Tag Archives: Wake Forest

Wake Forest travels to Duke on October 22 in a tough in-state battle.

Duke will try to snap Wake Forest’s series win streak on October 22

Wake Forest travels to Duke on October 22 in a tough in-state battle.

The Blue Devils and Demon Deacons played a shootout last September in Winston-Salem. Sean Renfree and the Duke offense piled on 48 points, but fell to Wake Forest 55-48 on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Wake Forest has had the Blue Devils’ number in recent years, winning the last 11 contests in the rivalry that dates back to 1889; in fact, Head Coach Jim Grobe has never lost to Duke during his tenure. The in-state rivals will clash again this fall, as the Blue Devils will play host to the Demon Deacons on October 22.

BDN is fortunate to have the help of Blogger So Dear to give us an excellent inside look at the 2011 Demon Deacons.

BDN: After finding themselves on top of the ACC in 2006, Wake Forest is now coming off back-to-back losing seasons in 2009 and 2010. What do the Demon Deacons need to do to return to bowl eligibility in 2011? With Wake Forest picked to finish last in the ACC Atlantic Division again, is it conceivable that Head Coach Jim Grobe could be on the hot seat?

BSD: For Wake to get back to a bowl game this year we will need to make sure that we establish a solid running game and that quarterback Tanner Price stays healthy. Last season the Deacs were caught up in formation changes half way through the year on defense as we moved from a conventional 4-3 to a more exotic 3-4, which provides a different look at the line of scrimmage. Since this change was made half way through the year, and implemented for the first time at the Maryland game (a 5+ touchdown loss), Wake had some struggles on the defensive side of the ball that were hopefully a one season issue. Numbers-wise for Wake to make a bowl our best chances come by beating Syracuse, N.C. State, Gardner-Webb, Maryland, Duke, and Vandy. Of those games, only the Syracuse and Duke games are on the road. It will be difficult to get to six wins simply because of the strength of our schedule. Aside from Gardner-Webb our three OOC games are Vanderbilt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame. We also are unfortunate that we have Virginia Tech and Florida State at home in back to back weeks which are almost assuredly losses as strong as those teams look this year. If those teams were both on the road or even one of them were on the road perhaps we would have an easier game to get a W in from the confines of BB&T Field.

I don’t really think Grobe would be on the hot seat after this year unless we see the same type season as we did last year. While 3-9 is not desirable it’s realistic that Wake Forest is going to have years which are akin to last year. The major criticism that came from the fan base was the way in which we were completely non-competitive in a majority of games. After the Duke game and a 2-0 start, we lost 9 games in a row, most of which were by double digits. If we go something like 1-11 and only beat Gardner-Webb I certainly think his seat would be at least luke warm.

Tanner Price led the Demon Deacons to a shootout victory over Duke last season- Blogger So Dear Photo

BDN: The Blue Devils and Demon Deacons both finished at the bottom of the ACC in defense in 2010, and the teams’ defensive struggles were exemplified in their September 11th 55-48 shootout. Duke is hopeful that a group of young redshirt-freshmen will improve their defensive depth and effectiveness in 2011. With 9 starters returning, what improvements are expected for the Wake Forest defense? What questions remain heading into training camp?

BSD: Like I alluded to earlier, Wake struggled last year on the defensive side of the ball because of the jump we made to the 3-4 halfway through the season. So far this season the defense has looked better in preseason practices, and has really made some strides to get to a competitive level. The 3-4 provides a completely different look up front than the 4-3, an advantage against teams from the get go. A large number of teams in college run the 4-3 look and offenses are used to lining up against it. The 3-4 provides an additional linebacker to the front level and really varies the different ways the blitz can be brought. From the offense’s perspective it can be daunting as there are always seven guys in the box and you never know which side the blitz is coming from or how many guys are coming in on the rush. I’m not expecting Wake to shut everyone out, but I wouldn’t expect Wake and Duke to have a 55-48 shootout when we meet this year in Durham either.

