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Darian “Duce” Chestnut has been named Atlantic Coast Conference Co-Rookie of the Week, joining Wake Forest defensive end Jasheen Davis. Syracuse’s true freshman cornerback finished with eight tackles and an interception in the Orange’s season-opening 29-9 win over Ohio.
Chestnut also had a team-high five solo tackles, a pass breakup and 0.5 tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus ranked him the top true freshman in the nation during week one.
The Camden, New Jersey native was the third SU true freshman defensive back to start in a season opener for the Orange in over 35 years.
Babers said on Monday that Chestnut received the game ball for Syracuse as the best defensive player during the win.
“In 35 years, I have never seen anybody — I’ve never even heard of anybody getting a game ball in their first collegiate game,” Babers said. “It’s something that you don’t anticipate, you could’ve never thought of, and doggone glad it happened. We’re really glad he’s here.”
After Saturday’s game, Babers said he yelled at Chestnut for not wrapping up when making a tackle early in the game. But Chestnut rebounded, earning a thumbs-up from his coach on the following series and finishing his collegiate debut with an impressive stat line.
“You can poke that bear, and boy did he come around and start playing,” Babers said. “I’m not sure I’ve seen a better opening day performance, especially with how many tackles he had.”
Syracuse plays its home opener this Saturday when Rutgers travels to the Dome for the teams’ first matchup in a decade.
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