EOTH’s Top 25 Countdown Revisited (#22-20)
Welcome back for another season of EOTH’s review of the Pre-Season Top 25 Countdown. I think this sort of review of our expectations vs. reality is a useful exercise for fans. Usually this feature is done immediately following the end of football season. However, this year, I thought it would be most useful to look at this comparison right before the start of spring practice, which commences on Saturday, March 2nd.
As you will recall, EOTH readers were asked to use the following criteria when evaluating the players:
- The players’ past performance (in the 2012 pre-season, unlike every other year, readers were allowed to rank freshmen)
- The players’ performance during spring practice or last year
- The players’ raw athletic ability including performance in the weight room and 40 times
- How essential the players’ success is to the team’s success as a whole (meaning if he gets knocked out, we will probably lose the game)
#22 Thomas Finnie
2012 Pre-Season Outlook: Holy mother of Sebastian do we need Finnie to step up this season. With the departure of Ray Ray Armstrong, the questionable impact of returning players, and the freshmen in the backfield, Finnie has the potential to be one of the Hurricanes’ next greatest DBs. With all of the experience gained his freshmen year and all the talent to do so, the sky is the limit for this young man.
2012 Performance: Finnie played in all 12 games, making six starts (the first 6 games), recording 30 tackles, including 22 solo stops, and an INT against NC State.
All this is irrelevant since he’s off the team for that whole laptop incident. If you can’t win the Heisman, don’t do the crime.
#21 Clive Walford
2012 Pre-Season Outlook: With the return of Asante Cleveland, this could be the first time in . . . well, let’s just say I was probably still living in the Mahoney Mansions on Stanford Drive . . . since the ‘Canes have had two potential super stars at the TE position. We’ve been told that the offense will utlize TEs more, and we should expect no less with a former TE as our coach. I think Walford has the experience and talent to be a go-to receiver each game, and in tandem with Cleveland, can throw off some defenses.
2012 Performance: Walford played in all 12 games, making five starts, finishing third on team with 451 yards on 25 catches and tied for team lead with four receiving TDs. Clive was one of only two Hurricanes to catch at least one pass in all 12 games and scored team’s lone TD at Kansas State, finishing with three grabs for 61 yards. Walford also contributed two catches for 56 yards in win over Virginia Tech, a career-high 135 receiving yards and TD on three catches in home win over USF, 13 yards and TD on two catches in road loss at Virginia, finished one yard shy of second 100-yard game at Duke, catching four passes for 99 yards and TD, and closed the season with 3 TDs in the final 3 games.
#20 Brandon Linder
2012 Pre-Season Outlook: While they will never get the credit they deserve, players like Linder are essential to any success our offense will have this season. If Morris can find anyone (besides #24 Scott and # 21 Walford) to catch the ball, he needs time to throw it. Perhaps more importantly, Linder will need to be there to open up holes for players like Mike James, Eduardo Clements and Randy ”Duke” Johnson. I see Linder continuing to be someone our offense relies on this season, and taking things to the next level, consistently grading out at 95% or higher.
2012 Performance: Linder started all 12 games this season at right guard, was a third-team All-ACC selection by Phil Steele, earned All-ACC honorable mention from ACSMA and league coaches.