Last week, ESPN released its annual list of the top 25 ACC players for the season. Pitt had three players make the cut in wide receiver Tyler Boyd, safety Jordan Whitehead, and defensive end Ejuan Price.
Boyd may have been slightly undervalued. He didn't have a huge year in terms of yardage, but led the league in catches per game (10.2) and was second in receiving yards per contest at 77.2), despite playing with his third different quarterback in three seasons. His overall value is what I think they downplayed a little as Boyd was inserted into the running game and also used on special teams.
The ESPN article notes this but he was actually the team's second-leading rusher. Also in the article was that he led the ACC in yards per play, averaging 9.7 every time he had the ball. While this list is more of a 'best player' compilation instead of identifying the players most valuable to their team, it could still be argued that Boyd could have been a few slots higher.
The next most deserving player was arguably running back Qadree Ollison. While Whitehead was the conference's Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ollison won the offensive award. Ollison had over 1,100 yards to go along with 11 touchdowns in 2015, averaging over five yards per carry. He had a very good year, but when you recognize that they are basically covering 22 positions with only 25 slots, his omission makes sense. His numbers, while good (1,100+ yards, 11 touchdowns, 5.3 yards per carry) weren't jaw-dropping.
While I didn't have a problem with Ollison not making the list, I was a little surprised to see that he isn't anywhere on the radar. Ollison not only also failed to crack ESPN's list of the next five guys who barely missed the cut as well but he was not even on their list of players that could make the cut in 2016 (note: James Conner was, however). Seeing him left out of the five they spotlighted was reasonable, considering they wanted to get Conner in there. But I was astonished to see Ollison's name not among the 14 others they mentioned as even an honorary mention to make the list.
I understand their desire to put Conner on the 2016 candidate list since if he's healthy, he could certainly make it. Plus, let's be real about this - it's a largely meaningless offseason list to help fill space. But if Conner doesn't play, Ollison looks like an easy choice to again lead the team in rushing. I was a little surprised to see that he's not even on their radar.
What Panthers do you expect to make the list in 2016?