Don Cherry an All-America linebacker

Don Cherry out of Trumbull High had seven tackles from his linebacker position when the Villanova University football team lost to the University of Connecticut, 20-15, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Thursday night.

Team MVP, Cherry led Trumbull High to the Class LL state finals in 2010, where the Eagles lost to Xavier High of Middletown 24-13. He was first-team All-FCIAC and All-County.

Cherry started all 14 games at linebacker in 2014 for Villanova. He registered 134 total tackles (82 solo), 21.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles, one interception and a fumble recovery. He tallied double figures in tackles in seven of the 14 games, including a career-high tying 16 tackles in a quarterfinal loss to Sam Houston State.

Cherry, 6-1, 240-pounds,  finished second in the final voting with 253 points, including 13 first place votes for the 2014 Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to the top defensive player in FCS (Division I AA) football. North Dakota State senior defensive end Kyle Emanuel won the award with 495 votes and 70 first place votes.

He earned first team All-America honors from the Sports Network, Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation. A first team All-CAA honoree, Cherry was also named a second team Capital One Academic All-American after he became the first Villanova Wildcat in four years to register at least 100 tackles in a single season. His 134 tackles ranks as the 10th best single season effort in program history.

As a sophomore, Cherry had 12½ tackles for a loss and 99 total tackles. He followed that up in 2014 with 134 tackles, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and 21½ tackles for a loss.

In addition to being named to the Academic All-America Team, Cherry is a three-time Dean's List member and he was the Villanova Student-Athlete of the Month in December of 2014.

"Don Cherry is the epitome of what a student-athlete should be. He is a highly motivated student who excels in the classroom, in addition to being a standout on the football field," said Wildcat head coach Andy Talley on the Villanova Wildcat website. "You would be hard pressed to find a better linebacker than Don Cherry. He is a true All-American who is very deserving of this honor."