Tomlinson becomes the 13th Blue Devil to receive the honor, joining Joel Shankle (1954), Dave Sime (1956), Mike McGee (1960), Art Heyman (1963), Jeff Mullins (1964), Danny Ferry (1988-89), Clarkston Hines (1990), Christian Laettner (1991-92), Elton Brand (1999), Shane Battier (2001), J.J. Redick (2006) and Ned Crotty (2010).
A native of Chicago, Ill., Tomlinson helped lead the Blue Devils to a school record third consecutive bowl berth and became the first member of the Duke football program since 2000 to receive multiple first team All-America citations in the same season. In April, he became Duke’s highest NFL Draft pick since 1987 by being chosen in the first round (No. 28 overall) by the Detroit Lions. Tomlinson’s selection followed a senior collegiate season in which the 6-foot-3, 330-pound guard anchored an offensive line that led the nation in fewest tackles for loss allowed per game (3.15) as Duke won nine games and earned a berth in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Tomlinson’s efforts also helped the Blue Devils lead the ACC in sacks allowed per passing attempt (36.23), and the 2014 Duke team became the first in school history to average 180-plus rushing yards and 210-plus passing yards per game.
A four-time selection to the Academic All-ACC football squad, Tomlinson earned first team All-ACC honors for the second consecutive season in 2014. The Blue Devil team captain was the recipient of the Courage Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America in conjunction with the Orange Bowl, an accolade presented annually to a player, coach or support person in college football who displays courage, on or off the field. Tomlinson also was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which recognizes community service in addition to academic and athletic achievement and finished second in the balloting for the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, an honor presented annually to the top blocker in the ACC.
Tomlinson received 10 votes from ACSMA members to lead the McKevlin Award balloting. Basketball All-American Jerian Grant of Notre Dame placed second with eight votes, while Florida State football and track & field standout Jalen Ramsey was third with seven and N.C. State wrestling national champion Nick Gwiazdowski held fourth place with five votes.
Virginia women’s soccer standout Morgan Brian claimed the 25th Mary Garber Award as the conference's finest female athlete after leading Virginia to the NCAA championship game and becoming just the fourth woman to repeat as the recipient of the MAC Hermann Trophy, an honor awarded annually to collegiate soccer’s national player of the year. Brian led the 2015 Garber Award balloting with 13 votes. Louisville swimming national champion Kelsi Worrell placed second with seven, followed by Florida State soccer standout Dagny Brynjarsdottir with five and North Carolina tennis national champion Jamie Loeb with four.
The ACC athlete of the year awards are given in memory of distinguished journalists from the region. McKevlin was a sports editor in Raleigh, N.C., and Garber, of the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the nation.