Duke safety Jeremy Cash picked up his third all-conference recognition Monday. On Wednesday, he earned an even bigger honor.
Cash was tabbed the ACC Defensive Player of the Year Wednesday, the first Blue Devil to win the award since it was created in 1993. The redshirt senior garnered 19 first-place votes, six more than second-place finisher Shaq Lawson of Clemson.
"It’s a really humbling experience because it’s a true testament to all the hard work that we’ve put in as a program," Cash said during a teleconference Wednesday afternoon. "There’s so many different people along the way that have helped me become the player and person that I am today. It’s been a long journey over the course of these four years, and like I said, a lot of work has been put into it and it’s just finally being able to pay dividends."
The Miami native totaled more than 100 tackles for the third straight season, playing near the line of scrimmage in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles' 4-2-5 defense. Cash has amassed 101 tackles through the team's first 12 games—a figure second on the team to Dwyane Norman's 104 takedowns—and his 333 career tackles place him 12th on Duke's all-time list.
As a strike safety, Cash flew into the backfield all season long, racking up 18 tackles for loss—which ties him for 10th in the nation overall and is tops among defensive backs. He also recorded 2.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
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"A lot of that starts with film study and being able to dissect plays before they occur," Cash said. "If you take the time to just sit down for maybe an hour or so and watch film, you’d be able to understand and realize a lot of tendencies that different opponents offenses run. When the time occurs, you’re just able to make the play before anyone else can."
Cash held a press conference in January to announce he would return to Durham for his redshirt senior season. Five double-digit tackle games later, the strike safety has cemented his place in the ACC history books.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior will have one more opportunity to add to his already-stuffed season box score when the Blue Devils participate in their fourth consecutive bowl game. Duke will learn its postseason destination later this week.