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Wake Forest’s Greg Dortch wins ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award

Greg DortchWake Forest sophomore Greg Dortch has been named the recipient of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 2018 Brian Piccolo Award, as announced by the league on 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. As a standout running back at Wake Forest, 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 diagnosed with cancer. His courageous fight against the disease was an inspiration to the Bears and the entire football community.

Dortch will be recognized this weekend during activities surrounding the 2018 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, which is set for Saturday at 8 p.m. at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.

Dortch appeared headed for a record-setting season as a redshirt freshman in 2017, making his mark for the Demon Deacons as one of the ACC’s premier wide receivers and a dynamic punt and kickoff return man. But the Richmond, Virginia native suffered a rupture of the small intestine in a win over Louisville in the eighth game, an injury that required season-ending emergency surgery and clouded his football future.

He endured countless hours of full body rehab in the months that followed, but Dortch worked his way back onto the field by the start of spring practice. Any remaining doubts about his ability to go full speed evaporated during a 2018 season in which he earned two All-ACC first-team honors, as both a return specialist and all-purpose player.

Dortch will enter Wake Forest’s upcoming bowl game leading the league in all-purpose yards with 145.8 per game and topping the league in punt return average at 11.0 yards. As a receiver, Dortch leads the Demon Deacons with 89 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns.

He now ranks second in school history in receiving yards in a season and has tallied 19 touchdowns in 20 career games. Dortch ranks 11th nationally in all-purpose yards, 12th in punt return average, and 16th nationally in combined kick return yards.

“We are very proud and honored that Greg Dortch is receiving the Brian Piccolo Award,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said. “This award is special because Brian is a Wake Forest graduate and he left a tremendous legacy, not only on campus but throughout the nation with his strength and courage. Greg has done a phenomenal job this year of working hard through his rehab and being dedicated to improving as a football player. Not only has Greg become an outstanding receiver, kick returner and punt returner, but he continues to develop as a leader and as a teammate.”

Dortch becomes the fifth student-athlete from Wake Forest to earn the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award and the first since defensive end Matt Robinson in 2007.

ACC Brian Piccolo Award Winners

1970 Paul Miller, QB, North Carolina
1971 Jim Webster, LB, North Carolina
1972 Mark Johnson, QB, Duke
1973 Al Neville, QB, Maryland
1974 David Visaggio, DG, Maryland
1975 Scott Gardner, QB, Virginia
1976 Jeff Green, DE, Duke
1977 Ralph Stringer, DB, NC State
1978 Rex Varn, DB, Clemson
1979 not available
1980 Jack Cain, DB,Clemson
1981 Aaron Stewart, DB, Duke
1982 Kenny Duckett, WR, Wake Forest
1983 John Piedmonte, OLB,Wake Forest
1984 J.D. Maarleveld, T, Maryland
1985 Danny Burmeister, DB, N. Carolina
1986 Ray Williams, WR, Clemson
1987 no recipient
1988 Jerry Mays, TB, Georgia Tech
1989 Michael Anderson, RB, Maryland
1990 Marc Mays, WR, Duke
1991 Scott Adell, T, NC State
1992 Dan Footman, DE, Florida State, Randy Cuthbert, TB, Duke
1993 Scott Youmans, DL, Duke
1994 Chris Harrison, T, Virginia
1995 Warren Forney, DT, Clemson
1996 John Lewis, RB, Wake Forest
1997 Sam Cowart, LB, Florida State
1998 Anthony Poindexter, DB, Virginia, Corey Simon, DT, Florida State
1999 Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State
2000 Ed Wilder, FB, Georgia Tech
2001 Matt Crawford, T, Maryland
2002 Anquan Boldin, WR, Florida State
2003 Kevin Bailey, OL, Virginia
2004 Frank Gore, RB, Miami
2005 Ryan Best, S, Virginia
2006 Glenn Sharpe, Miami
2007 Matt Robinson, DE, Wake Forest
2008 Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
2009 Toney Baker, RB, NC State
2010 Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College, Nate Irving, LB, NC State
2011 Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
2012 Shayon Green, DE, Miami
Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State
2013 Robert Godhigh, RB, Georgia Tech
2014 Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
2015 Hunter Knighton, OL, Miami
2016 James Conner, RB, Pitt
2017 Trevon Young, DE, Louisville
2018 Greg Dortch, WR/KR, Wake Forest