DG’s 2023 Midseason All-ACC Football Team:
Eight Schools Represented On 1st-Team Offense

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

During my three-plus decades of voting for various national, state-wide and conference-specific awards and honors in multiple sports, I have accumulated various rules that govern how to approach — and how NOT to approach — such things.

Here are some examples.

1-Statistics matter, of course, but they’re only one large and significant piece of a bigger puzzle.

2-Projected draft status doesn’t matter — at all. A player’s draft status tends to be based on a combination of his college production, the position he plays, individual professional teams’ specific needs, and a projection of how well (or poorly) his skill set will translate to the next level. All-conference honors are based on only those first two categories, and by definition they look entirely backward, never forward.

3-Timing matters. Nothing is more important than how a player performs in close games, especially at crucial moments. For example, if a kicker is 20-for-20 on field goals in games his team was never in jeopardy of losing, but he misses potential game-winners from 35 yards out during his team’s only two close games, it matters a LOT. He’s still 20-for-22, perhaps even with some sexy, long-distance, three-point bombs, and that would be a fantastic accuracy rate with sensational leg strength. However, winning is the ultimate object of the game, and a player’s full body of work — the good, the bad and the ugly — always should be evaluated through that very specific and essential lens.

4-Recruiting rankings don’t matter — at all.

5-Opponents matter. If all of a player’s best games come in blowout victories against lesser opponents, and all of his worst games come in nail-biters against a team’s top opponents, that hurts his candidacy. At the same time, if he played less (hurting his statistics) in his team’s blowouts of inferior opponents, but he excelled when it mattered most against top teams, his less inflated numbers should not complicate his candidacy.

6-Career accomplishments don’t matter — at all. There are plenty of great ways to honor and celebrate a player’s greatness over multiple seasons. By definition, annual awards are not among them. Career numbers are truly 100 percent irrelevant in this particular context.

7-Availability matters. Football is a violent game, and its participants get injured more often than in many other sports. Occasionally, an extremely talented and productive player gets caught in an eligibility quagmire. Such things obviously impact a player’s availability during games, and unfortunately that inevitably damages his all-conference candidacy, too.

This year, the ACC has several extremely talented players (e.g., Syracuse TE/WR Orande Gadsden, Pitt OT Matt Goncalves, Clemson OG Walker Parks) who have missed all or almost all of the 2023 season. Obviously, despite their amazing talents and past production, they’re not legitimate candidates for All-ACC honors this year. Similarly, a handful of outstanding ACC players specified below have missed more than 25 percent of the 2023 season (through Oct. 21 games) and thus were not considered for first-team midseason all-conference honors, despite a high level of production in a more limited number of games.

With that framework in mind, here’s my 2023 midseason All-ACC offense, including two offensive-minded special teams standouts.


Jordan Travis*, Florida State

You can’t go wrong here with either Travis or UNC’s Drake Maye, and there’s even some quality options behind them in the ACC this season. Maye is the most prolific of the group, leading the conference and ranking among the national leaders with 350 yards of total offense per game (third) and 321 passing yards per game (fourth). His only subpar game of the season, though, was a major factor in the Tar Heels’ shocking 31-27 home loss to Virginia. Travis, whose QBR (82.8) leads the ACC and ranks in the top 10 nationally, has the best touchdown-interception ratio in the league (15-2) and had some of his best performances during FSU’s 7-0 start in his team’s biggest games. A sixth-year senior who spent the 2018 season at Louisville, Travis was 23-for-31 passing for 342 yards and four touchdowns in the Seminoles’ 45-24 victory over #5 LSU, and he was 21-for-37 passing for 289 yards and two TDs (with no interceptions) in their 31-24 overtime win at Clemson.

Additional QB Standouts: Drake Maye, UNC; Tyler Van Dyke, Miami; Riley Leonard, Duke; Haynes King*, GT; Jack Plummer*, Louisville.

