DURHAM, N.C. – First team cornerback Ross Cockrell and punter Will Monday headline a list of five Duke football players who were named to the Preseason All-ACC Team by Lindy’s Sports.
Following Cockrell and Monday’s first-team selections were second-team quarterback and all-purpose threat Brandon Connette, second-team placekicker Ross Martin and third-team offensive guard Dave Harding. Additionally, the publication chose Monday as the third best punter in the nation, Martin as the seventh best placekicker and Cockrell as the 10th-best cornerback.
Cockrell has appeared on the Preseason All-ACC first team by all major publications, including Athlon Sports, Sporting News, USA Today and Phil Steele’s College Football Preview. The redshirt senior cornerback was also selected to the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List and will serve as team captain in 2013 for the second straight year. Cockrell was a first team All-ACC selection in 2012 after totaling an ACC-leading five interceptions, 18 passes defended and 71 tackles while starting all 13 games for the Blue Devils. He also scored two touchdowns, returning a blocked field goal 75 yards against FIU and an interception 32 yards against N.C. Central.
Monday also earned Preseason All-ACC first team honors from Athlon Sports, Sporting News and USA Today as well as Preseason All-America third team honors from Sporting News. The redshirt sophomore emerged as one of the top punters in the nation in 2012, averaging an ACC-leading 44.6 yards per punt on the way to earning All-ACC first team honors. Of his 67 punts, 20 went 50 yards or longer, and 19 landed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
Connette played a variety of roles for Duke in 2012, lining up at quarterback, tight end, H-back and slot receiver. The redshirt junior led Duke with eight rushing touchdowns and has amassed 17 rushing touchdowns in just 26 collegiate games. He also emerged as a threat in the passing game, catching 11 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown while throwing for three more scores, including a touchdown pass against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.
Martin, a Freshman All-America in 2012, turned in one of the best placekicking seasons in Duke history as a true freshman, coming up successful on 20-of-23 field goal attempts and 46-of-47 extra point attempts. The All-ACC honorable mention selection broke several of Duke’s single-season records, including total points (106), most made PATs and most attempted PATs.
Harding started all 13 games at left guard for Duke in 2012, helping the offense score a school single-season record 410 points while ranking second in the ACC in sacks allowed per pass attempt (1:29.00). A redshirt senior who received All-ACC honorable mention honors last season, Harding opened holes for a Duke running game that averaged 125.2 yards per game and a passing unit that averaged 283.9 yards per game in the air.
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