Heading into the 2012-12 season, every team in the ACC is already scrambling to cover the holes left by departing seniors and potential NFL draftees. Luke Kuechly and David Wilson head the list of ACC players who will be missed most.
With the college football season over, it's officially time to look ahead. Each ACC team will lose at least one major contributor for next season, some losses more damaging than others.
When Luke Kuechly departs for the NFL, Boston College will lose one of the most prolific tacklers in school history.
Kuechly led the nation in tackling with 191 tackles in only 12 games. Even with many teams playing a 14-game schedule, no other player came within 30 tackles of Kuechly's total.
His total led Boston College by nearly 120 tackles, more than double the tackle total of his closest teammate. Kuechly also led the Eagles in tackles for loss.
With the nation's leading tackler cleaning up his teammates' mistakes, Boston College finished just 112th in the nation in total defense. Without Kuechly, the Eagles would have surely been the worst defense in college football.
On a team that excelled because of its ability to stretch the field, Dwayne Allen was the security blanket.
Allen was Clemson's third-leading receiver and a key blocker in the running game. His versatility allowed Tigers' offensive coordinator Chad Morris to conceal his intentions, giving him the flexibility to run out of spread formations and pass out of power formations.
Only one FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) tight end had more touchdown receptions than Allen, and he'll likely be the first tight end off the board in April's NFL draft.
The Duke Blue Devils had a rough season in 2011. They'll hope for an improvement next season, but without departing senior safety Matt Daniels, Duke will have rebuilding to do on defense.
Daniels was the Devils' best defensive player, leading the team in tackles and interceptions. He was the only Blue Devil to be selected as first-team all-ACC, no small honor on a team that managed just one win in conference play.
The Florida State Seminoles suffered some growing pains this season, but this year's youthful squad will return most of its key contributors in 2012. One thing the 'Noles will miss however, is the consistency and leadership of middle linebacker Nigel Bradham.
Bradham excelled at cleaning up the mess created by Florida State's dynamic defensive line, leading his team in tackles. Occasionally, he was able to get into the backfield himself. Bradham led all FSU linebackers in both sacks and tackles for loss.
Sophomore Christian Jones is talented enough to fill the void Bradham leaves behind, but there will absolutely be an adjustment period at the launch of next season.
It's odd to think that a triple-option offense would really miss a wide receiver, but Georgia Tech's offense excels because of its ability to complement its consistent run game with the constant threat of the vertical pass.
Georgia Tech finished 112th in the nation in pass offense, but ranked third in the nation with 17 passing plays of 40 yards or more. Hill had nine of those plays.
Georgia Tech led the nation in passing yards per attempt with 11.1. Hill led all FBS receivers in yards per reception with a ridiculous 29.3 yards per catch. The gap between first and second is larger than the gap between second and 100th.
The Yellow Jackets will still try to stretch the field without Stephen Hill, but there's no way that their offensive will be quite as explosive.
The Maryland Terrapins did not have a good offense, but senior running back Davin Meggett was the most consistent thing they had going.
On a team that scored more than 20 points in back-to-back games just once, Meggett was reliable every Saturday afternoon. He delivered more than four yards per carry in 11 of Maryland's 12 games and was the only Terrapin to receive at least nine touches in every game.
The Terps expect improved quarterback play in 2012, but without Meggett, the offense will still be among the worst in the ACC.
Though he didn't get much national attention as some of his predecessors, Miami (FL) is losing one of the best backs to play at The U in the last couple of decades.
As a redshirt sophomore, Lamar Miller ranked 18th in the nation in rushing, one of only 22 FBS players to average over 100 rushing yards per game. In terms of raw talent, he's just a notch below former 'Canes like Edgerrin James and Willis McGahee.
With an inconsistent passing game, the Hurricanes depended on Miller to keep their offense moving. In games when Miller carried the ball at least 20 times, Miami was 4-1. In games when he received fewer than 20 carries, Miami was 2-5.
The North Carolina football program has turned into a factory for NFL-ready linemen and linebackers. Zach Brown is the next one off the line.
Brown's teammate, defensive end Quinton Coples, is getting more love from NFL scouts, but the Tar Heels will miss Brown's versatility more in 2012.
Brown finished second on the team behind Coples in sacks and tackles for loss, but also led UNC in total tackles. That combination of disruptive plays and responsible production is incredibly tough to duplicate.
Junior Kevin Reddick is ready to fill in next season, but without Brown (and Coples) the Tar Heels defense will drop from the ACC elite.
As the No. 1 receiver for North Carolina State, T.J. Graham was both reliable and dynamic.
He led his team in receptions, but also in yards per catch. Over half of his receptions converted a first down for the Wolfpack, and seven of them went for more than 25 yards.
Graham scored seven touchdowns on the season. Four of them went for 60 yards or more.
With quarterback Mike Glennon coming back for his second year as a starter, the Wolfpack passing game will still be solid, but he'll absolutely miss his favorite target on the outside.
Yet another player on this list who'll be playing right away on Sundays, Chase Minnifield was the best pass defender on a very good pass defense. The Virginia Cavaliers allowed opponents to complete only 53.7 percent of their passes, tenth-best in the nation.
Even as opponents avoided his side of the field, Minnifield led the team with eight pass breakups, picking off three passes and taking one back for the only defensive touchdown the Cavaliers would score all season.
Minnifield excelled in pass coverage, but also helped out closer to the line of scrimmage. His seven tackles for loss ranked fourth on his team. No other Virgina defensive back had even three stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Virginia Tech seems to churn out another stud tailback every season, but when David Wilson heads off to the NFL draft, the Hokies will lose a uniquely explosive workhorse.
Wilson was one of only 20 FBS running backs to average at least 20 carries per game in 2011. Among those workhorse backs, only Montee Ball, LaMichael James and Trent Richardson churned out more than Wilson's 5.89 yards per carry.
On top of that, Wilson led the nation with 22 runs of 20 yards or more.
With Logan Thomas still learning the ropes at quarterback, Wilson was an invaluable safety net.
Thomas will be the leader next season, but Wilson will be sorely missed. Tony Gregory, the Hokies' most experienced returning running back, carried the ball only 16 times this season.
In an offense built on spreading the ball around, nobody touched the ball more than Brandon Pendergrass. Seven backs and receivers had at least 20 touches for the Demon Deacons, but Pendergrass led the way with 207 touches, 99 more than any other Wake Forest player.
Even with that workload, Pendergrass led all Demon Deacon running backs in yards per carry, racking up 10 total touchdowns along the way.
The Demon Deacons have some young depth at running back with Josh Harris and Orville Reynolds, but they'll certainly miss Pendergrass' consistency.