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Duke’s Jeremy Cash, Miami’s Hunter Knighton win special ACC football honors

ACC_Football_Digital_DBGDuke’s Cash named winner of Jim Tatum Award

Duke senior safety Jeremy Cash has been named the recipient of the 2015 Jim Tatum Award, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced Thursday.

The Tatum Award is given annually in memory of the late Jim Tatum to the top senior student-athlete (in athletic eligibility) among the league’s football players. Tatum, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, coached in the 1950s at both Maryland and North Carolina and believed strongly in the concept of the student-athlete

The 2015 Tatum Award will be presented at the ACC’s Night of Legends event, which will be held Friday (5:30 p.m.) at the Charlotte Convention Center as part of the festivities held around the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.

Cash earlier in the week received the 2015 ACC Defensive Player of the Year award presented by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA), making him the first student-athlete to receive the Tatum Award and a major ACC award in the same year.

Cash, who has posted a 3.8 grade point average while pursuing a graduate degree in liberal studies, has earned the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 2015 Jim Tatum Award with an impressive resume of both on-field and off-field accomplishments.

“Jeremy Cash is more than a great football player,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “Obviously, he has his priorities in order in regards to all of the different elements of being a successful student-athlete.  He is a team captain and team leader. He is a great student and friend.”

A member of the 2014 All-ACC Football Academic Team, the Miami, Florida, native has earned a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll each of the past three years and is currently eligible for a fourth selection. Cash, who already holds an undergraduate degree in psychology, is a finalist for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Cash is also one of five finalists for the Nagurski Trophy awarded to the nation’s top defensive player and the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive back. A second-team All-America selection in 2013 and 2014, Cash has been even more impressive this fall, ranking among the top 10 nationally in tackles for loss. He is the only defensive back to rank among the nation’s top 50 in that category.

Cash is the fourth consecutive Duke student-athlete to receive the Jim Tatum Award after Blue Devil quarterback Sean Renfree was recognized in 2012, offensive tackle Perry Simmons in 2013, and linebacker David Helton last season. Duke boasts an ACC-leading eight total Tatum Award recipients.

 

Miami’s Knighton named winner of Brian Piccolo Award

Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton has been named the recipient of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 2015 Brian Piccolo Award, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced Thursday.

The Piccolo Award has been given annually since 1970 in memory of the late Brian Piccolo to the “most courageous” football player in the ACC. Piccolo was the ACC Athlete of the Year in 1965 and played for the Chicago Bears before his career was cut short when he was stricken with cancer. His courageous fight against that disease was an inspiration to the Bears and the entire football community.

The 2015 Piccolo Award will be presented at the ACC’s Night of Legends event, which will be held Friday (5:30 p.m.) at the Charlotte Convention Center as part of the festivities held around the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.

Knighton returned to the playing field for Miami this season less than 19 months after he suffered a heat stroke in spring practice and spent 12 days in a coma after his body temperature rose to 109 degrees. He underwent surgery to repair his paralyzed vocal chords, and the prognosis for his return to the football field initially appeared all but hopeless.

But through hard work and perseverance, Knighton battled his way back to good health and received medical clearance to return to the field this fall. Back at his normal playing weight after dropping 55 pounds during his illness, he has appeared in every game for the bowl-bound Hurricanes. The Pottstown, Pennsylvania, native has been a major contributor on special teams, and has also seen action on the offensive line.

“Hunter Knighton is truly deserving of this prestigious award,” said Miami interim head coach Larry Scott. “No one has worked harder than Hunter to get back on the field and play the game he truly loves. His sacrifice and determination over the past year is truly inspiring. He has defied the odds to return to the field and play a major role on our team. We could not be happier for Hunter and his family.”

Knighton becomes the fifth Miami student-athlete to receive the Brian Piccolo Award and the third in four seasons. Running back Duke Johnson was honored last season, and defensive end Shayon Green earned the award in 2012.