Four Clemson stars named to All-ACC Preseason Team

Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina led all Atlantic Coast Conference schools each with four players selected to the 2012 Preseason All-ACC Football team in voting conducted by the media at the annual ACC Football Kickoff, which was held earlier this week at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, NC.

Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington, Dalton Freeman and Sammy Watkins were selected to the 2012 Preseason All-ACC Football team on Wednesday. Watkins, who was named by the media as the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year earlier this week, was the only unanimous selection on the team, being named on all 68 ballots.

Clemson, which captured the 2011 ACC Championship and was selected by the media at the Kickoff to finish second to the Seminoles in the Atlantic Division this fall, also had four players selected in Watkins, quarterback Tajh Boyd, center Dalton Freeman and running back Andre Ellington.

Boyd, named to four pre-season watch lists including the Davey O’Brien Award, set an ACC record with 38 TDR last fall. Freeman, has been recently named to the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi and Rimington Awards.

Watkins was the 2011 ACC Rookie of the Year, who set ACC freshman standards for passes caught (82) , reception yardage (1,219) and receiving TDs (12), and became only the fourth true freshman in history to be named first-team All-America by the Associated Press and is on the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Trophy watch lists.

Ellington rushed for 1,178 yards and has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award.

Florida State, tabbed by the media at the ACC Football Kickoff to win its first ACC Football title since 2005, was represented by defensive end Brandon Jenkins (Tallahassee, Fla.), safety Lamarcus Joyner (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), placekicker Dustin Hopkins (Houston, Texas) and cornerback Greg Reid (Valdosta, Ga.), who was named as the specialist for his abilities as a punt and kickoff returner.

Jenkins was named to the preseason watch lists for four national awards (Nagurski, Bednarik, Lombardi, Walter Camp) while Joyner was named to three awards watch lists (Nagurski, Bednarik, Thorpe). Hopkins, who was a finalist last year for the Lou Groza Award, need just 68 points to become the ACC’s career leading scorer. Reid ranks 5th on the ACC career punt return yardage list and is 180 yards away from the ACC career record.

North Carolina also had four players chosen preseason All-ACC in running back Giovani Bernard (Davie, Fla.), offensive tackle James Hurst (Plainfield, Ind.), offensive guard Jonathan Cooper (Wilmington, N.C.) and linebacker Kevin Reddick (New Bern, N.C.).

Bernard, who ran for 1,253 yards, the third-best in ACC history for a freshman, has been named to the pre-season watch lists for the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. Cooper and Hurst have both been named to the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award. Reddick has been named to four pre-season watch lists (Nagurski, Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi).

Virginia Tech, selected by the media to capture its sixth Coastal Division title in eight years, placed three players on the team, all from its defense, in defensive end James Gayle (Hampton, Va.), linebacker Bruce Taylor (Riceboro, Ga.) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (Baltimore, Md.).

All three Hokies have been named to the preseason watch list for the Nagurski Trophy, with Fuller and Taylor also named to the Bednarik watch list. Fuller is also on the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list.

Three schools—Maryland, NC State and Virginia—each had two players chosen. Maryland was represented by All-America defensive tackle Joe Vellano (Rexford, N.Y.) and tight end Matt Furstenburg (Flemington, N.J.). NC State saw its All-America cornerback David Amerson (Greensboro, N.C.) and safety Earl Wolff (Raeford, N.C.) chosen to the team, while Virginia had linebacker Steve Greer (Solon, Ohio) and offensive tackle Oday Aboushi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) selected.

Vellano has been named to the pre-season watch lists for five national awards: the Outland Trophy and the Nagurski Trophy, as well as the Bednarik, Lombardi and Walter Camp Awards. Amerson led the nation in 2011 in interceptions with 13, the most of any player in the NCAA’s FBS in 43 years and is on the watch lists for four national awards (Bednarik, Nagurski, Walter Camp, Jim Thorpe). Greer is on the preseason watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award; while Aboushi was named to the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists.

Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami and Wake Forest each had one player selected. Duke had wide receiver Conner Vernon (Miami, Fla.) who enters this fall needing 35 catches to become the ACC’s career receiving leader and is on the pre-season watch list for the Biletnikoff Award. For the second straight year, Georgia Tech was represented by offensive guard Omoregie Uzzi (Lithonia, Ga.), who helped the Jackets finish 2nd nationally in rushing last fall and who is on the watch list for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. Miami’s Dalton Botts (Taft, Calif.), who was named to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award, was named the preseason punter, while Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock (Wylie, Texas), a Lombardi Award watch list member, completed the team.

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