UVA, Virginia Tech represented on All-ACC Teams

Seven Cavaliers, six Hokies honored

ACC Football media days kickoff

GREENSBORO, NC – Seven Virginia football players earned All-ACC honors for the 2022 season, as announced by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Tuesday, while six Hokies also earned honors.

For the Cavaliers:

Cornerback Anthony Johnson, a first team All-ACC selection, led a group of seven Virginia football student-athletes were recognized as All-ACC performers on Tuesday (Nov. 29). Cornerback Fentrell Cypress, linebacker Nick Jackson and punter Daniel Sparks earned Second Team All-ACC while wide receiver Keytaon Thompson earned a Third Team All-ACC nod. Defensive linemen Chico Bennett and Aaron Faumui were honorable mentions.

First Team All-ACC: CB – Anthony Johnson

Second Team All-ACC: CB – Fentrell Cypress LB – Nick Jackson P – Daniel Sparks

Third Team All-ACC: WR – Keytaon Thompson

Honorable Mention: DE – Chico Bennett DT – Aaron Faumui

Jackson was an All-ACC selection for the third-straight season (2nd team in 2021 & 3rd team in 2020) while Thompson garnered All-ACC accolades for the second consecutive year (2nd Team in 2021).

Johnson started all 10 games at corner for UVA amassing 51 tackles, two interceptions and 12 pass break ups. His 14 passes defended (12 break ups & 2 interceptions) were the second-most among ACC defenders and his 1.4 passes defended per game are the eighth-best in FBS. Johnson’s 38 career passes defended are tied for the fifth-most among active FBS defensive backs.

Johnson’s counterpart on the other side of the field, Fentrell Cypress, took home second team honors for the first time in his career. He led the ACC with 14 pass break ups and passes defended per game. The 1.56 passes defended per game are the fourth-most in the country. Cypress started all nine of the games in which he appeared and was credited with 39 tackles.

The Cavaliers’ leader in tackles for the third-straight season, Jackson finished with 104 stops including seven tackles for loss in 10 games played. He recorded double-digit tackle efforts in six of 10 games played, including 10 tackles playing just the second half against Duke. On Oct. 31 he was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week after an eight-tackle, two-sack effort against Georgia Tech in his hometown of Atlanta. Jackson’s 354 career tackles are tied for the 11th most in program history.

Sparks matched the UVA single-season punting average record, with a 46.8 yard per kick average in 2022. He was named the ACC co-Specialist of the week on Nov. 15 after he punted eight times for 409 yards against Pitt. He had three 60+ yard punts in the contest, the only UVA punter ever with three 60-yarders in a game. Of his 46 punts on the year 12 landed inside the 20 and 14 were 50 or more yards.

For the second-straight season, Thompson was UVA’s top pass catcher. In eight games played, he had 53 receptions and 579 yards. Thompson’s 6.6 receptions per game were the second-most of any ACC receiver. He caught a pass in the final seven games he played and his 72.4 receiving yards were the sixth most by any ACC wideout.

Playing UVA’s bandit position, Bennett had a breakout season on a UVA defense that ranked 14th in the NCAA in sacks per game (3.0). Bennett started all but one game and led the team with seven total sacks. His 0.70 sacks per game are the third-most in the ACC. He garnered ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week twice this season, one of nine UVA defensive linemen ever to win the award twice in the same season.

Faumui started nine of 10 games on UVA’s defensive line, totaling 39 tackles, including a team-best 8.5 tackles for loss. He was credited with four sacks and four quarterback hurries on a Cavalier defense that improved over 75 spots in total defense from a year ago.

And for the Hokies:

Virginia Tech football had six of its players honored Tuesday as the Atlantic Coast Conference announced its 2022 All-ACC Teams. The teams are chosen by a vote from a panel featuring all 14 of the league’s head coaches as well as media members.

Silas Dzansi (OL), aleb Smith (WR), TyJuan Garbutt (DL), Dax Hollifield (LB), Mansoor Delane (DB) and Tucker Holloway (PR) earned honorable mention.

Dzansi (6-5, 335) started all 11 games at left tackle, anchoring Tech’s offensive line that allowed one or fewer sacks on three different occasions. He received the highest pass blocking grade among ACC tackles for his efforts against North Carolina on Oct. 1 according to Pro Football Focus. Dzansi, from Woodbridge, Virginia, tied for the top PFF grade among offensive lineman on the team for the season.

Smith (6-2, 222) tallied 37 receptions for 674 yards to lead the Hokies in both categories. He registered a team-long reception of 85 yards against NC State on Oct. 27. Smith averaged 18.2 yards per catch and 61.3 receiving yards per game to lead the team, scoring three touchdowns on the season. The Louisa County, Virginia product was named the ACC Wide Receiver of the Week for his efforts at Pitt on Oct. 8, catching nine passes for 152 yards.

Garbutt (6-1, 255) led Tech in TFLs (12.0) and sacks (6.5) while registering 29 tackles (15 solo). Garbutt, from Fredericksburg, Virginia, co-led the ACC in TFLs per game (1.3), ranking among the top 20 NCAA FBS defensive players. He recorded six quarterback hurries and a pass breakup in addition to forcing two fumbles.

Hollifield (6-1, 245) was the Hokies’ leading tackler with 82 stops (34 solo), posting the team’s best individual total on five occasions. The Shelby, North Carolina native recorded 6.5 TFLs, including two solo sacks. Hollifield registered six pass breakups and a quarterback hurry, forcing a fumble and recovering two fumbles on the season.

Delane (6-1, 177) played in eight games as a freshman, making four starts while registering 38 tackles (17 solo). The Silver Spring, Maryland product defended nine passes, recording eight breakups while making his first career interception at Duke (Nov. 12). He also forced two fumbles in his debut season for the Hokies.

Holloway (6-2, 182) set the Virginia Tech program record for single game punt return yardage on Nov. 5 against Georgia Tech, returning seven punts for a total of 188 yards. His 90-yard punt return for a touchdown was the fourth-longest punt return in school history. Holloway was named the ACC Specialist of the Week for his efforts against the Yellow Jackets. The Andrews, North Carolina native had an average of 21.2 yards per return this season.

About the Authors:

John serves as the Sports Director at WSLS 10. From Virginia Tech, to NASCAR and everything in between, WSLS 10 Sports covers the names making big plays in the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB.