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UNC Football: Drake Maye, Josh Downs, and Cedric Gray earn first-team All-ACC honors

The Coastal Champs make a strong show in the first of the 2022 ACC football awards.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 NC State at North Carolina Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s ACC Championship week, which means it’s also ACC honors week. We start learning a lot of players of the year, as well as getting the All-ACC football teams. Sure enough on Tuesday, the results of the voting for All-ACC came out.

As befitting a team with one of the best offenses in the country and one that won the Coastal Division, the Tar Heels were well-represented.

Drake Maye and Josh Downs led the Tar Heels with an appearance on the All-ACC first-team offense, what’s remarkable is that Josh Downs actually appears twice on the teams. He shows up on the first team as a wide receiver, and he’s second team as an all-purpose player. It’s interesting that he got the votes for both spots, but considering his ability as a returner, and how he’s used in the backfield and in screens, it’s also an appropriate honor.

While no one would argue that Carolina’s defense was one to celebrate this season, there was someone well-deserving of first-team honors: Cedric Gray. Gray led the ACC in tackles, and was the anchor of the defensive front that felt like it was always underwater, its well-deserved.

A surprising entry on the second team was Storm Duck. No one is going to confuse the UNC secondary as world changing, but it’s worth noting that Duck improved mightily as the season went on, and was noticeable as being placed on the opposing team’s best receiver. It’s a great honor for the corner, and hopefully he’ll be healthy enough to play this weekend.

On third team, Antoine Green makes an appearance as receiver. Fans at this point know just how important he is, and due to the nature of the All-ACC voting, you’d have to think that had he been healthy all year his numbers would have been higher, and thus his All-ACC position would have been. That said it’s a huge step up for the super senior, and another honor he can take as he looks to move to the NFL. Asim Richards joins Green on the third team, as does punter Ben Kiernan.

Finally, three Tar Heels earned enough votes to get Honorable Mentions: Bryson Nesbit, Corey Gaynor, and Power Echols.

Earlier on Tuesday, UNC wide receiver Tylee Craft found out that he’s the winner of the Disney Spirit Award. The award is given to the most inspirational college football player during the season, and considering Craft’s battle with Stage IV cancer and still coming to practice each week, the honor is well-deserved. Coach Mack brown announced this in front of the team on Tuesday:

The award is officially given to the recipient during ESPN’s College Football Award show, next Thursday, December 8th at 7 PM. Usually the winner is held as a surprise but it’s possible that with Craft’s condition traveling may be difficult, so either way they wanted it known he got it. Either way, he’ll be awarded on December 8th, and the whole country will learn of the incredible fight of this inspirational athlete.

More ACC awards will be announced later in the week.