CLEMSON — A half-dozen Clemson players are on preseason watch lists, and they represent the strengths the Tigers boast for experience in key areas.
Clemson Players on Watch Lists
Fred Biletnikoff (Wide Receiver)
Lou Groza (Kicker)
Chandler Catanzaro, Sr.
Maxwell (Player of the Year)
Tajh Boyd, Sr.
Sammy Watkins, Jr.
Davey O’Brien (Quarterback)
Outland (Offensive Lineman)
Rotary Lombardi (Interior Lineman)
Walter Camp (Player of the Year)
The three seniors expected to excel on a national level are quarterback Tajh Boyd, left tackle Brandon Thomas and kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Three juniors with their name already on the radar are wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Charone Peake, and defensive end Vic Beasley.
Boyd, the returning ACC Player of the Year, was named a candidate for the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards — both honoring the best player in the nation via various clubs — as well as the Davey O’Brien Award for top quarterback. Boyd is a two-time semifinalist in the O’Brien voting.
The Tigers’ veteran passer was joined on the Maxwell and Walter Camp lists by his top target, Watkins, hoping to rekindle his ridiculous freshman year numbers that garnered him All-American status.
Surprisingly, one of Watkins’ sidekicks also cracked the Fred Biletnikoff list: Peake recorded 25 catches for 172 yards last year, but his role could increase with the departure of first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins.
Thomas will vie for Outland and Rotary Lombardi accolades, Catanzaro competes for the Lou Groza (he was a semifinalist last year) and Beasley is a dark horse candidate for defensive player of the year as noted by the Chuck Bednarik Award. Beasley didn’t make a similar list for the Bronco Nagurski trophy.
Clemson, coming off an 11-2 season, did not name anybody to award watch lists honoring running backs (Doak Walker), tight ends (John Mackey), centers (Rimington), defensive backs (Jim Thorpe), linebackers (Butkus) or punters (Ray Guy).
Award winners will be announced sporadically in the season’s later months in various cities and venues.
Just three Clemson players have ever taken home a prestigious postseason individual honor. Free safety Terry Kinard was named CBS’ defensive player of the year in 1982; defensive end Da’Quan Bowers earned the Nagurski and Ted Hendricks (defensive end) awards in 2010; and tight end Dwayne Allen took the Mackey in 2011. All three men were first-team All-Americans.