July 27, 2011
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — To me, Wednesday’s announcement that Florida State placed four student-athletes on the 2011 Preseason All-ACC Team means two things.
EJ Manuel is well respected by the 51 media members that served as the voting panel over two days in Pinehurst, NC.
Dustin Hopkins apparently is not.
No disrespect to Duke’s Willi Snyderwine, who was voted to the preseason list as the placekicker. But a quick look at the statistics for both specialists makes it hard to understand how the Seminoles’ golden-footed kicker was beaten out.
Hopkins connected for one more field goal than Snyderwine did last season (22 to 21), made 21 more extra points than he did without missing a single attempt, registered a longest distance of 55 in game-winning fashion (Snyderwine had a 52-yarder) and scored 119 points by year’s end compared to Snyderwine’s 95.
Snyderwine did finish with a higher field goal percentage than Hopkins (87 percent to 76) so was that the only number that truly mattered during the voting process?
Anybody who saw Hopkins’ overall performance as a sophomore last season can agree that not only is he one of the top kickers in the ACC but in the entire nation as well. It’s also no secret that he’s one of the country’s most clutch.
Now for the good news: Manuel.
What’s remarkable about his 23 votes is the simple fact that he is a first-time opening-day starter. Manuel is benefitting tremendously from the action he saw as an injury replacement for eventual NFL first-round draft pick Christan Ponder the past two seasons. Manuel’s 4-2 record as a starter includes back-to-back bowl-game victories.
The 2011 Preseason All-ACC Team doesn’t feature a single underclassmen, which means that Manuel essentially is the most inexperienced player on that list.