Six Clemson players on preseason watch lists; Boyd, Watkins each named 3 times

BY AARON BRENNERabrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – A half-dozen Clemson players are on preseason watch lists, and they represent the strengths the Tigers boast for experience in key areas.

The three seniors expected to excel on a national level are quarterback Tajh Boyd, left tackle Brandon Thomas and kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Three juniors with their name already on the radar are wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Charone Peake and defensive end Vic Beasley.

Boyd, the returning ACC Player of the Year, was named a candidate for the Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards – both honoring the best player in the nation via various clubs – as well as the Davey O’Brien Award for top quarterback. Boyd is a two-time semifinalist in the O’Brien voting.

The Tigers’ veteran passer was joined on the Maxwell and Walter Camp lists by his top target, Watkins, hoping to rekindle his ridiculous freshman year numbers that garnered him All-American status.

Surprisingly, one of Watkins’ sidekicks also cracked the Fred Biletkinoff list: Peake recorded 25 catches for 172 yards last year, but his role could increase with the departure of first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins.

Thomas will vie for Outland and Rotary Lombardi accolades, Catanzaro competes for the Lou Groza (he was a semifinalist last year) and Beasley is a dark horse candidate for defensive player of the year as noted by the Chuck Bednarik Award. Beasley didn’t make a similar list for the Bronco Nagurski trophy.

Clemson, coming off an 11-2 season, did not name anybody to award watch lists honoring running backs (Doak Walker), tight ends (John Mackey), centers (Rimington), defensive backs (Jim Thorpe), linebackers (Butkus) or punters (Ray Guy).

Award winners will be announced sporadically in the season’s later months in various cities and venues.

Just three Clemson players have ever taken home a prestigious postseason individual honor. Free safety Terry Kinard was named CBS’ defensive player of the year in 1982; defensive end Da’Quan Bowers earned the Nagurski and Ted Hendricks (defensive end) Awards in 2010; and tight end Dwayne Allen took the Mackey in 2011. All three men were first-team All-Americans.

Clemson players on 2013 watch lists

Chuck Bednarik (defensive player)

Vic Beasley, jr.

Fred Biletkinoff (wide receiver)

Charone Peake, jr.

Sammy Watkins, jr.

Walter Camp (player of the year)

Tajh Boyd, sr.

Sammy Watkins, jr.

Lou Groza (kicker)

Chandler Catanzaro, sr.

Maxwell (player of the year)

Tajh Boyd, sr.

Sammy Watkins, jr.

Davey O’Brien (quarterback)

Tajh Boyd, sr.

Outland (offensive lineman)

Brandon Thomas, sr.

Rotary Lombardi (interior lineman)

Brandon Thomas, sr.

Counting down Clemson’s most valuable players in 2013: No. 10 TE Jordan Leggett

Jordan Leggett

BY AARON BRENNER AND DARRYL SLATER
abrenner@postandcourier.com and dslater@postandcourier.com

To help get you through college football’s slow days of late June and early July — before conference media days launch the preseason festivities — we’re counting down the 12 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 12 most important Clemson Tigers for 2013. One Gamecock and one Tiger every day, so you can spend part of your summer studying the players who will make a difference for your team come autumn. 

CLEMSON’S NO. 10 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
JORDAN LEGGETT, FRESHMAN, TIGHT END

Here’s a few things you ought to know about the relationship between Clemson and the tight end. A tight end has ranked among the team’s top three receiving leaders each of the past four years; no other ACC team, incumbent or incoming, can say that for just the past two years. With Tajh Boyd at quarterback, Clemson tight ends hauled in 21 touchdowns in 2011-12; the next-nearest ACC group is Syracuse’s 10 scores over the past two years combined, which doesn’t equal the Tigers’ total of 11 last fall.

LeggettJordanSo if you gave offensive coordinator Chad Morris the option of playing two-hand-touch in the spring game and therefore not losing presumed starter Sam Cooper for the year to a torn ACL, he snatches the opportunity without blinking. Somebody’s got to be the next stud in line behind Michael Palmer, Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford – Allen and Ford recorded eight TDs a piece in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The options are Stanton Seckinger, who’s really built more like receiver, redshirt freshman Jay Jay McCullough, and … Jordan Leggett. Don’t underestimate the value of getting  a headstart on absorbing the complex playbook of Morris – who, by the way, was Leggett’s primary recruiter. He’s already got the proper body to pound in the ACC, so if he fine-tunes his route-running, look for Boyd to look for Leggett often in 3rd-down and red-zone packages.
-Aaron Brenner

JORDAN LEGGETT
Position: Tight end
Year: Freshman
Height/weight: 6-6/235
Hometown: Navarre, Fla.
Last year: Three-star prospect enrolled in January, giving him a full spring to work out with the Tigers

Previously: No. 12 Jr. DT Grady Jarrett, No. 11 Jr. LB Stephone Anthony
COMING SATURDAY: No. 9