As media votes continue to be released by the ACC on Tuesday ahead of the new football season, UNC quarterback Sam Howell continues to receive accolades.

ACC media members voted Howell as the conference’s overwhelming preseason Player of the Year, with the junior from Indian Trail, N.C., receiving 114 of 146 votes.

Howell also earned the most votes for any offensive player on the preseason All-ACC Team. While he anchored the quarterback spot, junior offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu and sophomore defensive back Tony Grimes also earned spots in the preseason team.

Tuesday’s ACC honors add to several other preseason awards and honors Howell is earning ahead of the 2021 campaign. The previous week, the UNC quarterback landed on the Maxwell Award 2021 Watch List for college football’s best player, as well as the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List for the sport’s top quarterback. In June, the Walter Camp Football Foundation also added Howell to its a preseason All-American First Team.

Last season saw Howell throw for 3,586 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading UNC to an appearance in the Orange Bowl, the program’s first major bowl appearance since 1950. The quarterback earned a Second Team All-ACC selection behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and a finalist spot for the Manning Award.

Ezeudu earned an All-ACC third team selection in 2020 after starting in ten games, as well as earning the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week award on December 14. He is part of a UNC offensive line that will return all of its starters.

The Tar Heels’ defense is also returning nearly all of its starters for the 2021 season, including Grimes, who made four starts at defensive back last year. The former five-star recruit had a standout performance against Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl, tallying three tackles, two pass break-ups and a sack.

The release of the preseason All-ACC Team follows the Monday release of ACC media members’ votes on favorites to win the conference. UNC was voted the team most likely to win the ACC Coastal division, earning 109 of 147 first-place votes, and also earned the second-most votes to win the ACC Championship Game.

The Carolina football program will begin its 2021 season on Friday, September 3, with a trip to play away at Virginia Tech.


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