While we won’t be naive (and/or like Rick Reilly/Peter King/insert-your-own-cliched-columnist) and claim there’s some sort of pristine or pure honor in playing out your four years that other players just don’t get to experience, we’d still like to point out the senior players that are likely to stand out in 2012. These players have put in the time during their college careers, and now serve as the cornerstones of their respective teams’ potential success this season.
We’ll be going team-by-team in the ACC to identify the “standout senior” that’s key to his team, and why. Have a different thought on the matter? Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.
The Virginia Cavaliers will likely be an enigma to start 2012, with fans wondering whether last season’s 8-5 finish was the new rule, or just an anomaly in a mediocre stretch of football for the team. And as much as the offense’s (hopeful) improvement will go a long way toward providing some (positive) answers, it’s likely the Hoos’ fate rests on the defense again this season. Despite returning just five starters, the team has an impressive group of experienced linebackers at its disposal. Most notably: senior MLB Steve Greer.
Last year, Greer finished a strong campaign with 103 tackles — making him one of just 11 ACC players to top the century mark in stops last year. Additionally, he was an active force in the backfield, too, with two sacks from the middle linebacker position. Disruptive in both run and pass coverage, Greer showed himself to be a key cog in the new-look, aggressive Virginia defense. And as much as the team thrived off of his energy in their big upset victory over Florida State late in the year, they missed him just as much in their bowl defeat against Auburn. From deflected balls to drawing double-teams, Greer’s impact will always seem understated amidst the team-oriented game Virginia and coach Mike London stress.
Still, his senior year could provide a lot of highlights for a team with plenty to prove, and some tough opponents to do so against. An anchor in the middle of the Hoos’ impressive linebacker corps, Greer’s game will guide the tempo for the entire defense. Of course, he’ll have help — namely from fellow senior LBs Ausar Walcott and LaRoy Reynolds — but make no mistake, it’s Greer that guides the ship. He’s a likely all-conference candidate in the preseason, and could be up for even more honors later on, should the Cavaliers string together another successful season.
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