NORFOLK, Va. – The expectations for D’Vonte Graham keep rising. A month after being named a preseason All-American by Sports Network, his name appears twice on the MEAC’s preseason all-conference first team.
Graham was voted a first-team cornerback and return specialist by MEAC head coaches and sports information directors. The preseason team was announced Friday at the annual Preseason MEAC Football Luncheon at Norfolk’s Waterside Marriott Hotel.
Six Aggies in all were named to either first or second team. Redshirt juniors Ronald Canty (center) and William Ray Robinson III (left tackle) were named to the preseason offensive team. Seniors Tyree Hearn (defensive end), D’Vonte Grant (linebacker) and Travis Crosby (linebacker) were named second-team defense.
Graham leads a defense that was ranked No. 2 in total defense and No. 1 in pass defense in Division I-FCS last season. He is a dynamic and versatile player who scored touchdowns in four different ways last year, including on a punt return, field goal return, interception return and fumble return. As a cornerback, he picked off four passes and broke up 12. He was eighth in the nation last season in punt return average with 12.4 yards per return.
“He’s a ballplayer,” said A&T head coach Rod Broadway. “He can just play this game. As the guys can say, ‘he has that swag.’ He is a little undersized, but he is just an outstanding football player.”
Canty enters the 2013 season as one of the Aggies veteran lineman. He spent a year behind four-year starting center Brent Walker before taking over the job in 2011. He started 10 of 11 games and snapped the ball 673 times. Robinson was a first-team All-MEAC selection in 2012. As the primary protector of A&T quarterbacks’ blindside, he led an offensive line that surrendered only 13 sacks.
Hearn is the only returning starter from an Aggies defensive line that was instrumental in the Aggies’ No. 2 nationally-ranked rush defense. In starting all 11 games, Hearn led the Aggies in quarterback hurries (7) and made eight tackles for loss. He also recovered two fumbles and forced another.
Grant has become one of the best linebackers in the MEAC, leading the Aggies in total tackles the past two seasons. He was a second-team All-MEAC selection in 2012. Crosby is one of the hardest hitters in the MEAC. He led the Aggies in tackles per game (8.7) and was fourth in the conference. He earned second-team All-MEAC honors as a safety in 2012, but will play both linebacker and safety in 2013.
“Travis Crosby is one of our best students and best football players,” said Broadway. “He plays hard and plays with passion. He leads well. He’ll knock you out if he gets a chance.”
The Aggies open the season in Boone, N.C., when they take on Appalachian State, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. They come home a week later to face Piedmont rival Elon at 6 p.m. For ticket information please call the A&T ticket office at (336) 334-7749.