DURHAM, N.C. – Six Duke football student-athletes were named to the Capital One Academic All-District III team, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced Thursday.
Redshirt senior offensive tackle Perry Simmons, who was named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete this year and was an Academic All-America second team choice in 2012, headline the Duke contingent. Joining Simmons as repeat selections were redshirt senior cornerback Ross Cockrell and redshirt senior offensive guard Dave Harding, while redshirt senior defensive end Kenny Anunike, redshirt junior linebacker Kelby Brown and junior linebacker David Helton were first-time selections.
Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC) led all Division I institutions with six selections and was one of six schools in all three divisions with at least six selections. The six selections come on the heels of four Academic All-District III selections for the Blue Devils in 2012.
Simmons, a native of Raleigh, N.C., boasts a 3.83 grade point average as a civil engineering major. He was one of 10 NCAA Division I FBS student-athletes to receive the NFF Student-Athlete award and is now in contention for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, which goes to the top football scholar-athlete in the country. Simmons has started 45 consecutive games at right tackle for Duke – every game of his career – and is a key component of a Duke offense that averages 32.9 points per game and has allowed just 10 sacks in eight games.
Cockrell, a native of Waxhaw, N.C., owns a 3.32 GPA while pursuing a graduate degree in political science. An All-ACC first team selection in 2012, Cockrell is among the top defensive backs in the nation and this season has amassed two interceptions, five pass breakups, one sack, 33 tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss. He has been a cornerstone of a Duke defense that is allowing just 22.5 points per game and 7.8 points in the second half. He is Duke’s all-time leader in pass breakups, ranks tied for second in total passes defended and sixth in interceptions.
Harding, a native of Orlando, Fla., has a 3.46 GPA while pursuing a graduate degree in political science. He received All-ACC honorable mention honors in 2012 and has started every game at left guard the past two years for the Blue Devils. Also a member of the AFCA Good Works Team, Harding is a three-time All-ACC Academic Team selection. This season, he has helped pave the way for a Duke offense that averages 32.9 points per game and has scored 17 passing touchdowns and 16 rushing touchdowns.
Anunike is a native of Galena, Ohio, and has a 3.33 GPA as a biological anthropology and anatomy major. He was an All-ACC honorable mention selection in 2012 and this season leads Duke with 10.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. Duke’s leader in sacks for the past two seasons, Anunike ranks fourth on the team with 41 tackles and also has two quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal to his credit in 2013. Behind his efforts, the Duke defense is holding its last four opponents to 17.5 points per game during the team’s four-game winning streak.
Brown is a native of Charlotte, N.C., and boasts a 3.70 GPA as an evolutionary anthropology major. He returned to the field this season after missing the 2012 season while recovering from knee surgery. He is the ACC’s fourth-leading tackler with 8.7 stops per game and has totaled 5.5 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, one interception and one fumble recovery this season. He has two double-digit tackle games to his credit this season, including a 14-tackle performance in a 13-10 win at No. 16 Virginia Tech in which he also picked off a fourth-quarter interception that enabled Duke to run out the clock in the upset victory. He was named ACC Linebacker of the Week for that effort.
Helton, who hails from Chattanooga, Tenn., has a 3.60 GPA as a psychology major. He has enjoyed a breakout season and leads the ACC with 78 tackles and 9.8 tackles per game. He has a pair of double-digit tackle performances this season, including a career-best 19 stops in the 13-10 win at No. 16 Virginia Tech. His play has helped the Duke post the second best red zone defense percentage in the ACC, allowing opponents to score on just 18-of-25 (.720) of their trips inside the red zone. Helton has at least seven tackles in every game this season.
Duke returns to the field this Saturday, Nov. 9, against in-state rival N.C. State in Wallace Wade Stadium. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. on ESPNU, and tickets are available at www.goduke.com/tickets or by calling (919) 681-BLUE.