RB Gio Bernard, LB Zach Brown and DE Quinton Coples were named to the All-ACC First Team by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association. WR Dwight Jones, OG James Hurst and OT Jonathan Cooper were tapped for the second team. Receiving honorable mention were DT Tydreke Powell and specialist T.J. Thorpe
The ACC's official site has the full list here.
Gio Bernard capped off a brilliant rookie campaign on Saturday with 165 yards versus Duke which earned him rookie of the week honors. Bernard finished the regular season with 1222 yards for 101.8 yards per game and 13 touchdowns. He became the first Tar Heel in 14 years to eclipse the 1000 yard mark in rushing. Quinton Coples followed up his All-ACC performance from a year ago with his second straight appearance on the first team. Coples finished the season with 51 tackles, 13 of them for a loss and 7.5 sacks. Linebacker Zach Brown was an absolute beast all season leading the Heels in tackles with 91. Brown had 11.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions.
The Heels appearing on the second team raise, in my opinion, some questions. First is Dwight Jones who led the ACC in receptions with 79 and receiving TDs with 11. Jones was third in receiving yards with 93.1 ypg behind the two players slotted on the first team Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Wake Forest's Chris Givens. Watkins inclusion was a no brainer and he will also likely end up being rookie of the year. Givens led the ACC in receiving yards with over 100 per game which likely trumped Jones receptions and touchdown totals. The other two Heels on the second team were James Hurst and Jonathan Cooper, both offensive linemen. That's right, UNC got two players on the All-ACC second team from an offensive line unit which underperformed all season long. I suppose there is some logic at work here involving Gio Bernard's rushing total and the assumption that he could not have gotten to 1200 yards without a solid OL helping him except he sort of did. Either Cooper and Hurst were really good and the rest of the line was crap or voting for offensive linemen is a complete crapshoot because you don't have as many concrete numbers to work with as you do other positions. In other words voting for offensive linemen on all conference teams is a little like voting for defensive POY awards in basketball. Absent block or steal totals, there is not much to go on there.
Congratulations to these Tar Heels on being recognized and being a big reason for the team's success this year.