July 31, 2012
Boston College's Luke Kuechly, a two-time consensus All-American who was drafted ninth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, has earned the annual Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the premier male athlete in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2011-12, according to an announcement made by the the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association on Tuesday.
The award is given alongside the Mary Garber Award which is presented annually to the conference's finest female athlete and is voted upon by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Duke fencer Becca Ward, a three-time All-American, earned the top honor on the women's side.
The awards are given in memory of distinguished journalists from the region. McKevlin was a sports editor in Raleigh, N.C., and Garber, of the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the country.
Kuechly becomes the first recipient of the McKevlin Award cited exclusively for his work as a defensive player in football.
Kuechly received 13 votes from the 31-member electorate. Florida State baseball player James Ramsey, named on seven ballots, finished second.
Kuechly is one of the most decorated defenders in ACC history. In his third and final season on The Heights in 2011, the linebacker from Cincinnati, Ohio established three NCAA records: total tackles per game over a career (14); total tackles per game in a season (15.92); and assisted tackles per game over a career (6.14). He also stands second in total tackles in a career (532) and in a season (191 in 2011) and in solo stops per game over a career (7.87).
The 6-foot-3, 242-pound linebacker adds to a trophy case that includes four individual honors from 2011: the Bronko Nagurski and Lott IMPACT Trophies, given to college football's top defensive player; the Dick Butkus Award as the best linebacker; and the Lombardi Award for the premier lineman or inside linebacker.
The Eagles finished 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the ACC this past fall, and Kuechly's incessant production and sideline-to-sideline harassment of opposing ball-carriers helped BC finish strong. After a 1-6 start to the campaign, the Eagles won three of their final five games, earning ACC victories over NC State and at Maryland and Miami.
Kuechly is the first Boston College athlete to win the McKevlin or Garber Award. The Eagles began ACC competition in 2005-06. The Carolina Panthers made Kuechly the first linebacker taken in the 2012 draft.
Kuechly's selection for the McKevlin is the 15th by a football player and the first since NC State quarterback Philip Rivers' victory in 2004.
Kuechly is the fifth football defender with his name on the McKevlin plaque, but he is the first to build a resume entirely around that side of the ball and in that sport. Specifically:
- Georgia Tech's Riccardo Ingram (1987) was a stellar safety but an even better prospect in baseball, in which he became a fourth-round draftee in 1987 and enjoyed brief tenures with the Detroit Tigers in 1994 and the Minnesota Twins a year later.
- In the era of limited manpower and two-way play across college football, South Carolina's Bobby Bryant (1967) was an accomplished defensive back who helped the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls; he also earned at least comparable fame in college as a punt-returner and as a twice-drafted baseball pitcher.
- Duke's Mike McGee (1960) was an interior lineman on both sides of the ball.
- NC State's Dick Christy (1958) was a flanker and defensive back.