For the first time in a decade, the Atlantic Coast Conference has a champion not named Florida State or Clemson. As such, the PFN All-ACC Football Team for the 2021 college football season is dominated by Pittsburgh Panthers.
All-ACC Football Team Honors for 2021
The ACC saw some miraculous performances and top moments this season. For a conference steeped in rich offensive tradition, 2021 was no different. Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett rewrote the Pitt record books and broke many of Dan Marino’s career Panther records. Clemson struggled to find their groove despite rebounding nicely. Florida State and Miami may have found new identities late, as well, as stars were born near and far.
It’s important to note that these are awards and honors from Pro Football Network for each individual’s prowess on the field this season. This is in no way a projection of their NFL Draft status nor a report on actual conference awards that have already been handed out. These honors are from Pro Football Network, as judged upon by our team of college football analysts.
Let’s get to the overall awards.
- ACC Coach of the Year: Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh
- ACC Player of the Year: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
- ACC Newcomer of the Year: Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
- ACC Game of the Year: North Carolina vs. Wake Forest, Week 10
The ACC season was headlined by Pickett and the offensive prowess of multiple schools. While defense was largely an afterthought, here are the individual awards on the offensive side of the ball for the ACC in 2021.
- ACC Offensive Player of the Year: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
- ACC Quarterback of the Year: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
- ACC Running Back of the Year: Sean Tucker, Syracuse
- ACC Wide Receiver of the Year: Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh
- ACC Offensive Lineman of the Year: Olusegun Oluwatimi, Virginia
- ACC Offensive Line of the Year: Boston College
- ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year: Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami (FL)
It goes without saying that Pickett was the unanimous choice for Offensive Player and Quarterback of the Year in the ACC. We at Pro Football Network also believe Pickett is most deserving of the Heisman Memorial Trophy at year’s end. Pickett rewrote the historic records of the great Marino and became the fastest ACC quarterback to hit the 4,000-yard and 40-touchdown mark. He surpassed Jameis Winston and Deshaun Watson in the process.
Kenny Pickett’s historic season
Anytime your description names the likes of Marino, Winston, and Watson, you know you’re doing something right. And that’s not all Pickett did in 2021. His top target — Jordan Addison — also deserves a large amount of credit. Pickett and Addison developed a connection unlike anything we’ve seen in some time at Pittsburgh. Addison finished the year as a Biletnikoff Award finalist after bringing down 93 receptions for 1,479 yards, ranking third in the country in receiving yards. His 17 touchdowns were the most in the FBS, 2 more than Alabama’s Jameson Williams.
Sean Tucker is as fast as he is elusive. Don’t believe us? Just ask any defense that tried to stop him. Tucker has track speed and jukes to make any running back jealous. He’s a name to remember ahead of the 2022 season.
Tyler Van Dyke has a remarkable run at Miami
Entering the year with one of the most notable quarterbacks, Miami seemed to find their groove with a newcomer in Tyler Van Dyke. The redshirt freshman put the world on notice that he was no run-of-the-mill newcomer. He threw for 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns, both ranking fifth in the ACC. But the craziest part is the fact that he only started nine games in the process and played only a half in one of his starts.
Van Dyke absolutely gave the Hurricanes life. Despite a couple of losses, he also showcased the resiliency that few other quarterbacks showed during the 2021 season. Van Dyke gives the Hurricanes a true identity in a questionable time in Miami.
Boston College also earns the nod as the best offensive line in the country, though the award for top lineman goes to Olusegun Oluwatimi of Virginia. Oluwatimi was a dominant man in the middle. He routinely found the second level and was efficient in every facet.
Like Oluwatimi, BC’s line of LT Tyler Vrabel, LG Zion Johnson, C Alec Lindstrom, RG Christian Mahogany, and RT Ben Petrula routinely found themselves on our National Team of the Week.
First Team All-ACC Offense
QB: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
RB: Sean Tucker, Syracuse
RB: Ty Chandler, North Carolina
WR: Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh
WR: Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia
WR: A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
TE: Jelani Woods, NC State
FLEX: Malik Cunningham, Louisville
LT: Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
LG: Zion Johnson, Boston College
C: Olusegun Oluwatimi, Virginia
RG: Chris Glaser, Virginia
RT: DeVonte Gordon, Wake Forest
Second Team All-ACC Offense
QB: Devin Leary, NC State
RB: Pat Garwo III, Boston College
RB: Mataeo Durant, Duke
WR: Charleston Rambo, Miami
WR: Josh Downs, North Carolina
WR: Jaquarii Roberson, Wake Forest
TE: Lucas Krull, Pittsburgh
FLEX: Keytaon Thompson, Virginia
LT: Zach Tom, Wake Forest
LG: Marcus Minor, Pittsburgh
C: Alec Lindstrom, Boston College
RG: Christian Mahogany, Boston College
RT: Ben Petrula, Boston College
Honorable Mention All-ACC Offense
QB: Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
RB: Jashaun Corbin, Florida State
RB: Will Shipley, Clemson
WR: Zay Flowers, Boston College
WR: Tre Turner, Virginia Tech
WR: Thayer Thomas, NC State
TE: Trae Barry, Boston College
FLEX: Jordan Travis, Florida State
LT: Carter Warren, Pittsburgh
LG: Dillan Gibbons, Florida State
C: Jack Wohlabaugh, Duke
RG: Marcus McKethan, North Carolina
RT: Jordan Tucker, North Carolina
With the ACC known for its offensive prowess in 2021, somehow it wasn’t difficult to find stalwart defensive performances. Even in downtrodden moments, some defenders rose to fame. Jermaine Johnson II not only made great use of the transfer portal, but he also made FSU’s defense a feared unit throughout the season.
