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DURHAM, N.C. - Headlined by kicker Will Snyderwine and wide receiver Conner Vernon, seven Blue Devils have been honored with preseason recognition from Athlon Sports in its annual college football preseason publication.
Snyderwine and Vernon both were named to Athlon's preseason first team All-ACC unit while safety Matt Daniels, tight end Cooper Helfet, offensive tackle Kyle Hill, quarterback Sean Renfree and wide receiver Donovan Varner all received third team all-conference mention.
A senior from Fayetteville, Ga., Daniels returns for his final season after finishing second on the team in tackles with 93 last season.  Among last year's league leaders in both tackles per game (7.75; 6th) and caused fumbles per game (0.25; t2nd), Daniels has played in 34 career games with 25 starting assignments while producing 198 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss, 13 pass breakups, six caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries in three seasons.
A senior from Kentfield, Calif., Helfet made a splash last fall in his first season at Duke by catching 34 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns en route to receiving honorable mention All-ACC honors.  Among ACC tight ends, he ranked first in receiving yardage and second in pass receptions while his 122-yard effort against Virginia marked the fifth-highest single-game total by a tight end in Duke history.
A redshirt senior from Orlando, Fla., Hill is slated to start on the Blue Devil offensive line for the fourth straight season.  Last year, he helped Duke rank third in the league in sacks allowed per passing attempt as the Blue Devils had five players with 30 or more receptions for just the second time in school history.
A redshirt junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., Renfree was Duke's team MVP in 2010 after completing 285-of-464 pass attempts for 3,131 yards and 14 touchdowns.  In the ACC, he ranked first in completions per game (23.75), tied for second in total offensive yards per game (257.0), third in passing yards per game (260.9), tied for sixth in touchdown passes and seventh in passing efficiency (120.73).
A redshirt senior from Potomac, Md., Snyderwine was a first team All-America choice in 2010 by the American Football Coaches Association after connecting on 21-of-24 field goals and all 32 of his PAT attempts.  His 21 field goals established a new Duke single-season record while his 95 total points rank second behind Clarkston Hines' 104-point outing in 1989.
A senior from Miami, Fla., Varner will try to become the first player in ACC history with three seasons of 60 or more pass receptions in 2011.  Over the past two years, he has caught 125 passes for 1,801 yards and nine touchdowns.
A junior from Miami, Fla., Vernon was a second team all-conference choice last year after pacing the ACC in receptions with 73.  Nationally, he ranked among the top 30 players in both receptions per game (6.08; 24th) and receiving yards per game (81.1; 29th) as his catch total fell one shy of equaling the Duke single-season standard of 74 set by Wes Chesson in 1970.
Duke opens the 2011 season at home versus Richmond on September 3 at 7 p.m.  Season tickets are available and may be purchased online at GoDuke.com or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 1-877-375-DUKE (3853).

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