Bowers realized his potential this fall and was rewarded for it.
Athlon will be awarding postseason honors to each BCS conference in the country. Today we look at the ACC’s best for 2010.
For the sake of this exercise, the Heisman and Bednarik will function as MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards. The Outland will be given to the offensive lineman of the year while the Lombardi will be given to the defensive lineman of the year. Two fictitious awards, the Adrian Peterson Freshman of the Year honor and the Desmond Howard return specialist of the year award, will be given as well.
Heisman Trophy (MVP/POY): Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
Taylor had the most efficient season by any quarterback in the conference this year and never lost a game. He was also allowed to be more improvisational this season — as his 637 yards rushing nearly doubled his 370 from 2009. The 23 TD passes were second in the league and nearly doubled his career high of 13 from last year. He also had arguably his best career game statistically in the ACC title game victory over Florida State: 18-for-28, 263 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT, 24 yards rushing and another TD.
Chuck Bednarik Award (Def. POY): Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
With much mythical recruiting hype comes much actual pressure — and Bowers finally lived up to all the accolades he received as a high schooler. The monster defensive end led the nation in sacks with 15.5 and was second nationally in tackles for loss with 25. Both led the ACC, obviously. He added an interception, a forced fumble and 10 quarterback hurries to go with his 49 total tackles.
Davey O’Brien Award (QB): Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
See Heisman Trophy above.
Doak Walker Award (RB): Montel Harris, Boston College
The junior tailback led the conference in carries by a wide margin. His 269 rushing attempts topped Anthony Allen (217), and was one of only two players to carry the ball more than 181 times. And he missed a game. He still managed to lead the conference in rushing with 1,243 yards (1,225 for Allen).
Fred Biletnikoff Award (WR): Leonard Hankerson, Miami and Torrey Smith, Maryland
Statistically speaking, it does not get any closer than this one. These two finished within one catch of each other (66 for Hankerson and 65 for Smith), within 40 yards of each other (1,085 to 1,045) and tied for the league lead in touchdown catches with 12.
John Mackey Award (TE): George Bryan, NC State
Three ACC tight ends were basically statistically even this fall. Cooper Helfet, Dwayne Allen and Bryan caught 34, 31 and 32 passes for 380, 356 and 344 yards, respectively. Yet Bryan scored the most touchdowns, was voted first-team All-ACC by the media this year and was Russell Wilson’s clutch target in tight spots.
Outland Trophy (O-Lineman): Rodney Hudson, Florida State
Hudson is one of 11 players in ACC history to win the top offensive lineman award. The four-time All-ACC lineman has made 46 straight starts for the Noles, and in 772 snaps this fall, he was penalized one time.
Dick Butkus Award (LB): Luke Kuechly, Boston College
It was supposed to be hard to replace Mark Herzlich last fall. All Kuechly did was earn ACC Freshman of the Year honors. As an encore, the sophomore tackling machine led the nation in stops with 14.25 tackles per game. He added 10.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three passes deflected.
Jim Thorpe Award (DB): Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
The only player to get more votes/points for first team All-ACC than Hosley was Bowers. The sophomore defensive back led the nation with eight interceptions and batted seven more passes to the ground. Hosley was also an excellent punt returner for the Hokies.
Lombardi Award (D-Lineman): Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
See Chuck Bednarik above.
Adrian Peterson Award (freshman): Danny O’Brien, Maryland
The Terps signal caller really came into his own during conference play this fall. The youngster played sparingly in the first three games but then turned in the fourth most efficient season by a quarterback in the ACC — ahead of names like Wilson, Harris, Renfree and Parker. His 21 TD passes were third in the league and his 2,257 yards were sixth. Again, all done in basically 10 games.
Lou Groza Award (K): Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech
The Hokie kicker missed his first kick of the year before nailing 20 straight field goals for the leagues best kick percentage (95.2 %). Hazley trailed only Virginia’s Keith Payne in scoring by an average of 0.11 points per game (8.73 to 8.62).
Ray Guy Award (P): Matt Bosher, Miami
The Hurricanes punter led the league with 44.3 yards per punt average — and made 12 of his 16 field goal attempts.
Desmond Howard Award (KR/PR): Tony Logan, Maryland
David Wilson was also worthy of this award with his two kick return touchdowns. However, Logan, and his 30 punt returns, got the edge. He finished third nationally in punt return average with 18.8 yards per return. He led the league with 563 punt return yards (by a wide margin) and scored two of his own return touchdowns.
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (HC): Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Ralph Friedgen was the other ‘finalist’ for ACC COY. The Terps were picked fifth in the Atlantic and finished with eight wins. With only one win against a team with a winning record, however, and Beamer-Ball going unbeaten, the Hokie gets the nod. This was the first 8-0 ACC team since 2000 when Florida State won the conference title with an unblemished record.
Broyles Award (Asst Coach): Mark Stoops, Florida State
So a Florida State defense finishes seventh in total defense in the ACC and fifth in scoring and their coordinator was the best the conference had to offer? If you consider where this unit was a year ago, it's obvious. This defense was rated 12th in rushing and total defense with the 11th-rated passing and 10th-rated scoring defense. They finished No. 3 against the run in the ACC and led the conference in sacks (3.54 spg) — which was good for second nationally.