Is Florida State ready to contend for a National Title?
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 9 Florida State. The Seminoles were expected to challenge for the ACC title last season, but came up short. Florida State is loaded on defense, but the offense has question marks.
Is Florida State Back as an Annual National Title Contender?
Athlon ranks the top 10 Florida State players since 1967. Buckley started for only two seasons in Tallahassee, but got his name securely into the record books. He claims the school’s all-time interception record with 21 and INT return yards with 501 – which also happens to be an NCAA mark as well. In 1991, Buckley led the nation – and set an FSU single-season record – with 12 interceptions (returned for 238 yards and two TDs). He was named an All-American and claimed the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. Buckley also played two years of varsity baseball and lettered on the Outdoor Track and Field team once. He was selected with the fifth overall pick in the first round on the 1992 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
As a three-time All-ACC performer, Dunn is the only Seminole to top the 1,000-yard mark in three consecutive seasons. His 3,959 career yards and 1,418 yards in 1995 represent the career and single-season records for Florida State. Dunn was a part of the 1993 National Championship team and has scored more TDs (49) than any other Florida State player. His 21 100-yard rushing efforts are also a school record. The Noles were 31-1 in ACC play during Dunn’s four-year career. He was also an All-American on the Track and Field team in Tallahassee. He was drafted in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Bucs and went on to rush for 10,967 yards in his illustrious pro career.
The frst three-year starter at QB for the Seminoles under Bobby Bowden, Weinke became the second FSU player to win the Heisman Trophy when he was named the nation's best player in 2000. He led the nation in passing with 4,167 yards. Weinke led the Noles to an undefeated season in 1999 and the National Championship. He was a remarkable 32-3 as the starter. He set both ACC and school records for career passing yards with 9,839 and would set 26 Florida State records. His 536 yards against Duke in 2000 and his 79 career TD passes highlight the long list of FSU benchmarks. Weinke also won the Davey O'Brien and Johnny Unitas trophies in 2000. The stellar QB was drafted in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
Jones became the first Seminole to capture two major national awards in the same season when he earned the 1992 Butkus and Lombardi Awards. He was only FSU's third two-time consensus All-American, and his 111 tackles helped lead the Noles to an 11-1 mark that year, when Jones finished fourth in the Heisman voting. He finished his career with 369 tackles (seventh all-time at FSU) and 28 tackles for a loss (third all-time at FSU). The New York Jets selected Jones with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.
Sellers remains the prolific receiver in FSU history. He held most of the NCAA receiving records from the end of his final season in 1968 until 1987. A flanker for FSU, he accumulated 3,979 yards on 240 career receptions. He caught a pass in 30 consecutive games, averaging 119.9 yards per game. He led the Noles to three straight bowl games in his time in Tallahassee. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was drafted by the Boston Patriots with the sixth overall pick in the Common Draft of 1969.
A two-time consensus All-American, Brooks was the big-play man on dominating defenses that not only won ACC championships but also the 1993 National Title. That year, Brooks made 77 tackles, seven for a loss, en route to ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He finished his career with 274 tackles, five interceptions, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Brooks is one of eight Noles to have his number retired. The talented tackler was selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, where all he did was go to 11 Pro Bowls, win a Super Bowl and the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
Few players from any school have ever had the raw explosiveness and play-making ability that Mr. Warrick possessed. He was virtually impossible to stop in the open field. The two-time consensus All-American caught more touchdown passes (32) than any FSUer in history. His 207 career receptions and 3,517 receiving yards rank second all-time to Ron Sellers. He was also the front-runner for the 1999 Heisman Trophy - scoring from five different positions on the field - before an off-the-field incident slowed his final season. He bounced back as the MVP of the 2000 Sugar Bowl, scoring three times in the National Championship victory over Virginia Tech. Warrick was the fourth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Very simply put: Simmons was the dominant defensive lineman in Florida State history, which is quite a statement considering the talent to roll through Tallahassee along the D-Line. After recording 81 tackles, six sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 1979, Simmons finished ninth in the Heisman and earned his first of two consensus All-America awards. His career totals of 25 sacks and 44 tackles for a loss were Seminole records until the 1996 season. Simmons was the first Nole defender to have his jersey retired. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 1981 NFL Draft.
Likely the most exciting college player of his era, Sanders was a two-time consensus All-American and won the Jim Thorpe Award in 1988 as the nation's best defensive back. He intercepted 14 passes in his career (not including bowl games) and was a stellar return man who led the nation in punt returns at 15.2 per return in 1988. He holds seven FSU school records for INTs and/or punt returns. Sanders lettered in three sports - baseball, track and football - and is one of very few players to excel at two professional sports. Despite his lack of desire to tackle, Sanders is widely considered the best cover corner to ever play the game. Sanders was the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL Hall of Famer also was a career .263 hitter in 11 MLB seasons.
