Marilyn Payne

#ACCKickoff Best-of: Notes, quotes & fashion

Posted July 14
Updated July 15

ACC Kickoff starts the football season each July, giving reporters and fans the first pieces of information about the fall to come.

Surely, changes, expectations and experience on the field are the most-talked about topics for players and coaches from all the teams. But usually, it's the non-football moments that are some of the most memorable and the most fun.

Here is a collection of the best quotes, moments and (yes) outfits of #ACCKickoff2017:


The ACC let the 2016 trophies talk before any players or coaches spoke.

This collection of trophies -- including the Heisman Trophy and National Championship Trophy, won in 2016 by the same conference for the first time since 1994 -- greeted us at the top of escalators, before anyone could get to interview rooms or radio row.

Also, commissioner John Swofford's opening statement was 27 minutes and 55 seconds long, if you're into that sort of fun fact.

Atlantic Division #TBT

Reigning national champion Clemson headlined the first day of the event, but NC State was the main event Thursday for those of us from the Triangle.

Wolfpack all-purpose back Jaylen Samuels made sure his look was as diverse as his skill set. The senior re-purposed NC State-red dress shoes that he only ever wore for his signing day in high school for the "one-time opportunity" to represent his team at media day. It wasn't a "oh ... these old things," moment despite the age of the shoes.

Samuels said his goal was not to be "basic" with his Best-Of-Day-1 attire. Mission: Accomplished.

JaySam's shoes even ended up with their own Twitter account before the end of the day.

Bradley Chubb represented the Wolfpack defense. Aside from questions about the amount of experience that the defensive line has, a reporter asked Chubb if he pulled for the conference -- specifically Clemson -- on the national stage during the postseason.

The answer is one that many may sympathize with.

Maybe I missed them Friday, but the only questions about the league's decision to have teams play in Hurricane Matthew were asked Thursday. In a throwback to what we all couldn't stop talking about last fall, Chubb remembered NC State's victory over Notre Dame as one of the most fun games he's ever played in, but admitted that maaaaaybe the ACC should've called those games off after all.

Lauren Brownlow began asking players and coaches if they watch Game of Thrones and Boston College DE Harold Landry gave her the best answer ever: "People tell me about it and it just sounds kind of low-key like a porno."

Classy Coastal

Virginia Tech's Cam Phillips stole the show, snatching the "Best Dressed" award from early front-runner Samuels.

Phillips told me his fashion icon is Russell Westbrook and that he picked this particular outfit out from a field of possible options about a week before the event.

"I like guys who are out of the box, who do their own thing -- like Odell Beckham, when he wore a shorts outfit at the ESPYs," he said. "I do consider myself out of the box, in my own class, in my own lane.

"That's something I take pride in."

Here's how he explained his outfit:

"I'm happy with it," Phillips said. "The bad thing is, if I want to wear it again, I have to wait a while for everyone to forget."

While the Hokie's glasses were the marquee accessory, Duke's Bryon Fields Jr. made his 2013 ACC Coastal Division ring the centerpiece of his outfit.

It's simple: "It's a reminder of what this team is capable of," he said. Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones said he noticed it when his teammate put it on first thing in the morning. It's hard-to-miss hardware.

Phillips and Fields weren't the only ones showing out Friday. The Coastal, it seemed, was the overall better-dressed division.

No athlete gave a better clothing-to-field explanation of how his attire represented who he was as a player than North Carolina's MJ Stewart.

Stewart, who represented the Tar Heels defense, was joined by offensive lineman Bentley Spain.

Inspired by either the on-site presence of reigning Piesman Trophy winner Brian O'Neill (Pittsburgh), or by endless questions surrounding who will throw, catch and carry the ball for UNC after a mass exodus of skill players, Spain was asked if he ever expected to get the ball near the goal line.

"I'd like to say that there's a great chance, but realistically I don't know if there's a good chance," Spain said. "Maybe you could talk to coach Fedora about that."

"I'd love to, I just don't know if I have quite the movement skills," he continued.

You better believe I followed up with Larry Fedora (who we all know loves trick or "gadget" plays.)

"We've thrown to an offensive lineman before, a couple years ago at home versus Georgia Tech," Fedora said. "Who knows? What offensive lineman doesn't (want to score a TD)? Every single one of them wants the ball, 'Back when I was in peewee league...,' every single one of them thinks they should have the ball at some point.

"I'd love to be able to do that with those guys. We may have to rely on them, if we don't do a good job with the other (new skill position) guys."

So, he's saying there's a chance.

It's encouraging news given that at the podium, O'Neill explained that he actually didn't love making plays with the ball because it distracted him "from the other 70 or so other plays," he has to help make each game.

I respect the honesty (nerves for a big play that the world will LOVE? eek.), and I'm sure his coach and athletic department loves him for the honesty and humility. But I'd like to have a word with Brian, off the record, in which I explain to him that he can't say that lest the college coaches get word of "distracted," linemen and strip their playbooks of big man TDs.

Anyway, in a move that big men are surely to appreciate (ok, really, we all really ought to appreciate this), Miami head coach Mark Richt explained how to make the perfect "10-bite sandwich."

Nothing but respect for this man, his passion for food and attention to detail.

I'm not getting anywhere need mayonnaise. But man, I'm glad the start of football season is close.

*As I did not cover UNC that season, rather I worked in Charlottesville, VA, I told Fedora that it does not count.


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