BDN: While the two programs had similar struggles defensively in 2010, Duke and Wake Forest were mirror images of each other on offense. While the Blue Devils were able to move the ball through the air, the Demon Deacons stuck to the ground, led by Josh Harris and Tanner Price. What are the expectations for Harris and Price in their second season of ACC football? What are the keys for the offense to be more consistent in 2011?

BSD: Yeah, both the Deacons and the Devils were able to have at least some consistency on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest question for Wake this year is going to be just that: how consistently will we be able to move the ball downfield? Price and Harris are both sophomores. Harris has the additional experience of a redshirt year, but Price came onto campus late last July and was the starter a month and a half later. Experience is always going to be an issue for quarterbacks where studying tape and just playing the game counts for so much. The key for Wake though aside from these guys is going to have to be the offensive line. While it’s anchored by an experienced group it has really struggled to open up holes for the running game and to adequately protect Tanner. If Price has time to drop back, set his feet, and throw he is deadly accurate, but he simply didn’t have that opportunity much last year. The receiving corps is set up well with senior Danny Dembry as the most likely go to target as a possession guy, junior Chris Givens and sophomore Michael Campanaro as the flankers, and then freshmen Matt James and Brandon Terry as compliments to Dembry as bigger, possession-type receivers. If the line can get some leverage up front, our offense has the potential to be a real threat this year.

BDN: At this year’s ACC Football Kickoff, OG Joe Looney declared the Blue Devils as the Demon Deacons’ biggest rival. From the Duke perspective, the Blue Devils need to start beating their in-state ACC rivals to take the next step forward as a program. Can you describe this rivalry from Wake Forest’s perspective? With all of their recent success against the Blue devils, why do you think the Wake Forest fans and players consider Duke to be their top rival over other ACC programs?

BSD: Since Grobe got to Wake, we have had a ton of success against in-state opponents and it really was one of the keys to Wake’s bowl run a couple of years ago. When I was growing up my view of the Wake-Duke game was that it was a futility battle. No offense to either programs, but I remember a handful of games where the teams combined didn’t have more than 2 or 3 wins so it was always a question mark as to what would happen. The 2006 game with you guys is generally viewed as the most pivotal moment of the season. Had Vaughn not blocked that field goal as time expired to preserve Wake’s 14-13 win, we certainly would not have gone to the Orange Bowl or won the ACC that year. To be blunt though, it is a game that right now I always expect to win. Obviously the 11 game winning streak (dating back throughout Grobe’s entire tenure) will have to end sometime and this year is just as likely as any of them. Wake typically handles Duke fairly well at Wallace Wade though, and a struggle at BB&T. Looney probably considers Duke to be Wake’s biggest rival from a recruiting vantage point, as well as the fact that we have had so much recent success. Both Wake and Duke are battling the same problems in football: small school, lack of a football history, and being in a state where UNC, NC State, and App State, are the first schools thought of when football fans think of North Carolina. For Wake or Duke to be successful on the ACC level I believe they must be successful within the state first and foremost since at least two of the eight conference games every year are against a team from North Carolina.

BDN: The Blue Devils and Demon Deacons are one of the oldest rivalries within the ACC, with the two programs having first met in 1889, with Duke holding a 53-36-2 all-time record, despite Wake Forest’s current 11-game winning streak in the series. In the last few years, it seems that every game between the two schools has come down to the final possession. What do you expect to see from this year’s matchup on October 22nd in Durham?

BSD: I always love watching Wake play Duke, as I said anything can happen and the games are typically exciting (if not nerve-wracking). While it’s pretty early to make a prediction, I honestly believe that Wake will win this one and stretch the winning streak to 12. I’ll certainly be there on October 22nd to watch the game as it’s just a short drive down 40 and tickets are easy to come by. I think that it will probably be another high scoring game as it always is when the teams meet, and that it will probably once again come down to the final possession. Wake needs to force some turnovers, run some zone blitzes to keep Renfree from being able to set his feet and throw deep, and establish a running game to get the victory. I’ll make my way-too-early guess though: 38-34 Wake on a late touchdown run by Harris.

