Watson, who earned the 64th Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the conference's premier male athlete, is a repeat winner from last year. Watson is the first repeat winner of the award since Charlie Ward in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
Watson led Clemson to its second National Football Championship this past season and earned a number of individual accolades as the Tigers posted a 14-1 overall record and won their second consecutive ACC title.
Kent claimed the 27th Mary Garber Award as the conference's finest female athlete after playing leading roles for the Boston College ice hockey team that reached the NCAA semifinals and the women’s lacrosse team that played for the national title. Kent was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the 2017 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
The ACC athlete of the year awards are given in memory of distinguished journalists from the region. McKevlin was a sports editor in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Garber, of the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the nation.
Watson, who graduated in just three years, completed 388 passes of 579 passes in his final collegiate season for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns. The Gainesville, Georgia, native added 626 yards rushing for 5,219 yards of total offense in his 15 games. Watson, who posted a 32-3 record as a starting quarterback at Clemson, set ACC records for passing yards and touchdowns in a season and tied the league mark for completions. He also set the ACC record for passing yards in a game with 580 vs. Pittsburgh.
In addition to earning MVP honors in both the College Football Playoff National Championship Game and the Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship, Watson piled up 2016 season accolades. He placed second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy – the highest ranking ever by a Clemson player – and was the winner of the Bobby Bowden Award given to the top all-around student-athlete in college football.
In addition, Watson claimed the both the Manning Award and O’Brien Award for second straight year as the top college quarterback, as well as the Unitas Award. He was named the National Player of the Year by Westwood One the National Offensive Player of the Year by Scout.com and was semifinalist for the Sullivan Award, which is given to the top amateur athlete in the world.
Off the field, Watson was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works team for community service, as well as the All-ACC Academic Team, and he earned a Weaver-James-Corrigan ACC Honorary Postgraduate Scholarship. He was also honored with a national award by Habitat for Humanity for his contributions to that organization.
Watson received 26 votes from ACSMA members to lead the McKevlin Award balloting by a wide margin. Pittsburgh running back James Connor placed second with four votes.