Clemson, Miami, Duke, Florida State and North Carolina dominate PFF’s preseason first-team All-ACC team. And much of the second and third teams, too.
Pitt does not have a single first-team selection, but there were four Panthers who were second- and third-team selections.
Matt Goncalves on the offensive line and Ben Sauls on special teams made the second team, and Blake Zubovic on the offensive line and M.J. Devonshire at defensive back made the third team.
Clemson led the way with 17 selections, followed by Florida State (14), Miami (9), Duke (8) and North Carolina (7).
Pitt joined the likes of Louisville, North Carolina State and Boston College with four selections. Syracuse (3), Virginia Tech (2), Wake Forest (2), Virginia (1) and Georgia Tech (1) rounded out the conference.
Matt Goncalves earned a 71.9 PFF offensive grade last season, with 76.2 in pass blocking and a 67.2 in run blocking, in 830 snaps — starting all 13 games last season.
According to PFF, he didn’t allow a sack while allowing five quarterback hits and 12 quarterback hurries.
Ben Sauls earned an 86.5 PFF grade last season, which ranked only behind Calijah Kancey and SirVocea Dennis team-wide, as he connected on 20-of-24 field goal attempts and all 47 point-after attempts.
PFF wasn’t very high on Zubovic last season as he earned a 59.8 PFF offensive rating, 68.6 in pass blocking and 58.4 in run blocking, in 663 snaps — playing in all 13 games.
He allowed one sack and nine quarterback hurries, according to PFF.
Devonshire earned a 77.0 PFF defensive rating last season, with a 76.1 in run defense, 86.8 in tackling and 76.1 in coverage, in 674 snaps — playing in all 13 games.
He allowed 407 yards on 33 receptions, with 62 targets (a 53.2 reception percentage) and held opposing quarterbacks to a 75.1 NFL passer rating. He also picked off three passes — returning two for touchdowns.
And, of course, he was one of the best punt returners in the ACC, returning 26 punts for 248 yards (9.5 yards per attempt) with a touchdown.
There are a few players, guys like Rodney Hammond Jr., Konata Mumpfield, Jake Kradel, Shayne Simon and Marquis Williams, that I feel could earn preseason All-ACC honors when the conference media votes at ACC Football Kickoff next week in Charlotte, and there are more guys that I feel could earn end-of-the-season honors in the winter.
But for now, it’s Goncalves, Sauls, Zubovic and Devonshire that have earned recognition from PFF.