Virginia Tech, winner of three ACC championships in its first five seasons of membership, was the overwhelming pick to claim a fourth in voting conducted by media at the ACC Football Kickoff at Grandover Resort on Sunday. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is buoyed by the return of running back Jonathan Dwyer. The 2008 ACC Player of the Year bested Clemson's C.J. Spiller in preseason voting for the 2009 honor.
The Kickoff, conducted at the development that houses the ACC's headquarters, attracted a record number of attendees and voters. The electorate of 87 media representatives surpassed the standard of 83 set two years earlier.
Virginia Tech, which has won two of the first four ACC championship games, has been picked to defeat Atlantic Division representative Florida State in the fifth installment, set for Dec. 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The game will be broadcast by ESPN at 8 p.m.
The Hokies received 78 first-place votes and 512 points in divisional balloting. Georgia Tech claimed the other nine first-place votes and 415 points for second. North Carolina (350) and Miami (282) followed the top two and placed ahead of Virginia (148) and Duke (120).
Voting was more balanced in the Atlantic, in which four of six teams got first-place votes. FSU won with 56 first-place citations and 479 points. Runner-up Clemson (387 points) was the choice for first by 14 electors; N.C. State (364) was picked No. 1 on 10 ballots; and Wake Forest (295) received seven the nod from seven voters. Maryland (157) came in at fifth and Boston College (145), the two-time defending Atlantic champion, finished sixth.
In predicting the championship game's outcome, 69 of the 87 (79.1 percent) voters went with the Hokies. The percentage figure is in line with previous preseason surveys. Clemson (78.5) and Virginia Tech (83.1) were equally popular in the previous two years.
Dwyer, whose 107 rushing yards per game led the league in 2008, is the first ACC Player of the Year to seek a repeat of the honor since Florida State's Charlie Ward in 1993. Ward defended his conference distinction and won the Heisman Trophy in leading the Seminoles to the national championship in that 1993 season.
Dwyer received 39 votes in the 2009 preseason balloting. That was enough to edge Clemson's C.J. Spiller, who needs 921 all-purpose yards to become the ACC's career record-holder in that department. Spiller, who garnered 28 votes, is the subject of a life-sized poster that leads the school's Heisman campaign on his behalf.
N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, the 2008 ACC Rookie of the Year, got 16 votes. Four others received one vote each.
1. Florida State (56) 479
2. Clemson (14) 387
3. NC State (10) 364
4. Wake Forest (7) 295
5. Maryland 157
6. Boston College 145
1. Virginia Tech (78) 512
2. Georgia Tech (9) 415
3. North Carolina 350
4. Miami 282
5. Virginia 148
6. Duke 120
Predicted ACC Championship Game Winner
1. Virginia Tech 69
T2. Florida State 7
Georgia Tech 7
T4. Clemson 2
NC State 2
2009 Preseason ACC Player of the Year
1. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech 39
2. C.J. Spiller, Clemson 28
3. Russell Wilson, NC State 16
4. Christian Ponder, Florida State 1
Vic Hall, Virginia 1
Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech 1
Riley Skinner 1
Hokies picked to win ACC
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