Running back Travis Etienne named second-team selection
Three Clemson football players were named First-Team All-Americans by the Associated Press on Monday, while one more was named to the second team.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins were both named to the first-team, along with left tackle Mitch Hyatt on the offensive line. Running back Travis Etienne, the ACC Player of the Year, was named as a second-team selection by the media who vote for the AP.
This is the second straight year Ferrell has been named as a First-Team All-American by the AP voters. Wilkins and Hyatt were both second-team selections on the AP All-American Team last year.
Clemson’s four selections were the second most of any team, trailing Alabama, who had six. The Tigers’ four overall selections were also second to top-ranked Alabama.
Second-ranked Clemson will play No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 as part of the College Football Playoff Semifinals. Alabama will play No. 4 Oklahoma, who also had four players on the All-American team.
Ferrell, the ACC’s Defensive Player of Year, recorded 75 tackles from his defensive end spot and had a team-high 17 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks, which led the ACC. The Ted Hendricks Award winner also deflected seven passes and forced two fumbles.
Ferrell and Wilkins lead a Clemson unit that tops the ACC and is tied for second in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 13.7 points per game. Clemson’s rushing defense is also atop the ACC, limiting opposing teams to 93 yards per game on the ground, which is the third best average in the nation.
The Tigers rank second in the ACC and fourth in the nation in total defense, limiting offenses to 276.8 yards per game.
A two-year team captain, Wilkins was a finalist for the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy, he has amassed 45 tackles on the season, including 13.5 tackles for loss. He is also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and has five sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries to his name this year.
Wilkins, who was named the recipient of the Campbell Trophy last week as the nation’s top scholar football player, was the runner-up for both the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, both of which went to his teammates Etienne and Ferrell.
Wilkins is the first Clemson football player in history to be named a first-team All-American by at least one of the five major All-America teams (AP, Coaches, Writers, Walter Camp, Sporting News) three different seasons.
Hyatt, who was named as the recipient of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC’s best offensive lineman, helped lead an offensive line that has been very dominant for much of the year. The Tigers rank second in the ACC in rushing, averaging 259.8 yards per game, the best season-average on the ground in 30 years at Clemson.
The Tigers had five 300-yard rushing games this year, tying the school record set by the 1978 team. They also need just 93 yards in the Cotton Bowl to pass the 1978 team for the most total rushing yards in one season.
The offensive line has done well with protecting quarterback Trevor Lawrence. With Hyatt leading the way, the Tigers have allowed just 14 sacks in 13 games, which is third in the ACC and is tied for 14th nationally.
Etienne led the ACC with 1,463 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns on his way to being named the league’s Player of the Year. He also led the league with 22 touchdowns overall. He also averaged 8.3 yards per carry and 112.5 yards per game to lead the league in both categories.
The sophomore rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns on his way to being named the MVP of the ACC Championship Game in the Tigers’ 42-10 win over Pitt on Dec. 1. He opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.