The 2015 ACC Kickoff officially wrapped up a couple of days ago, but the ACC used the last couple of days to calculate the media's votes for the Preseason All-ACC team. Today, the ACC announced their 2015 Preseason All-ACC team, and it included a fair share of Hokies.
Kendall Fuller, Dadi Nicolas, Luther Maddy, and Bucky Hodges are the four Hokies that made the 2015 Preseason All-ACC team. Virginia Tech's four selections were tied for the second-most in the conference with Florida State as only Clemson had more selections with five.
The Hokies nearly had five selections with Clemson having four in that scenario, but Clemson's Eric Mac Lain beat Wyatt Teller by three votes for the second offensive guard spot on the Preseason All-ACC team. Ken Ekanem also finished six votes short of the tie for second for a spot at defensive end though another strong season, and Ekanem will make the team next season.
All four players that did make the All-ACC team for the Hokies made it in convincing fashion with Fuller and Nicolas easily having over 100 votes, and Hodges and Maddy having more than 30 votes between them and the next person.
Kendall Fuller received three less votes than Florida State's Jalen Ramsey, but this duo and Florida's Vernon Hargreaves will be battling throughout the year to be college football's defensive back. Fuller and Ramsey also are the early favorites for the ACC Defensive Player of the Year as the only two defensive players that received votes for Preseason ACC Player of the Year.
No one should be surprised if Ramsey and Fuller both make most All-American First Teams at the end of the season with Ramsey at safety and Fuller at cornerback.
Dadi Nicolas easily received the most votes at defensive end with 108 compared to 56 each for Louisville's Sheldon Rankins and Clemson's Shaq Lawson. Nicolas is the ACC's star pass rusher entering the season, and is one of the best defensive ends in all of college football after having 72 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and 2 blocked kicks last season.
Opposing offensive coordinators will build game plans around trying to contain Nicolas, but as he showed last season, that will be hard to do with his talent and the impressive defensive line that the Hokies have built.
Luther Maddy deservingly received a spot on the 2015 Preseason All-ACC team, and will definitely be playing with a chip on his shoulder to finish his collegiate career in the right way and improve his draft stock. In 2013, Maddy was a force on the inside with 55 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. Maddy is ready to once again prove that he is a great defensive tackle that is worthy of being taken in the first three to four rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Bucky Hodges was the one offensive player that made this team for the Hokies, and it is no surprise given his incredible athleticism, speed, and size along with his improving route-running and blocking. Last season, Hodges was impressive with 45 receptions for 526 receiving yards, an average of 11.7 yards per reception, and 7 receiving touchdowns.
Hodges won't be picked by many as an All-American, but he is a sleeper to surprise a lot of people and receive many All-American honors at the end of the season along with potentially winning the John Mackey Award.
Kendall Fuller, Dadi Nicolas, Luther Maddy, and Bucky Hodges are all deserving of their spots on the Preseason All-ACC team, and no one should be surprised if all four of them are on the All-ACC First Team at the end of the season even if the odds of that happening aren't good.
Here's a full look at the Preseason All-ACC team as the released by the ACC's website
WR – Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt
WR – Mike Williams, Jr., Clemson
WR – Artavis Scott, So. Clemson
TE – Bucky Hodges, r-So., Virginia Tech
OT – Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State
OT – Adam Bisnowaty, r-Jr., Pitt
OG – Landon Turner, r-Sr., North Carolina
OG – Eric Mac Lain, Gr., Clemson
C – Matt Skura, r-Sr., Duke
QB – Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson
RB – James Conner, Jr., Pitt
RB – Shadrach Thornton, Sr., NC State
DE – Dadi Lhomme Nicolas. r-Sr., Virginia Tech
DE – Shaq Lawson, Jr., Clemson
DE – Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville
DT – Adam Gotsis, Sr., Georgia Tech
DT – Luther Maddy, r-Sr., Virginia Tech
LB – Terrance Smith, r-Sr., Florida State
LB – Brandon Chubb, r-Sr., Wake Forest
LB – James Burgess, Sr., Louisville
CB – Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State
CB – Kendall Fuller, Jr., Virginia Tech
S – Jeremy Cash, r-Sr., Duke
S – Quin Blanding, So., Virginia
PK – Roberto Aguayo, r-Jr., Florida State
P – Alex Kinal, r-Sr., Wake Forest
KR – Ryan Switzer, So., North Carolina