ACC Kickoff primer: When Taggart, players will talk

The football season is more than six weeks away – but can’t get here fast enough.

It’s in that spirit that this week offers an oasis in the desert as the ACC holds its annual mid-July kickoff event in Charlotte, N.C. Coaches and two players from each school travel to meet with the media and discuss the upcoming season on Wednesday and Thursday.

We’ll give you a quick primer below on what’s to come this week:

Commissioner John Swofford begins the event with a state of the ACC speech and Q&A on Wednesday at 10 a.m. He typically gives an update on a variety of topics but this one will focus on the new ACC Network, which launches on Aug. 22. The FSU soccer team plays the first live game on the channel on Aug. 25, and the Seminoles will also play their home opener against ULM and ACC opener at Virginia on the channel.

Will Swofford drop any big news? It’s possible that he has a few things up his sleeve. And he will be asked about the availability of the channel, which will air on DirecTV, Hulu Live and PlayStationVue. Many major cable providers like Comcast, Spectrum and Charter have not reached agreements with ESPN to carry the ACC Network.

Each of the ACC’s 14 coaches will speak with the media, beginning with Florida State’s Willie Taggart on Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. He will also be on a live ESPN set at 12:15 p.m. (it’s not certain if that will air live and on what network) and take part in radio interviews at 2:45 p.m. Taggart will take also part in interviews with the ACC Network, CBS and others.

Other Atlantic Division coaches will follow that day, while Coastal Division coaches will take the stage on Thursday. Former FSU graduate assistant Manny Diaz will be a popular speaker on Thursday morning as the first-year Miami head coach takes center stage. And former FSU running back Mack Brown has returned to the sideline after a five-year run at ESPN and will be a much-anticipated interview on Thursday afternoon when the North Carolina coach makes an appearance at the podium.

An offensive and defensive player from each school will also field questions from the media. Wide receiver Tamorrion Terry and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson will represent FSU on Wednesday. Terry will be a good representative for the Seminoles, speaking on the new offense under coordinator Kendal Briles as well as the quarterbacks and the depth of talent at receiver. Wilson will also be able to speak more about the Seminoles using multiple defensive fronts.

Among the other players who will speak are Boston College tailback A.J. Dillon, Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins.

It’s notable that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney prefers to bring seniors to the event, so there won’t be an appearance by quarterback Trevor Lawrence or running back Travis Etienne, who was the 2018 ACC player of the year. The Tigers will instead bring guard John Simpson and safety Tanner Muse.

Dillon, who is expected to be on a number of preseason Heisman Trophy watch lists, is the biggest name at the ACC Kickoff event after accumulating 2,697 rushing yards in his first two college seasons.

Even without Lawrence or FSU quarterback James Blackman, there will be some high-profile quarterbacks at the event. Perkins is the league’s top returning player in total offense, accounting for 3,602 yards last season at Virginia. Syracuse will also bring quarterback Tommy DeVito, who replaces dual-threat Eric Dungey. 

The media will vote on projected order of finish as well as all-ACC preseason teams after the event. It’s not known when those teams will be announced.


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