GREENSBORO, N.C. – Virginia Tech true freshman Kendall Fuller has been named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in a vote by the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association (ACSMA). Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who led the Seminoles to a 12-0 regular-season record and the top spot in the BCS standings, has been named the ACC Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Fuller became the first Hokie to be named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year after ranking fifth nationally in interceptions with six and leading the conference with 16 passes defended. The Baltimore, Md., native finished the regular season with 56 tackles, including 37 solo stops.
“It’s just a blessing to win this award,” Fuller said. “All the work you put in during the summer and all the hard work you put in in the film room, going over stuff with Kyle and Coach Gray, coming down a month early just to learn the defense ... all that has paid off. Being able to make that big of an impact as a freshman is definitely something special. Coming into this year, Coach Gray said he planned on me playing nickel, but with injuries to Antone and Kyle, me and Brandon both had to step up and once they called our number, we were ready.”
Fuller was named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week on Oct. 28 after picking off three passes in Virginia Tech’s game against Duke. He was again honored as the ACC Defensive Back of the Week on Dec. 2 after intercepting one pass and breaking up four more in a win at Virginia. His efforts helped drive a Hokie defense that ranks third nationally in total defense (296.6 yards allowed per game) and fifth nationally in fewest passing yards allowed (165.8 per game).
Fuller, who started 11 regular-season games and played in all 12, joined brother Kyle as prominent members of Virginia Tech’s secondary. Older brothers Vincent and Corey Fuller previously played for the Hokies and in the NFL.
Winston becomes the fourth Seminole to be named the ACC Rookie of the Year after finishing the regular season ranked first nationally in passing efficiency (192.6) while leading the ACC in passing yardage (3,490) and touchdown passes (35). The first Florida State player to be named ACC Rookie of the Year since Chris Rix in 2001, Winston has fueled an offense that ranks second nationally in scoring (53.7 point per game) and seventh in total offense (526.1 yards per game).
Winston’s 3,490 passing yards are an ACC rookie record, and his 35 touchdown passes are one shy of the conference single-season mark. He threw for 1,162 yards and nine touchdowns over ranked opponents and was named the ACC Rookie of the Week seven times and the ACC Offensive Back of the Week on three occasions.
In addition to earning All-ACC honors from ACSMA, Winston has been named a finalist for the Maxwell Award, the Manning Award and the Davey O’Brien Award.
Winston, a redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Ala., was the choice of 56 of the 65 ACSMA members casting ballots. Duke safety DeVon Edwards received four votes, and Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd was the choice of two voters. Maryland cornerback William Likely, Miami wide receiver Stacy Coley and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller each received one vote.
Winston was the choice of 62 of the 65 ballots as the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year, with Pitt’s Boyd receiving two votes and Miami’s Coley one.
Fuller was named on 25 ballots as the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, followed by Duke’s Edwards with 18 votes. Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Facyson received seven votes, while Wake Forest safety Ryan Janvion was the choice of five votes. Maryland’s Likley and Florida State safety Nate Andrews received four votes each, and Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey received two.
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