The list of candidates is narrow, but as the dynamics of the conference race change, so can the front-runners for the ACC’s top awards. Here’s a look at who is leading the race into Week 9:
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd: He has played his way into the Heisman conversation, and right now is the lead candidate for the ACC’s player of the year. He leads the ACC in passing average per game (297.4), is second in pass efficiency (160.1) and leads the ACC in total offense (318). He has thrown 24 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins: He’s right behind Boyd as one of the best players in the ACC this year. He is second in the league in receiving yards per game (102.4) and leads the ACC with 6.8 receptions per game. He has scored nine touchdowns, leads the league in scoring and his having a record-setting freshman season.
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson: He leads the ACC in rushing with 129.8 yards per game and has 1,038 yards, seven touchdowns and 6.3 yards per carry. He has rushed for 100-plus yards in five straight games, the longest active streak in the country.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Miami linebacker Sean Spence: He is second in the ACC with 10.8 tackles per game and he has three sacks this season. He leads the ACC in tackles for loss per game with 1.58 (9.5). He has been invaluable to the Canes’ defense.
Clemson defensive end Andre Branch: He leads the ACC with 12 tackles for loss and leads the ACC with eight sacks. He has 47 tackles this season.
Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly: He leads the ACC and the nation with 118 tackles (16.9 per game), and he has 7.5 tackles for loss. He also leads the nation in solo tackles (8.71 per game).
COACH OF THE YEAR
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: Hot seat? What hot seat? Not this guy, who at 8-0 has the Tigers ranked No. 5 in the latest BCS standings and in a position to contend for the national title. Clemson is close to clinching the Atlantic Division title for the second time under Swinney, and the program is easily one of the best in the country this year.
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe: The Deacs were 3-9 a year ago, and now they’re in a position to challenge Clemson for the Atlantic Division title. Wake Forest is one win away from bowl eligibility, and Grobe has his players believing they can play with anyone this year.