What a spectacle Des Lawrence’s closet must be.
North Carolina’s senior cornerback was among the dozens of players and coaches who spoke at the ACC Football Kickoff Thursday, but the former Charlotte Christian star made more noise with his clothes than his comments.
There was the pink-and-blue-patterned tie and seersucker blazer, elbow pads and all, and the turquoise socks with drawings of Jesus. He even stopped for a selfie before addressing reporters at the podium.
More from Thursday’s media event held at The Westin in Charlotte:
▪ ▪ Joining Lawrence at the ACC Football Kickoff was senior receiver Ryan Switzer. Switzer, who returned five punts for touchdowns as a freshman, is one return shy of the NCAA record of eight. “I’d lie to you,” Switzer said of the record, “if I said I didn’t want it.”
▪ With Marquise Williams at quarterback last season, the Tar Heels won 11 games and the ACC Coastal Division. It won’t be easy replacing Williams, who holds the all-time UNC record for total offense. But 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior Mitch Trubisky will take over after throwing for 555 yards and six touchdowns in limited action last year.
“Mitch will step right in and do a great job for us,” Switzer said.
▪ Mark Richt is back at ‘The U,’ only this time as coach. Richt was a quarterback at Miami in the early 1980s before coaching as an assistant at Florida State, ECU and most recently as Georgia’s coach. He’s one of three new head coaches in the ACC Coastal Division, where he joins Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente and Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall.
▪ Most teams brought an offensive and defensive player to the Kickoff, but Miami bucked conventional wisdom with punter Justin Vogel as its defender. Vogel, who averaged 42.48 yards per punt last season, was named to the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s best punter.
“He’s one of the best punters I’ve ever seen,” Richt said, “and I’ve only seen him in practice.”
▪ The Yellow Jackets open their season Saturday, Sept. 3, against Boston College, but the game won’t be played at either school. Instead, it will be in Dublin, the ninth time a college football game will be played in Ireland.
▪ Of the roughly 110 people from Georgia Tech going to Ireland, Johnson said about 80 have never traveled outside the United States. Quarterback and three-year starter Justin Thomas is one of them.
▪ Clemson – last season’s national championship runner-up – hasn’t won in Atlanta since 2003. The teams play there Thursday, Sep. 22.
▪ Cornerback DeVon Edwards, who is one kickoff return touchdown from the NCAA record of seven set by former Clemson star C.J. Spiller, was asked Thursday about potentially eliminating kickoffs from football. “I wouldn’t like that very much,” he said. “That’s a game-changer play.”
▪ Coach David Cutcliffe compared Edwards, a 5-9, 180-pound senior, to former Indianapolis Colts safety Bob Sanders, the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. “He is complete,” Cutcliffe said of Edwards.
▪ Edwards was popular in high school, but was also dedicated to his studies, Cutcliffe said. Friends would stop him in the hallways between classes, but so he was never late Edwards started carrying a stopwatch to time his distractions.
▪ Another of the three new ACC Coastal coaches is Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente. Fuente, who last coached at Memphis, succeeds Frank Beamer, who retired after 29 years as the Hokies’ coach.
▪ Fullback Sam Rogers said the transition under Fuente has been smooth. The coach even invited the team’s seniors to his home last Monday for dinner and to meet his family. “He wasn't trying to tear anything down,” Rogers said. “He’s trying to build something new.”
▪ A major decision for Fuente will be picking a quarterback, the coach said. The primary candidates are Brendan Motley and Jerod Evans.
▪ Pitt made ACC history last season as the first school whose players won both ACC offensive and defensive rookie of the year honors. Now the Panthers will rely on running back Qadree Ollison and safety Jordan Whitehead to lead the team under second-year coach Pat Narduzzi.
▪ The Panthers expect to return 2014 ACC Player of the Year James Conner, who missed practically all of 2015 after rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns the season before. Conner, a redshirt junior, tore a ligament in his knee in the team’s season opener last year and was later diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma. He learned in May that he’s free of the cancer.
▪ Bronco Mendenhall is the third of the new coaches in the Coastal Division. After 11 seasons at Brigham Young, he inherits a program that won four games last season. Mendenhall hired former East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill as assistant head coach.
▪ A bright spot for the Cavaliers should be running back Taquan Mizzell, who last season had 75 catches one short of the ACC record for receptions in a season by a running back.