Boston College: Linebacker Luke Kuechly led the nation last year with 110 tackles -- so many that his dad often gave him grief last year about how many were legitimate. “He’s always like, ‘You just walk by the ball and they give you tackles,’” Kuechly said with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘Dad, man, I’m working for those.’ He said, ‘No, you’re not, they’re just tallying them up for you.’”
Clemson: The pace of Clemson’s offense has sped up under first-year coordinator Chad Morris, and it starts at the heart of the line. Instead of looking to the sideline and getting the play, Clemson center Dalton Freeman said he’s running straight to the ball. “When you’re looking at the sideline for a couple of years, waiting to hear the signal, to going straight to the ball and getting into your stance, it’s a big transition but it’s been a smooth one.”
Duke: Quarterback Sean Renfree said his improved decision-making was the biggest difference down the stretch last season. “Towards the end of the season I was thinking you don’t have to score every series,” he said. “Do the little things to give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter.” Renfree, who’s visibly bigger, faster and stronger, said he’s much more confident entering his second season as starter.
Florida State: The Seminoles are already preparing for their Sept. 17 home game against Oklahoma. “I watch film on them every day,” said defensive end Brandon Jenkins. “That’s a key factor.” Jenkins said last year’s 47-17 loss stuck with them for a long time, but they’re “going to try to change that this year.” He said the Noles have grown most in leadership and maturity since that loss.
Georgia Tech: While Georgia Tech might not find its next 1,000-yard rusher this fall, A-back Roddy Jones said the Jackets will get their yards by committee this year. “I think there will definitely be at least two,” he said of the B-backs. “We have four who are capable of doing the job. I don’t think any of them will be as explosive as [Jon] Dwyer was, but every single one is capable of being as effective as Anthony [Allen] was.”
Maryland: Linebacker Kenny Tate said his move from safety to linebacker isn’t as significant as some might think. “It’s really not a huge change,” he said. “… I still have the freedom to move around, I’m just closer to the line.” Tate said he has heard that the move could be a boost in his NFL stock because he can showcase his ability to blitz and also play safety.
Miami: The Hurricanes will be hunkered down in a hotel to stay focused during the first few weeks of summer camp, according to center Tyler Horn -- who said the team could use it. “Obviously what we did last year was not good enough,” Horn said. “The focus has been an emphasis and being mentally tough … Nothing but good can come out of it.”
North Carolina: Quarterback Bryn Renner lost a video game to offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, and Cooper immediately got the silent treatment. Cooper said Renner is “very competitive. He hates to lose.” One of the adjustments Renner will have to make, Cooper said, is accepting the ups and downs of his position. “You’re not always going to be the glory guy, you’re going to have to take some of the falls with it as well.”
NC State: Tight end George Bryan said he kept his personal feelings out of former quarterback Russell Wilson’s decision to transfer. He didn’t know until he found about it on TV. “I trust whatever decision was made,” he said. Bryan said he hopes Wilson does well at Wisconsin. “If it’s on TV, I’ll definitely watch it and be cheering for him.”
Virginia: Cornerback Chase Minnifield said he “doesn’t have many expectations” for himself: Just an All-American, All-ACC, and the best corner in the country. “I don’t really care what my interceptions are,” he said. “I think a good corner is a guy who doesn’t give up too many passes and doesn’t give up any touchdowns. If I can get that done, I’ll be all right.”
Virginia Tech: Safety Eddie Whitley said he has seen quarterback Logan Thomas making “big strides, even from spring to now.” Whitley said Thomas is ahead of the curve, but expects opponents to disrespect Thomas’ IQ and arm strength. During voluntary workouts this summer, Thomas would run a play, and ask Whitley what coverage the defense was in and why, and how he can throw the ball better against it.
Wake Forest: One priority for the defense is creating turnovers, as the Demon Deacons ranked tied for No. 94 in the country last season with 17. Linebacker Kyle Wilber said the players were young, “cocky and arrogant” and thought they were going to easily strip the ball last year. “If we don’t help out our offense and put them in the best position they can be in, how do we expect to win?”