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Heel Tough Blog: Maye Named Preseason Player of the Year in ACC, Three Named First All-Conference

Eric Espada- Getty Images

After releasing the preseason ACC media poll yesterday, the conference rolled out their preseason all-conference team and their preseason player of the year earlier this morning.

As was expected, the Tar Heels have the preseason player of the year in the conference for the second time in the last three years in the form of quarterback Drake Maye. He picked up exactly half of the 176 votes cast by the media to join former teammate Sam Howell as Tar Heels to take home the award since Mack Brown’s return.

Maye, who landed on the Maxwell Award watch list on Monday, is coming off a huge first season as a starter for a team that won nine games for just the second time since Mack Brown’s first stint. He threw for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns to just seven interceptions while completing 66.2% of his passes. He also led the team in rushing, totaling 698 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Maye was also named to the conference preseason first-team squad receiving 107 of the 176 votes cast, beating out Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis for that spot. 

He wasn’t the only Tar Heel to land first team preseason honors this morning. Cedric Gray finished second amongst linebackers in the voting with 109 of the ballots cast having him first team. Last year, Gray was one of the best linebackers in the entire country, finishing second in the nation in solo tackles and third in total tackles. Many expect similar production from him as he pushes to help this Tar Heel defense become a unit that can help this team win more games this season.

Junior wide receiver transfer Devontez Walker is the other player who landed on the preseason team. He finished second in the wide receiver voting behind only Florida State star receiver Johnny Wilson, landing on 51 of the 176 ballots. With Kent State in 2022, Walker caught 58 passes for 971 yards and eleven touchdowns on his way to first team All-MAC honors. 


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