"I'm really pleased that Michael's going to get back in the NFL. I talked with him about a week and a half ago and he's making every effort to get his life right and make good decisions. I'm firmly pulling for him. I think he's going to have a great story. He had a lot and lost a lot, and now through hard work and dedication and making good decisions, he's going to get back on his feet. There's a lesson for a lot of young kids there that you have to make the right decisions and be with the right people. I think he can affect a lot of young people by how he comes back, gets it going, and gets things back right."
Are you ready to play some football now?
"We're ready. I'm excited about this football team. I do like this football team. I think being picked where we are if things are legit is an honor. I do think it's legit and I think we have some good football players. One worry is are we mature enough. We were a young team last year and we're still a young team. We're an experienced young team. I do think we have a chance but we also know that there are a lot of teams that have a chance. Hopefully we stay healthy and there are a lot of variables that are involved. I think the fact that we do have an opportunity to be a really good football team you're very appreciative of that."
Does cornerback Stephan Virgil have a chance to step into that role as an all-ACC player or All-American that you haven't had the past few years?
"I think so. He had some big, big plays for our team last year. I think he's a kid that makes plays. I feel very comfortable with him. I think defensively coming out of the spring we're about two players short. We moved Chris Drager from tight end to defensive end. He had a great spring at tight end and it kind of tells you what kind of kid he is; a very unselfish guy. I think we helped our football team. I think that defensive end is one place we were a player short. I'm hopeful we solved that one. The next place I think is at the linebacker position. I think we have some kids with possibility but someone needs to step up. If we do and we stay healthy on defense, I think we have a chance to be a good solid defense."
There's some buzz building beyond the conference that you might be national title contenders. Is that something you want to embrace?
"You certainly take one step at a time. I think starting out with a team like Alabama is a very exciting opening game. We bought all the tickets we can and they bought all the tickets they can. That's an exciting start. I firmly believe that if you can win a game like that it gives you great energy and it gives you great momentum. If you lose you're still not out of it. Two years ago we lost to Louisiana State and then came back at the end of the season but LSU finished ahead of us and I understand that. I think if we had played LSU a little closer we still would have had a shot at the end. I think you can't get ahead of yourself. Last year I felt there were a lot of us in the ACC that were about the same. I think every team in the ACC is going to be better. Most of us have our quarterback back, most of us were young last year, and we took turns knocking each other off. We were just fortunate at the end to play well in the ACC championship game and to win the Orange Bowl. I think we're a lot closer to affecting the national level. Last year I didn't think we had a great team in the ACC. I think we had a lot of good teams. I think we're all stepping it up a notch so I think we're getting closer to affecting the national stage. We have a lot of competition there."
What kind of bump do you get off of that strong finish last year?
"I'm trying to keep doing what's real. We played well at the end and I think you gain some confidence. Like I said earlier, we have a lot of good players coming back. If there's one thing that still out there it's that we may still be too young. We'll see where we go with that."
Because they're so young how do they handle the high expectations?
"I tell them that I don't mind the high expectations as long as you don't forget what got you the high expectations. That's a lot of togetherness, hard work, and grinding. The summer has gone great. What's real is that we're working hard to be a good football team."
Are there any similarities between the team that made the run ten years ago and this team?
"That team there was still some unknowns. Our quarterback played great that year. I think Tyrod (Taylor) is in a good position to be an excellent quarterback. He's a year older and it's his job. I think the offensive line is going to be more consistent. The wide receivers know where they're going on routes this year. Last year we were all over the place. I think our running back position is more solid. My point would be we had a quarterback that year that was in his first year and there he goes. This year we have a quarterback that can really affect this team and he's been there before. It's the same and different a little bit. If we get a couple of guys on defense we're going to be really solid. The defense that year had some great players. The kicking game we had a proven kicker that year and this year you go into it with an older guy kicking for the third year in a row and he may be the most important guy (Matt Waldron). With the schedule it's going to be the difference in two or three ball games. That year you had a proven kicker though I feel good about Matt Waldron."