The preseason All-ACC squads, chosen by reporters attending the ACC Football Kickoff this past weekend, were announced today, and for reasons unknown to this slightly-Virginia-biased writer (aside from a devastating 3-8 season), no Cavaliers made the team. While senior Ras-I Dowling has garnered national attention as cornerback, Miami’s Brandon Harris and North Carolina’s Kendric Burney were named to the squad.
Dowling is no stranger to attention, with an already impressive list of accolades before the season’s even begun. Dowling is listed as a College Football Insiders preseason All-American and is on the watch list for the Nagurski Trophy (awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club) and the Thorpe Award (awarded annually to the nation's best defensive backs). He is also listed as a nominee for the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, for the positive influence he has in the community.
Dowling has finished All-ACC second team two years in a row and enters his final season with eight career interceptions, 145 total tackles, and 36 career pass defenses. Last season, he was ranked No. 6 in the conference for passes defended (8) and No. 11 in interceptions (3). He averaged 3.4 tackles per game.
Harris and Burney were both named first-team All-ACC following the end of the 2009 season. That alone might be enough reason to put the two of them on the 2010 preseason list, but the rest of the country doesn’t seem to think so. Harris was named second-team CFI All-American – the same accolade as Dowling. But Burney failed to even make the third-team, garnering only an honorable mention (along with a whopping 12 other cornerbacks). (In the interests of fair and balanced, Burney did make second-team All-American on The Sporting News list, which Dowling did not.) Harris and Dowling were both named to the 2010 Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List, which had ten cornerbacks on their radar. Again, our friend Burney was nowhere to be found on that list.
It seems to me that Burney was the beneficiary of a Carolina Defense love fest taking place this past weekend, with five Tar Heels being named to the preseason All-ACC team, all of whom are on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, Harris and Dowling both put up 40 solo tackles and 18 assists. Burney had 37 solo tackles and 15 assists. Harris defended 15 passes, Dowling 8, and Burney only 3. According to the NCAA’s statistics page, Harris forced three fumbles and Dowling two. No information was provided for Burney’s forced fumbles. All three players logged one sack. Burney led the trio in interceptions at five, while Dowling took down three and Harris two.
A Google search looking for Burney’s accolades and stats didn’t pull up much. It did, however, bring up plenty of articles stating that Burney was interviewed by the NCAA as part of its investigation on improper interaction between UNC players and agents.
Virginia and Wake Forest were the only two schools not to place any players on the team.
The London Era is a mere 38 days away, and Wahoo Nation is anxious to see what head coach Mike London, together with co-captains Dowling, QB Marc Verica, DT John-Kevin Dolce, DT Nick Jenkins and TE Joe Torchia, can do when expectations are the lowest they’ve been in this Virginia fan’s lifetime. It will be interesting to see how this season plays out and it will be downright enjoyable to watch Dowling and company show why one can never count Virginia out.