GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – NC State leads this week’s ACC Football Player of the Week selections with two honorees, while Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson earned his fourth weekly honor of the season and Pitt defensive end Ejuan Price was recognized for the second time following his impressive performance.
NC State’s Joe Thuney was honored for the second time this season as the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after leading the blocking in Saturday’s 42-29 win over Syracuse. Wolfpack teammate Nyheim Hines was voted the ACC Rookie of the Week.
Clemson’s Watson received his fourth ACC Offensive Back of the Week award of the year after leading the top-ranked Tigers past Wake Forest. Pitt’s Price was named the Defensive Lineman of the Week after registering five quarterback sacks in Saturday’s 45-34 win over Louisville.
Other ACC weekly honorees include Louisville’s Jamari Staples (Receiver of the Week), Virginia’s Micah Kiser (Linebacker of the Week), Boston College’s Justin Simmons (Defensive Back of the Week) and Duke’s DeVon Edwards (Specialist of the Week). The Specialist of the Week honor is Edwards’ second of the season.
ACC Football Player of the Week selections are determined by a vote of a 14-member media panel.
OFFENSIVE BACK – Deshaun Watson, Clemson, So., QB, 6-2, 210, Gainesville, Ga.
Watson completed 24-of-35 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns in Clemson’s 33-13 win over Wake Forest. He threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to Charone Peake, 11 yards to Deon Cain, and 47 yards to Germone Hopper, all in the first half when Clemson took a 30-7 lead. Watson added 10 rushes for 44 yards and a score, giving him 387 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. He led Clemson to 552 yards of total offense, the seventh straight game Clemson has gone over the 500-yard mark.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Joe Thuney, NC State, Sr.-r, OT, 6-5, 295, Centerville, Ohio
Thuney played 83 snaps in the Wolfpack’s 42-29 Atlantic Division victory over visiting Syracuse, helping pave the way for 511 yards of total offense. Thuney did not allow a sack or miss an assignment as NC State rushed for 276 yards.
RECEIVER – Jamari Staples, Louisville, Jr., WR, 6-4, 195, Lineville, Ala.
Staples caught nine passes for a career-high 194 yards in Saturday’s 45-34 loss at Pitt. The 194 receiving yards tied for the sixth-most in a single game in school history. Staples’ big receiving day included a 49-yard touchdown catch with three seconds remaining in the first half.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Ejuan Price, Pitt, Sr., DE, 6-0, 250, Rankin, Pa.
Price posted one of the finest defensive performances in recent Pitt history with 10 tackles, five sacks and six tackles for loss in Saturday’s 45-34 win over Louisville. Price’s sack total was the highest by an FBS player in 2015 and fell one shy of the national record. He spearheaded a defensive effort that limited Louisville to minus-one yard on the ground, the first time Pitt held an opponent to negative yards rushing since 2002. Price became the first Pitt player with at least 4.5 sacks in a game since 1987, and his six tackles for loss were the most by a Panther since Aaron Donald also had six vs. Georgia Tech in 2013. Price now ranks fourth in the nation and first in the ACC with an average of 1.05 sacks per game. His 11.5 total sacks are the most in a single season by a Pitt player since 2000. Price was awarded a “Helmet Sticker” on ESPN College Football Final for his Louisville performance.
LINEBACKER – Micah Kiser, Virginia, So., LB, 6-2, 235, Baltimore, Md.
Kiser had a career high 17 tackles in the Cavaliers’ 42-34 win over visiting Duke. He had 10 solo stops, one sack and two total tackles for loss as the Blue Devils managed just 100 rushing yards and UVA posted five sacks in the win.
DEFENSIVE BACK – Justin Simmons, Boston College, Sr., FS, 6-3, 201, Stuart, Fla.
Simmons had a career day against fourth-ranked Notre Dame, helping to force the Fighting Irish’s highly-touted offense to turn the ball over three times. Simmons forced and recovered a fumble in the first quarter on the Irish’s third drive of the game. Before the end of the first half, he recorded an interception at the BC 31-yard line, and then made a second interception in the red zone at the BC 3-yard line. Simmons helped the Eagles defense, tops in the nation, hold the Irish to 19 points – 17.2 below their season average. He tied for the team lead with eight tackles. Simmons has five interceptions on the season, tied for 11th in the nation and tied for first in the ACC.
SPECIALIST – DeVon Edwards, Duke, Jr.-r, KR, 5-9, 180, Covington, Ga.
Edwards returned five kickoffs for 174 yards in Saturday’s road game at Virginia, including a 94-yard return for a touchdown. Edwards established a new school record for kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season with three, the breaking previous record of two first set by Randy Jones in 1990 and tied by Edwards in 2013. Edwards pushed his career total of kickoff returns for TDs to six – one shy of the ACC record of seven held by Clemson’s C.J. Spiller.
ROOKIE – Nyheim Hines, NC State, Fr., RB/WR, 5-9, 190, Garner, N.C.
Hines saw action at both running back and wide receiver in the Wolfpack’s 42-29 win over Syracuse. Despite playing just 23 snaps, Hines tallied 208 all-purpose yards. The freshman’s big day included his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 4-yard run, and a 38-yard run from scrimmage for NC State’s longest play of the game. Hines graded out at 96 percent overall for his performance.