BDN: Thanks so much for answering our questions. Good luck this season!

Previous game: Florida State at Duke, October 15

Next game: Virginia Tech at Duke, October 29

Dade Christian's Ryan Janvion has narrowed his college choices down to Duke, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest

Duke is a finalist for star Miami student-athlete Ryan Janvion

Dade Christian's Ryan Janvion has narrowed his college choices down to Duke, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest

The strength of the new Duke defense relies on a group of dynamic athletes at the safety position to slow opposing offenses. Duke’s safeties are led by seniors Matt Daniels and Lee Butler, which means that the Blue Devils will have to reload at the position in 2012. The Duke coaching staff has secured a verbal commitment from Jacksonville safety Dwayne Norman and hopes another athletic Florida safety will join him in the Blue Devils’ class of 2012. Ryan Janvion, a 5’11” 175 pound athlete from Miami, recently took a visit to Durham and came away impressed. A four-year starter for Dade Christian HS, Janvion has played all over the field in his high school career, but is focused on playing strong safety at the college level. A star on the field and in the classroom (4.0 GPA), Ryan has narrowed his college choices down to Duke, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest. As the prototypical elite student-athlete Duke targets, the Blue Devil coaching staff is hopeful that Ryan will fill one of their few remaining available scholarships in the class of 2012. [private]

 

BDN: Can you tell us a little bit about your high school career and your strengths on the field?

I’m definitely being recruited most heavily as a strong safety. Colleges feel like I can be the best threat at that position because I can be involved in both the run and the pass game. My high school career has been great, I’ve been a four-year starter at Dade Christian, I started as a freshman. I actually started my 8th grade year during the spring, and that really helped me to get to the point where I am now because I was starting to define where I was going and I got used to playing the game of football early and that gave me an advantage over a lot of people. The game started slowing down for me each and every year and I’m at a point now where I just want to dominate on the field and be an unstoppable force and a game-changer.

BDN: What are some of the things you’re working on as you head into your senior season?

I’m definitely hitting the weights hard, trying to put on as much muscle mass as I can, well not so much that as just getting the strength portion in, continuing to get stronger. Since I know where I will be playing as a college player, I’ve started working on position-specific drills to improve my footwork, making sure my backpedal is right, my plant foot, different things that a safety would use on a gamefield. My hips, making sure my hips are flexible allowing them to turn and stop and do all the things to be able to cover good receivers, that’s what I’ve basically been doing. And also just working on speed because speed kills, you never want to neglect your speed. That’s probably one of, if not the, most important parts of the game, especially playing in the ACC football league.

BDN: Where do you stand with your recruiting process in regards to schools and scholarship offers?

I have a lot of offers, but the thing that made it really easy in my case, so to speak, was the academic standpoint. I definitely am one of those guys who is very serious about my academics, I’m a 4.0 student and I have straight A’s and I’m at the top of my class, so academics is really important to me. I definitely was only really looking at the schools that have the academic part to it as well, so that just kind of narrowed schools down for me just like that. And then I was able to narrow it down to my top 3 schools which were Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Duke, and that’s who I just visited this past week, I just got back today.

BDN: That’s a perfect segue into my next question about your visits, but before you talk about that, can you talk about what stood out to you about each of your three finalists?

They have great programs. They offer me a great opportunity to play early as well. Wake has been a special one, they were my first offer and they’ve been on me since my sophomore year. I’ve gotten to know my recruiting coordinator very well. I also have a teammate who plays at Wake Forest who was a great help to me my freshman year. His name is Daniel Mack and he was the one who really just carried me through high school football my freshman year. It was really new to me and I was one of the youngest players on the field, so me and him definitely have a great relationship.

BDN: That’s great to have a mentor like that. Can you talk a little about your visits, what you got to see and what stood out to you?

