College Football

NFL can't escape ACC talent

Staff WriterSeptember 8, 2011 

  • 1.







    Florida State



    North Carolina






    Boston College






    Virginia Tech



    Georgia Tech



    N.C. State



    Wake Forest





  • NFL players from ACC schools in North Carolina

    UNC (24): Da'Norris Searcy, S, Buffalo; Johnny White, RB, Buffalo; Brandon Tate, WR, Cincinnati; Mike McAdoo, DE, Baltimore; Greg Little, WR, Cleveland; Greg Warren, LS, Pittsburgh; T.J. Yates, QB, Houston; Jeff Saturday, C, Indianapolis; Alan Pelc, G, Oakland (IR); Cam Thomas, DT, San Diego; Jesse Holley, WR, Dallas; Gerald Sensabaugh, S, Dallas; Bruce Carter, LB, Dallas (IR); Hakeem Nicks, WR, N.Y. Giants; Marvin Austin, DT, N.Y. Giants (IR); Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago; Ryan Taylor, TE, Green Bay; Garrett Reynolds, T, Atlanta; Connor Barth, K, Tampa Bay; Zack Pianalto, TE, Tampa Bay; E.J. Wilson, DE, Tampa Bay (IR); Vonnie Holliday, DE, Arizona; Jason Brown, C, St. Louis; Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis

    N.C. State (14): Manny Lawson, LB, Cincinnati; Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Pittsburgh; Mario Williams, LB, Houston; Leroy Harris, G, Tennessee; Nate Irving, LB, Denver; Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego; Brian Williams, CB, N.Y. Giants; Sean Locklear, G, Washington; Stephen Tulloch, LB, Detroit; Willie Young, DE, Detroit; Scott Kooistra, T, Minnesota (IR); Ted Larsen, C, Tampa Bay; Adrian Wilson, S, Arizona; Steven Hauschka, K, Seattle

    Wake Forest (8): Calvin Pace, LB, N.Y. Jets; Steve Vallos, T, Cleveland; Alphonso Smith, CB, Detroit; Tyson Clabo, T, Atlanta; Ovie Mughelli, FB, Atlanta; Joe Zelenka, LS, Atlanta; Fred Robbins, DT, St. Louis; Aaron Curry, LB, Seattle

    Duke (4): Vinnie Rey, LB, Cincinnati; Thad Lewis, QB, Cleveland; Patrick Bailey, LB, Tennessee; Patrick Mannelly, LS, Chicago

You don't have to look far to find ACC talent in the NFL.

Every team in the league has at least three players from ACC schools, and the conference has a total of 249 players in the league as the season begins tonight in Green Bay.

Despite a recent downturn on the field, Miami leads the ACC in NFL players with 44. For the first time since expansion, Maryland is second with 28, edging Florida State, which is down to 25 from an ACC-best 46 in 2006, and North Carolina (24).

The total of 249 is a six-year low for the league, down five from last year's opening-day total and 22 from the high-water mark of 271 in 2008.

The numbers for each team include players on the active 53-man roster, injured reserve and suspended lists but not players assigned to practice squads (or former ACC players who transferred out of the league).

There are still 21 NFL players from Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College who did not play in the ACC (Miami and Virginia Tech joined the league in 2004 and Boston College a year later).

Observations from this year's list:

Forty-six rookies from the ACC made the NFL, including 11 from North Carolina. Eight of North Carolina's nine draft picks made the final cut (with linebacker Quan Sturdivant the exception) and three former Tar Heels made teams as undrafted free agents, perhaps none more surprising than defensive end Michael McAdoo (guard Alan Pelc and tight end Zack Pianalto are the other two).

McAdoo missed the 2010 season, the result of an academic fraud charge from the NCAA, and then missed the draft while he was pursuing legal measures to regain his eligibility.

He lost an injunction in a Durham court in June, which left him in the supplemental draft in August, where he was passed over by every team.

The Baltimore Ravens invited him to camp, almost three weeks after it started, and McAdoo, who was a reserve defensive end for the Tar Heels as a sophomore in 2009, made the team.

Reports Wednesday indicated he would end up on the practice squad but that's still an accomplishment, given his time away from the field and limited college career.

Despite the big class of rookies, North Carolina's total from last year only increased by two because veteran high-profile players, such as former first-rounders Kentwan Balmer and Ryan Sims, did not make final rosters.

N.C. State's total decreased by one, to 14. The Wolfpack added rookie linebacker Nate Irving to the pool (and two veterans returned), but it lost four players, including 2006 first-round pick John McCargo.

For the first time in six years, Duke's total went up, by one, to four, with linebacker Vinny Rey joining quarterback Thad Lewis, long-snapper Patrick Mannelly and linebacker Patrick Bailey in the league.

Sixty-two of the 249 players are former first-round picks, compared to 49 as undrafted free agents. Again Miami leads with 20 first-rounders. Florida State and Virginia are tied for second with eight.

While the Hurricanes continue to produce pro players, Miami's drop-off - as with its overall record - in top-end talent has been significant.

An incredible 12 players from Miami's 2001 national title team are still in the NFL, including 11 first-round picks. Pre-dating that roster is a who's who of NFL players, led by Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne.

The past three years, "The U" has churned out the likes of DeMarcus Van Dyke, Richard Gordon and Spencer Adkins, more of a "who?" list than the previous star-studded group.

Maryland leads the ACC with 10 undrafted free agents, including tight end Will Yeatman, a real "let me Google that for you" moment for even the most astute of ACC observers.

Yeatman, mostly a lacrosse player in college, transferred from Notre Dame and played one season of football at Maryland, catching 13 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown in 2010.

North Carolina and Boston College have seven undrafted free agents each. Former Boston College linebacker and cancer survivor Mark Herzlich made the New York Giants roster in one of the best stories of training camp.

Oakland and Houston qualify as Commissioner John Swofford's favorite teams - in theory, anyway - with 13 ACC players each, the most of any NFL teams.

The Texans are collecting ACC blockers and quarterbacks. They have five offensive linemen and two of the 11 ACC quarterbacks in the league (Virginia veteran Matt Schaub and North Carolina rookie T.J. Yates).

The New York Jets have the fewest ACC players, three, followed closely by Carolina and Cleveland, with four each.

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