June 27, 2006
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Five Wake Forest football players were named to Street & Smith's preseason All-America teams, the magazine announced on Tuesday. Senior offensive tackle Steve Vallos was a third team selection and a first team preseason All-ACC pick. Junior linebacker Jon Abbate, senior safety Josh Gattis, junior defensive end Matt Robinson and sophomore placekicker Sam Swank earned All-America honorable mention.
Vallos, a native of Boardman, Ohio, is on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, given to college football's top lineman. Last year as a junior, he was an honorable mention All-ACC pick in his first year full-time at tackle and a first team All-ACC selection at guard as a sophomore. In 2005, Vallos was a team captain as a junior and one of only three players to start all 11 games on offense for the Deacons. He was the leader of Wake Forest's offensive line that paved the way for Chris Barclay to break the school's all-time rushing record en route to earning ACC Player of the Year honors. Vallos helped Wake Forest lead the ACC in rushing, averaging more than 197 yards per game. He graded out at 87 percent for the season with a team-best 146 knockdown blocks -- almost twice as many as anyone else on the team.
Abbate is a member of the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list as one of the top 60 defensive players in America. The native of Powder Springs, Ga., was a member of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list and earned All-ACC honorable mention as a sophomore last season. Abbate is the first player to lead the Demon Deacons in tackles in consecutive seasons since 1993-94 and the first player to ever to do as a freshman and sophomore. In 2005, Abbate played through injuries to his hamstring, shoulder and a gashed nose but averaged 7.7 tackles per game to lead Wake Forest and rank 10th in the ACC in that category.
Gattis, a native of Durham, N.C., was an honorable mention Sports Illustrated All-American and a second team All-ACC selection as a junior. He was named Wake Forest's "Most Outstanding Back" and led the ACC with 15 special teams tackles. Gattis led the team, tied for second in the ACC and ranked eighth nationally with five interceptions. He was one of only three players in the country to return two interceptions for touchdowns. Gattis tied for the team lead and ranked third in the ACC with 12 pass break-ups. He recorded 72 tackles, the second-most on the team. Gattis intercepted passes in three straight games against Boston College, NC State and Duke. He took the ones against the Eagles and the Wolfpack back for touchdowns.
Robinson has been Wake Forest's top pass rusher for the past two seasons. Last year, he was one of just three players to start all 11 games on defense. The native of Cedartown, Ga., led the Deacons with 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He totaled 36 tackles, tops among defensive linemen. Robinson batted down four passes and forced one fumble. His two best games came against Florida State and NC State. Against the Seminoles, Robinson had four tackles with two sacks, two tackles for loss, forced a fumble and batted down a pass. In the NC State game, he recorded a season-high seven tackles with two for loss and a sack. Robinson broke his kneecap in the season finale against Miami and missed the spring season.
Swank, a native of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist as a rookie in 2005. He was a first team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News, CollegeFootballNews.com and Scout.com. Swank was named to The Sporting News' ACC All-Freshman Team and received one vote for ACC Rookie of the Year. He hit the third-longest and fourth-longest field goals in school history with a 52-yarder against Miami and a 51-yarder at Nebraska. Swank broke the school freshman record for scoring (86 points) and made 11 consecutive field goal attempts to break a school record (beginning Oct. 8 at Florida State and ending November 12 vs. Miami). His 19 field goals were the most in a single season in Wake Forest history and his 79.2 percent accuracy and 24 attempts were the second-highest in school history. Swank's 86 points were the third-most in school history, the most by ever by a kicker, the most by any Deacon since Larry Russell in 1981 (94) and the fifth-most by a freshman in ACC history behind only two kickers, Nick Novak of Maryland and Scott Bentley of Florida State, both of whom played in the NFL.