Photo by Rogelio V. Solis
RALEIGH, N.C. -- A telling sign of how prolific Georgia Tech's offense was this season: Nearly half of its starters made the all-Atlantic Coast Conference first team.
The 12th-ranked Yellow Jackets placed five offensive players, and six players overall, on the all-ACC team announced Monday after a vote conducted by 40 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
Among the Coastal Division champions on the first team were quarterback Josh Nesbitt, running back and reigning ACC player of the year Jonathan Dwyer, receiver Demaryius Thomas, guard Cord Howard and center Sean Bedford.
They were among the cornerstones of a group that led the ACC in scoring (35 points per game), total offense (440.5 ypg), rushing offense (305 ypg) and pass efficiency (160.7 rating).
They, and all-league defensive end Derrick Morgan, helped the Yellow Jackets vault into the top 10 before last week's loss to rival Georgia and claim a spot in this week's conference title game in Tampa, Fla. The Yellow Jackets will face Atlantic Division champion Clemson, with the winner advancing to the Orange Bowl.
The Tigers had three players on the first team, led by multi-threat star C.J. Spiller -- who made the first-team as a specialist and the second team as a running back. He averaged 76 yards rushing, led the league with an average of 183.9 all-purpose yards and returned four kickoffs for touchdowns. Joining him are teammates Michael Palmer at tight end and DeAndre McDaniel at safety.
Virginia Tech freshman Ryan Williams was one of four Hokies on the first team. He led the ACC with an average of 128.2 yards and a total 20 touchdowns, and was joined by kicker Matt Waldron, linebacker Cody Grimm and punter Brent Bowden.
Miami and North Carolina each landed four players on the first team.
All four of the Tar Heels' selections -- end Robert Quinn, linebacker Quan Sturdivant and backs Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams -- came from a defense that statistically was the best in the ACC, allowing averages of 267.8 total yards and 92.8 yards on the ground.
Offensive tackle Jason Fox, defensive tackle Allen Bailey, cornerback Brandon Harris and kicker Matt Bosher -- who also was the second-team punter -- represent the Hurricanes.
Boston College was the only other school with multiple first-team selections, offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo and freshman linebacker Luke Kuechly, the league's leading tackler.
Duke's Donovan Varner, who led the conference with 5.4 receptions per game, joined Thomas at receiver.
The rest of the first team includes North Carolina State tight end George Bryan, Florida State offensive guard Rodney Hudson, Virginia defensive tackle Nate Collins and Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak. The only school with no first-team selections was Wake Forest, and defensive tackle John Russell was the Demon Deacons' lone second-team honoree.