Maxwell Watch List Player Previews: ACC
The Maxwell Award is given out to “The Outstanding Collegiate Player of the Year”. Here’s a preview on every Maxwell Watch List candidate in the ACC. A look into who they were last season, and who they can potentially be this season.
QB: Tajh Boyd (Junior, Clemson)
Last season as a sophomore, Boyd immediately became one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Boyd was a consistent playmaker, especially with the long ball. He had ten games where he threw at least one 40-yard completion. While most college quarterbacks struggle to go deep, Boyd thrives on it. He finished the season with 3,828 yards, 33 passing touchdowns, and five rushing touchdowns. This season, Boyd returns with his entire offense, and should see increasing numbers as Clemson tries to take the ACC; 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns are a lot, but doable for someone like Boyd.
WR: Sammy Watkins (Sophomore, Clemson)
Watkins is a complete hybrid receiver, both fast and physical with great hands and a solid frame. On top of that, he’s amazing in the open field with unbelievable awareness, and is just freakishly athletic. As a receiver, he had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had seven games of seven receptions or more, and five games of 100+ receiving yards (four 140+ games). Not only was he a prime receiver, but he also saw some rushing opportunities and handled kickoffs. Yapp, he can do it all. Watkins finished with 2,288 all-purpose yards…as a freshman. This season, Watkins should put up even better numbers with Boyd, Hopkins, and Ellington all returning.
RB: Andre Ellington (Senior, Clemson)
There’s a lot of attention on Clemson’s passing game, but Andre Ellington has been more than productive on the ground. Ellington has no problem finding the end zone, having scored seven touchdowns during a six-game span; he ended up with 11 touchdowns and 1,178 yards. We know Clemson’s offense will be exceptional, and Ellington should be an integral part of it with another solid season of 1,300 yards and at least ten scores.
QB: E.J. Manuel (Senior, Florida State)
The Seminoles are banking on Manuel next year to lead them to an ACC title, and if he shows improvement, there’s a strong chance he will. At 6-5, 245 pounds, and a whole lot of potential, some early mock drafts have Manuel in next year’s first round. Last season Manuel finished with 2,666 yards and 22 total touchdowns, which are not first-round-worthy numbers. However, it is implied that the potential is there, and he should live up to it this upcoming season as he showed improvements throughout last season. Specifically against NC Sate, led by nation interception leader David Amerson, Manuel was 25-34 with 321 yards and two touchdowns. Manuel is very accurate, completing 65.3% of last year’s passes, but struggles to get the ball downfield and rack up major yardage. Next year expect Manuel to gamble downfield and break the 3,000-yard mark, paired with 25 touchdowns.
QB: Mike Glennon (Senior, N.C State)
Glennon is truly a giant quarterback at 6-6 225 pounds. Last season Glennon had his first full-time starting job and took full advantage of it. He had 8 multi-touchdown games and threw slightly over 3,000 yards. The Pack doesn’t have the best receiving corps, but look for Tobais Palmer to emerge as Glennon’s main target. If Glennon turns it on this season, he’ll get 3,200-3,400 yards and 36 touchdowns.
RB: Giovani Bernard (Sophomore, North Carolina)
I think it’s fair to say Bernard recovered extremely well from tearing his ACL, which forced him to redshirt in 2010. Bernard finished with 1,500 total yards (1,253 rushing) and 14 total touchdowns (13 rush). Bernard was a machine with five consecutive 100+ rushing yard games and four games of two touchdowns. Bernard should see more carries, resulting in 1,400 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
QB: Bryn Renner (Junior, North Carolina)
Renner had a successful sophomore campaign with 3,086 yards, an incredible 68.3 completion percentage, and 26 touchdowns. Renner only had two games of 300+ yards, but with more experience under his belt, that should improve in 2012. Wide Receiver Dwight Jones is a tough loss for Renner and the Heels, but it shouldn’t stop Renner from reaching 3,250 yards and 28-30 touchdowns.
QB: Logan Thomas (Junior, Virginia Tech)
The only quarterback larger than Glennon in the ACC is Thomas at 6-6 254 lbs. For his size, Thomas is extremely mobile and was able to rush for 469 yards and 11 touchdowns to compliment his passing game. For a quarterback with so many rushing touchdowns, you would think he does not have a great arm, but Thomas had over 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns on the season. With both legs and arm considered, there are enormous expectations in hopes that he improves as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks. Thomas can throw for 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns, and still easily rush for over ten touchdowns.
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