The list included the entire college football season, including all postseason bowl games and the College Football Playoff.
Clemson had the most players in the ESPN Final top 50 with six, followed by Alabama with five and LSU and Washington with four. Ohio State and Southern California were next with three apiece. The list also shows the challenge of Clemson’s schedule as the Tigers played against 14 of the 44 possible opponents on the list.
Watson, who was the number-one ranked player by ESPN in the preseason, finished the year completing 388 of 579 passes for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns. He ranked second in the nation in completions, third in passing yards and third in touchdown passes. His 41 touchdown passes set an ACC record.
Watson also led the nation in passing yards in games against ranked teams with 2,479, led in touchdown passes against ranked teams with 18, and led the nation in passing yards and touchdown passes against teams that finished the season with a winning record. He threw for 3,925 yards and 30 touchdowns against teams with winning records. In the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech and College Football Playoff wins over Ohio State and Alabama he threw for 967 yards and seven touchdowns.
Five other Clemson players were in the final top 50. Mike Williams, Clemson’s top receiver with 98 catches for 1361 yards and 11 scores, was rated 14th. Christian Wilkins, who made the list as a sophomore defensive end, ranked 23rd in the final list after a No. 85 preseason ranking. He will be the only one of the six to return to the Clemson team in 2017.
All-American linebacker Ben Boulware was unranked in the preseason, but finished No. 30. He led Clemson in tackles this year with 131 and was the Defensive Player of the Game in Clemson’s National Championship victory over Alabama.
All-American defensive tackle Carlos Watkins was 35th on the list. He set a Clemson record for sacks in a season by a defensive tackle with 10.5, including two in the win over Ohio State in the National Semifinal Playoff game at the Fiesta Bowl.
Cornerback Cordrea Tankersely was ranked No. 48 in the listing. Tankersely was a first-team All-American according to USA Today and led the Clemson team in passes broken up with 1. He was a big reason Clemson finished fourth in the nation in pass efficiency defense.