Post-spring ACC football predictions: Coastal Division

1.) Virginia Tech

HEADLINER: Ryan Williams, running back


Williams became the first freshman rusher to lead the ACC in yards (1,655) and touchdowns (22) last season. However, he may not have the opportunity to break these records in 2010, as sophomore Darren Evans returns from injury. The two will most likely split carries.

TOP NEWCOMER: Zach McCray, defensive end


A tall pass rusher who may ultimately be moved to linebacker, McCray had 20 sacks as a junior in high school.


In addition to Williams and Evans at running back, the Hokies feature quarterback Tyrod Taylor and wide receiver Jarrett Boykin in what could be the most explosive offense in the ACC. The defense is young but athletic, and you know Frank Beamer will have the special teams playing better than any other team in the conference. 2.) Georgia Tech

HEADLINER: Joshua Nesbitt, quarterback

The operator of Paul Johnson's triple-option attack, Nesbitt's steady play will keep Tech's offense running efficiently throughout the season.

TOP NEWCOMER: Louis Young, cornerback

Young, an Olney native and Good Counsel graduate, was ranked as one of the top cornerbacks in the country coming out of high school. A big corner with good strength, he could contribute in the Tech secondary as a true freshman.


Georgia Tech lost more playmakers than perhaps any other ACC team, with safety Morgan Burnett, running back Jonathan Dwyer, defensive end Derrick Morgan and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas all being selected in last month's NFL draft. Last year's ACC champs do return 15 other starters, but it ultimately won't be enough for the Jackets to repeat.

3.) North Carolina

HEADLINER: Marvin Austin, defensive tackle

Austin, a Washington native, is the biggest and baddest nose tackle in the ACC. Teams will struggle to run against the Heels with Austin stuffing the middle.

TOP NEWCOMER: Brandon Willis, defensive end

The oversized end will most likely be moved to defensive tackle by the time he leaves Chapel Hill. But for now, expect Willis to make an instant impact at strong-side DE.


While the Heels have several NFL prospects on defense, quarterback T.J. Yates will slow down Carolina's offense. His overall inconsistency, even with four returning starters on the offensive line, will keep UNC from challenging for the division title. The defense, however, makes this team scary for the rest of the conference.

4.) Miami

HEADLINER: Jacory Harris, quarterback

Harris' play, which was inconsistent at times last season, will dictate Miami's success in 2010.

TOP NEWCOMER: Latwan Anderson, athlete

A top athlete from Cleveland with 4.4 speed, Anderson could contribute immediately as a kick and punt returner for the Canes.


Miami, which seemed poised for a breakout year last season, ended up 9-4 after a bowl loss to Wisconsin. While non-conference games against Ohio State and Pittsburgh will ready the Canes for the ACC, don't expect "The U" to play any more consistently than they did in 2009.

5.) Duke

HEADLINER: Donovan Varner, wide receiver

Varner led the ACC in 2009 with 65 catches. Expect him to become the favorite target for new quarterback Sean Renfree.

TOP NEWCOMER: Kelby Brown, linebacker

Brown, a tackling machine with good speed and strength, will most likely come to Durham as a backup linebacker with the ability to play right away.


David Cutcliffe's offense will have to adjust to life without graduated quarterback Thaddeus Young. If Renfree can fill the void, Duke could be competitive, but the Blue Devils will still struggle defensively as only six defensive starters return from last season.

6.) Virginia

HEADLINER: Ras-I Dowling, cornerback

This one's difficult because there are only a few playmakers in Charlottesville this season. However, Dowling is a good tackler for his position and is among the top cover corners in the league.

TOP NEWCOMER: Kevin Parks Jr., running back

Parks was one of Mike London's best pickups in the lowest-ranked recruiting class in the ACC. If the Cavaliers choose not to redshirt him, Parks could get some carries as a true freshman.


A 3-9 season in 2009 ended the free-falling coaching career of Al Groh at U.Va. Mike London, formerly an assistant at Virginia and head coach at Richmond, inherits a Virginia team that returns only six starters and few stars on the offensive side of the ball. Expect the Cavaliers to once again finish in the cellar of the ACC Coastal division.

Coming Friday: Post-spring ACC football predictions for the Atlantic Division.

Matt Berger is a two-week intern at The Baltimore Sun. A senior at Gilman, Berger played volleyball and basketball for the Greyhounds and has served as sports editor for the school newspaper. He will attend Tufts University in the fall.

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