Rob Weintraub’s ACC Alumni Trophies

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Eight is a very lucky number in China, where I was fortunate enough to live for a couple of years. I certainly feel lucky to be able to present my eighth annual Alumni Awards — my selections for every season’s best NFL player from each of the Power Five college programs. It’s a great way to gauge the health of the collegiate teams, an indicator of the volatility of the pro game, and, most of all, a fun argument-starter.

Today we cover the ACC.

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE

BOSTON COLLEGE (16 total pros on rosters in 2019 per ESPN.com)

2012: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
2013: Luke Kuechly, LB, CAR
2014: Luke Kuechly, LB, CAR
2015: Luke Kuechly, LB, CAR
2016: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
2017: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
2018: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
2019: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL

Unfortunately, Kuechly’s final season as a player didn’t result in his fourth Eagle Award. Instead, Ryan nabs his fourth straight and fifth overall.

CLEMSON (35)

2012: C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF
2013: Andre Ellington, RB, ARI
2014: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
2015: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
2016: Vic Beasley, LB, ATL
2017: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
2018: Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU
2019: Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU

Watson’s battery mate Hopkins was nuclear as usual, and Atlanta defensive tackle Grady Jarrett had an excellent season. But Deshaun repeated without much trouble.

DUKE (13)

2012: Vincent Rey, LB, CIN
2013: Vincent Rey, LB, CIN
2014: Vincent Rey, LB, CIN
2015: Vincent Rey, LB, CIN
2016: Jamison Crowder, WR, WAS
2017: Ross Cockrell, CB, NYG
2018: Matt Skura, C, BAL
2019: Daniel Jones, QB, NYG

Even the monstrously inefficient season from Danny Dukey was plenty to capture the Blue Devil Award. If nothing else Dave Gettleman will have this to point to when defending his selection of Jones.

FLORIDA STATE (35)

2012: Antonio Cromartie, CB, NYJ
2013: Darnell Dockett, DT, ARI
2014: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, CAR
2015: Jameis Winston, QB, TB
2016: Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL
2017: Jalen Ramsey, CB, JAX
2018: Derwin James, S, LAC
2019: Jameis Winston, QB, TB

Don’t tell the NFL that Florida State is down in the dumps — there are still a ton of Noles playing on Sundays. And it’s a potent group, too, though the race came down to Vikes running back Dalvin Cook and Winston. Despite the respective team results, Winston’s positional value and bizarre, historic 30-30 season earned him the Flaming Spear, if not a new contract from the Bucs.

GEORGIA TECH (8)

2012: Calvin Johnson, WR, DET
2013: Calvin Johnson, WR, DET
2014: Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN
2015: Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN
2016: Shaq Mason, G, NE
2017: Shaq Mason, G, NE
2018: Shaq Mason, G, NE
2019: Darren Waller, TE, OAK

Geoff Collins has begun the arduous task of rebuilding Tech back into a pro prospect paradise. In the meantime, Waller’s breakthrough season by the Bay gave folks on the Flats something to smile about.

LOUISVILLE (19)

2012: Elvis Dumervil, DE, DEN
2013: Elvis Dumervil, DE, BAL
2014: Elvis Dumervil, DE, BAL
2015: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN
2016: William Gay, CB, PIT
2017: Sheldon Rankins, DT, NO
2018: Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
2019: Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL

If Lamar cruised to the Card Award last year, in 2019 he lapped the field several times over.

MIAMI (50)

2012: Reggie Wayne, WR, IND
2013: Jimmy Graham, TE, NO
2014: Vince Wilfork, DT, NE
2015: Greg Olsen, TE, CAR
2016: Olivier Vernon, DE, NYG
2017: Calais Campbell, DE, JAX
2018: Calais Campbell, DE, JAX
2019: Calais Campbell, DE, JAX

Half a hundred Hurricanes in the pros, but the vast majority is roster filler, making C.C.’s threepeat a foregone conclusion.

