Phil Steele has put the finishing touches on his preseason All-America team, featuring several ACC standouts. Here is a quick look at the league players selected:
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
Ross Martin, PK, Duke
Spiffy Evans, PR, Boston College
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida State
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
Chandler Catanzaro, PK, Clemson
Jamal Golden, KR, Georgia Tech
Rashad Greene, PR, Florida State
Notice anyone missing?
That would be Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. I can pretty much guarantee Boyd will be using the slight as even more motivation, considering it is his goal to be recognized as the best quarterback in America this season.
Here are the four quarterbacks that Steele selected instead: Johnny Manziel, first team; Braxton Miller, second team; AJ McCarron, third team; Teddy Bridgewater, fourth team. Hard to argue with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Manziel, or Miller, who led his team to an undefeated season a year ago.
Bridgewater is a good choice, too, considering many believe he will be one of the first players taken in the 2014 draft if he turns pro at the end of the season. But, in my opinion, Boyd is a better overall quarterback than McCarron. Yes, I know McCarron has led the Tide to two straight national championships. Alabama will be a preseason top 5 team once again. But Boyd is a much more dynamic player with more upside. I view McCarron as much more of a game manager.
In any case, there certainly appears to be a tremendous amount of talent across the country at quarterback. All five go into the season as preseason Heisman candidates. You can throw Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray into the mix as well, along with Marcus Mariota at Oregon. Should be a fun season to watch.
A few other observations:
It is now clear that folks around the country expect Watkins to have a bounce-back season. Seeing him listed on the first team is testament to all the talent he has, and the belief he will be even better than he was his freshman season.
Once again, Florida State is well represented, with a league-leading five players recognized. That supplies even more proof that the Noles remain the most talented team in the ACC, despite losing 11 players to the NFL draft.
When Exum tore his ACL during a pickup basketball game earlier this year, many feared his senior season would be in jeopardy. But Exum has made a remarkable recovery and could play in the season opener against Alabama. Steele clearly has confidence that Exum can remain an elite corner despite his injury setback.
Ross Martin was a true freshman last season, replacing Will Snyderwine, who ranks No. 3 in school history in points scored. Now, Martin is a third-team preseason All-American. What a rise.