Notre Dame senior track star Molly Seidel won the Mary Garber Award as the top female athlete in the conference.
Watson led Clemson to a 14-1 record, the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship, and an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. With 4,109 yards passing and 1,105 rushing, he became the first quarterback in FBS history eclipse 4,000 yards passing and 1,000 on the ground in the same season.
Watson is just the second Clemson athlete to win the ACC’s McKevlin Award, following pitcher Kris Benson who was the National Player of the Year of college baseball in 1996. Frank Gillespie, a three-sport starter for Clemson in 1947-48, won the McKevlin Award when Clemson was in the Southern Conference.
“This is a great honor, especially when you consider in 63 years Deshaun is just the second Clemson athlete across all sports to receive it,” head football coach Dabo Swinney said. “He had a special season, and is very deserving. I am just as proud of him for the way he handles himself off the field, what he has achieved academically, and the way he represents our school and our conference.”
Not only did Watson lead Clemson to 14 victories, an ACC Championship, an Orange Bowl win and a spot in the national championship game, he became the first Clemson player to win both the Davey O’Brien and Manning Awards as the nation’s best quarterback, and won the Archie Griffin Award, presented annually to the most valuable player in college football by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.
Watson was named a first-team All-American by the AFCA, Associated Press, CBS Sports, ESPN, FWAA, and USA Today. He totaled 5,209 yards of total offense for the 2015 season to break Philip Rivers’ single-season school record for total offense by more than 600 yards.
Watson also collected ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors as selected by both the media and the head coaches, as well as first-team All-ACC accolades.
The Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game MVP set championship game records with 420 yards of offense and five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing), leading the Tigers to the title with a 45-37 win over North Carolina. It was the most total offense by any FBS player in a conference title game. He was also named the Orange Bowl Offensive MVP after rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown and throwing for 187 more and a touchdown in the Capital One Orange Bowl against Oklahoma.
In the national title game against Alabama, Watson set a National Championship Game record with 478 yards of total offense, including a passing total of 405 yards and four touchdowns.
Watson received 28 votes from ACSMA members to lead the McKevlin Award balloting.
Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, who was the first player in ACC Men’s Basketball history to be named both ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year placed second with 13 votes, followed by Duke lacrosse standout Myles Jones and Wake Forest baseball player Will Craig with three votes each.
The ACC Athlete of the Year awards are given in memory of distinguished journalists from the region. McKevlin was a sports editor in Raleigh, N.C., and Garber, of the Winston-Salem Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the nation.