North Carolina Tar Heels

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ACC preseason poll predicts FSU will beat Miami for ACC title

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The Miami Hurricanes are set to embark on their 14th season as a member of the ACC since moving over from the old Big East. The Hurricanes were brought in to the ACC to help give the football product a boost, but Miami has yet to play for an ACC championship. Could that drought end this season?

Miami was chosen as the ACC’s Coastal Division favorite by the preseason poll at ACC media days. The Hurricanes edged out defending Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech for the top preseason spot in the division. With Mark Richt gearing up for his second season on the job at Miami, the expectations continue to rise as he tries to emulate some of the success he had at Georgia in the SEC. Considering the ACC’s Coastal Division tends to be a division up for grabs the last few years, why not Miami this season?

In the Atlantic Division, the preseason poll is heavy on Florida State, with defending ACC and national champion Clemson coming in second place behind the Seminoles. Florida State is being hyped as a top playoff contender for the 2017 season, and the preseason poll out of the ACC seems to support that thought pretty well. Florida State will open the season with a bang against Alabama in Atlanta. If all goes according to plan, it could end up being a preview of a future playoff or national championship game this season.

Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was chosen as the preseason ACC player of the year, easily outpacing the next man in line, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois.

ACC Championship
  1. Florida State – 118
  2. Clemson – 35
  3. Louisville – 7
  4. (tie) Virginia Tech – 3
    (tie)Miami – 3
  5. Duke – 1
Atlantic Division  
(First place votes in parenthesis)                  
  1. Florida State (121) – 1,108
  2. Clemson (37) – 1,007
  3. Louisville (9) – 843
  4. NC State – 658
  5. Wake Forest – 415
  6. Syracuse  – 362
  7. Boston College – 283
Coastal Division
(First place votes in parenthesis)                  
  1. Miami (103) – 1,065
  2. Virginia Tech (40) – 932
  3. Georgia Tech (9) – 708
  4. Pitt (7) – 673
  5. North Carolina (4) – 606
  6. Duke (4) -473
  7. Virginia -219
ACC Player of the Year
  1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – 113
  2. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State – 23
  3. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson – 11
  4. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College – 8
  5. Jaylen Samuels, AP, NC State – 7
  6. Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse – 2
  7. (tie) Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – 1
    (tie) Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami – 1
    (tie) Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – 1

ACC, SEC place most DBs on Jim Thorpe Award watch list

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Another day, yet another watch list as the 2017 offseason barrels towards a merciful death.

This time around it’s the Jim Thorpe Award doing the honors, with the trophy given annually to the nation’s top defensive back releasing a watch list consisting of a mere 45 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  Headlining this year’s list are a pair of semifinalists from a year ago, Louisville’s Jaire Alexander and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The ACC and SEC lead all conferences with seven players apiece selected, followed by the Pac-12’s six and five each for the Big Ten and Big 12.  Conference USA was next with four, while the AAC, MAC and Sun Belt had three and the Mountain West two.

Alabama, Florida State and Stanford were the only programs with two players each selected.

USC’s Adoree’ Jackson won the 2016 version of the Thorpe Award.  The other finalists for last year’s trophy were Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis and LSU’s Tre’Davious White.  All three of those players were selected in the 2017 NFL draft.

Pair of 2016 finalists headline Outland Trophy watch list

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In yet another sign that the offseason is quickly coming to an end and another season is rapidly approaching, the Outland Trophy has become the latest college football award to release its preseason watch list.

Given annually to the nation’s top interior linemen on either side of the ball, the Outland’s watch list this year consists of 81 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  Headlining that group are Washington State senior guard Cody O’Connell (pictured, No. 76) and Texas junior offensive tackle Connor Williams, two of the three finalists for the 2016 award won by Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson.

From the release, courtesy of the Football Writers Association of America:

The ACC (17) led all conferences with members on the Watch List, followed by the Big Ten and SEC (11 each), Pac-12 (10), American Athletic (9), Big 12 and Mid-American (6 each), Independents and Mountain West (4 each), Conference USA (2) and Sun Belt (1).

The list includes 24 offensive tackles, 21 defensive tackles, 20 centers and 16 offensive guards.


Allen Artis reinstated by UNC after sexual charge dismissed

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As expected, the UNC Tar Heels have formally reinstated linebacker Allen Artis to the team. The reinstatement comes soon after charges related to an alleged sexual assault were dismissed by the district attorney’s office last week.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham announced the reinstatement with a statement on Thursday, thus following through on his previous comments regarding the future of Artis. Cunningham suggested Artis was eligible for reinstatement once the charges were dropped, but was unsure what the timeline for that reinstatement would be. Cunningham said last week a discussion with Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora would have to be conducted to determine the timeline.

Artis had previously been on an indefinite suspension from the program once the charges were filed, which is a customary policy for any college sports program with a player mixed up in any legal circumstances. UNC chose not to rush to a judgment and kick Artis out of the program before the legal process played out. Artis was also cleared by a UNC Title IX investigation.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Artis will be punished by the program in any internal way, including a suspension during the regular season. That is not atypical even when a player is legally cleared, but it may also be something that is not disclosed to the public if such a punishment is handed out.

UNC LB Allen Artis has charges of sexual assault and battery dismissed by DA

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North Carolina linebacker Allen Artis had charges of misdemeanor sexual battery and assault thrown out after a district attorney says the incident has been satisfied by both parties involved in the situation.

Artis was scheduled to head to trial in July, but Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall dismissed the case and explained “the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties,” according to the Associated Press.

“The parties worked diligently at mediation to resolve this matter to their mutual satisfaction resulting in a dismissal of the charges,” Delaney Branch, an attorney representing the alleged victim Delaney Robinson, said in a statement. ”The resolution is confidential. Delaney has suffered immeasurably and hoped that today’s resolution could begin her healing.”

Artis was suspended by the UNC program in September shortly after charges for sexual battery had been filed against him. Artis was more recently cleared by the Title IX office at UNC following a thorough investigation found he did not violate the university policy. Artis remains enrolled at UNC, and now that the legal issue appears to be behind him, a path back to the football program in time for the summer workouts may have been paved. UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham announced Allen is eligible for reinstatement, but a decision on that will have to come later.

“Coach [Larry Fedora] and I look forward to meeting with Allen and his family soon to discuss the next steps moving forward,” Cunningham said.