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UC's Smith, three other Bearcats named to All-AAC football teams

UC punter James Smith earned a spot on the AAC first team. (UC Athletics)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Four University of Cincinnati football student-athletes earned All-American Athletic Conference honors, the AAC announced Wednesday.

Punter James Smith earned a spot on the first team. Offensive tackle Korey Cunningham and linebacker Jaylyin Minor were tabbed for second-team honors and defensive tackle Marquise Copeland drew honorable mention accolades.

The four all-conference selections is the Bearcats most since seven players were tabbed for awards in 2015.

Smith, a true freshman, kicked 64 times for a 42.0 per kick average with a long boot of 65 yards. He had 33 punts fair caught, dropped 21 inside the 20-yard line and booted nine kicks for 50 or more yards. The Bearcats led the league in punting, with a net average of 41.0 yards per punt. UC was one of four teams nationally to not have a touchback on a punt in 2017.

Cunningham is one of UC’s 2017 senior tri-captains. He closed his career out starting 24-straight games at left tackle and racked up 33 career appearances. He anchored an offensive line that gave up nine less sacks than it did a year ago, ranking in the top half of the league. Cunningham arrived at UC in 2013 as a 220 pound tight end and through hard work and dedication, worked his way into a 315 pound offensive lineman. He earned UC's Jim Kelly Spirit Award at the team's postseason senior awards banquet.

Minor put together a career season in 2017. He entered the season with 21 career appearances, mostly on special teams and only one start. Elected one of UC’s senior tri-captains, he won the starting middle linebacker job in the spring, started all 12 games and led the American Athletic Conference with 125 tackles. He had double-digit stops in seven games, including a career-high 16 against Temple. He also had 4.5 tackles for a loss, two pass break ups, a fumble recovery and a sack.

Copeland was a 12-game starter in 2017, setting career highs with 63 tackles, 8.0 tackles for a loss and a team-high 3.5 sacks. He set a career high with 10 tackles and a QB hurry against UConn in the season finale.

Information courtesy UC Athletics

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