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August 16, 2013

Wolfpacker roundtable: All-ACC contenders

When the preseason All-ACC team was released, not only did no NC State player make the list, none of them even were among the top four vote getters at their respective positions.

Was that fair? Should the Pack have been more respected? The Wolfpacker staff examines those questions with our latest roundtable.

NCSU did not have any preseason All-ACC selections. Will they have any on postseason team and who will they be?

Matt Carter

There are several variables that you have to take into consideration. One is that we simply do not know what kind of impact the new schemes, especially on offense, will have on the production of players. You also have to take into account the talent elsewhere in the ACC at positions.

To me, the best two candidates would be senior corner Dontae Johnson and junior defensive tackle T.Y. McGill. At corner, the problem is that FSU's LaMarcus Joyner is now at corner after playing safety, and he's always been considered one of the best defensive backs in the league. Then there is Duke's Ross Cockrell, who posted big numbers last year (71 tackles, five picks, 13 pass breakups, two defensive touchdowns) and is a proven playmaker. Johnson is more of a steady defensive back who does his job with little flash, but he is also a future pro in my opinion and has the talent to get be All-ACC. I think he'll find his way on a second-team or honorable mention fashion.

To me, McGill is the best bet. His numbers are better than the two guys who were preseason first-team All-ACC (FSU's Timmy Jernigan and Wake's Nikita Whitlock). My hunch is those two players were picked on name recognition and the lack of familiarity with what McGill did as a sophomore. I'll go out on a limb and say McGill makes at least second-team All-ACC.

My third pick to be on the postseason team is fifth-year senior receiver Rashard Smith as an all-purpose performer in an honorable mention fashion. With guys like Maryland's Stefon Diggs, Miami's Duke Johnson and Clemson's Sammy Watkins also possibly in the specialist category, it will be stiff competition for Smith to get first or second-team All-ACC.

I do think that senior offensive tackle Rob Crisp, with a healthy season, can get honored as well.

Jacey Zembal

That's a good question, but the odds are good that someone will break out and be a first-team All-ACC performer.

Senior cornerback Dontae Johnson sometimes gets overlooked because he played safety, then was a glorified outside linebacker in the nickel down the stretch of his sophomore year, before switching to cornerback last year. He was overshadowed in the attention area due to being across from preseason All-American candidate David Amerson.

Johnson quietly went about his business and had a solid junior year. He'll get judged this season on being a full-blown cornerback with NFL potential compared to the mantra of "he's a safety playing cornerback." Johnson will also need to get his first career interception and then build momentum in his thievery.

Junior defensive tackles Thomas Teal and T.Y. McGill both flashed high-level potential last year. Teal was great against Florida State and Maryland in back-to-back games, and will need to play at that level consistently. McGill also was a star in the trenches against Maryland.

Someone from special teams could also likely make a team with return man Rashard Smith, kicker Niklas Sade and punter Wil Baumann all capable.

Ryan Tice

I think NC State is bound to have at least one first-team selection on the postseason team, although I did think it was interesting that the media picked the Wolfpack to finish third in the Atlantic Division by a fairly wide margin but didn't have a preseason All-ACC selection. Nearly 100 points separated the Pack from predicted fourth-place finisher Wake Forest, while just 72 points separated the Demon Deacons from predicted sixth-place finisher Syracuse (I would also like to go on the record now and say that Boston College will not finish last in the division).

The best bet for a first-team honoree is junior defensive tackle T.Y. McGill. He was a more-than-deserving candidate for the preseason All-ACC squad, but the teams are sometimes decided more by reputation than production. McGill notched 5 sacks and totaled 10.5 tackles for loss in 10 starts last year, which doesn't quite make him the most productive returning defensive tackle in the league — Pitt's Aaron Donald didn't play in the ACC last year, but will this year after totaling 18.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2012 — but that puts him way up there.

To demonstrate how little fans should care about preseason All-ACC teams - McGill and Donald combined for 29 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last year, while FSU's Timmy Jernigan and Wake Forest's Nikita Whitlock, the two who were named All-ACC at the league's kickoff event, combined for 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Logical choices aren't always made on the All-ACC squad, but that is particularly evident on the preseason edition.

Hopefully the smart choices are made for the postseason team and if a guy like McGill is deserving, he is not slighted. I also wouldn't be surprised to see cornerback Dontae Johnson or left tackle Rob Crisp contend for postseason honors, especially on the conference level.

Now it's your turn. Go on over to The Wolves' Den message board and participate in the poll asking the same question:

Who is most likely to be All-ACC?

N.C. State NEWS


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