Athlon leaves 2017 First-Team All-American off its preseason list
It is no surprise Clemson led the way, along with Washington, with three Preseason First-Team All-Americans in Athlon’s Preseason All-American list. What is surprising was who they left off all three of their All-American teams in their annual preseason magazine.
Offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, along with defensive end Clelin Ferrell and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins were named to the magazine’s first-team, while defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was named to the third team All-American squad.
Missing from this prestigious group is Clemson’s fourth man from a defensive line that is considered to be the best in the country. Athlon even says it’s the best in the nation. Then why isn’t defensive end Austin Bryant on one of Athlon’s All-American teams?
I’m sure Bryant made other publications All-American teams, so I’m sure his feelings are not hurt. But, how did Athlon drop the ball here? It’s not like Bryant isn’t coming off an All-American season. It’s not like he is an obscured player who came out of nowhere this spring and stole a starting job alongside Wilkins, Lawrence and Ferrell.
No, Bryant was a First-Team All-American in 2017. His credentials are better than Lawrence’s at this moment.
By the way, he was not First-Team All-American on some no-name publication. Instead, he was a First-Team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America. He was voted on the second team by the Walter Camp Foundation and third team by the Associated Press. Those are three of the five most prestigious All-American teams in the country.
But Athlon says he is not an All-American candidate this year? It makes me wonder did Athlon drop the ball here and forget about Bryant. They don’t even have him listed as a first-team All-ACC player when he was a second-team All-ACC selection last year.
Granted, he was put on their second-team All-ACC preseason list, but I think Clemson’s entire defensive line should be First-Team All-ACC. Look at the numbers and how they play, they deserve it.
Wilkins, Lawrence and Ferrell were all named First-Team All-ACC by Athlon so why not Bryant?
Maybe they did not want to have an All-Clemson defensive line on the All-ACC First-Team, and I can understand that reasoning. However, if I was going to leave a guy off—and I wouldn’t—based on what they did last year, classification (years in school), performance and health questions, I would leave Lawrence off, not Bryant.
Bryant was tied for third in the ACC with 8.5 sacks last year and tied for fifth in tackles for loss with 15.5. He started and played in all 14 games.
Because of injuries he battled all last season, which also held him out a little in the spring, Lawrence’s numbers dropped significantly from his freshman season to his sophomore year.
In 2016, as a freshman, Lawrence totaled 79 tackles. He had 9.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks and 23 quarterback pressures. In 2017, his numbers dropped significantly, as he had just 39 tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and just five quarterback pressures. He also missed two games.
Don’t get me wrong here. I think Lawrence, when healthy, is the best player on the defensive line at Clemson. However, if there was a guy I had to leave off preseason All-American teams based off what I know happened last year and in the spring, Lawrence is the guy I would leave off, not Bryant. There are too many questions surrounding Lawrence.
Bryant on the other hand had a tremendous 2017 season and is coming back to Clemson a year older and wiser.
I think Athlon made a mistake and I believe Bryant will prove them wrong this coming season.
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