Boston College junior middle linebacker Luke Kuechly edged out NC State sophomore cornerback David Amerson for the ACC defensive player of the year award Wednesday.
Kuechly was named on 30 of 45 ballots by the ACC Sports Media Association. Amerson, the nation's leader in interceptions with 11, placed second with 14 and Duke safety Matt Daniels had the other vote.
Amerson entered his sophomore season with zero interceptions, but exploded to tie the ACC single season mark of 11, which was set by North Carolina cornerback Dre Bly in 1996. Amerson tacked on 54 tackles, one tackle for loss and five defensive breakups. He also returned his 11 interceptions for 140 yards.
Kuechly averaged 15.92 tackles per game for Boston College, which won three of its final five games to finish at 4-8. The figure is almost certain to set an NCAA single-season record. In order to catch Kuechly, his nearest competitor, Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner, will need to make 73 stops over his final two contests.
Kuechly's total of 191 tackles fell two short of the NCAA mark, and his career achievements are equally compelling. In only three seasons, he has been credited with 532 stops; that's the second-highest total by an FBS player since the NCAA began compiling individual tackling statistics in 2000. He has done that in only three seasons and has another year of eligibility remaining.
Kuechly punctuated his 2011 season with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown at Miami in which he stiff-armed a defender for the final 15 yards last Friday.
Voting for the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Rookie of the Year award, as voted on by 45 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
ACC defensive player of the year:
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (30)
David Amerson, CB, NC State (14)
Matt Daniels, S, Duke (1)