Looking for tackles in the ACC

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Speaking of who might challenge BC linebacker Mark Herzlich for the 2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, an equally interesting question for 2009 will be who the league's top tackler will be without Duke linebacker Michael Tauiliili around. North Carolina linebacker Mark Paschal is gone, as is Virginia linebacker Jon Copper and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

Here are my top five spring choices:

1. North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant -- He ranks second among all returning tacklers in the ACC with 122. Like Herzlich, he's got a keen eye for the ball, and made big plays in the passing game. Sturdivant had two interceptions for 89 yards in returns, including a 32-yard touchdown against Notre Dame.

2. Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich -- The fact that he returned for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft means he's going to play with a purpose. He is the ACC's leading returner in career tackles with 249. He had 2.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

3. Duke linebacker Vincent Rey -- He's moving over to the middle to fill the void left by Tauiliili and ranks second among all returning career tacklers in the ACC with 222. He averaged 9.1 tackles per game last year.

4. NC State linebacker Nate Irving -- Another player who made the Pack noticeably better when he was healthy enough to be on the field, Irving finished 2008 with 80 tackles but averaged eight per game. He's another linebacker who can disrupt the passing game, as he finished with four interceptions in 10 games (fourth nationally among linebackers).

5. Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak -- He averaged 10.2 tackles per game last year -- second in the ACC. He's a blue-collar player who missed a season with a knee injury but will be needed to step up with seven starters on defense gone.