After safety Jeremy Cash became a fixture on preseason award lists and All-ACC teams as a senior a year ago before winning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a new member of Duke's defensive backfield is garnering hype this offseason.
Although DeVon Edwards was left off the preseason All-ACC team announced Wednesday morning as a specialist or a cornerback, the Covington, Ga., native has already earned several accolades this offseason on a national scale.
"[Cash] sort of told me to stay focused, don't try to do everything yourself," Edwards said at last week's ACC media day in Charlotte, N.C. "By him giving me that wisdom, just keep having fun, do what I've been doing these past three years, is the best advice I've took from him."
Earlier this offseason, the redshirt senior was named preseason second-team All-America as a return specialist the Phil Steele Magazine and fourth-team All-America by Athlon Sports. With six career kickoff returns for touchdowns, Edwards garnered preseason first-team All-ACC honors from Athlon Sports and ESPN. He is just one kick return for a touchdown away from former Clemson star C.J. Spiller's ACC and NCAA career record of seven.
Although his success as a return specialist has often made headlines, Edwards started all 13 games a year ago and recorded three double-digit tackle games. He is currently in the middle of a transition from safety to cornerback before the start of training camp Aug. 8.
Edwards was also a preseason second-team All-ACC selection as a defensive back by Lindy's Sports and a third-team selection by Athlon Sports.
The versatility to play multiple secondary positions helped Edwards earn a spot on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award—given to the most versatile player in the nation—for a third consecutive year.
"I would say that being a kick returner, sometimes it does conflict with being a cornerback," Edwards said. "You run a hundred yards, you have to go back and play defense. In big games when you get winded, you have to hurry up and catch your breath. I've done a great job of sort of overcoming that aspect of doing both of those roles."
The All-ACC returner's ability to excel in the secondary was recognized when he was named to the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the first time in his career. The award is given annually to the best defensive player and the cornerback's selection marks the second consecutive year that a Blue Devil has made the preseason watch list, with Cash being selected a year ago.
Edwards was also named to the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is awarded for outstanding community service to complement academic and athletic excellence. In addition to graduating from Duke in May, the cornerback has been heavily involved in the local Durham community throughout his time as a Blue Devil.
The redshirt senior is one of only two active players in the country who earned both All-America and Academic All-America honors last season.
Hank Tucker contributed reporting.
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