Nine Duke football players received All-ACC honors Monday afternoon following the conclusion of the regular season Saturday.
Cornerback Ross Cockrell and punter Will Monday received first-team selections for the Blue Devils. Safety Walt Canty and wide receiver Conner Vernon were named to the second team and defensive end Kenny Anunike, wide receiver Jamison Crowder, guard Dave Harding, kicker Ross Martin and tackle Perry Simmons were named honorable mentions.
Duke had just four players receive All-ACC honors in 2011. Voting on the All-ACC teams was conducted by 46 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
Monday was the Blue Devils’ leading vote-getter with 73 points. The redshirt freshman from Flowery Branch, Ga. ranked first in the conference and 14th in the nation with an average of 44.1 yards per punt.
The team’s other first-team selection, Cockrell, was the ACC’s leader in interceptions, picking off five passes in 2012. As one of the team’s co-captains this season, the redshirt junior ranked third in the conference in passes defended and recorded 63 tackles, 4.0 tackles for a loss and 12 pass breakups while starting every game for Duke.
Vernon earned second-team honors for the third consecutive season to cap off a senior year in which he rewrote both the Duke and ACC record books. The Miami, Fla. native caught a school single-season record 75 passes for 955 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012, in the process setting the ACC’s all-time records for receptions with 273, receiving yards with 3,630 and consecutive games with a reception, catching a pass in each of his 47 career games.
Leading Duke and ranking fifth in the conference with 102 tackles, Canty earned All-ACC honors for the first time in his senior season. The Blue Devil co-captain from Roebuck, S.C. added 5.5 tackles for a loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups.
Anunike received an honorable mention, recording 42 tackles, 6.0 tackles for a loss, 5.0 sacks and one forced fumble this season. A redshirt senior from Galena, Ohio, Anunike will return for a sixth season of eligibility in 2013 after knee injuries ended both his 2008 and 2011 campaigns prematurely.
Breaking out in his sophomore season, Crowder led Duke with 1,025 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this year, catching 70 passes. The Monroe, N.C. native had a career day in the Blue Devils’ season-finale against Miami, catching eight passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, including a 99-yard strike from quarterback Sean Renfree for the longest play in Duke football history.
Harding and Simmons, both redshirt juniors, helped to anchor Duke’s offensive line this season. Both players started all 12 games up front for the Blue Devils and helped the unit rank second in the ACC in pass protection, allowing a sack just once every 26.37 pass attempts.
Martin, a freshman kicker from Solon, Ohio, converted 18-of-20 field goals and made all 44 of his extra point attempts. He set the Duke freshman record for most points in a season with 98 and was a perfect 6-for-6 on field goals 40 yards or longer.