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.
At first glance, Wake Forest‘s defensive effort may have looked fairly mediocre in 2011, and rightfully so after allowing over 27 points per game. Despite last year’s apparent shortcomings, however, the seven starters returning in 2012 are looking to prove they’re better than that. A lot of that comes with experience, and for a group who returns an all-senior starting linebacker corps, they’ve obviously got plenty of it now — all centered in on MLB Scott Betros. Though inconsistent at times last season, Betros will now be one of the key factors for Wake in improving a young defense, hungry to put some doubts aside.
Returning from shoulder surgery that limited his overall effectiveness in the past, Betros is slated to be fully available for the fall — essential for this defensive unit to come together. When he was healthy and fully involved in 2011, you were required to know exactly where Betros was at all times, and often, that didn’t really help blockers too much anyway. But for the four games in which he racked up eight or more tackles, there were also five games in which he recorded three or less. Sure, some of this can be attributed to a recurring injury, but if it’s truly healed, Betros’s main priority needs to (once again) be consistent production. Beyond CB Merrill Noel, the team lacks a real game-changer on D — which is where Betros has ample opportunity to fill a real need.
in growing his presence in 2012, Betros also must take a more defined role in either the running or passing games. Last season (and in his career), he’s failed to really get involved with coverage or rushing the passer, and is rarely seen at the first point of contact. If he’s not applying pressure, nor getting after tight ends and backs in the flat, what is he doing in the middle of the field? He’s shown in spurts that he can effectively get after ball-carriers, and now simply must put it all together for full games, and hopefully a full season. Should Betros be able to finally cash in on his potential in his final season, both he and the Demon Deacons could be raking in some huge benefits: namely wins and potentially hearing his name called at the 2013 NFL Draft.