The Maxwell Award is presented each year to the college football player of the year, and the Bednarik Award goes to the top defensive player.
Watson completed 93 of 137 passes last year for 1466 yards and 14 touchdowns with just two interceptions. His passing efficiency of 188.6 led the nation among quarterbacks with at least 125 attempts and set a Clemson record given that number of attempts. He was 4-1 as a starter, including a victory over rival South Carolina in the regular season finale. The native of Gainesville, Ga., is one of seven sophomore quarterbacks from around the country on the list.
Lawson, a junior from Clemson and Daniel High School, had 44 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He played in all 13 games as a reserve behind All-American Vic Beasley, but actually had more tackles than Beasley (44-37). Lawson has had at least 10 tackles for loss as a freshman and a sophomore, the first Clemson defender to do that since Anthony Simmons in 1995-96.
Alexander is a sophomore cornerback, one of just two sophomore cornerbacks on the Bednarik Award list. The other is Adoree Jackson of Southern California. Alexander had 22 tackles and six passes broken up last year when he became the first Clemson freshman defensive back to start all 13 games. Opposing quarterbacks threw at Alexander’s man 57 times last year and completed just 20 for 280 yards and just two touchdowns. Those 57 passes gained an average of just 4.9 yards per attempt, and he did not allow his man to catch a touchdown pass over the last nine games of the season.
All three Clemson players named on Tuesday will be challenged by tough competition this year. As Clemson’s quarterback, Watson will face 10 players who are on the Bednarik List, including three when the Tigers face Notre Dame on October 3. Lawson and Alexander will have to defend against five quarterbacks who are on the Maxwell Award list. Those players are Everett Golson of Florida State, Malik Zaire of Notre Dame, Justin Thomas of Georgia Tech, Brad Kaaya of Miami (Fla.) and Jacoby Brissett of N.C. State.