Preseason honors continue to roll in for the Tar Heels following ACC Kickoff. Junior running back Elijah Hood, senior cornerback Des Lawrence, and senior wide receiver/punt return specialist Ryan Switzer were all named to the All-ACC preseason team.
Hood, after leading the Tar Heels in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns last season with 1,463 and 17, respectively, garnered 97 votes just ahead of Clemson’s Wayne Gallman (80) and behind Florida State’s Dalvin Cook (184).
Lawrence, who just last week spoke about feeling slighted by preseason prognosticators making All-ACC selections, received 63 votes. While, fellow cornerback M.J. Stewart only earned 33.
Switzer, to no one’s surprise, received the vast majority of the votes, 112, as a specialist. Switzer’s closest competition was Duke’s DeVon Edwards, who came in with 40 votes.
Senior guard Caleb Peterson just missed out on first-team honors with 77 votes, behind Pitt’s Dorian Johnson (107) and Clemson’s Tyrone Crowder (82). Fellow offensive line mate, Lucas Crowley finished second in the center voting with 13 votes, far behind Jay Guillermo (124) of Clemson.
Throughout the summer, as preseason magazines and other sports media outlets released their preseason All-ACC teams, the majority left Tar Heels off of the first team. Hood, despite earning first-team All-ACC honors in December and being arguably one the best backs in the country, was often listed behind Gallman. Outside of the fact that the media viewed Hood as the better player after 2015, one could argue for Gallman to be placed ahead of Hood.
Still, both players are expected to play a key role in their respective offenses and should produce equal, if not, greater numbers compared to 2015. If healthy and with the departure of home run threat Marquise Williams, Hood should see more carries this season likely leading him to surpass the totals that he reached last season.
Lawrence had a legitimate gripe to not be named on many of the preseason lists from around the country, particularly when Clemson and Florida watched studs in Mackenzie Alexander and Jalen Ramsey leave early for the riches of the NFL. Even with that said, it’s nice to see him get respect for his continued strong play and development in Chapel Hill.
His secondary partner Stewart may be the one who got shorted by the 191 media members that were in attendance at the Westin in Charlotte last week after earning second team honors from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association last season and not coming close to getting a preseason first-team nod. Now that Lawrence has the praise that he sought will he be less motivated? Unlikely, but he could look across the field in December as the reason why he doesn’t see his name on the first-team list.
Switzer, as we’ve stated before, is close to breaking he NCAA career punt return touchdown record. Switzer has also garnered All-America honors twice while being on campus, so it would be hard to not see Switzer’s name in the spot come December.
What does all this mean? Nothing really. Like the media picking the Heels to repeat as Coastal champs, the selections of Hood, Lawrence, and Switzer to the preseason All-ACC team is immaterial to what is to come this season. It’s a great honor to all of these players and a testament to how Larry Fedora’s program has grown. But at the end of the day the only focus should be on beating Georgia on September 3rd.