ACC morning links

The loss of Jameis Winston is obviously a big deal for Florida State fans, and no doubt the search for a new QB will be the biggest talking point through the offseason. But on defense, the losses might actually make more of an impact.

On Thursday, Mario Edwards Jr. made it official that he’s leaving for the NFL draft, and reports suggest Ronald Darby will be following him out the door. P.J. Williams announced his intention to enter the draft earlier in the week, and it’s certainly possible that Eddie Goldman could leave as well.

Meanwhile, E.J. Levenberry has decided to transfer, Desmond Hollin has exhausted his eligibility, and Ukeme Eligwe was dismissed from FSU in November.

As we noted earlier this week, the defense had its problems in 2014 when it came to handling adversity, but there’s no question there was a big step back this season on the defensive side of the ball.

Plenty of fans want to blame Charles Kelly, the third different coordinator in as many seasons for Florida State, but the bigger problem is simply a loss of talent. In the last two seasons, FSU has had 11 different defensive players drafted. That number will increase by at least four this year, and the departures of NFL-caliber players is huge. Bjoern Werner, Telvin Smith, Lamarcus Joyner, Xavier Rhodes, Timmy Jernigan -- those guys aren’t easily replaced, and certainly the same can be said for Edwards, Williams and Goldman.

So while FSU’s search for a QB will garner the headlines, the process of rebuilding that defense this offseason will likely be what determines whether the Seminoles are legitimate playoff contenders again in 2015.

A few more links:

  • David Cutcliffe thinks Duke deserves a spot in the final Top 25, writes the Charlotte Observer. There were 26 Power 5 teams that won nine games or more, and with Duke losing three of its last four while never being ranked better than 22nd, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

  • BC Interruption takes a look at the biggest surprises of the 2014 season for the Eagles, including the quick rebuild on the offensive line.

  • Randy Shannon refuses to look back at his tenure at Miami, writes the Miami Herald.

  • I spent a year at Syracuse for grad school, and Konrad’s Sports Bar was a vacant building for the most of it. Its namesake, however, turned in an impressive feat, swimming nine miles after falling off a fishing boat, writes Syracuse.com.

  • Pittsburgh is expected to hire FIU assistant Josh Conklin as its new defensive coordinator, writes the Post-Gazette. Conklin took the 94th-ranked FIU D in 2013 to 36th in 2014.

  • Georgia Tech is recruiting the brother of Georgia running back Keith Marshall, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.