Well my first visit was to Duke. Duke’s campus is beautiful. The coaches actually had left on a retreat so when I saw the campus I didn’t get to see any of the coaches, but they actually came down just to see me the next day. I got to meet Coach Cutcliffe again, and my recruiting coordinator, Coach Lubick, and my position coach, Coach Knowles, my safety coach. Coach Cutcliffe is….wow, he’s amazing. He’s so wise and he knows what he’s doing. He’s a great head coach and he’s definitely going to do big things with that program. I had a great talk to him, I talked to him for over two hours and he really feels like I can be a part of something big at Duke.

BDN: I’m guessing you drove over to Wake Forest after Duke?

The next day I went to Wake. I had a sit down, the same talk with Coach Grobe. They’re both…I honestly really can’t pick a head coach between Coach Grobe and Coach Cutcliffe, they’re both tremendous guys, they’re very wise, they know what they’re doing and they know how to win. That’s definitely going to be a tough decision on my part. I’d have to look at the whole spectrum. Wake also has given me a great opportunity to play early. Two of their main guys at safety are graduating this year coming up, so that gives me an opportunity to step up and play early. Their campus is definitely beautiful. They were the first campus that I ever saw, I got to go up there and visit my sophomore year when I went to a camp, so this was my second time going and I was able to bring my dad and stuff. That was a really good visit to.

BDN: That’s a long drive from Winston-Salem to Nashville, so I’m hoping you flew. What did you think of Vanderbilt?

Yeah definitely, we flew. I didn’t expect to see what I saw at Vanderbilt. Their campus is really just in the middle of Nashville and it’s not closed off in any way. There’s main streets running right through their campus, and not just one, multiple streets. It was cool they were taking me on the golf cart and I was like “man, there’s no gates or anything like that.” The buildings are nice, I met the coaches, I have a great relationship with my recruiting coordinator over there as well, Coach McGriff. I met the head coach and he showed me his background and stuff like that and he’s looking to do big things at Vanderbilt, and we’ll see how that goes.

BDN: You’ve obviously narrowed things down to three great schools, so how do you plan to narrow things down and make a decision from here?

Well I’m looking to make a decision soon, like before school starts. I already took my unofficial visits to my top 3 schools so now it’s basically just coming here and first of all getting some rest, because I’m exhausted, so I can think straight and then I’ll take it over with my parents and my family and see what school is the best for me. Every time I went up there on my visits they would go through all this stuff and they would remind me that this is one of the most important decisions in your life. It’s not just the next four years, it’s actually the next forty years, because it’s what you’re going to do after school that matters so you want to get a good education and not regret your choice. You have to be selfish in this decision. You can’t think about disappointing somebody or trying to impress somebody. You have to look out for yourself in this decision because at the end of the day it’s about you. It’s about where you want to go to college. That’s where I’m at right now.

BDN: I know you’re exhausted and I really appreciate you taking a few minutes to speak with us. Thanks a lot, Ryan, and best of luck to you.

Definitely, no problem.

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Braddock HS OL Robert Conyers recently visited Duke

Blue Devils looking to add coveted Florida OL Robert Conyers

Braddock HS OL Robert Conyers recently visited Duke

The Duke Football class of 2012 is up to 14 verbal commitments now, and with only a handful of scholarships remaining, the Blue Devils’ coaching staff is looking to add a few impact players. One such prospect is a highly-coveted offensive lineman from the talent-rich state of Florida. Duke recently hosted 6’5” 275 pound junior Robert Conyers on an unofficial visit in Durham. Conyers is one of the top remaining uncommitted offensive linemen in the class of 2012, with 20 scholarship offers from programs throughout the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, and SEC. As a junior, Conyers helped lead Braddock HS to an 8-2 overall record and the state playoffs. His performance earned 1st Team All-County and 2nd Team All-State honors. Duke Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke is developing a talented group of linemen in Durham, and a potential star like Conyers would be a great late addition to Duke’s class of 2012. [private]

BDN: Can you tell us a little bit about your high school career and your strengths on the field?

Well, I only started playing offensive line at the end of my sophomore year. I went to a bunch of camps, and this past year I made the All-County Team and the 2nd Team All-State. Some of my strengths are just my footwork and my aggression.

