Release from the ACC:
Four student-athletes who played key roles in No. 4 Florida State’s come-from-behind win over No. 11 Ole Miss highlight the first group of Atlantic Coast Conference Players of the Week of the 2016 football season.
OFFENSIVE BACK & ROOKIE – Deondre Francois, Florida State, Fr.-r, QB, 6-2, 205, Orlando, Fla.
Francois led Florida State’s record comeback by passing for 419 yards and two touchdowns versus No. 11 Ole Miss. Francois finished 33-of-52 on passing attempts in his collegiate debut at the Camping World Classic in his hometown of Orlando. The Seminoles trailed 28-6 in the second quarter, but Francois spearheaded 33 consecutive points as FSU defeated the Rebels, 45-34. Francois added 59 rushing yards to finish with 478 yards of total offense in the season opener. His 419 passing yards were the 15th most in school history and the most ever by a Seminole in his collegiate debut.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Taylor Hearn, Clemson, So.-r, OG, 6-5, 325, Williston, S.C.
Hearn was No. 2 Clemson’s top blocker for the first time in his young career with a 90 percent overall grade and a 98 percent score in pass blocking in Saturday night’s 19-13 road win at Auburn. The sophomore had four knockdown blocks, played all 81 offensive snaps and did not allow a sack. He also threw a key block on Wayne Gallman’s touchdown run and was a big reason the Tigers outgained Auburn in total yardage, 399-262.
RECEIVER – Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse, Sr.-r., WR, 6-2, 202, Powder Springs, Ga.
Etta-Tawo caught a career-best 12 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown in his Syracuse debut to help the Orange defeat Colgate, 33-7, on Friday night. It was Etta-Tawo’s third career 100-yard receiving game and the sixth 200-yard receiving game in Syracuse history. His 210 yards rank fifth on the Orange single-game receiving yardage ledger. Etta-Tawo averaged 17.5 yards per catch, including a 43-yard TD reception on a pass from Eric Dungey in the first quarter for Syracuse’s first touchdown of the 2016 campaign. Etta-Tawo was one of two Orange receivers to post double-digit catches against the Raiders, the first time in team history two players caught 10 or more passes in the same game.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – DeMarcus Walker, Florida State, Sr., DE, 6-4, 280, Jacksonville, Fla.
Walker finished with six tackles against No. 11 Ole Miss on Monday night, including 4.5 quarterback sacks for minus-37 yards. In addition to setting career highs for sacks and tackles for loss in a game, Walker forced the sixth fumble of his career that led to the go-ahead touchdown in FSU’s 45-34, come-from-behind victory over the Rebels. Walker, last season’s forced fumble leader in the ACC, entered the 2016 season as the conference’s returning tackles for loss leader and ranks second on the active sacks list. His 4.5 sacks – all of which came in the second half – are the most in a game for a Seminole under head coach Jimbo Fisher and were just a half-sack fewer than the school record. Monday night’s sack total was the highest in college football for the 2016 opening weekend.
LINEBACKER – Kendall Joseph, Clemson, So.-r, LB, 6-0, 230, Belton, S.C.
Joseph led Clemson in total tackles with 10 and tackles for loss with three in Saturday night’s win at Auburn. The sophomore, who grew up just 30 miles from Clemson, had one sack and a quarterback pressure among his 66 plays on defense. He was the only player for either team in the defensive struggle to record three tackles for loss. Joseph was a big reason Clemson held Auburn to 87 yards rushing, 262 yards total offense and just one touchdown.
DEFENSIVE BACK – Derwin James, Florida State, So., FS, 6-3, 211, Haines City, Fla.
The preseason All-American led the Seminoles on Monday night with eight tackles (six solo) and the first interception of his career. With Ole Miss driving to extend a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, James intercepted the Rebels’ Chad Kelly – the first interception of James’ career and the first of three interceptions by the Seminoles defense on Monday night. James was a huge part of the Florida State defense that limited the Ole Miss offense to just six points and 75 total yards in the second half of the Seminoles’ 45-34, come-from-behind win.
SPECIALIST – Ricky Aguayo, Florida State, Fr., PK, 6-2, 196, Mascotte, Fla.
Playing his first game as a true freshman, Aguayo scored 22 points while connecting on all six of his field goals and going 4-for-4 on extra points in Monday night’s comeback win over Ole Miss. His field goals in the first half kept the Rebels from extending a sizable lead, while his second-half field goals helped the Seminoles claw back and later extend the lead in a 45-34 win. His six made field goals set a school record and tied an ACC overall and national freshman record. Aguayo hit the first of six field goals in the first quarter to trim the Ole Miss lead to four points, and he connected on at least one field goal in each quarter. His six field goals came from distances of 25, 21, 40, 40, 44, and 30 yards.