Today we have the All-ACC receivers. To make an All-ACC team, a receiver must have a lot of yards and touchdowns. Writers do not consider how often a receiver was targeted, how many drops he had, or how much effort he gave in blocking. The easiest route to the team is to be targeted a lot in the red zone.
As I profiled in ACC Returns Most Of Receiving Star Power In 2011, this will be a tough group to break into. Or will it? Only two of the six players from last year's All-ACC team return this season: UNC's Dwight Jones and Duke's Conner Vernon.
Knowing all that, I will be looking for players likely to see a lot of passes thrown their way. And I fully agree with you, fan of team that likes to run more than it throws, (particularly in the red zone), this is not a list of the best receivers. And to those of you who object that the ACC writers are not motivated enough to remove games against non-conference opponents, I agree with you there as well. Teams that play poor/smart non-conference schedules have a major advantage in placing kids onto an All-Conference or All-American team.
Let's start with the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Heels return Dwight Jones and his 62 catches for 946 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jones is now a junior and while his production could decrease a bit if UNC throws less, he's still a great bet to again be All-ACC. This team has a ton of receiving talent, however, as Butch Davis is a great scout and recruiter, so it wouldn't be a shock if Jones' production falls off as others see big increases.
Next on the list: the Duke Blue Devils. Now, Duke's receivers are not all that talented and they wouldn't start at most other ACC schools, but Duke throws the ball a ton and there is no reason to expect Conner Vernon to drop off the All-ACC team this year, after posting a 73 catch, 973 yard, 4 TD season as a sophomore. Though Donovan Varner and Vernon could switch spots, as Varner posted a 60 catch, 736 yard season last year.
As a side note, I have to disagree with Heather Dinich listing Duke as the team with the second-best receivers. NO. Duke's receivers may have the second most production because they throw the ball 50X a game and is always playing from behind. But they are not the most talented and they do not play the best. They just get a lot more reps.
The Virginia Tech Hokies have an argument for the best receiving corps in the ACC. And the star of this group is Jarrett Boykin, a senior. Boykin snagged 53 balls for 847 yards and 6 touchdowns last season. Virginia Tech plays a genius non-conference schedule this season, so Boykin should be able to have the same year, even if Tech passes a bit less. If he doesn't make it, it will be because VT runs more or spreads the ball out to more of its talented receivers.
The Florida State Seminoles also have a talented group of receivers that FSU fans hope will finally come into their own. It will be tough for an FSU receiver to land on the first team this season as FSU returns all of its contributors and the 'Noles will spread the ball around a good bit. But if Taiwan Easterling leaves for baseball one of FSU's receivers could make the second or honorable-mention team. Who is most likely? Bert Reed? Rodney Smith? Willie Haulstead? That trio could easily combine for 2000 yards receiving, but good luck knowing who will get the All-Conference honor.
The Miami Hurricanes might be able to land a player on this list in either Travis Benjamin or Laron Byrd. Benjamin caught 43 balls for 743 yards last year, with 3 touchdowns. Even if Miami throws less, the loss of Hankerson means more balls will go Benjamin's way.
Maryland, N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College aren't likely to place anyone on the team. Why?
Maryland loses everyone, as does N.C. State. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are option teams. BC doesn't throw the ball often enough.
Virginia's Kris Burd went for 800 last year on 58 catches while splitting time. He could easily go for 900 if he can reel in 70 footballs. But who is throwing to him?
Clemson is the real wildcard here. With the new offense, nobody knows exactly how much the Tigers will throw and run. Deandre Hopkins is the man here. I'll let Dr. Saturday profile him for you.
So, who will make the teams? In the preason I like Jones and Vernon at first team with Boykin and Hopkins on the second team.
In the final set? Gimme Jones and Boykin on the first team with Vernon and Burd on the second team.
Who do you have?