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Courtesy: Frank Selden
Senior Matt Daniels
Daniels Receives Duke Football MVP Honors
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 01/20/2012
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DURHAM, N.C. - Senior safety Matt Daniels was named the recipient of the Carmen Falcone Most Valuable Player Award at Duke University's annual football banquet held on Friday evening in Durham, N.C.

In 2011, Daniels served as a team captain and earned first team All-ACC and second team All-America accolades after leading the Blue Devils and ranking third in the conference in tackles per game (10.5).  He finished the year with 126 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions, 14 pass break-ups and one caused fumble.

A native of Fayetteville, Ga., Daniels played in 46 games for the Blue Devils and started all 36 contests over the past three seasons.  One of 14 players in Duke history to record 300-plus tackles, he finished his career with 324 total stops, 13.0 tackles for loss, 27 pass break-ups, four interceptions, seven caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries.  On the school's all-time charts, Daniels ranks 13th in tackles, tied for sixth in PBUs and third in caused fumbles.

Daniels also was one of four recipients of the Steve Brooks Captain Award while earning the Willis Aldridge Award as the team's top defensive back. 

Other honorees included Kelby Brown (Mike Curtis Award & Mike Suglia Award), Jordon Byas (Bill Keziah Award), Ross Cockrell (Sonny Falcone Iron Duke Award), Braxton Deaver (Sonny Falcone Iron Duke Award), Jeffrey Faris (Micah Harris Trinity Teammate Award), Dave Harding (Ace Parker Award & Frances Cutcliffe Spirit of Perseverance Award), Charlie Hatcher (Steve Brooks Captain Award & Mike McGee Award), Kyle Hill (Steve Brooks Captain Award & Dan "Tiger" Hill Award), Alex King (Bill Keziah Award), Sean Renfree (Steve Brooks Captain Award), Cody Robinson (Sonny Falcone Iron Duke Award), Perry Simmons (K.D. Kennedy Iron Devil Award), Juwan Thompson (Bob Pascal Award) and Donovan Varner (Clarkston Hines Award).

Brown, a sophomore linebacker from Matthews, N.C., received the Mike Curtis Award which is presented annually to the most outstanding linebacker on the team.  Despite missing two games due to injury, Brown led the Blue Devils in tackles for loss (7.0) while ranking third in total tackles (65).  He also received the Mike Suglia Award which is presented annually to the second-year member of the Duke football program who best exemplifies the qualities of the late Mike Suglia. Suglia was an offensive lineman at Duke in 1976-77 who died suddenly during the spring of his sophomore year. He was an excellent student, an outstanding football player, and, most importantly, a young man of the highest integrity. 

Byas, a redshirt junior safety from Lynn Haven, Fla., and Alex King, a senior punter from Winston-Salem, N.C., were named co-recipients of the Bill Keziah Award for outstanding special teams play.  Byas led Duke in kick coverage tackles while King was a second team All-ACC selection after averaging 42.1 yards per punt on 50 kicks.

The Sonny Falcone Iron Duke Award is presented annually to one offensive player, one defensive player and one player in the developmental program for their year-round commitment to strength training and conditioning.  These players best exemplify the strength staff's expectations with their daily effort, commitment, pride, toughness, and discipline.  The 2011 recipients were Cockrell, a redshirt sophomore cornerback from Waxhaw, N.C., Deaver, a redshirt freshman tight end from Charlotte, N.C., and Robinson, a freshman from McMinnville, Tenn.

Faris, a senior safety from Knoxville, Tenn., was the recipient of the Micah Harris Trinity Teammate Award which is presented annually to the member of the Duke football program who displays the highest teammate qualities such as inspiration, unselfishness and commitment to the team. Micah Harris was tragically killed in an automobile accident in June of 2004, just prior to his senior year at Duke.

Harding, a redshirt sophomore offensive lineman from Orlando, Fla., garnered the Ace Parker Award which is presented annually to an individual who displays unparalleled commitment to the team and overcomes adversity to contribute.  Parker, one of 12 former Duke players and coaches to be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame, was a two-time All-America pick in 1935 and 1936. Following his successful NFL career, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. Parker later served as an assistant coach at Duke from 1947-65. 

Harding also received the first Frances Cutcliffe Spirit of Perseverance Award which is presented annually to the player that best displays the toughness and perseverance to overcome challenges and continue to strive for victory.  Harding started at both guard and center for the Blue Devils in 2011.

Hatcher, a redshirt senior nose guard from Hamilton, Ohio, was one of four team captains for the year and also received the Mike McGee Award as the squad's top defensive lineman.  Starting all 12 games, Hatcher recorded 30 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 quarterback sacks on the year.

Hill, a redshirt senior offensive tackle from Orlando, Fla., also served as a captain and was honored with the Dan "Tiger" Hill Award as Duke's top offensive lineman.  Playing a total of 715 snaps on the year, Hill helped the Blue Devils rank second in the ACC in sacks allowed per passing attempt.

Renfree, a redshirt junior quarterback from Scottsdale, Ariz., started all 12 games in 2011 and completed 282-of-434 passes for 2,891 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  He established new school records for single-game pass completions (41 vs. Boston College) and single-season record for pass completion percentage (.650).

Simmons, a redshirt sophomore offensive tackle from Raleigh, N.C., received the K.D. Kennedy Iron Devil Award which is presented annually to the player with the most snaps played.  On the field for 927 plays in 2011, Hill helped Duke rank second in the conference in passing yards per game (272.2).

Thompson, a sophomore running back from Fairburn, Ga., was the recipient of the Bob Pascal Award as Duke's top offensive back after rushing 110 times for a team-high 457 yards and seven touchdowns while catching 22 passes for an additional 182 yards and one touchdown.

Varner, a senior wide receiver from Miami, Fla., earned the Clarkston Hines Award as the team's top receiver.  Varner caught 61 passes for 713 yards and three touchdowns on the year, becoming the first player in ACC history to have three seasons with 60-plus pass receptions.  He closed his career with 208 catches - most in school history - for 2,660 yards and 13 touchdowns.