Four Cavaliers Selected to Athlon Sports Preseason All-ACC Teams
By Matt Newton,2023-05-26
It's never too early to start previewing the next college football season. Athlon Sports is taking that to the extreme, already releasing their preseason all-conference teams for the 2023 season this week. Four Virginia football players were selected to the Athlon Sports " ACC Football 2023 All-Conference Team ", Athlon's projected picks for the best players in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2023 college football season.
Athlon included this important note regarding their picks: These are based on how players will perform in 2023. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2023 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year. Also, team strength does not play a role in selections. These are the best individual players at each position in the league for '23.
Virginia's lone First-Team selection was senior punter Daniel Sparks, who earned Second-Team All-ACC honors in 2022 in his first season after transferring from Minnesota. Sparks averaged 45.9 yards per punt last season, matching the UVA single-season punting average record and leading the ACC. He also became the first Cavalier to notch three punts of at least 60 yards in a single game.
Fifth year defensive end Chico Bennett Jr. and fifth year safety Antonio Clary were both named to Athlon's All-ACC Third Team for 2023. Bennett Jr. tallied 34 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and a team-leading seven sacks in 2022, twice getting the nod as the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week and earning an All-ACC honorable mention at the end of the year.
Clary's decision to return for his fifth season was one of the bigger pieces of offseason news for UVA, bringing back not only a key piece of the Cavalier secondary, but an important veteran leader in the locker room as well. Clary has appeared in 33 games over the course of his career and recorded 56 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two passes defended, one forced fumble, and one interception in 2022.
Defensive tackle Aaron Faumui is back for his sixth year at Virginia and Athlon placed him on the 2023 All-ACC Fourth Team (Athlon's equivalent of an honorable mention). Faumui was an All-ACC honorable mention in 2022, leading the Cavaliers with 8.5 tackles for loss to go along with four sacks and 39 total tackles.
Given the number of new faces expected to fill key roles for Virginia in 2023, especially on the offensive end, having four Cavaliers on Athlon Sports' preseason All-ACC teams seems fair at this point. But, expect more Wahoos, and in particular some of the transfer additions, to be in contention to earn All-ACC selections by the end of the 2023 season.
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