Two Tigers ranked in Top 25 returning CFB players

by - Assoc. Editor -

Pro Football Focus released their latest article ranking the Top 25 returning players in college football and two Clemson players were on the list.

Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was rated the #5 player on the list.

"True freshman interior defensive linemen rarely make a massive down-to-down impact, but Lawrence and Houston’s Ed Oliver are the only two to rank in the top 30 as true freshmen, finishing tied for ninth in the nation at 87.6 last season," PFF said. "Lawrence was a key piece of Clemson’s championship run, disrupting plays against the run to finish with an 85.9 grade while ranking 14th among interior defensive linemen with an 85.3 pass-rush grade."

As a freshman in 2016, Lawrence led the defensive line in tackles and had seven sacks, tied for the most by a Clemson freshman. Lawrence was a unanimous freshman All-American in 2016.

Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins barely made the rankings at #25 overall.

"The most impressive part of Wilkins’ 2016 season was his playing on the edge at 300-plus pounds, a necessity for Clemson’s defense due to injuries and a lack of depth," PFF said. "Even playing out of position, Wilkins ranked eighth among edge defenders with an 85.2 grade against the run yet he was still productive as a pass-rusher with three sacks, eight QB hits, and 30 hurries on his 393 rushes."

Wilkins was a first-team All-American as a sophomore defensive end. He had a team best 13.5 tackles for loss and 10 passes broken up, an all-time record for a Clemson defensive lineman.

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