- ACC Defensive Player of the Year: Jermaine Johnson II, FSU
- ACC Defensive Lineman of the Year: Jermaine Johnson II, FSU
- ACC Linebacker of the Year: Drake Thomas, NC State
- ACC Defensive Back of the Year: Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
- ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year: Darian Chestnut, CB, Syracuse
- ACC Defensive Line of the Year: Florida State
- ACC Secondary of the Year: Virginia
The Seminoles may have finished 5-7, but they turned a corner. Helping them turn that corner — as well as sacking a few quarterbacks in the process — was Jermaine Johnson II. Playing his way to a lofty NFL Draft stock, Johnson was a menace for the Seminoles defense. He racked up 12 sacks, 3 clear of the next ACC defender, and good enough for sixth nationally. Johnson demanded to be game-planned against week in and week out, and because of his efforts (as well those of Keir Thomas), the FSU defensive line was easily the best unit in the conference.
Drake Thomas was also remarkable in his own right. He recorded 6 sacks, 3 interceptions, 99 total tackles, and a touchdown for NC State this season. Thomas was a one-man wrecking crew for the Wolfpack in 2021. Similarly, Andrew Booth Jr. really turned it on down the stretch. Despite a heavy volume of targets, he was rarely beaten for anything more than a short catch. He made 3 interceptions and had another 5 pass breakups this year.
Darian Chestnut had the nation’s best interception
Breaking onto the stage in a big way, Darian Chestnut made the country’s best interception in 2021. Seamlessly breaking on a wide receiver screen against FSU, Chestnut made an incredible diving pick for one of his 3 INTs on the season. He displayed tremendous instincts on that play and throughout the year.
The Cavaliers’ secondary, however, earns the top spot here as they have multiple players earning honors on our All-ACC defense. Led by CB Anthony Johnson and S Joey Blount, Virginia had tremendous coverage on the backend during most games. Johnson and Blount combined for 6 interceptions while they also broke up another 8 passes. As a team, Virginia certainly struggled on defense, but it wasn’t always the secondary’s fault.
First Team All-ACC Defense
EDGE: Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
EDGE: Keir Thomas, Florida State
DI: Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
DI: Myles Murphy, North Carolina
LB: Trenton Simpson, Clemson
LB: Drake Thomas, NC State
LB: Charlie Thomas, Georgia Tech
CB: Jermaine Waller, Virginia Tech
CB: Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
CB: Darian Chestnut, Syracuse
S: Traveon Redd, Wake Forest
S: Jammie Robinson, Florida State
FLEX: Amaré Barno, Virginia Tech
Second Team All-ACC Defense
EDGE: Cody Roscoe, Syracuse
EDGE: Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh
DI: Jordan Williams, Virginia Tech
DI: DeWayne Carter, Duke
LB: Stefon Thompson, Syracuse
LB: Alan Tisdale, Virginia Tech
LB: Dax Hollifield, Virginia Tech
CB: Kei’Trel Clark, Louisville
CB: Anthony Johnson, Virginia
CB: Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh
S: Cam’Ron Kelly, North Carolina
S: Joey Blount, Virginia
FLEX: Brandon Sebastian, Boston College
Honorable Mention All-ACC Defense
EDGE: Myles Murphy, Clemson
EDGE: Rondell Bothroyd, Wake Forest
DI: Cory Durden, NC State
DI: Robert Cooper, Florida State
LB: Kalen DeLoach, Florida State
LB: SirVocea Dennis, Pittsburgh
LB: Jeremiah Gemmel, North Carolina
CB: Ja’Sir Taylor, Wake Forest
CB: Jarvis Brownlee Jr., Florida State
CB: Erick Hallett, Pittsburgh
S: James Williams, Miami
S: Jaiden Woodbey, Boston College
FLEX: Tyler Baker-Williams, NC State
ACC Special Teams
The ACC entered the year with one of the odds-on favorites for the Lou Groza Award in B.T. Potter. Though it may have been a disappointing year for Clemson, Potter still impressed.
- ACC Kicker of the Year: B.T. Potter, Clemson
- ACC Punter of the Year: Trenton Gill, NC State
- ACC Specialist of the Year: B.T. Potter, Clemson
B.T. Potter earns two spots as the ACC Kicker of the Year and Specialist due to his double duties. Few had the leg of Potter, who knocked 44 touchbacks and averaged 68.3 yards per kickoff while also handling placekicking duties. Potter made all 36 extra points while knocking home 11 of 13 field goals from 40 or more yards.
NC State brings home Punter of the Year after Trenton Gill averaged 41.1 net yards per punt and booted a league-high 35 punts inside the 20.
First Team All-ACC Specialists
Kicker: Nick Sciba, Wake Forest
Kickoff Specialist: B.T. Potter, Clemson
Punter: Trenton Gill, NC State
Kick Returner: Zonovan Knight, NC State
Punt Returner: Tayvion Robinson, Virginia Tech
Special Teamer: Marlowe Wax, Syracuse
Second Team All-ACC Specialists
Kicker: B.T. Potter, Clemson
Kickoff Specialist: Andres Borregales, Miami
Punter: Lou Hedley, Miami
Kick Returner: Jaylen Stinson, Duke
Punt Returner: Taylor Morin, Wake Forest
Special Teamer: Jaylen Hudson, Wake Forest
Honorable All-ACC Specialists
Kicker: Andres Borregales, Miami
Kickoff Specialist: Ben Sauls, Pittsburgh
Punter: Peter Moore, Virginia Tech
Kick Returner: Travis Levy, Boston College
Punt Returner: Courtney Jackson, Syracuse
Special Teamer: Cooper Lutz, Syracuse
Congratulations to all those players selected. For any questions regarding these selections or the process behind them, please ask on Twitter (@CamMellor).