Ward might be the most decorated player in NCAA football history. The list of awards and accomplishments for No. 17 is astounding. The two most important took place in 1993. Ward, an experienced leader on both the gridiron and hardcourt, earned the Heisman Trophy as the game's best player as well as the National Championship. He set 19 school and seven ACC records in his two years as the starting QB in Tallahassee. A consensus All-American, Ward claimed upwards of 30 individual awards including the Davey O'Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, the Walter Camp Award and the ACC Player of the Year. His dynamic rush-pass ability netted him 6,636 yards of total offense (second in FSU history), and he posted the highest completion rate in school history with a 62.3% mark. Despite playing baseball and football at Florida State (at an elite level), Ward took his raw ability to the NBA, where he was a first round pick in 1994 by the New York Knicks. He helped lead the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
College football realignment dominated the headlines last summer and if you thought it was over, think again. More movement in college football could be coming this summer, especially with the mixed messages coming out of Tallahassee with Florida State. Are the Seminoles content to stay in the ACC or are they interested in the Big 12? If Florida State does make the jump to the Big 12, the domino effect will be felt across all of college football.
Tajh Boyd looks to lead Clemson to another ACC title in 2012.
The Clemson Tigers check in at No. 15 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.
Bellamy was expected to be a major contributor for Clemson in 2012, but was ruled ineligible after spring practice and will transfer to a junior college. Bellamy finished second on the team with 343 yards rushing and averaged six yards per carry as a true freshman in 2011. He also had three rushing touchdowns, caught two passes and returned four kickoffs for 64 yards last season. He had a season-high 81 yards rushing on just three carries in his first collegiate game in the season opener against Troy. One of those carries went for 75 yards, which was the longest rushing play for any Clemson player in 2011. He led the team in rushing twice, including 47 yards against Virginia Tech, the first time the two teams met in Blacksburg, Va., on Oct. 1. Bellamy also had a 31-yard touchdown run in that game that helped seal the deal on the Tigers’ 23-3 victory over the then No. 10-ranked Hokies.
Brewer enters his senior season with 40-career games played and 23 total starts under his belt. The three-year starter finished his 2011 campaign with 60 tackles, 45 of those being solo stops, three tackles for loss, an interception and seven pass breakups. He was second on the team in pass breakups and has 18 for his career. He had a season- and career-high 10 tackles against Georgia Tech and his lone interception came against Virginia Tech in the Tigers’ convincing 23-3 win in Blacksburg, Va. He has missed just one game in his first three seasons in a Clemson uniform.
Breeland played in all 14 games as a redshirt freshman in 2011, making seven starts at cornerback. He finished his first season in a Tigers’ uniform with 53 tackles, 42 of those being solo stops, one tackle for loss, four pass breakups and two interceptions. He tied for second on the team in interceptions and got his first career pick against Maryland. His other interception came in the ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech when he picked off Logan Thomas at Clemson’s two-yard-line and returned it 64 yards. Breeland had a team-high 11 tackles (seven solo) in the Tigers’ loss to then No. 13-ranked South Carolina on Nov. 26.
The highly regarded recruit made an impact in his first collegiate game, as Anthony recorded four tackles, a sack and broke up a pass in Clemson’s 2011 season-opening win over Troy. The true freshman finished his first season in a Tigers’ uniform with 32 tackles (25 solo), six tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup in 13 games. He made three starts late in the season, including in the ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech. He made the most of that opportunity as he tallied three tackles, two tackles for a loss, a sack and forced a fumble in the Tigers’ convincing 38-10 win.
Goodman enters his senior season as the most experienced Clemson player on the roster with 41 career games played. He started all 14 games last season and finished with 59 tackles, 43 of those solo stops, four tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. He played 767 snaps last year, which was not only the most on the team at his position in 2011, but the most by a Tigers’ defensive lineman in school history. His best game of his junior season came against Boston College when he tallied six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and caused a fumble on a sack. He also had a season-high nine tackles against Georgia Tech’s option offense on Oct. 29.
Last season Hopkins became just the second wide receiver in ACC history to have 50 or more catches in his first two seasons, joining fellow Tiger Derrick Hamilton (2001-02) in this distinction. Hopkins finished 2011 second on the team with 72 receptions and 978 yards receiving and also had five touchdown receptions. Hopkins had 157 yards receiving against North Carolina, which was the most by any Clemson receiver in 2011. Hopkins led the Tigers in receiving in three of the their last four games, during which he had a combined 25 catches for 347 yards. He hauled in a season- and career-high 10 receptions in the Orange Bowl against West Virginia, which went for 105 yards and a touchdown. He is the only Clemson player in school history to have two 100-yard receiving games in bowl games as he had 105 yards receiving against South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl as a true freshman in 2010.
