Eley, Brooks, Thomas highlight Georgia Tech’s All-ACC selections

Georgia Tech linebacker Ayinde Eley was one of seven Yellow Jackets players to be recognized by the ACC on its all-conference team, with Eley earning second-team honors and safety LaMiles Brooks, linebacker Charlie Thomas and defensive end Keion White named to the third team.

Wide receiver Nate McCollum, running back Hassan Hall and cornerback Zamari Walton all earned honorable mention. It is the second year in a row that seven team members were recognized. It’s the first time since 2017 that three players were named to the first, second or third teams.

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A team leader, Eley finished second in the ACC with 118 tackles, including 9.5 for loss. His tackle total is also tied for 10th in FBS. His four forced fumbles are tied for most in FBS and are as many or more than seven FBS teams, according to cfbstats. His play is a product of the instincts developed as a sixth-year senior and by giving exceptional effort in practice.

In his first year as a starter, Brooks tied for third in the ACC in interceptions with three and tied for 10th in the conference in passes defended. Brooks, a solid open-field tackler and a student of the game, had 52 tackles – fourth most on the team.

Perhaps the Jackets’ most versatile player, Thomas put together a season stat line reflecting his range of ability and knack for being around the ball – 112 tackles, 10.5 for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. Since 2000, only one other FBS player had equaled or bettered each of those totals in a season.

In his first full season after transferring from Old Dominion, White lived up to the considerable hype that accompanied his arrival in January 2021. He was tied for fifth in the conference with 14 tackles for loss and tied for third with 7.5 sacks. No Tech player has reached those sack and tackle-for-loss totals in a season since Jeremiah Attaochu in 2013, when he earned All-American status.

Quick and a skilled route runner, McCollum led the Jackets with 60 catches, fifth in the ACC and most by a Tech player since Calvin Johnson in 2006. A trusted target, he caught at least five passes in nine of the 11 games that he played in. McCollum announced his decision to enter the transfer portal Monday.

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Hall, returning home to Atlanta in his first and only season as a transfer from Louisville, accumulated 900 all-purpose yards (521 rushing, 165 receiving and 214 returning kickoffs), 13th most in the ACC. He was the ball carrier on perhaps the season’s most memorable play, when no fewer than seven teammates pushed him forward on a run play against Pittsburgh to pick up a first down on a third-and-11.

In his fourth season as a starter, Walton was effective in one-on-one coverage as part of a defense that improved from 13th in the ACC in defensive completion percentage (65.4%) to fourth (58.2%). He finished with 36 tackles, six pass breakups and one interception.

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