Tano: My choice for a breakout season is Colin McCarthy. Colin quietly earned the starting job in the spring and has maintained it all through the summer and fall. He's been very impressive in practice and has been able stay at his natural position despite some injuries in the linebacker corps. With guys like Romeo Davis and Glenn Cook out, quick linebackers that can recognize coverage and adjust accordingly are at a premium, and Colin has displayed that as well as an excellent nose for the ball and good raw physical skills. It wouldn't surprise me to see him as the leading tackler on this team in December.
Cole: I'd be cheating if I said Javarris James. He is a national commodity at this point I'd presume, however, I do think Baby J will absolutely blow up this year with a 1200 yard+ season with double digit scores. Look at what Tashard Choice was able to do last season at Georgia Tech (1400 yards+, 12 touchdowns on the ground), and you will get an idea of what I think Coach Nix will do to James' production. But, if I am supposed to go a little deeper into this for the sake of getting cute … Colin McCarthy. He has the attitude about him that I love. He just screams linebacker in the mold of a Dan Morgan from a demeanor perspective. He is a big kid with terrific athleticism and a knack for being around the football. Playing at a position where we are lacking bodies, he will get a lot of playing time over the season, which means ample opportunity to rack up tackles and plays. We are looking at a player that I consider to be a future All-ACC performer, he is that good. He will be one of the more underrated players in the conference when the year is over (a conference that has premier players at his position like Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall at Virginia Tech, Geno Hayes at Florida State, Phillip Wheeler at Georgia Tech, and Erin Henderson at Maryland, all are All-American candidates for the season).
Bakas: McCarthy would have been my pick on defense. I've been a huge fan of his ever since his junior season at Clearwater Central Catholic High School. However, looking over the entire team, I'm going with Kirby Freeman for a couple reasons. First, just a few days ago, it was still unclear in the minds of Hurricanes fans whether or not he'd even be in the starting lineup to start the season. Now he has the keys to the offense and in turn the keys to the success of this entire football team. I think the energy and excitement he brings to the team as a person will really ignite the offense this season. How he'll do under center is the biggest question mark. He had a few chances last season and looked very average in those games. However, it's a whole new season. A whole new offense. A whole new beginning. Look what Patrick Nix did with a healthy quarterback in Georgia Tech's bowl game last season. They put up 35 points against one of the top five teams in America. There's a lot of talent surrounding him and I think Kirby will benefit tremendously from having such a talented coach like Nix around. I think he'll not only hold onto the starting job but put up big numbers in his first full season as the starter.
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