Besides being named first-team All-ACC last season, Freeman was one of the six finalists for the Dave Rimington Award, which is given to the nation’s top center. Freeman was one of two juniors who were named finalists. Freeman enters his senior season with 36 starts in 40 career games played, the most of any Clemson offensive player. Last season alone, Freeman played 1,044 snaps, the most of any player in school history. Freeman is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line, as he and junior left guard Brandon Thomas are the only returning starters up front. A two-time Academic All-ACC performer, Freeman should finish his career as the record holder for most career starts by a Tigers’ offensive lineman (48).
Ellington enters his senior season 10th in school history in career rushing yards (2,335) and tied for 10th in rushing touchdowns (25). Last season, he was named second-team All-ACC after finishing fourth in the conference in rushing with 1,178 yards in 13 games. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2011 and his career average is 5.8 yards per carry. He topped 1,000 career rushing yards in just 151 carries, the second-fewest in Clemson history. He had five 100-yard rushing games last season, including a career-high 212 yards on 24 carries (8.8 ypc) against Maryland. Ellington led Clemson in rushing in 10 of the team’s 14 games and his season-long rush was a 74-yard touchdown run against Wake Forest. He finished his 2011 campaign with back-to-back games of more than 110 yards on the ground. He had 125 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ ACC Championship Game win over Virginia Tech and 116 yards against West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.
Boyd was named first-team All-ACC quarterback last season after leading the conference in total offense (289 yards per game), passing yards (273.4 per game), touchdown responsibility (38), touchdown passes (33) and completions (298). He became the first Clemson quarterback to lead the ACC in total offense since Woodrow Dantzler did in 2001. Besides establishing school single-season records for total offense, passing yards and completions, Boyd broke the ACC mark for touchdown responsibility and he did all of this as a sophomore in his first year as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. Boyd’s best game of the 2011 season came Oct. 22 versus North Carolina when he carved up the Tar Heels’ defense for 367 yards through the air and a total of six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing). He was named a semifinalist for both the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the Maxwell Award last season.
Last season, Watkins became the first true freshman in ACC history to be named an Associated Press first-team All-American as he was named the all-purpose player. Watkins was also named the ACC Rookie of the Year as he led the conference in all-purpose yards with 2,288 in 14 games (176 yards per game). That’s the second-highest total in both school and ACC history, trailing only former Clemson great C.J. Spiller’s 2009 senior season total of 2,680 yards. In just one season, he has already rewritten the Clemson record books, including new single-season marks for receptions (82), receiving yards (1,219) and touchdown catches (12). Besides all those receiving yards, he had 213 yards rushing, 826 yards on kickoff returns, 12 yards on punt returns and also completed one pass for nine yards in 2011.
Can Frank Beamer lead the Hokies to an ACC Championship once again?
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 16 Virginia Tech. Quarterback Logan Thomas is back, but the Hokies have to replace four offensive line starters and running back David Wilson.
Can Virginia Tech Win the ACC Championship in 2012?
Marcus Davis should be the new go-to receiver for Logan Thomas in 2012.
The Virginia Tech Hokies check in at No. 16 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.
With four fifth-year seniors having moved on, junior center Andrew Miller is by far Virginia Tech’s most experienced offensive lineman and will be critical to the unit’s success in 2012. Miller started all 14 games at center last season after seeing limited action as a redshirt freshman in 2010. The coaching staff graded Miller’s on-field performance at better than 90 percent in four games last year. He also was part of an offensive line that finished second in the ACC and tied for 22nd in the nation in sacks allowed in 2011, giving up a total of only 17 in 14 games (1.2 per game).
Edwards started all 14 games in 2011, finishing third on the team in both tackles (71, 35 solo and tackles for loss (11.5). He also had 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Edwards got his first career start in the season opener against Appalachian State after playing in all 14 of Virginia Tech’s games as a redshirt freshman in 2010. He had a season- and career-high 10 tackles against Arkansas State and recorded a sack and an interception against Wake Forest. He also had a sack and a team-high eight tackles in the Hokies’ overtime Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan. Edwards missed spring practice after undergoing surgery to place a rod in his left tibia to relieve pain from a stress fracture in his shin, but he’s expected to be ready to go by the fall. If healthy, the junior will team with seniors Bruce Taylor and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow to form the ACC’s top linebacking corps.
Hopkins started all 14 games for Virginia Tech last season, finishing with 51 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks. He also had a pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He was a full-time starter his sophomore season after playing in 13 games as a true freshman in 2010. He posted a season-high nine total tackles against Georgia Tech and collected a sack apiece in the East Carolina, Clemson and Boston College contests. He is expected to pair with his older brother Antoine as the Hokies’ starting defensive tackles in 2012.
With Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, the top two receivers in Virginia Tech history, both gone, Davis has the opportunity to establish himself as quarterback Logan Thomas’ top target in 2012. The senior was fourth on the team with 30 receptions in 2011 while his 510 yards were second. He led the Hokies by averaging 17 yards per catch and also tied Boykin for first in touchdown receptions with five. In 40 career games, Davis has 54 receptions for 874 yards and eight touchdowns, while averaging more than 16 yards per catch. Davis’ best game last season came in the opener against Appalachian State when he caught three passes for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns, including one that covered 63 yards. He also had a season-high five receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown against Virginia.
An honorable mention All-ACC honoree in 2011, Collins amassed 57 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and was second on the team with six sacks. He also had his first career interception in the game against Virginia. Collins, now a junior, started all 14 games last season, after playing in 13 and registering his first career start as a redshirt freshman in 2010. He had a season- and career-high 11 tackles in the Hokies’ win against Georgia Tech. He got nearly half of his sacks in one game, when he piled up 2.5 against Marshall. That was part of a six-game stretch, starting with the Sept. 10 game at East Carolina and ending with the Oct. 15 contest at Wake Forest, during which he had a combined total of 23 tackles, 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and all six of his sacks.
Exum was named honorable mention All-ACC in 2011 for his efforts at free safety, while also starting three games at the rover position. In 14 starts, Exum racked up a team-high 89 tackles, 43 of them solo, to go along with five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles and added a fumble recovery. He recorded his first career interception against Marshall and was second on the Hokies with 11 passes defended. He had five games with double-digit tackles, including three games in a row, highlighted by a season- and career-high 12 against North Carolina. This season the junior will move to corner to replace two-time All-ACC performer Jayron Hosley, who was selected by the New York Giants in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Gayle started all 13 games he played in last year, missing one due to injury and being limited in two other contests. The junior was named second-team All-ACC after posting 38 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and a team-best seven sacks. He was second on the team in stops behind the line of scrimmage and was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week on two different occasions. The first one was for his seven-tackle, 1.5-sack effort against Marshall, and the second coming after he registered five tackles, three of them coming behind the line of scrimmage, and two sacks in the Hokies’ win against in-state rival Virginia.
Fuller earned second-team All-ACC honors and was named Virginia Tech’s defensive MVP last season as he contributed as a starter at two different positions. The junior started seven games at nickel back/whip linebacker and the other seven at cornerback. Fuller finished fourth on the team with 65 tackles, 46 of them solo stops, and led the team with 14.5 tackles for loss. He also was fourth with 4.5 sacks, tied for second with two interceptions and added a forced and a fumble recovery to his 2011 totals. Fuller also made an impact on special team, his season highlight coming via a blocked punt against Appalachian State, which he recovered for a touchdown. As a true freshman in 2010, Fuller played in all 14 games, starting seven contests. He posted a career-high 10 tackles, eight of them solo, and also had three stops behind the line of scrimmage in his fifth career start against in-state rival Virginia on Nov. 27, 2010.
In 2010, Taylor led Virginia Tech in tackles with 91 and was leading the team with 53 total stops before suffering a serious Lisfranc foot injury in the Oct. 22 game against Boston College. Taylor missed the Hokies’ last six games, but still earned honorable mention All-ACC honors as he also had seven tackles for loss and five sacks before his season was cut short. For his career, Taylor has played in 28 games with 22 starts, and has a total of 150 tackles, 23 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 11 sacks. Provided he’s fully healthy, the fifth-year senior will lead a Virginia Tech linebacking corps that is considered the best in the ACC, and provide leadership for coordinator Bud Foster’s defense, a unit that could finish the 2012 season as one of the nation’s most dominant.
In his first year as Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback, Thomas set new single-season records for total offense (3,482 yards) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (11). Thomas earned second-team All-ACC honors as he was responsible for a total of 30 touchdowns. The junior is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, finishing second on the team with 469 yards rushing with a team-high 11 touchdowns. Thomas needs to cut down on his interceptions (10 in 2011) and continue to improve his completion percentage (59.8), but he also seems to be at his best when the games count the most. In ACC games alone last year, including the ACC Championship Game, Thomas completed better than 60 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and just five interceptions. In the Sugar Bowl against Michigan, Thomas completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 214 yards and an interception in the Hokies’ 23-20 overtime loss to the Wolverines in New Orleans.
Is Florida State considering a move to the Big 12?
Is college football about to undergo another round of realignment? The Big 12's decision to stay at 10 teams after landing TCU and West Virginia to replace Missouri and Texas A&M has left the door open for more expansion rumors. Florida State and Clemson have been mentioned as possible Big 12 expansion candidates, but only time will tell if there is anything to the rumors.