1. Luke Kuechly
The defense lost its three biggest stars, saw some its most experienced players fight through injury (Scafe, Albright, McLaughlin) and had a new defensive coordinator. We desperately needed someone to step up. Kuechly did more than that. The true Freshman was a tackling machine and played beyond his years. He modestly attributed his success to "not being blocked" but he clearly has great instincts, great anticipation and great speed. Like other stars, he also has a sense of the moment. Just look at his goalline plays against Wake or Florida State or his flight over the pile against Maryland. His 158 tackles shattered every record BC had for freshman and got him notice nationally. His stats may change next year as he will be asked to do different things, but this year he was clearly the best player on the team.
2. Marcellus Bowman
Everyone comments on Bowman's bone rattling hits, but he put in a very well-rounded season. He collected 73 tackles and had two INTs. Bowman also improved as the season progressed and became more careful and effective in his pass coverage. Bowman's progression from raw scout teamer to defensive leader shows the importance of getting a guy in the program and allowing him to mature physically and mentally.
3. Roderick Rollins
Rollins's stats and season might not have gained much attention, but he was very, very good. In fact, his stats suffered because more often than not, the opposing QB threw to the other side of the field. Even though he wasn't challenged often, he still managed 43 tackles and team leading 3 INTs. Our scheme doesn't really empower a "shutdown corner" but Rollins's play this season was an example of teams scheming away from him and his solid coverage.