The Atlantic Coast Conference released the media’s picks for the preseason All-ACC team on Tuesday, and two players from Duke football’s defense made the list.
When Duke football coach David Cutcliffe took over the reigns of the Blue Devils’ sideline in 2008, he was able to drastically improve the win total of the program compared to previous seasons by instantly implementing successful schemes on offense. However, he quickly realized that changing the way the Blue Devils play on the other side of the ball would take a little more time.
Well, the time has now arrived when Duke’s most highly regarded returning talent comes from the defense. The ACC announced on Tuesday that Blue Devils linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and cornerback Mark Gilbert are both on the preseason All-ACC team.
More from Ball Durham
- Duke basketball: The architect behind digital dominance
- Duke basketball prioritizing frontcourt prospects in 2025
- Duke basketball: Unmasking the hate for the Blue Devils
- Duke basketball: Countdown to Craziness lands another huge visitor
- Duke basketball fills final open scholarship
Giles-Harris, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound redshirt junior from Nyack, NY, received two votes from the media to win ACC Player of the Year, putting him in a tie for sixth for that honor. He is just one of two returning players in the nation who had at least 125 tackles and 15 tackles for a loss last season. His 232 career tackles are the most among all returning players in the ACC. Lindy’s Sports has Giles-Harris listed as the third-best outside linebacker in the country. He is also projected by several publications to be a second-team All-American.
Gilbert, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior from Fayetteville, NC, will be the leader of the defensive backs after snatching six interceptions last season. Also, he became the only Duke player in history last season to have at least five interceptions while breaking up at least 15 passes. Lindy’s Sports has Gilbert ranked as the fourth-best cornerback in the country. Street & Smith’s has him listed as a preseason first-team All-American.
Both Giles-Harris and Gilbert finished the 2017 season as first-team All-ACC selections. They will be called upon once again to be leaders of a defense that many believe will be one of the top units in the country.