Kiser, Blanding, Conte recognized on All-ACC first team
The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association named junior safety Quin Blanding, junior linebacker Micah Kiser and senior punter Nicholas Conte to the All-ACC first team Monday afternoon. Senior running back Taquan Mizzell earned a spot on the list of 19 offensive honorable mentions.
Mizzell totaled 940 yards on the ground and 404 by way of the catch in his senior campaign, becoming the first player in ACC history to reach both 1,500 yards receiving and rushing. His 52 receptions led Virginia and gave Mizzell the ACC record for most catches by a running back at 195.
Blanding and Kiser both repeat as first teamers — the first time any Cavalier has accomplished such a feat since cornerback Chase Minnifield did so in 2010 and 2011. By the end of the regular season, Blanding’s 120 total tackles ranked seventh in the nation and second in the ACC behind only Kiser.
Outpacing his teammate in tackles for the second straight season, Kiser recorded 134 — the second-highest total in college football. The semifinalist for both the Butkus Award and the Lott IMPACT trophy also recovered two fumbles. Kiser’s 6.5 sacks places him tenth in the country at his position.
After being recognized as an ACC honorable mention in 2015, Conte put together one of the greatest seasons in an illustrious history of Cavalier punters. His 34 punts inside the 20 rank first in the nation, while Conte’s 44.3 punting average is good for first in the ACC and tops in the Virginia record books.
Conte is set to graduate in the spring from Virginia. Rising seniors Kiser and Blanding are eligible to enter the NFL Draft, though the linebacker has said before he’ll “be in [the safety’s] ear” about staying for a final season. Coach Bronco Mendenhall would certainly love to have both headliners back.