GREENSBORO – Five years ago, current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and was named as the league’s player of the year. The year before, Calvin Johnson – now known as Megatron with the Detroit Lions – did the same.
Since then, there hasn’t been an overly dominant player. That trend likely will continue this year. The conference is far from void of talent. It’s just that the days of one elite player dominating the entire conference are long gone.
Five years gone, to be exact.
At the ACC Football Kickoff, that question – who is the best player in the ACC – was asked to some of the better players in the conference.
Some dodged the question, while others gave partial answers. Most weren’t sure, but all laughed a little.
Here’s what a few players in the league thought:
Conner Vernon, Duke, wide receiver: I don’t think you can really say there’s one best one. You obviously have Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech, who I think is projected to be the No. 1 pick this year. You have Sammy Watkins, his tape doesn’t lie. E.J. Manuel from Florida State is another good one.
Mike Glennon, N.C. State, quarterback: Probably David Amerson. The guy had 13 interceptions. Going against him every day in practice, he’s an extremely talented player. He wants to be great. He wants to be the best cornerback in the country, and I believe he is.
Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech, cornerback: I would have to say myself, but I can’t do that. I couldn’t tell you that one. There are a lot of good athletes in this conference, though.
Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech, quarterback: I think (David Amerson) is the most impactful player in the ACC. … That’s who I’d go with.
E.J. Manuel, Florida State, quarterback: I’ll be honest, I think Sammy Watkins is a great player. I’m not going to be biased. We have great players, too, but that guy, he impressed me a lot last year.
Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest, Noseguard: Oh, Lord, that’s a hard one. ... As a nose guard trying to get more sacks, I look at quarterbacks more. I really like E.J. (Manuel). And the running back from UNC (Giovanni Bernard).
Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech, linebacker: I don’t know. I really don’t know. … I want to be the best player in the ACC this year.
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech, quarterback: You would say the best player has to be a quarterback, but we’ve got running backs and receivers here, too. I really couldn’t tell you who the best player in the ACC is.
Mike James, Miami, running back: The ACC is such a tough conference, I don’t know if I can narrow it down.
Kevin Reddick, North Carolina, linebacker: I’m going with Erik Highsmith.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or email@example.com