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December 5, 2007

North Carolina freshmen make instant impact

North Carolina coach Butch Davis garnered plenty of attention when he signed one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top recruiting classes before he ever coached a game for the Tar Heels.

Davis' freshmen wasted no time living up to the hype.

North Carolina has a league-high seven representatives on the Rivals.com All-ACC freshman team. Quarterback T.J. Yates and free safety Deunta Williams are redshirt freshmen, but the other five Tar Heels to make the team signed with North Carolina in February.

Williams headlines the list of North Carolina honorees as the Rivals.com ACC freshman defensive player of the year. He was a first-team selection on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America squad after collecting 57 tackles and three interceptions this season.

Wake Forest tailback Josh Adams was the Rivals.com ACC freshman offensive player of the year. Adams has rushed for 887 yards and 11 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman.

North Carolina wasn't the only school on Tobacco Road to get major contributions from freshmen this season. North Carolina State ranked second in the league with four players on the All-ACC freshman team. Maryland and Miami tied for third with three each.

Rivals.com Freshman All-ACC Team
QB T.J. Yates, North Carolina (RS), 6-3/205
HIGH SCHOOL: Marietta (Ga.) Pope
BUZZ: Yates set a single-season school passing record with 2,655 yards and also threw 14 touchdown passes to rank second on the school's single-season charts. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes and was intercepted 18 times. Yates threw three touchdown passes in each of the Tar Heels' first three games.
RB Josh Adams, Wake Forest (RS), 6-0/180
HIGH SCHOOL: Cary (N.C.) High
BUZZ: Adams has rushed for 887 yards and scored 11 touchdowns to set Wake Forest freshman records in both categories. He ranks third in the ACC with 80.6 rushing yards per game. Adams rushed for 140 yards against Florida State, 131 yards against Navy and 111 yards against Vanderbilt. He ran for 10 touchdowns and caught 31 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
RB Graig Cooper, Miami, 6-0/194
HIGH SCHOOL: Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose
BUZZ: Cooper ranks eighth in the ACC with 682 rushing yards. He rushed for four touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Cooper kicked off his career by rushing for 116 yards on 12 carries against Marshall. He later added a 101-yard effort against Duke.
WR Greg Little, North Carolina, 6-3/210
HIGH SCHOOL: Durham (N.C.) Hillside
BUZZ: Although he makes our team as a wide receiver, Little played his best after he moved from receiver to running back late in the season. He rushed for 89 yards against North Carolina State before closing the year by running for 154 yards and two touchdowns against Duke. He spent most of the season as a backup receiver and caught 13 passes for 99 yards and one touchdown.
WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech (RS), 6-3/220
HIGH SCHOOL: Dublin (Ga.) West Laurens
BUZZ: Thomas has caught 31 passes for 489 yards and a team-high three touchdowns. He caught nine passes for 139 yards and a touchdown against Maryland. Thomas also scored against Virginia and Duke.
TE Zack Pianalto, North Carolina, 6-4/230
HIGH SCHOOL: Springdale (Ark.) High
BUZZ: Although he's officially listed as an H-back, Pianalto makes our team as a tight end. He caught 24 passes for 209 yards this season and had 15 catches in the Tar Heels' last five games of the year.
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, 6-7/262
HIGH SCHOOL: Lake Zurich (Ill.) High
BUZZ: Castonzo won a job as the Eagles' first-team right tackle at the beginning of the season and became the first true freshman to start on Boston College's offensive line since Paul Zukauskus in 1997. He has started all 12 of Boston College's games.
OT Jake Vermiglio, North Carolina State, 6-4/297
HIGH SCHOOL: Rochester (Mich.) Stoney Creek
BUZZ: Vermiglio was named the ACC rookie of the week for his performance against Virginia, when he helped the Wolfpack win 29-24 despite matching up against All-America DE Chris Long for part of the game.
G Orlando Franklin, Miami, 6-7/320
HIGH SCHOOL: Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic
BUZZ: Franklin played well enough in his debut season to beat out senior Andrew Bain for the starting spot at left guard late in the year. He was named Miami's co-rookie of the year along with fellow Freshman All-ACC performer Graig Cooper.
G Rodney Hudson, Florida State, 6-2/285
HIGH SCHOOL: Mobile (Ala.) B.C. Rain
BUZZ: Hudson has started nine games at right guard and graded out at 75 percent or better as a pass blocker almost every week. He was named the ACC rookie of the week for his performance in Florida State's upset of second-ranked Boston College.
C Ryan McMahon, Florida State (RS), 6-3/275
HIGH SCHOOL: Rome (Ga.) Darlington
BUZZ: This former defensive tackle moved to center this season and has become one of new Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett's prize students. McMahon is the only freshman center in the nation to make every offensive snap for his team. He also has developed into one of Florida State's most consistent linemen on his way to earning Rivals.com Freshman All-America honors.
DE Wesley Oglesby, Duke (RS), 6-6/250
HIGH SCHOOL: Arlington (Texas) Grace Preparatory Christian
BUZZ: Oglesby compiled 37 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss. He had two tackles for loss against Navy and one each against Northwestern, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. He also forced a fumble and recorded one sack.
DE Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech (RS), 6-2/257
