(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


The all-ACC teams will be released at 3 p.m. today. Various members of the Maryland football team’s defense figure to have the best shot at making either the first or second team. Joe Vellano seems a lock to earn his third honors, while linebackers Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford each figure to have shots. Hartsfield, despite missing the season’s last three games with an ACL tear, still tied for the team lead in total tackles, while Drakeford was second on the Terps in tackles for a loss and tied with Vellano for the team lead in sacks.

But Maryland’s biggest shot for a major award comes via Stefon Diggs. The electric true freshman had one third of the Terps’ receiving touchdowns, and nearly outscored kicker Brad Craddock. His 1,896 all-purpose yards were still more than his next five teammates (Brandon Ross, Wes Brown, Marcus Leak, Kevin Dorsey and Justus Pickett) combined.

With 248 all-purpose yards in the season-ending loss to North Carolina, Diggs moved into second on Maryland’s single-season all-purpose yardage list and passed Darius Heyward-Bey for ninth on the single-season receiving yards list. He’s also earned three ACC rookie of the week honors and specialist of the week honors twice, finishing the season ranked sixth nationally in all-purpose yards and 13th in kickoff returns.

So where’s the debate? While Diggs was busy throwing touchdown passes and taking 99-yard kickoff returns to the house that earned him the ACC co-specialist of the week award, Miami freshman Duke Johnson turned in a season-high 176 rushing yards and three touchdowns, intensifying the race for ACC rookie of the year.

At least we know where Maryland senior A.J. Francis stands. Asked about the Terps’ future after the North Carolina game, Francis said, “Any game you have Diggs, whether you’re playing Florida State or the Patriots, you’ll be in it. This place will be just fine without us.”

But as amazing as it would be, Francis doesn’t have an official vote. For what it’s worth, neither does this reporter. So it’s only speculative at this point, but let’s crunch the numbers between Diggs and Johnson to see how they match up.







Rush yds (avg)

114 (5.7)

957 (6.9)




Rec. yds (avg)

848 (15.7)

221 (8.2)

Punt returns



Punt return yds (avg)

221 (10.0)


Kick returns



Kick return yds (avg)

713 (28.5)

892 (33.0)

All-purpose yds



Total TDs



Both Diggs and Johnson have thrown a touchdown this season as well. By all accounts, Johnson has the edge in most categories, including five more touchdowns, more all-purpose yards and an ACC-leading kick return yardage. Both have returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, and while Johnson flourished in the conference’s fifth-ranked offense, Diggs did all this in a system that ranked 120th out of 120 eligible Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Johnson needed to make a late push to win the award and he delivered with 100-yard efforts in three of Miami’s last four games, including that outburst against Duke on Saturday. Diggs, meanwhile, missed the Clemson game and had just eight catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State and Georgia Tech combined. Again, however, there’s a massive asterisk there. What could Diggs have done with a scholarship quarterback under center for the entire season?

Diggs certainly has the numbers. Only three receivers have won the ACC rookie of the year awards since 1992: Sammy Watkins (2011), Calvin Johnson (2004) and Koren Robinson (1999). Here’s their respective freshman-year numbers:

Watkins: 82 catches, 1,219 yards, 12 TDs, 32 carries, 231 yards, 0 TDs, 33 kick returns, 826 yards, 1 TD.

Johnson: 48 catches, 837 yards, 7 TDs, 3 carries, 10 yards, 1 TD.

Robinson: 48 catches, 853 yards, 2 TDs, 14 kick returns, 94 yards, 4 punt returns, 54 yards.

Obviously, Watkins’s numbers were absolutely absurd in 2011, but Diggs matches up nicely to Johnson and Robinson, even surpassing them by far in all-purpose yardage.

For contrast, four running backs since 2000 have won ACC rookie of the year: Ryan Williams (2009), Josh Adams (2007), James Davis (2005) and T.A. McLendon (2002). Here’s their respective freshman-year numbers:

Williams: 239 carries, 1,655 yards, 21 TDs, 16 catches, 180 yards, 1 TD.

Adams: 219 carries, 953 yards, 11 TDs, 34 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD.

Davis: 165 carries, 879 yards, 9 TDs, 19 catches, 152 yards, 0 TDs.

McLendon: 245 carries, 1,101 yards, 18 TDs, 42 catches, 354 yards, 0 TDs.

What are your thoughts? Drop your all-ACC predictions in the comment sections below and hang around for the announcement later today.