Heel Tough Blog: Ten Tar Heels Receive All-ACC Honors and Tylee Craft Takes Home Disney Spirit Award
On Tuesday, the ACC announced their All-ACC teams for the 2022 regular season ahead of Saturday’s ACC Championship Game in Bank of America Stadium. The Tar Heels had ten different players that received honors, including Josh Downs who received two by himself. Along with those honors being handed, another Tar Heel receiver was gifted a special award that he will be presented with later this month. Here is a look at who was recognized yesterday afternoon.
First Team All-ACC: Josh Downs, Cedric Gray and Drake Maye
This trio took home the highest honors and deservedly so with just how good they were this year. As expected, Maye was easily the first-team quarterback after a dominant season where he led the conference in every major category. Downs was tied with Boston College’s Zay Flowers for the most votes at receiver after another strong season where he currently leads the league in receptions, is tied for second in the conference in receiving touchdowns and fifth in receiving yards. Gray was the leader in votes at linebacker, something that shouldn’t come as a shock considering he leads all of the Power 5 in total tackles and the conference in solo tackles.
Second Team All-ACC: Josh Downs and Storm Duck
Downs not only made the first team as a receiver, but earned all-purpose honors, as well. He finished the regular season with 1,056 all-purpose yards while playing in just ten games. Duck narrowly made the second team, a huge bounce back from a slow start to the season. He finished the regular season with 46 total tackles, three interceptions and nine pass deflections.
Third Team All-ACC: Antoine Green, Ben Kiernan and Asim Richards
All three of these guys were more than deserving of these honors, if not higher ones. Green finished second in yards per receptions and eighth in the conference in receiving yards despite playing in just eight games. Kiernan finished tied for second nationally in punt yard average at 46.8 per punt and that was easily the best in the conference. Richards was the anchor of an improved offensive line for the majority of the season and while he has slipped a bit late in the season, he has only allowed two sacks and fourteen pressures the entire season. You could make the case that all three, especially Kiernan, should be second team members for what they did in the regular season.
All-ACC Honorable Mentions: Power Echols, Corey Gaynor and Bryson Nesbit
This trio rounds out the group of All-ACC recipients and all three are certainly deserving. Echols had a really solid season alongside Gray, finishing in a tie for seventh in the conference in total tackles and third in solo tackles. Nesbit was one of the more productive tight ends in the ACC this season, hauling in 30 catches for 459 yards and three touchdowns and finishing the regular season ninth in yards per reception. Gaynor had a solid year in the middle of that rebuilt offensive line, allowing just two sacks and ten total pressures all season long and grading out as the team’s second best run blocker.
Tylee Craft Receives Disney Spirit Award
The greatest honor handed out on Tuesday, though, went to junior wide receiver Tylee Craft. Craft, who was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer back in March, was given the award courtesy of Walt Disney World. Since his initial diagnosis, he has supposedly been making good progress which has allowed him to be on the sidelines for the majority of this season as he hopes to eventually be able to return to the field. Away from the gridiron, he has been visiting caner patients at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center each Friday that the team is in Chapel Hill and he is also serving as an ambassador for the White Ribbon Project, which helps raise awareness and provide support for those fighting lung cancer. Craft will receive the award in person on December 8th in Orlando as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards ceremony.