HIGH SCHOOL: Carteret (N.J.) High
BUZZ: After playing two games last year, Worilds (who changed his last name from Adjepong to honor his mom) suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and returned this year as a redshirt freshman. He has played well in a backup role by compiling 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks along with six quarterback hurries.
DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina, 6-3/295
HIGH SCHOOL: Washington (D.C.) Ballou
BUZZ: This former five-star prospect collected 16 solo tackles, 10 assists, six tackles for loss and four sacks in his debut season. He recorded at least one sack each in three consecutive games against Virginia Tech, Miami and South Carolina during one midseason stretch. Austin also had 5.5 tackles for loss in the Tar Heels' first seven games.
DT Markus Kuhn, North Carolina State, 6-5/275
HIGH SCHOOL: Weinheim (Germany)
BUZZ: Kuhn saw playing time at end and tackle this season. He responded by collecting 33 tackles 4.5 for loss and forcing three fumbles. Kuhn recorded a sack and forced two fumbles against East Carolina. He delivered a sack and forced one fumble against Virginia the following week.
LB Nate Irving, North Carolina State (RS), 6-1/207
HIGH SCHOOL: Teachey (N.C.) Wallace-Rose
BUZZ: Irving started four of the Wolfpack's last five games at strongside linebacker and finished the season with 42 tackles to rank seventh on the team. Irving made 7.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including 5.5 in the Wolfpack's last four games. He also forced two fumbles and had two interceptions.
LB Adrian Moten, Maryland (RS), 6-2/221
HIGH SCHOOL: Brandywine (Md.) Gwynn Park
BUZZ: Although he hasn't cracked the starting lineup, Moten's versatility has allowed him to fill in at all three linebacker positions. He has collected 45 tackles 5.5 for loss to go along with two forced fumbles and an interception. Moten also has played end in pass-rushing situations and has 3.5 sacks in the Terrapins' past four games.
LB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina, 6-2/230
HIGH SCHOOL: West Stanly (N.C.) Oakboro
BUZZ: Sturdivant earned a spot in the Tar Heels' starting lineup midway through the season and finished with 47 tackles. He had 11 tackles against North Carolina State and eight each against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. He also picked off a pass against Miami.
CB Charles Brown, North Carolina, 5-10/190
HIGH SCHOOL: Clermont (Fla.) East Ridge
BUZZ: Posted 29 tackles with two for losses. He had 10 pass breakups and an interception.
CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, 6-2/180
HIGH SCHOOL: Chesapeake (Va.) Deep Creek
BUZZ: Dowling moved into the starting lineup after a season-ending injury to Chris Cook and responded by breaking up eight passes to lead all ACC freshmen. Dowling also has 37 tackles and two interceptions. He picked off passes in back-to-back weeks against North Carolina State and Wake Forest.
FS Deunta Williams, North Carolina (RS), 6-2/195
HIGH SCHOOL: Jacksonville (N.C.) White Oak
BUZZ: Williams began his college career by picking off a pass in three of his first six games. He had a 45-yard interception return against James Madison and a 39-yard interception return against Virginia Tech before also picking off a pass against Miami. He also forced a fumble against Georgia Tech and recorded 57 tackles.
SS Javon Walker, North Carolina State (RS), 6-0/188
HIGH SCHOOL: Homestead (Fla.) South Dade
BUZZ: Walker worked his way into the starting lineup before suffering a season-ending knee injury Nov. 3 against Miami. He finished the season with 38 tackles, including 11 each against Clemson and East Carolina.
K Nick Maggio, Duke, 6-4/190
HIGH SCHOOL: Overland Park (Kan.) St. Thomas Aquinas
BUZZ: Maggio was the only freshman kicker in the ACC to receive significant playing time. He went 13-of-13 on extra-point attempts. He also made each of his first two-field goal attempts this season before missing three kicks in the season finale against North Carolina.
P Travis Baltz, Maryland, 6-2/200
HIGH SCHOOL: Whitehouse (Ohio) Anthony Wayne
BUZZ: Baltz ranks seventh in the ACC and 45th in the nation with his average of 41.3 yards per punt. Baltz has landed 14 of his 61 punts inside the opponent's 20. He placed five punts inside the 20 against Florida International, the most by a Maryland player in a single game since Brooks Barnard had six in 2001.
KR Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech, 6-0/197
HIGH SCHOOL: Marietta (Ga.) Kell
BUZZ: Maryland's Da'Rel Scott actually handled more kickoff returns, but we're honoring him as our all-purpose player. We'll use this slot instead to salute Dwyer, who returned 13 kickoffs for 301 yards while also playing well on offense as a backup to Tashard Choice. Dwyer rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns against Samford and finished the season with 374 yards and seven touchdowns on 70 carries.
PR Graig Cooper, Miami, 6-0/194
HIGH SCHOOL: Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose
BUZZ: We don't like to place one player at two positions on any type of all-conference team, but we made an exception for Cooper because he was one of the only ACC freshmen to make an impact as a punt returner this year. He ranks 11th in the ACC with an average of 4.8 yards per return.
ALL-PURPOSE Da'Rel Scott, Maryland (RS), 5-11/192
HIGH SCHOOL: Plymouth Meeting (Pa.) Plymouth Whitemarsh
BUZZ: Scott's late-season surge offered Maryland fans a potential glimpse of the future. He caught a 57-yard touchdown pass in a win over Boston College before closing his debut season two weeks later by rushing for 89 yards on only eight carries against North Carolina State. Scott also returned 24 kickoffs for 530 yards.

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