NORTH CAROLINA (20)

2012: Julius Peppers, DE, CHI
2013: Robert Quinn, DE, STL
2014: Julius Peppers, DE, GB
2015: Giovani Bernard, RB, CIN
2016: Zach Brown, LB, BUF
2017: Julius Peppers, DE, CAR
2018: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, CHI
2019: Robert Quinn, DE, DAL

Sure, Trubisky has a massive positional advantage, but we can’t give the Heel to a guy who was so poor. That gives Quinn his second trophy, with a gaping six seasons between victories.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE (24)

2012: Mario Williams, DE, BUF
2013: Philip Rivers, QB, SD
2014: Mario Williams, DE, BUF
2015: Philip Rivers, QB, SD
2016: Philip Rivers, QB, SD
2017: Philip Rivers, QB, LAC
2018: Philip Rivers, QB, LAC
2019: Joe Thuney, G, NE

What a tough development for QBU, as the four Pack quarterbacks in the league all nosedived (Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Finley, and Mike Glennon — Russell Wilson counts as a Wisconsin Badger, sorry). Into that vacuum stepped Thuney, the rock on New England’s line.

NOTRE DAME (37)

2012: Golden Tate, WR, SEA
2013: Michael Floyd, WR, ARI
2014: Zach Martin, G, DAL
2015: Harrison Smith, S, MIN
2016: Zach Martin, G, DAL
2017: Harrison Smith, S, MIN
2018: Quenton Nelson, G, IND
2019: Ronnie Stanley, OT, BAL

You have to have had a fantastic season to beat out the incredible Irish guard duo of Quenton Nelson and Zack Martin for the Leprechaun. Stanley was the main plowhorse leading Baltimore’s record-setting rushing attack, and plays the more important position, so give that man his Alumni Award!

PITTSBURGH (25)

2012: LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI
2013: LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI
2014: Darrelle Revis, CB, NE
2015: Aaron Donald, DT, STL
2016: Aaron Donald, DT, LAR
2017: Aaron Donald, DT, LAR
2018: Aaron Donald, DT, LAR
2019: Aaron Donald, DT, LAR

It just keeps getting easier for the top pro Panther to collect this award.

SYRACUSE (10)

2012: Chandler Jones, DE, NE
2013: TIE — Chandler Jones, DE, NE and Arthur Jones, DT, BAL
2014: Chandler Jones, DE, NE
2015: Chandler Jones, DE, NE
2016: Chandler Jones, DE, ARI
2017: Chandler Jones, DE, ARI
2018: Chandler Jones, DE, ARI
2019: Chandler Jones, DE, ARI

Fortunately for Orange alums like myself, Jones remains dominant in the desert, so the sliced award once again goes to a worthy player. ‘Cause the ‘Cuse ain’t crankin’ out the likes of Jim Brown or Floyd Little or even Donovan McNabb anymore…

VIRGINIA (18)

2012: Chris Long, DE, STL
2013: Chris Long, DE, STL
2014: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, NYJ
2015: Brandon Albert, OT, MIA
2016: Chris Long, DE, NE
2017: Morgan Moses, OT, WAS
2018: Brent Urban, DE, BAL
2019: Anthony Harris, S, MIN

Pretty good race for the Wahoo Award this year, with Morgan Moses’ solid season undone by his team’s ineptitude, and Juan Thornhill’s injury costing him a shot. Anthony Harris, who was tremendous in Minny’s back end, takes it.

VIRGINIA TECH (16)

2012: Brandon Flowers, CB, KC
2013: Jason Worrilds, LB, PIT
2014: Kam Chancellor, S, SEA
2015: Duane Brown, OT, HOU
2016: Kam Chancellor, S, SEA
2017: Tyrod Taylor, QB, BUF
2018: Kyle Fuller, CB, CHI
2019: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, BUF

Tremaine Edmunds’ breakout season whomping everything in sight made the Hokie Award an easy call, though Chiefs corner Kyle Fuller, Ravens safety Chuck Clark, and Seahawks tackle Duane Brown were noteworthy.

WAKE FOREST (9)

2012: Tyson Clabo, OT, ATL
2013: Calvin Pace, LB, NYJ
2014: Calvin Pace, LB, NYJ
2015: Kevin Johnson, CB, HOU
2016: Kevin Johnson, CB, HOU
2017: Kevin Johnson, CB, HOU
2018: Jessie Bates, S, CIN
2019: Jessie Bates, S, CIN

It seemed like Bates would repeat as Deacon award winner by default, as his poor play mirrored the first-half defensive horror show in Cincy. But the second-year safety improved notably in the back half of the season, as the unit got used to Lou Anarumo’s schemes. So enjoy that earned trophy.

Source: footballoutsiders.com

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