An Inexact Science

Photo copyright Sara D. Davis, Atlantic Coast Conference

Football season, or at least football media season, got underway in earnest at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte. The annual July event brings hundreds of media together with ACC football coaches and two student-athlete representatives for press conferences, photo opportunities and trips down radio row. 

Additionally, ACC media select their preseason all-conference team, preseason player of the year, and predictions for how the season will play out. This was perhaps my ninth time at the ACC Kickoff, and I have a confession to make: voting for these things is an inexact science. And now I'm going to peel back the curtain on how I make my selections.

I have covered North Carolina athletics for ten years now, and the great majority of my time during football is spent with one team. A 14-team league means two divisions, and with all divisional opponents playing each other, that's six games. Then you'll get one primary crossover opponent - for Carolina, that's NC State. And one more interdivisional game a year. This year, with Carolina playing the Wolfpack on the road, they'll host Louisville. And then, barring an ACC Championship game matchup, the Tar Heels and Cardinals won't meet again until 2024.

All that is to say that a beat writer covering a single team, like me, could drive him or herself crazy trying to familiar with every single team and potential All-ACC selection. So I cheat. Kind of.

Here's how I make my Preseason All-ACC Selections: 

1) Look at who's nominated. Teams submit their All-ACC nominations, although media can write in if they feel strongly about a candidate who's not listed. I don't feel that strongly. 

2) Look at last year's postseason All-ACC team. Do any names match? If so, they go on the list. If not, I look at second-team selections. And then third team. And then honorable mentions.

3)  Check the stats. If there's not an All-ACC player returning at a position, I look at the nominees' stats and their team performance. Who's the most impactful at their position among the nominees? Who's most valuable to his team?

4)  Name recognition. Yep. Guilty. If I get to this point in the decision-making process, I give the nod to a player whose name I recognize. 

5) Submit. 

I turned in my ballot on the Friday of ACC Kickoff, and the ACC's George Lane emailed the results five days later.

How did I do? 

2017 Preseason All-ACC Football Team

Wide Receiver

ACC picks Deon Cain, Clemson; Ahmmon Richards, Miami; Cam Phillips, Virginia Tech.

Turner picks Richards, Ervin Philips of Syracuse and T.J. Rahming of Duke.

Philips was second in conference and 8th nationally with 7.5 catches per game a year ago. He was honorable mention All-ACC in 2016 and received 24 preseason votes. Rahming had nearly 6 catches per game last year and received 13 preseason votes.

Tight End

ACC picks Cam Serigne, Wake Forest.

Turner picks Serigne.


ACC picks Jaylen Samuels, NC State.

Turner picks Samuels.

Offensive Tackle

ACC picks Brian O'Neill, Pitt and Mitch Hyatt, Clemson.

Turner picks O'Neill and Geron Christian of Louisville.

I just whiffed on this one. While Christian was honorable mention All-ACC last year, Hyatt was first team. Oops. Christian did receive 13 other votes, however.

Offensive Guard

ACC picks Tyrone Crowder, Clemson and Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech.

Turner picks Crowder and Tony Adams of NC State.

Offensive line positions are so hard. Adams was second-team All-ACC with both the writers and coaches.


ACC picks Alec Eberle of Florida State.

Turner picks Eberle.


Everybody picks Lamar Jackson of Louisville.

Running back

ACC picks Mark Walton, Miami and Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech.

Turner matches.

Defensive End

ACC picks Harold Landry, Boston College and Bradley Chubb, NC State.

Turner matches.

Defensive Tackle

ACC picks Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins, both of Clemson.

Turner matches.


ACC picks Micah Kiser, Virginia; Shaquille Quarterman, Miami and Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech.

Turner picks Kiser, Edmunds and Ben Humphreys of Duke.

Humphreys received 19 votes. He was third team last year according to both the writers and coaches.


ACC picks Tarvarus McFadden of Florida State and Jaire Alexander of Louisville.

Turner matches.


ACC picks Derwin James of Florida State and Quin Blanding of Virginia.

Turner picks Blanding and Jordan Whitehead of Pitt.

Whitehead, who was second team a year ago, received 19 votes.

Place kicker

ACC picks Michael Badgley of Miami.

Turner picks Mike Weaver, Wake Forest.

Weaver was first team with the writers last year. He received 17 votes.


ACC picks A.J. Cole III of NC State.

Turner picks Tommy Sheldon of North Carolina.

I threw the Aussie a bone. He received 25 votes.


ACC picks Quadree Henderson of Pitt.

Turner matches.

I'll take it. Not bad. And we'll certainly see how things play out when the postseason teams come in.