Offensive Player of the Year
1.) QB Bryn Renner, Jr. – North Carolina
The ACC is loaded with quarterback talent this year — between Tajh Boyd, EJ Manuel, and Bryn Renner there are 28 TDs and 6 INTs already — but Renner leads the pack from a statistical standpoint, barely. Renner’s team may only be 2-2, but he is far from the reason for that being the case. With 1,191 yards and 11 touchdowns (to only three interceptions) through four games, Renner has been lighting up the stat sheet and keeping UNC’s offense moving at a very impressive pace. They are currently 27th in the nation in points for, and this is in spite of having a so-so running game and no top flight receivers.
If Bryn keeps this pace up (and I see no reason why he can’t), the Tarheels will continue to improve and Renner will get put on the national radar for his performance.
2.) EJ Manuel, Sr. – Florida State
It feels like Manuel has been at Florida State forever, and it’s probably because he actually has been there for a long time. With that experience and time, Manuel appears to have finally put everything together and looks to fully understand the intricacies of Jimbo Fisher’s offense. Manuel could easily be first on this list, considering that he has thrown 9 touchdowns and only 1 interception all season to go along with 905 yards. His yardage numbers aren’t as impressive as a few other quarterbacks, but the way he is getting it done is better than everyone.
Manuel is completing an absurd 73% of his passes this season, which puts him at 6th in the nation in completion percentage. He has only thrown 94 passes, so some could posit that he simply doesn’t throw as much as the next guy as and his completion percentage is high because of that. I’d argue the opposite way, and say that he doesn’t need to throw that much, since his 9 yards per attempt equates to basically a first down almost every time he throws the ball. Manuel is killing teams, and when it’s all said and done the voters are going to have to take a close look at him for a Heisman candidate.
Defensive Player of the Year
1.) DE Bjoern Werner, Jr. – Florida State
Alright, I caught some flack for leaving Werner off the list before, and I apologize. It probably isn’t going to happen again considering he is one of the best defensive players in the nation. Period. After watching Werner against Clemson, I am completely sold on this man’s ability to be one of the most dominant presences in football at any level. His stat line wasn’t eye popping, but the attention he commanded was. Double teams on every single player for this guy, to be sure. He was covered up so much that his partner in crime, Cornellius Carradine, had 7 tackles and 2 sacks as a result.
Werner is largely expected to be a first round pick in the NFL draft, and it’s completely warranted. This season so far he leads the nation in sacks at 6.5, and also has 15 tackles (9 of which are for a loss).
2.) CB David Amerson, Jr. – N.C. State
Amerson is, more or less, the best cornerback in the nation right now. We’re talking Champ Bailey lock-down corner; equivalent to a MasterLock. Perhaps the only reason why NC State lost to Tennessee in their first game is because Amerson wasn’t around, because since then opposing quarterbacks just can’t throw in his direction on the field. Following up his sophomore campaign where he almost broke the NCAA record for interceptions in a single season with 13, Amerson already has 3 this season (one in every game) to lead the nation.
Amerson is a ball hawk in every sense of the word, and is without a doubt a first round draft pick in next year’s NFL draft. If he maintains this pace, he’s going to end up as one of the best cornerbacks to play college football, ever.
ACC Coach of the Year
1.) Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
Jimbo Fisher takes over this spot, and all I need to say is that he has Florida State playing the best ball they’ve played since, well, since the 90′s. It’s a flashback to when the ‘Noles dominated college football under Bobby Bowden, and they are making the ACC proud with their return to national recognition. Florida State has been good for one let down every year, so I am without a doubt hoping that he has tomahawk’d that trend out.
2.) Al Golden – Miami
Say what you want about Al Golden, because all he has to do is point to the fact that Miami is in first place in the Coastal Division and controls their own destiny in the ACC. I’m not suggesting that this Miami team is going to win out or anything, but that blowout loss to ranked Kansas State isn’t looking so bad anymore (after they took down Oklahoma). If they can manage to stay atop the Coastal for the remainder of the season, then the U can be proud and so can the ACC.