Continued from page 1

The league’s powers-that-be spent the first of its two-day preseason media gathering to look ahead to not only the season’s beginning _ but also its end. After five years in Florida, the ACC championship game moves closer to the center of the conference’s footprint when it comes to Charlotte _ roughly a 90-minute drive from league headquarters _ on the first weekend in December.

“The road to Charlotte is going to be something that’s very special,” said Michael Kelly, the league’s associate commissioner for football.

The start of preseason practice means something to everyone who will snap on a helmet. But it means even more to a pair of linebackers who were kept out of the 2009 season for serious health-related reasons: Boston College’s Mark Herzlich, who stepped away to fight a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma, and North Carolina State’s Nate Irving, who suffered a collapsed lung and a broken left leg in a grisly auto accident.

“As of right now, I feel like I’m back in full effect,” Irving said.