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Four Tigers Named to 2012 Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Football Team

Four Tigers Named to 2012 Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Football Team

GREENSBORO, NC – Florida State, Clemson 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 July 22-23 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

The Preseason All-ACC team was announced Wednesday.

In all, 19 of the 25 honorees on the team earned first or second-team All-ACC honors last fall, with eight having been selected to the All-ACC first team. Four of the selections are returning first-team or second-team 2012 All-Americas.

One of those returning All-America selections, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Fort Myers, Fla.), who was named by the media as the ACC preseason Player of the Year on Monday, was the only unanimous selection on the team, being named on all 68 ballots.

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.

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, also had four players selected in Watkins, quarterback Tajh Boyd (Hampton, Va.), center Dalton Freeman (Pelion, S.C.) and running back Andre Ellington (Moncks Corner, S.C.)

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.

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.

The four 2011 first-team All-Americas chosen were first-teamers David Amerson of  NC State (Walter Camp) and Sammy Watkins of Clemson (AP) and second-team All-Americas Joe Vellano of Maryland (AP, Walter Camp) and Omoregie Uzzi ( of Georgia Tech.

Those chosen first-team All-ACC last fall included Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd and Dalton Freeman of Clemson; Dustin Hopkins of  Florida State; Omoregie Uzzi of Georgia Tech, Joe Vellano of Maryland, Giovani Bernard of North Carolina and David Amerson of NC State.

The 11 selections who were named to the second team 2011 All-ACC squad were Conner Vernon of Duke, Brandon Jenkins and Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State; Andre Ellington of Clemson; James Hurst and Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina; Oday Aboushi and Steve Greer of Virginia, James Gayle and Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech and Nikita Whitlock of Wake Forest.

Three of the selections were named Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2011 in Florida State’s Greg Reid, NC State’s Earl Wolff and Virginia Tech’s Bruce Taylor.

Five members of the 2012 preseason team were repeaters from 2011 in Brandon Jenkins and Greg Reid of Florida State;  Conner Vernon of Duke, Omoregie Uzzi of Georgia Tech and Andre Ellington of Clemson.

In all, eleven of the 12 ACC schools were represented on the preseason All-ACC team. A total of 68 ballots were turned in from the more than 362 media members in attendance at the 2011 ACC Football Kickoff.

Two members of the pre-season All-ACC team were actually high school teammates. Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner and North Carolina tailback Giovani Bernard played for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Bernard, who ran for 1,253 yards in 2011 was the winner of the ACC Brian Piccolo Award for Courage last fall. The Award’s namesake, Piccolo, played his high school football at Central Catholic High in Ft. Lauderdale, the predecessor of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Complete 2012 Preseason Atlantic Coast Conference Football Team