected.

Vellano has been named to the pre-season watch lists for five national awards: the Outland Trophy and the Nagurski Trophy, as well as the Bednarik, Lombardi and Walter Camp Awards. Amerson led the nation in 2011 in interceptions with 13, the most of any player in the NCAA's FBS in 43 years and is on the watch lists for four national awards (Bednarik, Nagurski, Walter Camp, Jim Thorpe). Greer is on the preseason watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award; while Aboushi was named to the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists.

Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami and Wake Forest each had one player selected. Duke had wide receiver Conner Vernon (Miami, Fla.) who enters this fall needing 35 catches to become the ACC's career receiving leader and is on the pre-season watch list for the Biletnikoff Award. For the second straight year, Georgia Tech was represented by offensive guard Omoregie Uzzi (Lithonia, Ga.), who helped the Jackets finish 2nd nationally in rushing last fall and who is on the watch list for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. Miami's Dalton Botts (Taft, Calif.), who was named to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award, was named the preseason punter, while Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock (Wylie, Texas), a Lombardi Award watch list member, completed the team.

The four 2011 first-team All-Americas chosen were first-teamers David Amerson of NC State (Walter Camp) and Sammy Watkins of Clemson (AP) and second-team All-Americas Joe Vellano of Maryland (AP, Walter Camp) and Omoregie Uzzi ( of Georgia Tech.

Those chosen first-team All-ACC last fall included Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd and Dalton Freeman of Clemson; Dustin Hopkins of Florida State; Omoregie Uzzi of Georgia Tech, Joe Vellano of Maryland, Giovani Bernard of North Carolina and David Amerson of NC State.

The 11 selections who were named to the second team 2011 All-ACC squad were Conner Vernon of Duke, Brandon Jenkins and Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State; Andre Ellington of Clemson; James Hurst and Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina; Oday Aboushi and Steve Greer of Virginia, James Gayle and Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech and Nikita Whitlock of Wake Forest.

Three of the selections were named Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2011 in Florida State's Greg Reid, NC State's Earl Wolff and Virginia Tech's Bruce Taylor.

Five members of the 2012 preseason team were repeaters from 2011 in Brandon Jenkins and Greg Reid of Florida State; Conner Vernon of Duke, Omoregie Uzzi of Georgia Tech and Andre Ellington of Clemson.

In all, eleven of the 12 ACC schools were represented on the preseason All-ACC team. A total of 68 ballots were turned in from the more than 362 media members in attendance at the 2011 ACC Football Kickoff.

Two members of the pre-season All-ACC team were actually high school teammates. Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner and North Carolina tailback Giovani Bernard played for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Bernard, who ran for 1,253 yards in 2011 was the winner of the ACC Brian Piccolo Award for Courage last fall. The Award's namesake, Piccolo, played his high school football at Central Catholic High in Ft. Lauderdale, the predecessor of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Here are the teams:


Pos. Name (Votes) Ht Wt Class Hometown

WR Conner Vernon, Duke (41) 6-2 195 Senior Miami, Fla.

WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson (68) 6-1 200 Sophomore Fort Myers, Fla.

TE Matt Furstenburg, Maryland (35) 6-4 245 Senior Flemington, N.J.

T James Hurst, North Carolina (48) 6-7 300 Junior Plainfield, Ind.

T Oday Aboushi, Virginia (29) 6-6 310 Senior Brooklyn, N.Y.

G Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (57) 6-3 300 Senior Lithonia, Ga.

G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (55) 6-3 295 Senior Wilmington, N.C.

C Dalton Freeman, Clemson (58) 6-3 285 Senior Pelion, S.C.

QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson (29) 6-1 225 Junior Hampton, Va.

RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (60) 5-10 205 Sophomore Davie, Fla.

RB Andre Ellington, Clemson (53) 5-10 190 Senior Moncks Corner, S.C.


Pos. Name (Votes) Ht Wt Class Hometown

DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State (59) 6-3 265 Senior Tallahassee, Fla.

DE James Gayle, Virginia Tech (31) 6-4 250 Junior Hampton, Va.

DT Joe Vellano, Maryland (58) 6-1 285 Senior Rexford, N.Y.

DT Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest (33) 5-11 260 Junior Wylie, Texas

LB Kevin Reddick, North Carolina (49) 6-3 240 Senior New Bern, N.C.

LB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (42) 6-2 253 Senior Riceboro, Ga.

LB Steve Greer, Virginia (32) 6-2 225 Senior Solon, Ohio

CB David Amerson, NC State (63) 6-3 194 Junior Greensboro, N.C.

CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech (25) 6-0 181 Junior Baltimore, Md.

S Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (45) 5-8 204 Junior Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

S Earl Wolff, NC State (30) 6-0 207 Senior Raeford, N.C.


Pos. Name (Votes) Ht Wt Class Hometown

PK Dustin Hopkins, Florida State (54) 6-2 190 Senior Houston, Texas

P Dalton Botts, Miami (65) 6-3 198 Senior Taft, Calif.

SP Greg Reid, Florida State (35) 5-8 186 Senior Valdosta, Ga.

The Voting By Position:

(Top Four in Voting Only)


  1. Tajh Boyd, CL 29

  2. Logan Thomas, VT 16

  3. EJ Manuel, FSU 15

  4. Mike Glennon, NCS 6

Running Back (Top 2)

  1. Giovani Bernard, UNC 60

  2. Andre Ellington, CL 53

  3. Orwin Smith, GT 11

  4. Perry Jones, UVa 8

Wide Receiver (Top 2)

  1. Sammy Watkins, CL 68*

  2. Conner Vernon, DU 41

  3. DeAndre Hopkins, CL 15

  4. Erik Highsmith, UNC 5

Tight End

  1. Matt Furstenburg, MD 35

  2. Nick O'Leary, FSU 16

  3. Chris Pantale, BC 11

  4. Colter Phillips, UVa 4

Offensive Tackle (Top 2)

  1. James Hurst, UNC 48

  2. Oday Aboushi, UVa 29

  3. Morgan Moses, UVa 28

  4. Emmett Cleary, BC 18

Offensive Guard (Top 2)

  1. Omoregie Uzzi, GT 57

  2. Jonathan Cooper, UNC 55

  3. R.J. Mattes, NCS 8

  4. Brad Linder, UM 4


  1. Dalton Freeman, CL 58

  2. Andrew Miller, VT 6

  3. Camden Wentz, NCS 3

  4. Jay Finch, GT 1


Defensive End (Top 2)

1. Brandon Jenkins, FSU 59

2. James Gayle, VT 31

3. Malliciah Goodman, CL 20

4. Bjoern Werner, FSU 12

Defensive Tackle (Top 2)

  1. Joe Vellano, MD 58

  2. Nikita Whitlock, WF 33

  3. Everett Dawkins, FSU 22

  4. Sylvester Williams, UNC 13

Linebacker (Top 3)

  1. Kevin Reddick, UNC 49

  2. Bruce Taylor, VT 42

  3. Steve Greer, UVa 32

  4. Jeremiah Attaochu, GT 23

  5. Kevin Pierre-Louis, BC 19

Cornerback (Top 2)

  1. David Amerson, NCS 63

  2. Kyle Fuller, VT 25

  3. Xavier Rhodes, FSU 21

  4. Greg Reid, FSU 11

Safety (Top 2)

  1. Lamarcus Joyner, FSU 45

  2. Earl Wolff, NCS 30

  3. Rashard Hall, CL 21

  4. Isaiah Johnson, GT 13


  1. Dustin Hopkins, FSU 54

  2. Chandler Catanzaro, CL 8

  3. Casey Barth, UNC 4

  4. Nate Freese, BC 1


  1. Dalton Botts, UM 65

  2. Nick Ferrara, MD 2

  3. Brad Craddock, MD 1


  1. Greg Reid, FSU 35

  2. Sammy Watkins, CL 20

  3. Michael Campanaro, WF 5

*Denotes unanimous selection

How does the rest of the ACC media's voting compare to my own ballot? Let's take a look.


I disagreed with the selection of Tahj Boyd, and had Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas instead at QB.

I too, had Gio Bernard at one running back spot, but chose Perry Jones over Andre Ellington for the other. The Clemson shutout was short lived, however, because at receiver I selected both DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.

My tight end selection of Chris Pantale was without much conviction, and I have little qualms about Maryland tight end Matt Fustenburg being the choice.

This looks to be a poor year at offensive tackle, and I went with Virginia's Morgan Moses over UNC's James Hurst mostly based on Moses coming on strong last season and reports of a great summer for the big junior. Virginia Tech's Andrew Miller is simply a better center than Clemson's Dalton Freeman, and I wonder if Freeman received the votes because of name familiarity, as he was present at the event.

My "Jonathan Linder" selection at guard was a typo, and I changed it to "Cooper" before submitting.

On defense, I felt the other media members were watching a different 2011 season than I was, as five of my selections differed from the official voting. The lesson? Name recognition means a lot more than on-field play.