Kickoff: Part II -- ACC Player Quotables

HOT SPRINGS, VA -- Several players met the media during this weekend's ACC Football Kickoff. Here's a sampler of what they had to say.

Miami Offensive Lineman Eric Winston
On the team's emphasis on speed:
We're a team based on we're fast and we want to be able to run. That goes for all eleven guys on the field. All eleven guys you see on our field, they can run. We don't have a lot of sloppy guys. I don't know we can really just pound people, but because of that we can play a lot more outside zone, shift guys, run rushers down. That's really what we kind of pride ourselves on. All the guys on the offensive line this year, you see them, they're not that big, but we can run. Now they might be 310 lbs., but they can run too. Speed is priority. We want to be fast, we want to be able run people down, we want to be able to get where we need to go. That's our philosophy. It's not like if you're a big bruising team you're not going to have a couple burners, everyone has a couple burners, but we want all eleven guys to be burners.

Who do you think is toughest to block in the league?
Eric Moore was always a tough guy, I played against him three times, he always hits the ball well. Mathias is tough. The V-Tech guys are always tough, because they mix it up so much.

Miami Defensive End Thomas Carroll
On being a tall, thin defensive end:
I think there a few players who are similar, guys like Manny Lawson at NC State. It's just about getting the job done.

Are the middle tier teams in the ACC a lot better than in the Big East? Everybody is strong in the conference. No matter where, you have to bring your A game. When the middle-tier teams play us at night on national TV, that's just as big as a national championship to them, and we have to be prepared for that.

Boston College Defensive End Mathias Kiwanuke
Are you excited to finally be in the ACC?
Not to take anything away from the Big East, they are a great conference and will continue to be, but this is where we want to be. In my opinion, this is one of the best conferences in the country. If you want to be the best you have to play against the best, and we're happy where we are now.

Why did you pass up the opportunity at millions of dollars and choose not to turn pro, but return for your senior year?
There were a lot of factors that went into it. My position coach. He's played twelve years in the NFL, he's a big reason for the success that I've had. I know how greatly I've improved summer to summer, you really can't put a price on having that instruction for one more year. The money aspect, I'm not going to lie to you, it was hard to pass that up, because I'm not very a very well off family, struggled we've had to work very hard to get what we have, but at the same I'm confident I'm going to be in the NFL. I wasn't concerned where I will be drafted, I was more concerned with how I am going to be as a player when I get there. I want to a great, productive player the moment I step on the field.

Boston College Kick Returner/Cornerback Will Blackmon
Are you worried about having to travel more than other teams?
That's the greatest part of the game to me, I love traveling, so it's an advantage for me.

Did going to the Tire Bowl in Charlotte give you a taste of what things will be like in this conference?
Yeah, it was definitely exciting. I mean, if you've got home field advantage, you've got home field advantage. We were at the Tire Bowl, and everything around us was blue. Everything was Carolina Blue down there.

Maryland Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson
Do you compare yourself to other guys at your position?
Any chance I get to watch another linebacker, whether college or professional, I'm glued to the TV. Because you obviously don't have all the answers, there's no way you can get through the league on your own. Like I look at Ray Lewis, you can tell by watching him that he's passionate and loves the game. In college, I like Ernie Sims. He's not the biggest guy, and I'm not the biggest guy, but he's aggressive and knows how to get to the ball. That alone tells me that he's going all out on every play. He's a great football player.

Who is the most difficult guy to tackle?
I definitely think Leon Washington, he's a load. PJ Daniels, from Georgia Tech. Everyone is pretty tough, there's never one where you can relax. I love it when a team, like Florida State, lines up in the I, I take pride in that. They think that they're going to run down my throat, so I take pride in rising to the challenge.

Maryland Offensive Lineman Stephen Heyer
Looking back on last season, what went wrong?
It was the mental errors, the mental mistakes we made. I think we took some things too lightly, it was a combination of things. I think we have a good chance of proving that we're the same team that we were those years - i think we have a good team and we can match up with any of those guys in the conference.

Who is the toughest defender to block?
Darryl Tapp is pretty good, real good. He's pretty agile, pretty strong. There's a few guys. In this conference you can never turn your back or let down on any play.

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