While Clemson lost some outstanding players off its 2016 National Championship team, the Tigers do return some talented athletes according to four nationally recognized media agencies. Nine current Clemson players are ranked among the top 125 for the 2017 by at least one national service that covers college football.
Six of the nine are on the defensive side of the ball, including three defensive linemen. Six of the nine are either offensive or defensive linemen, indicating the Tigers could be strong in the trenches in 2017.
Sophomore defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is ranked in the top 20 nationally according to all four services. The 2016 unanimous Freshman All-American is ranked as the eighth best overall player in the nation by Sporting News, 12th by Sports Illustrated, 17th by ESPN and 18th by NFL.com. Lawrence set a Clemson true freshman record for sacks last year with seven and ranked second among Clemson defensive linemen in total tackles with 78.
Lawrence’s runningmate at defensive tackle is Christian Wilkins. The junior earned first-team All-America honors last year as a defensive end when he had 56 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and a Clemson defensive lineman record 10 passes broken up. Wilkins is ranked eighth nationally by ESPN, 30th by Sports Illustrated and Sporting News and 36th by NFL.com.
Starting offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt is a third Clemson lineman with rankings in at least three of the polls. Hyatt is ranked as the 27th best overall player in the nation by NFL.com, 35th by Sporting News and 58th by Sports Illustrated. Last year Hyatt became the first sophomore offensive lineman in Clemson history to earn first-team All-ACC honors.
Deon Cain and Kendall Joseph are two more Tigers listed as top 75 players by two websites. Cain, who had nine touchdown receptions as a back to Mike Williams last year, is ranked 55th by NFL.com and 67th by Si.com. Joseph, Clemson’s top returning tackler from 2016, is ranked 73rd by NFL.com and Sports Illustrated.
Other Clemson players receiving national rankings from at least one of the services are Clelin Ferrell, 33rd by Sports Illustrated, Tyrone Crowder, 125th by NFL.com, Van Smith, 116th by NFL.com and Mark Fields, 124th by NFL.com.
Summary of Top 125 Rankings by Clemson Player for 2017
Dexter Lawrence, So, DT, #8 by Sporting News; No. 12 by Sports Illustrated; No. 17 by ESPN; No. 18 by NFL.com.
Christian Wilkins, Jr, DT, #8 by ESPN; #30 by Sporting News; #30 by Sports Illustrated; #36 by NFL.com.
Mitch Hyatt, Jr, OT, #27 by NFL.com; #35 by Sporting News; #58 by Sports Illustrated.
Deon Cain, Jr, WR, #55 by NFL.com; #67 by Sports Illustrated
Kendall Joseph, Jr., LB, #73 by NFL.com; #73 by Sports Illustrated.
Clelin Ferrell, Soph, DE, #33 by Sports Illustrated.
Van Smith, Jr., FS, #116 by NFL:.com
Mark Fields, Soph, CB, #124 by NFL.com
Tyrone Crowder, Gr., OG, #125 by NFL:.com