Clemson, S.C.—Clemson defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence have both been named to the 2017 Walter Camp National Player of the Year Watch List. Both have also been named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which goes to the top interior lineman in college football.
Only nine defensive players were named to the Walter Camp Watch List and Wilkins and Lawrence were two of the nine. Clemson was the only school in the nation with two defensive players on the watch list.
Wilkins and Lawrence will form one of the top defensive tackle combinations in the nation. Wilkins was a first-team All-American end last year, but will move inside as a junior. He was a finalist for the Nagurski Award last year. Lawrence was the ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous freshman All-American. Both have been named preseason All-Americans for 2017.
Wilkins had 13 tackles for loss and 10 passes deflected last year, while Lawrence had seven sacks, a record for a Clemson true freshman.
“We are proud to continue the great work of Walter Camp and recognize the best college football players in the nation,” Foundation president Michael Madera said. “This watch list is a great start to what is shaping up to be another exciting year of college football.”
The watch list will be narrowed to 10 semi-finalists in mid-November. The 2017 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, which is voted on by the 260 NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced on Thursday, December 7. The winner will then receive his trophy at the Foundation’s 51st annual national awards banquet on January 13, 2018 in New Haven.
William Corbin’s Take:
Three defensive players have won the award since its inception in 1967: Hugh Green (1980, Linebacker, Pittsburgh), Charles Woodson (1997, Cornerback, Michigan), and Manti Te’o (2012, Linebacker, Notre Dame). Additionally, a defensive lineman has never won the award. While Lawrence and Wilkins are some of the best players at their position in the nation, their chances of winning are slim. However, this is still an impressive honor and a good sign for Clemson’s season.