For the second straight year, the SBNation Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country is hosting a blogger version of the postseason ACC Football Awards. Our ballot is below, and just in time for tomorrow night's ACC Championship Game.
Issues or comments on our ballot go to the comments section.
Coach of the Year - Randy Shannon (Miami Fla.)
With all due respect to Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson, Randy Shannon has our vote for ACC Coach of the Year. Shannon has the Hurricanes back on an upward trajectory, winning 2 more games each year in his first three seasons (5 in 2007, 7 in 2008 and 9 in 2009). Unlike Johnson, Shannon didn't exactly inherit a team that had all the right pieces to work in his system. After putting an end to the Patrick Nix / Robert Marve experiment and installing Mark Whipple as offensive coordinator, the Hurricanes have gone from a team that ranked 89th in total offense in 2008 to 35th in 2009. This year's Miami team is probably a overtime win over Clemson from a BCS bowl at-large berth. Finally, when considering voting for Randy Shannon over Paul Johnson, remember that this matchup was already played on the field with Miami coming away with the 33-17 victory.
Also considered: Frank Spaziani (Boston College), Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech)
Offensive Player of the Year - C.J. Spiller (Clemson)
Although probably not even a top 3 running back in the ACC (Ryan Williams, Jonathan Dwyer, even Montel Harris), Spiller gets the nod for Offensive Player of the Year. Spiller is equally good out of the backfield as he is in the receiving game, and is a game-changer on special teams. We'd go as far to say that Clemson probably doesn't sniff the ACC Championship Game this season without Spiller.
Also considered: Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech)
Defensive Player of the Year - Luke Kuechly (Boston College)
Call us homers ... but what this true freshman did at linebacker is truly remarkable. Not many true freshman get to start at linebacker in a BCS conference program, but Kuechly took his opportunity filling in for Mark Herzlich and Mike McLaughlin and hit a home run. Kuechly's 142 tackles placed him second in the country behind New Mexico's Carmen Messina. Kuechly also found the end zone for the first time in his career off a 28 yard INT return in a 31-10 win over Central Michigan. Kuechly also literally flew through the air on a Maryland 4th and 1 preventing the Terps from continuing a fourth quarter drive. There were certainly other impressive performances turned in by ACC defenders in 2009, but given the shoes he had to fill and the impact he had on the Eagles Top 25 defense, we give Kuechly the nod here.
Also considered: DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson), Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech)
Rookie of the Year - Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)
While Kuechly could very well also be the pick here, we'll go with Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech. Williams knocked the ball out of the park filling in for the injured Darren Evans, rushing for 1,538 yards and finishing the regular season 3rd nationally in rushing yards behind Heisman Trophy candidate Toby Gerhart and UTEP's Donald Buckran. Williams rushed for over 100 yards in 9 out of the Hokies 12 games this year, turning in two breakout performances in the Hokies last two regular season games - 120 yards, 4 touchdowns vs. NC State and 183 yards, 4 touchdowns at Virginia. Williams 19 touchdowns on the ground led the conference and placed him tied for fourth nationally.
Also considered: Luke Kuechly (Boston College)