ACC Kickoff: Player Quotables

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- An offensive and defensive player from each of the 11 Atlantic Coast Conference schools met with the media on Sunday. Here is a sampler of what they had to say about expansion, their team's outlook, and the Tar Heels.

Charlie Whitehurst, QB, Clemson
"I hope we can start fast. If you lose those games, then you've lost momentum. If you win, then you've got momentum real big. We have an opportunity to go to the next level and we definitely don't want to take a step back."

LeRoy Hill, LB, Clemson
On the Tigers highly touted defensive backfield: "We'll never know how good until the first game. Them boys are going to make our pass defense awesome. They're working hard; they're impressive. As a linebacker, I'm thinking run first, but they make us play a whole lot better. I feel like I can concentrate more on fielding the run."

Phillip Alexander, DE, Duke

"As an athlete, you want to play against the best competition you possibly can. Actually, that's what brought me to the ACC, and I think it will do that for many years to come. The additions of the two new teams and the team coming next year, I think it will be really good for the conference. I just wish I could get a couple of more years here. I'm anxious to see how this turns out."

Cedric Dargan, RB, Duke
"I've been reading some of the ratings and predictions, and they still have us dead last in the league. Everybody still has us losing to Carolina. We still don't have the respect that we think we have earned from a national standpoint.

"We just know [Carolina] better than any other team. When we go into that rivalry week, it's just a different attitude. We just put everything aside and focus on that week. We're just always ready to play against UNC and N.C. State."

"We actually should have won by more than that [last year at UNC]. I don't think they go into the week with any respect for us, and I think it showed in the first half. They thought it was going to be an easy game. We definitely proved them wrong, and we definitely proved their fans wrong."

A.J. Nicholson, LB, Florida State
On his decision not to go to Carolina: "It just wasn't for me." On his brother Derek's upcoming decision: "I try to sway him some, but I'm here to make sure he makes his own decision."

Craphonso Thorpe, WR, Florida State

"It doesn't matter to us [that Miami] joined the league. It makes the conference better. But as far as us stressing because they're in the conference now…it doesn't really matter. I like it because, when you play a team like Miami, if you lose the game in the regular season, it can have a bad affect on the rest of your season. You could win every other game and still find yourself without a chance to win the national championship."

Nate Curry, WR, Georgia Tech

"Every team has their struggles and North Carolina is definitely not the worst defense we've ever played against. We just had a great game plan to go against them. I believe coming into our game with them [last year] they had the No. 1 scoring team in the ACC. We knew we had to put some points on the board, so our coaches brought out some new things that we had not done in games before. So they didn't have a horrible defense, so to say, they just saw some things against us that they weren't used to."

James Butler, FS, Georgia Tech

"I don't think it's that fair, but right now you can't worry about that. I wanted to play Florida State, but I'll just have to get over it."

Dominique Foxworth, CB, Maryland

"This is going to be different league than what we've had before. We've always thought the ACC was one of the toughest. We got short changed a lot in that respect by sportswriters. Now we've added Miami, which is expected to win the national title every year; and Georgia Tech is not even rated in the Top 25. It's undeniable that the ACC is the toughest football conference now.

"I had an opportunity to talk to [Darian Durant] personally this weekend – more than I ever have before. He's a really, really great guy. That's very rare to be able to say about an athlete of his caliber; sometimes they get a little cocky, or what not. But he's very level headed. On the field, he's not the biggest or the most formidable looking guy. But he is a playmaker, and you have to respect that. We came into all our games with him with a tremendous amount of respect for him. That's probably the only reason we have been able to contain him so well."

C.J. Brooks, OG, Maryland
"We're definitely making our way to being a top team in the conference and staying there. We've been getting great recruiting classes over the last few years and getting great young talent."

Darian Durant, QB, North Carolina

"Everybody has picked up their work ethic sky high. Everybody realizes what an opportunity we have with the great schedule that we have. This has been the first year where people can't wait to go to practice. I've never heard anything like that before. I'm just ready to go and get started, and hopefully some wins will come out of all the hard work."

Chase Page, DT, North Carolina
"My teammates and I are focused on one thing, and that's winning games. When we win games, everything will take care of itself. That's all we're thinking about. [The perceived cloud around our program] is for the fans, and for you guys who write about us for our fans. But all we're talking about is getting better in games."

Lamont Reid, CB, N.C. State

"With the type of talent that we have, I mean, we have talent all over. But at the same time, a lot of people are going to think that we're going to struggle this year because of the people we lost. We're going to miss Philip [Rivers]; we're going to miss him a lot. But at the same time, we've also got a lot of young guys that are stepping up."

Tramain Hall, HB/WR, N.C. State
On his discussions with friends from his home in Florida which play for Miami: "I talk to them about our program. Even when I used to go back home, they used to say, ‘Hey, you guys are doing good.' The fact they are coming in here, they know they have to work hard, too. They know when they play against N.C. State, they're going to have to bring it."

Orien Harris, Miami
"I always liked the Miami players in the NFL, and I always like the Hurricanes and their colors, their attitude and how they play the game. I knew from the first that I was going to be there. We have some great athletes and great coaches. It makes things real easy."

Brock Berlin, QB, Miami
"I wouldn't say we're ‘premier,' but we're up there with a lot of top programs. We know that if we keep playing our game and working hard, we'll be right there. For us, we don't worry about that. We just worry about staying together; that's all we can really do. For me, I'm just going out there and playing. I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anybody. I know that my teammates are behind me. We had a great off-season. I think we, as a team, are very, very close. We are very hungry right now, and it's a lot of fun. We're just excited about getting out there and playing."

Elton Brown, Virginia
"I feel like we are right there knocking at the door. Last year, it could have swung either way for us. The loss to Clemson in overtime; the loss to N.C. State…if we could swing those games around, maybe we would have been in a different predicament. I think our team is right at the door knocking, and this time we're going to walk right in."

Chris Canty, Virginia
"It is just an absolute bonus to have [Virginia Tech] as a conference game. The atmosphere is already electric, but I just think it will be that much more intense. [Our game] could come down and decide the ACC championship. Hopefully this year we will have good leadership and not only contend for the conference championship, but the national championship as well."

Vincent Fuller, Virginia Tech
"I watched all of the Florida State, Virginia and Maryland games every weekend. So to have the opportunity to play against them now…it's amazing. I was recruited by a lot of ACC schools and I chose to come to Virginia Tech. How many people can say they played in two conferences in their college career – especially when they came to college. It's a childhood dream of mine to play against some of these teams."

Bryan Randall, QB, Virginia Tech
"The competition in the ACC is definitely going to be better. The Big East was making strides, and if you gave it another year, it would have probably been stronger. But with us and Miami moving over to the ACC, it's definitely one of the powerhouse conferences in the country.

"I do get the feel [that we are more committed]. A lot of guys worked real hard this summer to get better, put on weight and do what they had to do. I'm not sure if we lost our edge a little bit over the last few years. But this summer we talked about a re-commitment and what we need to do to get back in the Top 25."

Eric King, CB, Wake Forest
"North Carolina is definitely a big rivalry game for us. Last year's game left a bad taste in our mouths. We knew we should have won that game. We went down from that point on. We will be ready when they come to our place this year."

Jason Anderson, WR, Wake Forest
"We are only trying to please the 100 or so guys on our team. That's the only motivation we need. Before Miami and Virginia Tech came into the league, we were always picked to finish eighth or ninth in the league. Now, we're picked to finish ninth or tenth. So it really hasn't changed anything for us. Everybody thinks we're going to be at the bottom of the barrel and that we're not going to do anything."

Much more to come from Greensboro…

Inside Carolina Top Stories