BDN: You mentioned that you’ve been able to attend a few camps this year; what are some of the things you’re working on as you head into your senior season?

Just my strength and my pad level.

BDN: I know you have a pretty long offer list, so I won’t ask you to name all of the schools that are interested in you, but where do you currently stand with scholarship offers?

I have about 20 scholarship offers right now. And some of the bigger ones are Michigan State, Duke, USF, Wake Forest, Illinois, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, UCF, and a couple other ones.

BDN: That’s an impressive total. Where would you say you are in your recruiting process right now?

Right now I’m looking to narrow it down. I’m going to visit Michigan State and Illinois and then I’ll have like a top 5 probably after I make that trip.

BDN: Obviously, it will be tough to narrow things down to five schools, but what are the most important things that you are looking for as you evaluate a program?

Just the school’s atmosphere, the coaching staff, and the way I feel when I’m around them and around the other players that are playing there currently.

BDN: Which schools have you had a chance to visit so far and have any stood out to you?

I’ve visited Wake Forest, Duke, Vanderbilt, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Miami…I visited UCF, USF, and some of the schools that are standing out to me are USF, Wake Forest, Duke, just because of their coaching staffs and the total package of the school.

BDN: You mentioned that you’d like to have a top 5 after these next couple of visits. What are your plans for narrowing things down and making a decision from there?

Probably going to take like 2 or 3 official visits, but most likely the middle of my season is when I’m going to make my decision.

BDN: Are there any schools that you think you definitely want to take an official visit to at this point?

I’m still kind of narrowing all that down.

BDN: Is there anything else you want college football fans to know about you?

That I’m only 16.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Robert, and best of luck to you.

Alright, thanks.

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Mallard Creek's Jela Duncan is Duke's top remaining target in the class of 2012

Mallard Creek RB Jela Duncan declares “Duke is my leader”

Mallard Creek's Jela Duncan is Duke's top remaining target in the class of 2012

In the midst of a scholarship crunch, the Duke coaching staff has secured 14 verbal commitments in the class of 2012, and may only have one or two remaining scholarships available. With four upperclassmen at running back in 2011, an elite running back remains Duke’s biggest need in the class of 2012. Specifically, the Duke staff is looking for a player who can come in and contribute early, and they believe they found exactly that type of athlete just down I-85 in Charlotte. After an impressive performance at Duke’s camp earlier this summer, Mallard Creek’s Jela Duncan remains at the top of the Blue Devils’ list. [private]

Duncan is a 5’10″ 190 pound prospect who posted a blazing 4.23 second 40-yard dash in Durham in June. In his first full season at running back, Duncan helped Mallard Creek to a 13-1 record, rushing for 1,375 yards on 101 carries with 17 touchdowns, despite missing three games. His junior year performance earned 1st Team I-Meck Conference and plenty of attention from college coaches and scouts, making him a consensus top-40 RB prospect nationally. To date, Duncan has picked up scholarship offers from Duke, ECU, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Wake Forest, and Western Michigan. The star tailback has been busy on the camp circuit this summer, and checked back in with BDN to update Duke fans on his recruitment.

BDN: Where do things stand with scholarship offers?

I still have the same offers from last time I talked to you, but South Carolina came into the picture. They said they should be offering me because I went down there to their showcase on Friday and performed really good. Coach Graham and Coach Spurrier really liked me.

BDN: So you were at South Carolina last weekend; have you been to any other camps recently, or do you have any planned?

Just South Carolina, that’s it right now. I’ve got an unofficial coming up on Friday to Carolina, North Carolina, so I can go up there and get evaluated.

BDN: Will that be your first visit to UNC?

Yeah, it’s going to be my first time visiting there, but I’ve driven through the campus and stuff.

BDN: Overall, what schools stand out to you at this point?

Duke is my leader for now.

BDN: Where would you say you stand with your recruitment – would you say you are hoping for more offers, or are you trying to narrow things down?

I’m going to try and stay up and earn some more offers during the season. I’ll probably narrow my offers down, I want to say probably towards the end of the season.

BDN: So is your plan to narrow things down towards the end of your season and then take your official visits?

Yes sir.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jela, and best of luck in your senior year.

Yes sir, thank you.

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Football Friday summoned the psychic world to assist with 2011 ACC Football predictions

BDN’s Football Friday Prognosticates

So, how are you beating the heat? Well, here’s a suggestion. Find yourself a cold beverage and sit down for some Football Friday here at BDN. If you aren’t a BDN Premium Member yet, you’re really missing out. Go ahead and join now to get the best coverage of Duke, year-round. All the cool kids are doing it.

The Duke secondary suffered a blow this week with the loss of Issac Blakeney for 2011

Issac Blakeney out for 2011

Head Coach David Cutcliffe announced on Thursday that safety Issac Blakeney has been suspended from the university for failure to meet continuing academic eligibility requirements and will miss the 2011 season. “Issac is a valuable member of the Duke Football family and I look forward to him returning to full eligibility in January of 2012,” said Cutcliffe.

Obviously, this is a huge blow to the Blue Devils’ depth at safety. Those who saw Blakeney in the spring game got a glimpse of his potential in the Duke secondary. In order for the new 4-2-5 scheme to be successful, players like August Campbell, Jordon Byas, and maybe even true freshman Chris Tavarez will have to step up alongside seniors Matt Daniels and Lee Butler. BDN wishes Issac the best of luck as he gets himself back on track; we’re pulling for him.

Football Friday summoned the psychic world to assist with 2011 ACC Football predictions

2011 ACC Predictions

In anticipation of the ACC’s Football Kickoff, Football Friday would like to share some of our completely unqualified predictions for the 2011 ACC football season. We figured that by next Friday, you will have heard enough media predictions, but this week, you’ll read every word. Here is the most important prediction we’ll make: none of these predictions will matter by December. In fact, most will be thrown out the window by September 3. In a year where only THREE teams will return their unquestioned starting quarterback from 2010, our second prediction is that the ACC will be pure chaos in 2011. Please keep these first two predictions in mind as we prognosticate.

The road to Charlotte will have to go through the defending ACC Champs in Blacksburg

ACC Coastal Division

The last four ACC Champions have come from the Coastal Division, and for that reason, we start here.

  1. Virginia Tech: the road to Charlotte still has to go through defending ACC Champion Virginia Tech, who lose ACC POY Tyrod Taylor, along with tailbacks Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. Overall, the Hokies return just 11 starters, 6 on offense and 5 on defense (including just one defensive lineman). All accounts suggest that redshirt-sophomore QB Logan Thomas and junior TB David Wilson are poised for breakout seasons for the Hokies. Head Coach Frank Beamer seems to have the annual luxury of reloading his roster, rather than rebuilding it, and the Hokies should put together another top-25 season and hold the top spot in the ACC Coastal Division.
  2. Miami: I’m probably buying the Hurricanes a little early in their first year under Al Golden, but by all accounts, the new Head Coach knows how to recruit and knows how to win. Miami has always had talent, and with better discipline and execution, I think this will be a much improved team over recent editions. Road contests at Maryland, Virginia Tech, UNC, and Florida State will pose a significant challenge, but the Hurricanes have some of the best athletes in the conference.
  3. Georgia Tech: I always underestimate Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets, so they’ll probably finish higher ( I didn’t want to break from tradition). There are several unproven new faces on offense and Al Groh’s defense needs to take a big step forward, but mostly, I think GT has one of the more favorable schedules, with their only ACC road contests at NC State, Virginia, Miami, and Duke.
  4. North Carolina: I’m selling the 2011 Tar Heels, and I realize I have them lower than most pundits. There are too many unsettled off-field issues, a first-year starting quarterback, the loss of a bunch of NFL draft picks, and a schedule that includes road games at Georgia Tech, Clemson, NC State, and Virginia Tech. Reading between the lines, it seems that even embattled Head Coach Butch Davis has been attempting to lower expectations, calling this a “transition year” for the program.
  5. Duke: As you can see by my underwhelming review of the Coastal Division teams in front of them, if things go right in Durham, there’s no reason Duke couldn’t end up with their highest finish in several years. Realistically, the young defensive line will have to mature ahead of schedule and the offense will have to prove it can run the ball consistently for Duke to become a serious threat in the division.
  6. Virginia: Many will probably place UVA ahead of Duke, but I’m not sold on the 2011 Wahoos, especially given their quarterback controversy. I interpreted the reports out of Charlottesville to indicate that none of their inexperienced QBs performed well enough to earn the starting job, which is an ominous sign for a team that also loses its leading rusher. Sure, Chase Minnifield and the defense should be solid, but road tests at UNC, Miami, Maryland, and FSU will be a stiff challenge.

