Brenner’s all-ACC preseason picks unveiled

Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine (32) runs for yardage before he is run out of bounds by Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) during the second half of the Russell Athletic Bowl NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla., Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. Clemson won 40-6. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

CLEMSON – I call it the All-Stars-On-Paper. “These are hypothetically the guys who are supposed to be good at football, in theory!”

Watch lists, July polls, preseason all-conference teams – they’re like the flavored syrups at IHOP, just for fun and free of charge but no substitute for the real thing.

With that in mind, here’s a big bowl of boysenberry syrup – or, aka, my personal preseason all-ACC ballot:

Quarterback – Deshaun Watson, soph., Clemson. It’s only fitting the preseason polls are tattooed with his name, because they’re mirrored by his immense talent; well-reasoned, yet mythical until the games unfold. Media pick: Watson

Running backs – James Conner, jr., Pittsburgh; Brandon Radcliff, jr., Louisville. No qualms with the Thornton pick; Dalvin Cook, who might be dismissed for multiple counts of off-field misconduct, was one point away from taking Thornton’s spot and causing a relative stir. Media picks: Conner, Shadrach Thornton (N.C. State)

Wide receivers – Tyler Boyd, jr., Pittsburgh; Artavis Scott, soph., Clemson; Mike Williams, jr., Clemson. No-brainers. Boyd might face a suspension for a DUI arrest this summer, but Pitt doesn’t open ACC play until October. Media picks: Boyd, Williams, Scott

Tight end – Bucky Hodges, soph., Virginia Tech. The league’s lean on top tight ends – Nick O’Leary, Eric Ebron and Dwayne Allen aren’t walking through that door. Media pick: Hodges

Offensive tackles – Roderick Johnson, soph., Florida State; Bryan Chamberlain, sr., Georgia Tech. Johnson’s only started five career games. Georgia Tech should finish in the top five in rushing for the 388th consecutive year. The ACC graduated a ton of senior offensive line stars last year. Media picks: Johnson, Adam Bisnowaty (Pitt)

Offensive guards – Landon Turner, sr., North Carolina; Caleb Peterson, jr., North Carolina. No problem pairing Tar Heels here; they’ve both been battle-tested. Instead, the media went with the friendly bearded man who’s started one career game (but crushes your hand when he shakes it.) Media picks: Turner, Eric Mac Lain (Clemson)

Center – Matt Skura, sr., Duke. Enters his third year as the starter for a revitalized offense. Media pick: Skura

Defensive ends – Dadi Nicolas, sr., Virginia Tech; Shaq Lawson, jr., Clemson. The two Virginia schools specialize in pass rush, which means Lawson won’t keep this title easily. Media picks: Nicolas, Lawson, Sheldon Rankins (Louisville); Lawson and Rankins tied in voting

Defensive tackles – Adam Gotsis, sr., Georgia Tech; Luther Maddy, sr., Virginia Tech. For some reason, Wake Forest senior Tylor Harris wasn’t balloted on the online portal. The Demon Deacons get no respect. Media picks: Gotsis, Maddy

Linebackers – Terrance Smith, sr., Florida State; Keith Kelsey, jr., Louisville; Brandon Chubb, sr., Wake Forest. Nailed two, and got the right school but not the right kid on the third. Hey, the Deacs got noticed. Media picks: Smith, Chubb, James Burgess (Louisville)

Cornerbacks – Kendall Fuller, jr., Virginia Tech., Jalen Ramsey, jr., Florida State. Yeah, Mackensie Alexander’s not in there. It’s a stacked position. May the best two men win. Media picks: Ramsey, Fuller

Safeties – Quin Blanding, soph., Virginia; Jeremy Cash, sr., Duke. The force is strong with ACC defensive backs, that’s for sure. Jayron Kearse found himself in Alexander’s boat. Media picks: Cash, Blanding

Kicker – Roberto Aguayo, jr., Florida State. That 22 of the 163 voters wrote any other name down shows the media’s genius, amirite? Media pick: Aguayo

Punter – Will Monday, sr., Duke. You know what, it just seems unfair that the kid from Wake won this since he gets so much more practice. Media pick: Alex Kinal (Wake Forest)

Return specialist – DeVon Edwards, jr., Duke. One of two players to take a kick return back to the house last year. But I can’t argue with the actual selection, who scored five punt return touchdowns in 2013, a statistical anomaly. Media pick: Ryan Switzer (UNC)

-AB