1. Mike Glennon, quarterback, N.C. State -- Right now, it doesn’t feel as if Glennon is under the radar because he has gotten some publicity in the last week after his experience at the Elite 11 camp and appearance at the ACC Kickoff. Glennon finished No. 5 in Preseason ACC Player of the Year voting, but he still does not get the attention that fellow ACC quarterbacks Logan Thomas, E.J. Manuel, and Tajh Boyd do. He had a big year in 2011 taking over as the starter in Raleigh, completing 62.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 3,054 yards with 31 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Finally, he has been able to show that coach Tom O’Brien wasn’t going overboard comparing Glennon to Matt Ryan.
2. Kevin Pierre-Louis, linebacker, Boston College -- Coach Frank Spaziani has done an amazing job finding linebackers who can start and produce as soon as they step on campus. Luke Kuechly certainly fit that description, jumping to the NFL after three years. Also fitting that description is Pierre-Louis, who enters his third year in Chestnut Hill. He missed three games in 2011 due to injury but still finished second on the team with 74 tackles. At 6-1 and 215 pounds, Pierre-Louis has a good combination of size and speed. It’ll be tough to find a better ACC linebacker in 2012.
3. Orwin Smith, A-back, Georgia Tech -- Smith averaged 10.1 yards per carry in 2011. He has 61 carries for 615 yards and 11 touchdowns. His career rushing average of 9.7 yards per carry is the highest in ACC history among running backs with at least 1,000 career yards. Smith also ranks in the top five at Georgia Tech in career kickoff returns (62) and career kickoff return yards (1,357). He is one of the premiere big-play threats in the conference.
4. Tank Carradine, defensive end, Florida State -- Carradine is the No. 3 defensive end on the team and, as a nonstarter, doesn’t get nearly as many headlines as teammates Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner. Still, Caradine finished tied for No. 10 in the ACC in sacks in 2011 with 5.5 and had one more tackle than Werner with 38. A junior college transfer, this will be Carradine’s second and final season in Tallahassee. The depth along the defensive line with guys like Carradine is one of the main reasons Florida State is viewed as a preseason national title contender.
5. D.J. Coles, wide receiver, Virginia Tech -- Fellow senior wide receiver Marcus Davis gets a lot of the attention, as he was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list and Bruce Feldman’s Freak List this offseason. But Coles also is quite the athlete. He is 6-3 and 216 pounds and can run. Coles had a productive 2011 with 36 receptions for 480 yards and threetouchdowns. He caught seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in the ACC championship game loss to Clemson. Coles and Davis provide a big, physical wide receiver duo in Blacksburg who could be tough to handle. It should be noted that this assumes Coles fully recovers from offseason surgery to repair a torn PCL that he played through at the end of last season.
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