Watkins named ACC rookie of year; London top coach
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins is the Atlantic Coast Conference's offensive and overall rookie of the year and Virginia's Mike London is its coach of the year.
The league on Tuesday also named Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel as its defensive rookie of the year.
Watkins received 43 of a possible 45 votes cast by members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. He set league records for freshmen with 72 receptions, 1,073 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, and provided the Tigers' productive offense with its top big-play threat.
London had 31 votes to win the top coaching award, with Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer receiving 12 votes and Clemson's Dabo Swinney receiving two.
In London's second season, the Cavaliers contended for the Coastal Division title until the final week and enter their bowl game with an 8-4 record -- a reversal of their 4-8 finish in 2010. He became the ninth Virginia coach to win the award -- the most among ACC schools -- and first since Al Groh did it in 2007.
He said he was "both honored and humbled" by the award.
"More than anything, I am extremely proud of the performance by our players and coaches," London said. "This is really a reflection on their efforts this year. Quite honestly, I do not think there were very many people outside of our locker room who felt we could go into the final week of the season with a chance to advance to the ACC championship game. As a coach, you live for the kind of moments where your team buys in, puts in the work and the effort and sees the positive results that come from it."
Noel led the nation in passes defended for the Demon Deacons, and received 31 votes for the defensive honor. Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan was second with seven, followed by Miami defensive end Anthony Chickillo with five.
The ACC will announce its overall, offensive and defensive players of the year Wednesday.