    The Seminoles appear ready to challenge for an ACC Championship in 2011

ACC Atlantic Division

Though the Coastal Division has produced the last four ACC Champions, the Atlantic Division Champion should challenge for an Orange Bowl berth in 2011. I’m not sure there will be significant improvement elsewhere in the division, however.

  1. Florida State: Florida State claimed the Atlantic Division title in 2010 in Jimbo Fisher’s first season as Head Coach, and the Seminoles show no sign of slowing down. FSU will return a veteran group in all three phases in 2011 with 18 starters returning overall. Of all the ACC’s new full-time starting QBs, junior EJ Manuel has the most experience, having filled in for the injury-plagued Christian Ponder in each of the last two seasons. The expectation is that the 2011 Seminoles will be the class of the ACC, and should they win on September 17th against Oklahoma, they could vault towards the top of the national computer rankings.
  2. Clemson: With the recruiting classes Head Coach Dabo Swinney is bringing in, they have to be better than 6-7, right? That’s pretty much my basis for placing them here. They do draw FSU at home, but are stuck with facing the two Techs from the Coastal Division, both on the road. I’ve heard good reports about new QB Tajh Boyd and new OC Chad Morris’ offense, but maybe the Clemson folks have just been drinking too much orange Gatorade.
  3. Boston College: I really like the 2011 Eagles team and think they have the potential to make a lot of noise in the ACC, but have one of the toughest schedules. Their defense can be dominant at times and their offense should be improved if Chase Rettig can develop consistency and chemistry with his receivers. Montel Harris and Andre Williams should be one of the top tailback duos in the conference, if not the country. Division games at Clemson and a nationally-televised Thursday night home game against FSU will likely determine whether the Eagles will be serious contenders for the Atlantic division title.
  4. NC State: new QB Mike Glennon better be good, and he better be good from his first snap. With the transfer of Russell Wilson, all eyes will be on Glennon and fans will be quick to turn on Head Coach Tom O’Brien and the Wolfpack if things don’t go swimmingly. The Wolfpack probably have one of the lightest schedules in the ACC and will also probably finish higher than I have them picked as a result, but I don’t know if Glennon can live up to expectations, and I don’t know if he knows who he’s going to throw the ball to.
  5. Maryland: The surprise team of 2010 earned Ralph Friedgen ACC Coach of the Year honors and a pink slip. New Head Coach Randy Edsall will have a veteran team to work with, but even with ACC Freshman of the Year Danny O’Brien back under center, the offense will not be nearly as explosive with the loss of WR Torrey Smith and RB Da’Rell Scott. The Terps will face a tough ACC road schedule and the offense will experience growing pains without its top two weapons from 2010.
  6. Wake Forest: Of all the picks, this one may be the easiest. I don’t see a ton of reason for optimism in Winston-Salem, though the Deacs will return 17 starters from last year’s squad that finished with a 1-7 ACC record (yes, the 1 win was against Duke). We say it every year, but this is a must-win game on the schedule for Duke (and every other ACC team).

ACC Champion: Florida State

ACC Player of the Year: EJ Manuel, Florida State

ACC Coach of the Year:  Al Golden, Miami

Ok, now that all of that conventional stuff is out of the way, let’s look at some fun categories.

Coaches on the Hot Seat

I think there are four, at varying levels.

