On Wednesday, NC State coach Tom O'Brien said linebacker Nate Irving, who missed all of last season after he was seriously injured in a one-car accident, is working out and should rejoin the team in time for spring practice.
Last preseason, we learned the news of the losses of three of the ACC's best players in Irving, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, and Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans. Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer and Evans tore his ACL. One of the storylines worth watching this spring is how quickly each of them progresses, and what they might be capable of adding to their respective teams in 2010.
The question in Blacksburg is how Evans will share the carries with emerging superstar Ryan Williams, who made a seamless transition into the starting job after Evans was injured last year. In Chestnut Hill, the return of Herzlich and freshman phenom Luke Kuechly could make the Eagles' linebacking corps one of the best, if not the best. And in Raleigh, the return of Irving means the Pack get their best overall player back and top defensive leader -- a player who was sorely missed on a defense that struggled mightily to find any consistency in 2009.
Combined, all three of them have the potential to give the ACC a boost, as their comeback stories will only make their respective teams better. This spring will help determine how quickly they can shake off the rust and do that, or if expectations need to be tempered.