Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel is the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year as announced by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association on Tuesday.
Noel led the nation in passes defended for the Demon Deacons, and received 31 votes. Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan was second with seven, followed by Miami defensive end Anthony Chickillo with five. Noel's total of 20 defended passes is the highest by an FBS freshman in the nine seasons in which the NCAA has kept the statistic on a weekly basis.
Noel should have been a no-brainer for this award, and he is is a product of the Pahokee pipeline. He's also the closest thing the Deacs have seen to Alphonso Smith since Smith left. And he won't be a secret next season.