Clemson, with star QB Boyd, picked as ACC's best
Clemson was the overwhelming favorite to win the ACC football championship and Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd was the overwhelming pick for ACC player of the year, according to a poll of media members at the ACC Football Kickoff that was released Monday.
Clemson, which has an ACC-best 14 conference championships, was picked by 95 of the 120 voters, while Atlantic Division rival Florida State picked up another 15 votes. The Tigers have not been the preseason favorites to win the title since 1991.
North Carolina was picked to finish third in the Coastal Division. Despite coming off its first bowl appearance since 1994, Duke was picked to finish last for the 13th time in 14 years.
Boyd, the 2012 ACC player of the year, is coming off one of the most productive seasons in ACC history. He led the conference and ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency while breaking his own ACC records for touchdown passes (36) and touchdowns responsible for (46).
Miami (65) earned the majority of votes to win the Coastal Division, followed by Virgina Tech (27), UNC (22) and Georgia Tech (6). North Carolina, Miami and Georgia Tech finished in a three-way tie for first in the Coastal last season, though only the Yellow Jackets were eligible to compete in the ACC championship game. Conference newcomer Pittsburgh was picked to finish fifth and Virginia sixth.
Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora said he would use the preseason poll to motivate his players.
“There’s going to be some reaction -- I’m going to make sure of that,” Fedora said. “I think (we) should have been lower – that would have made it easier for me.”
Clemson (102) and Florida State (18) claimed all the first-place votes in the Atlantic Division. N.C. State came in third, followed by Wake Forest, Maryland, Syracuse and Boston College.
THORPE RETURNING – Fedora said that he expects Jordan High graduate T.J. Thorpe to be ready for the season opener. Thorpe missed the entire 2012 season with a broken foot and was unable to participate this spring.
“They tell me at the beginning of camp we’ll probably limit him on reps just to make sure everything’s fine as we go, and then he’s going to be turned loose midway through camp,” Fedora said.
Thorpe led the ACC with a 26.7 kickoff return average as a freshman in 2011. He also caught two passes for 70 yards. He is listed third on the depth chart at one of UNC’s three wide receiver positions.
HOLLIDAY ON STAFF - Former Duke wide receiver Blair Holliday, severely injured in a personal watercraft accident on July 4, 2012, is back in school and will be an undergraduate assistant coach for the Blue Devils this season.
Duke coach David Cutlciffe said Holliday's presence around the team is positive, given his recovery from the brain injury that nearly claimed his life.
"Blair continues to make progress," Cutcliffe said. "So it's exciting. He's there every day. He's going to be around our program and be a part of it to whatever level he can be."