- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - Of the last 38 quarterbacks to hear their name called at the NFL Draft, none have hailed from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Texas A&M has had more than that.

Heck, West Texas A&M has had more than that.

Times are changing, it seems, in the ACC _ which may have more depth at quarterback than ever before, or at least since the advent of the 12-team league.

So far, the ACC leads the nation with 102 touchdown throws, and if that trend holds it’ll mark the first time in this megaconference era that the league has set the pace when it comes to finding end zones through the air. The Big 12 has seen its quarterbacks throw for 96 touchdowns so far, the Big 10 has thrown for 93, and the Southeastern Conference has connected on 91 TD throws.

“I said it before the season started, there are a lot of good quarterbacks in this league _ and there are,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said Wednesday. “We like ours, but there’s guys certainly playing at a very high level for other teams, too.”

North Carolina State’s Russell Wilson is second in the country with 14 touchdown passes. Miami’s Jacory Harris and Duke’s Sean Renfree each had thrown for 10 scores already, while Florida State’s Christian Ponder and Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor have thrown for eight apiece.

In all, 21 players from the ACC have at least one touchdown pass, and 64 players have caught balls in the end zone.

“There’s a lot of good quarterbacks and a lot of good receivers,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “And that’s why we’re seeing a lot of good production.”

The ACC is on pace to throw for nearly 300 touchdowns by season’s end, after not having more than 226 in any of the past five years.

And Miami coach Randy Shannon _ a defense guy _ saw this coming.

“A few years ago, we had all these quarterbacks probably about the same age,” Shannon said. “Now they’re older and you see the development. N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, Clemson … it’s all young guys who got older and in this league, the quarterbacks all seem to be expanding their games and are dual-threat guys as well, running and throwing.”

Two of the league’s best will be on display in a prime-time, nationally televised game Saturday night, when Ponder and No. 23 Florida State head south to face Harris and the 13th-ranked Hurricanes in a potential preview of the ACC championship game.

Harris has 46 touchdowns in his career, tied for 12th-most among active major college players. Ponder is tied for 21st on that list with 37 TD throws.

They’re hardly the only ones playing at a high level.

Story Continues →