UNC Football: Tar Heels’ punter Tom Sheldon earns freshman All-America honors

UNC punter Tom Sheldon named FWAA Freshman All-America

UNC freshman punter Tom Sheldon is already a fan favorite in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but he’s being recognized nationally as well.

On Monday, Sheldon was voted to the 2016 Freshman All-America team by the Football Writers Association of America.

The Tar Heels had the nation’s No. 1 punt return defense this season and Sheldon was a big part of that. His 50 punts had an average of 42.7 yards and none were returned longer than three yards. In fact, just nine of his punts were returned for a total of two yards.

Oct 8, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels punter Tom Sheldon (39) punts as Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Brandon Facyson (31) pressures at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

You read that correctly. Just nine of his 50 punts were returned for a net total of two yards. That’s a pretty impressive feat for a freshman punter who left his home town in Australia to join the Tar Heels last summer.

He apparently needed very little time to transition to American football, a sport in which he had never played until arriving in the United States only a handful of months ago.

In November against Duke, Sheldon dropped four punts inside the 20-yard-line and downed one of them on the Blue Devils’ one-yard-line.

Luckily for Tar Heel Nation, Sheldon has three more years of eligibility and a lot of gas left in the tank.

The FWAA’s 16th annual Freshman All-America Team features 34 first-year players, including five from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Big Ten and SEC each had six members on the team and the Pac 12 had five.

The complete list can be seen here.

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