Butch Davis: how he still has a job is a mystery to most objective observers.

Dabo Swinney: we know he can recruit, but how long does he have to prove he can coach?

Jim Grobe: almost unthinkable just a few years ago, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of optimism in Winston-Salem these days and another finish in the cellar would have to put him on shaky ground.

Tom O’Brien: he must enjoy working without job security in Raleigh. After winning support with an impressive 2010 season, the questionable handling of the Russell Wilson situation has placed the Wolfpack Head Coach back under scrutiny.

ACC Game of the Year

October 8, Miami at Virginia Tech

ACC Bust of the Year

I think this is a neck and neck race with the UNC and NC State quarterbacks. I’m not suggesting they’re not ultimately going to be good players, but there’s a ton of pressure on them in their first season as starters. Bryn Renner at least has a good group of receivers returning, so I’ll say that Glennon will struggle to live up to the unrealistic expectations placed on him by Russell Wilson’s departure.

ACC Surprise of the Year

Maybe I’m a year or two ahead of myself here, but I really think Al Golden is going to put the Miami Hurricanes back on the map. He’ll have to figure out his quarterback situation, but he’s got an All-ACC caliber running back in Lamar Miller and a ton of high-level athletes across the depth chart. I think the rest of the conference has forgotten just how good “The U” can be.

Can the Blue Devils upset the Tar Heels and re-claim the Victory Bell this year?

ACC Upset of the Year

For the sake of the conference, let’s all hope that we don’t see another FCS team upset an ACC opponent as we have in recent years. But within the conference, let’s say that the Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill on November 26 with a 5-6 record. The Tar Heels have been mired in controversy all season and the public outcry against Head Coach Butch Davis continues to mount. Behind huge performances from seniors Donovan Varner and Cooper Helfet, the Blue Devils emerge with the Victory Bell and secure bowl eligibility for the first time since the 1994 season.

Hey, I figured I’d end on that note to leave you feeling good about the upcoming season. With regards to all these predictions, as they say, that’s why they play the games. BDN will have full coverage from next week’s ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst and of course,  we’ll follow the Blue Devils all season long. WE ARE DUKE.

Duke beat out NC State, Wake Forest, Miami, and Vanderbilt for TE Dan Beilinson

Duke adds top in-state TE Dan Beilinson to class of 2012

Duke beat out NC State, Wake Forest, Miami, and Vanderbilt for TE Dan Beilinson

With the impending graduation of Cooper Helfet and Danny Parker, Duke is looking to reload at the tight end position in the class of 2012. On Saturday, the Blue Devils did that, securing a commitment from top in-state TE Dan Beilinson. Beilinson is a 6’5” 220 pound prospect from Panther Creek HS in Cary. As a junior, Beilinson caught 37 passes for over 500 yards, helping Panther Creek to a conference title and the state regional playoffs. His performance earned him 1st Team Tri-Nine All-Conference, among many other accolades. Highlights from Dan’s junior year can be viewed here. Beilinson chose the Blue Devils over offers from NC State, Wake Forest, Miami, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Indiana, and ECU. Along with another verbal commitment, Erich Schneider, Beilinson has helped Duke successfully reload at tight end in 2012.

Welcome to Duke, Dan!

BDN caught up with Dan shortly after his commitment on Saturday.

 

BDN: How did you come to your decision to commit to Duke today?

Ok, yeah I guess I just decided to commit today, it was just kind of a gut feeling. I asked myself where I wanted to go and I said Duke and it just felt right.

BDN: How did you let the coaches know and what did they have to say to you?

I gave Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Middleton a phone call and they were both really excited, and I’m really excited right now as well and hopefully we’ll have a good time working together.

BDN: Now that you’ve got your decision out of the way, what are your plans for the rest of your summer?

I don’t really have any plans, just going to go to school workouts and focus on my senior year now.

BDN: Well best of luck with your senior year and I know Duke fans are excited to have you part of the Blue Devil family. Thanks a lot and congratulations on your commitment.

Alright, thank you very much.