Running Back (2)

Omarion Hampton, North Carolina
Jawhar Jordan*, Louisville

Hampton, a 6-0, 220-pounder, has been an absolute workhorse for UNC, with ACC bests in rushing attempts (131), rushing yards per game (110.0; eighth nationally) and nine touchdowns (eight rushing, one receiving). When the Tar Heels needed him most in the first half of the regular season, he delivered with 26 carries for 234 yards and three touchdowns in their double-overtime victory against Appalachian State, then again with 24 carries for 197 yards and a score in their 41-31 win over #25 Miami. Jordan, a transfer from Syracuse after the 2020 season, is tied for the ACC lead in touchdowns (nine) and ranks second in rushing yards per game (94.4) and all-purpose yards per game (128.3). His best game for the Cardinals this season came when he rushed 21 times for 143 yards and two TDs in their 33-20 victory over #10 Notre Dame.

Additional RB Standouts: Trey Benson*, FSU; Henry Parrish Jr., Miami; Jordan Waters, Duke; Will Shipley, Clemson; LeQuint Allen, Syracuse; Demond Claiborne, WF; Jamal Haynes, GT.

Wide Receiver (3)

Malik Washington*, Virginia
Jamari Thrash*, Louisville
Keon Coleman*, Florida State

Washington, a transfer from Northwestern, is first in the ACC and fifth nationally with 111.9 receiving yards per game, and he leads all Power Five conference receivers with eight receptions per game. In the Cavaliers’ 31-27 upset victory at UNC, Washington had a season-high 12 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. Thrash, a transfer from Georgia State, ranks second in the ACC with 91.3 receiving yards per game and six touchdown receptions. His 85-yard TD catch helped the Cardinals beat Indiana 21-14. Coleman, a transfer from Michigan State, leads the ACC with seven TD catches and ranks fifth with 67.4 receiving yards per game. Two of his biggest games for the Seminoles have come in their highest-profile matchups, as he posted nine catches for 122 yards and three TDs in their season-opening win over #5 LSU, and he had five receptions for 86 yards and two scores in their 31-24 overtime victory at Clemson.

Additional WR Standouts: Xavier Restrepo, Miami; Tez Walker*^, UNC; Jacolby George, Miami; Johnny Wilson*, FSU; Jahmal Banks, WF; Lewis Bond, BC; Eric Singleton Jr., GT; Jaylin Lane*, VT; Kevin Concepcion, NCSU; Colbie Young*, Miami; Beaux Collins, Clemson; Jalon Calhoun, Duke; Tyler Brown, Clemson.

Tight End

Jaheim Bell*, Florida State

At South Carolina, Bell posted the top two receiving games (159 and 136 yards) by a tight end in Gamecocks history, and he also ran the ball well in a fullback hybrid role, but he was considered a subpar blocker. With the Seminoles, he has become a more complete player, significantly improving his blocking while ranking second in the ACC among tight ends with 22 receptions for 291 yards and two touchdowns. A 6-3, 239-pounder, Bell is more athletic and difficult to tackle than most players his size; the 10 missed tackles he’s forced after receptions this season rank second nationally among tight ends to Georgia All-American Brock Bowers.

Additional TE Standouts: Gavin Bartholomew, Pitt; Bryson Nesbit, UNC; Jake Briningstool, Clemson; Cameron Hite, WF.

Offensive Tackle (2)

Graham Barton, Duke
Jalen Rivers, Miami

Although this is definitely not a great year for offensive tackles in the ACC overall, especially after serious injuries to Pitt star Matt Goncalves (out for the season) and FSU standout Robert Scott (three missed games, limited snaps in several others after a superb opener against LSU), the best of the lot is a sight to behold. A three-year starter at left tackle, Duke’s Barton — a 6-5, 314-pound supreme athlete who also was a lacrosse star in high school — is an absolutely devastating run blocker, with amazing agility for his size, and he’s very solid in pass protection, too. NFL scouts suggest that Barton will be a first-round draft selection next spring, although most project him as a guard at the next level. After making the difficult move from guard to left tackle in the offseason, Miami’s Rivers remains a strong run blocker and has been solid (allowing nine pressures and two sacks on 249 UM passing plays) in pass protection.

Additional OT Standouts: DeVonte Gordon, WF; Jeremiah Byers*, FSU; Anthony Belton, NCSU; Robert Scott^, FSU.

