What does preseason All-American status really mean? Well, I guess it means as much as a team being ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls.
“It just doesn’t matter,” as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has said so eloquently over the years.
However, there is some honor in being a preseason All-American. It is a status given to a player who has earned that right based on what he has already done in his career and what potentially he could become in the future.
Clemson has two such first-team preseason All-Americans to this point. Street & Smith and Athlon have quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne listed as first-team All-Americans in their preseason magazines.
Wide receiver Justyn Ross was listed as a second-team All-American by Street & Smith, and on the third-team offense by Athlon. Defensive tackle Tyler Davis is listed as second-team preseason All-American by Athlon.
By the way, Clemson is ranked No. 1 in both of the magazines’ preseason top 25 polls.
Ross is a perfect example why preseason honors do not matter as much, though it is nice to see the young man get recognized for his career and potential to this point. Ross of course will miss the entire 2020 season after undergoing spine and back surgery on June 5.
To be fair, these magazines were either already out or already in the production process when Swinney announced the unfortunate news on June 1.
However, having four players listed on preseason All-American teams should not be taken lightly either. Obviously, all four players have earned those honors.
In his two years to this point, Lawrence is 25-1 as Clemson’s starting quarterback. He led the Tigers to a national championship in 2018, the first team since 1897 to post a perfect 15-0 record. He was the ACC Rookie of the Year that season. He followed that up by leading the Tigers back to the national championship game and a 14-1 record last season.
Lawrence, who is also the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, earned first-team All-ACC status as well. He has already moved into the top 4 in Clemson history in passing yards, sixth in attempts, fourth in completions, fourth in completion percentage, fifth in yards per attempt, third in touchdown passes and first in interception avoidance and passing efficiency.
Etienne, who already owns just about every Clemson rushing record in the book, now has an opportunity to re-write the record books in the ACC, as well. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back is just 565 yards shy of breaking the ACC’s all-time rushing record and 795 yards short of becoming the all-time leader in yards from scrimmage.
The two-time ACC Player of the Year already holds the ACC records for total touchdowns in a single season and a career, as well as rushing touchdowns in a career. Etienne has rushed for 4,038 yards, a Clemson record, and scored 62 total touchdowns.
In his freshman campaign, Davis proved he was one of the best defensive tackles in the country. He was the first true freshman at defensive tackle to start a game since 1974. When the season was all said and done, he became the first freshman defensive lineman to start 13 games in a season. He played in all 15 games for the Tigers.
Davis earned second-team All-ACC honors after he totaled 51 tackles, including nine for loss. He also had 5.5 sacks, which ranked second on the team behind Isaiah Simmons’ eight. He added six quarterback pressures, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
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