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Clemson DTs racking up preseason honors

Clemson defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins continue to get all the preseason love. On Monday, the two Tigers were both selected to the 2017 Preseason Bednarik Award Watch list, which is given annually to the nation’s best defensive player.

Wilkins was also one of 11 ACC players selected to the Maxwell Award Watch list as well. He, along with Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and Florida State safety Derwin James, was named to both watch lists by the Maxwell Football Club.

In all 29 ACC players were on the two lists with a record 18 on the Bednarik Award list, the most of any conference. Last week, Lawrence and Wilkins were both named to Sports Illustrated’s freakish athletes list as well best defensive players in college football. Both are also listed as Preseason First-Team All-Americans by Athlon Magazine.

The two anchor the interior of Clemson’s defensive line which is considered by some to be the best in the country. Defensive ends Clelin Ferrell, last year’s Defensive MVP in the Fiesta Bowl, and Austin Bryant also return for a defense that led the country in total tackles for loss and was third in sacks. The Tigers also led the ACC in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense and ranked eighth nationally in total defense and 10th in scoring defense.

In the spring, Wilkins moved back inside after spending all of last year at defensive end due to a foot injury Bryant suffered in preseason camp. Wilkins finished with 56 tackles and was second on the team with 13 tackles for loss in the Tigers’ run to a national championship. He had 3.5 sacks and 20 quarterback pressures. He also batted down 10 passes on his way to being named a second-team All-American.

As for Lawrence, he was named the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the year in 2016 after he tallied 78 tackles from his nose tackle position, including 9.5 tackles behind the line and seven sacks. He also had 13 quarterback pressures and batted down four passes.

Lawrence was named a Freshman First-Team All-American at the end of the season.

This year marks the 81st annual Maxwell Award and the 23rd annual Bednarik Award. The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official.

The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of ’69 and the NFL Hall of Fame’s Class of ’67.

ACC Players Selected to the 2017 Preseason Bednarik Award Watch List:

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Quin Blanding, S, Virginia

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest

Ben Humphreys, LB, Duke

Derwin James, DB, Florida State

Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State

Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami

Shaq Quarterman, LB, Miami

M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida State

Jordan Whitehead, S, Pitt

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

ACC Players Selected to the 2017 Preseason Maxwell Award Watch List:

Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse

Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

Quadree Henderson, WR-KR, Pitt

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Derwin James, DB, Florida State

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

Dedrick Mills, RB, Georgia Tech

Jaylen Samuels, AP, NC State

Mark Walton, RB, Miami

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

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