Offensive Guard (2)

Michael Jurgens, Wake Forest
Christian Mahogany, Boston College

Amazingly, Jurgens — whose 34 career starts at Wake Forest prior to this season all had come at center — has adjusted to guard so quickly and so well that he’s been ranked among the top interior offensive linemen in the nation by Pro Football Focus all season. A sixth-year senior who moved to guard during spring practice because of the emergence of sophomore center Luke Petitbon, Jurgens was an honorable mention All-ACC selection at center in 2021 and 2022. Mahogany, a highly regarded NFL prospect who missed the entire 2022 season with a major knee (ACL) injury, has returned to form quickly and recently was named to the national Comeback Player of the Year watch list.

Additional OG Standouts: Michael Gonzalez, Louisville; D’Mitri Emmanuel, FSU; Javion Cohen*, Miami; Anez Cooper, Miami; Joe Fusile, Georgia Tech; Willie Lampkin*, UNC; Christopher Bleich*, Syracuse.

Offensive Center

Matt Lee*, Miami

By the end of his four seasons at UCF, Lee was ranked the third-best center in the nation by Pro Football Focus. Now, after his transfer to Miami, PFF ranks Lee first nationally; over his first 150-plus snaps on passing plays this season, he allowed only one quarterback pressure, and he’s a strong run-blocker, too. Also lauded by his coaches and teammates as a strong leader, Lee deserves additional credit for helping a UM offensive line with four new starters quickly gel into perhaps the most effective group in the conference. The Hurricanes ranked among ACC leaders by allowing only eight sacks in their first seven games and, in the running game, by averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 193.9 rushing yards per game.

Additional OC Standouts: Bryan Hudson*, Louisville; Corey Gaynor*, UNC; Dylan McMahon^, NCSU; Maurice Smith^, FSU.


Brock Travelstead, Louisville

There are at least three legitimate candidates for this first-team honor. When Travelstead converted a 53-yard field goal at NC State, it was the longest in Louisville history, which is impressive in itself. Far more importantly for All-ACC purposes, the record-setting three-pointer was a game-winner, coming in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ 13-10 victory at NC State. Travelstead, who also has helped (with numerous touchbacks and accurate ball placement) Louisville post the best kickoff coverage numbers in the ACC, also converted all four field goal attempts in the Cardinals’ close win at Georgia Tech and went 4-for-5 in their upset of Notre Dame. Miami’s Andres Borregales and FSU’s Ryan Fitzgerald are truly outstanding placekickers, too.

Additional PK Standouts: Andres Borregales, Miami; Ryan Fitzgerald, FSU; Brayden Narveson, NCSU; John Love, VT; Matthew Dennis, WF; Aidan Birr, GT; Noah Burnette, UNC; Will Bettridge, UVa.

Return Specialist

Brashard Smith, Miami (KR)

There is no shortage of quality first-team candidates in this category, too, but Smith leads the nation with 33.9 yards per kick return, and his 99-yard jaunt for a touchdown in the third quarter of a very close game against Texas A&M was among the most pivotal plays of Miami’s victory over the nationally ranked Aggies. Virginia Tech’s Tucker Holloway ranks third nationally with 18.7 yards per punt return.

Additional SP Standouts: Tucker Holloway, VT (PR); Julian Gray, NCSU (KR); Kenny Johnson, Pitt (KR); Bhayshul Tuten*, VT (KR); Jalen Coit, NCSU (PR); Jalon Calhoun, Duke (PR); Keon Coleman*, FSU (PR).

*-transfer (started college career at another school)
^-missed 25% (or more) of team’s games through Oct. 21

ACC’s Best Offenses Through Oct. 21 (national FPI ranking): FSU-11, UNC-15, Miami-21, Duke-26, Louisville-29
ACC’s Best Offenses Through Oct. 21 (ppg): FSU-42 ppg, Miami-36 ppg, UNC-36 ppg, Louisville-34 ppg

ACC’s Worst Offenses Through Oct. 21 (national FPI ranking): WF-106, NCSU-97, Pitt-94, UVa-78
ACC’s Worst Offenses Through Oct. 21 (ppg): WF-23 ppg, UVa-24 ppg, Pitt-25 ppg, NCSU-25 ppg, VT-26 ppg, SU-26 ppg