The only ACC football player even on the fringe of any preseason Heisman Trophy conversation is Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
But barring a change of plans by the school, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore will not attend the league’s preseason ACC Kickoff activities July 22 and 23 in Greensboro.
Each of the 12 ACC schools normally sends two players and the head coach to the publicity-oriented Kickoff.
The players list announced this week included senior leaders Dalton Freeman (center) and Malliciah Goodman (defensive end) as Clemson’s attendees.
It’s normal for schools to send seniors to the summer event. Of the 24 players set to do interviews in Greensboro, 16 are seniors and six are juniors.
But Watkins, who had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, is the ACC’s only offensive player with reasonably extensive national visibility. He and quarterback Tajh Boyd helped lead the Tigers to the league title and a 10-4 final record in 2011.
Watkins, from Fort Myers, Fla., finished third to Virginia Tech running back David Wilson and Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly in the voting for ACC player of the year. In the voting for top offensive rookie, Watkins received 43 of 45 votes. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard landed the other two.
But Watkins also had a shaky post-season and off-season. In the Tigers’ 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia, he had five receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown but was easily upstaged by four West Virginia receivers and teammate DeAndre Hopkins.
Then in May, Watkins and Clemson soccer player Amadou-Tidiane Daniel Dia were arrested on campus for possession of a controlled substance and simple possession of marijuana.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has not extensively discussed Watkins’ arrest, but Swinney did say the player would miss some game time in the Sept. 1 opener against Auburn in Atlanta.
Players from the Triangle schools scheduled to be in Greensboro are:
Duke: Conner Vernon (senior wide receiver) and Kenny Anunike (senior defensive end).
N.C. State: Mike Glennon (senior quarterback) and Earl Wolff (senior safety).
UNC: Bryn Renner (junior quarterback) and Kevin Reddick (senior linebacker).
Other players of significance include Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price, Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington and Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel.