Clemson tied for most in top-15 of ESPN player rankings


by - Staff Writer -
ESPN says Dexter Lawrence has plenty of upside.
ESPN says Dexter Lawrence has plenty of upside.

The nation's top-two-ranked programs naturally have the best individual talent in the nation this season.

Alabama and Clemson tied for the most players ranked in the top-15 of ESPN's top-50 players in college football (4) on Friday.

Unanimous first-team All-American Christian Wilkins leads the way for Clemson at No. 5.

"There might not be a freakier athlete in college football than Wilkins," ESPN analyzed, "the 300-pound defensive tackle who has lined up as an edge rusher, run for two touchdowns, been a lead blocker on goal-line packages, worked as a safety in Clemson's spring game and has lobbied his coach all season to play some quarterback. Of course, Wilkins' full-time gig is in the middle of the D-line, where he has been one of the most disruptive forces in the country for four years."

D-line teammates Dexter Lawrence (10) and Clelin Ferrell (12) also cracked the top-tier, as well as ACC player of the year Travis Etienne (14).

"At 350 pounds, it's almost unfair the way Lawrence can move," said ESPN. "He's a force in the middle of Clemson's star-studded D-line, racking up 37 tackles -- including 7.5 for a loss -- and seven QB hurries to go with three pass breakups. That his numbers aren't more eye-popping is a credit to the talent around him, but on pure size and ability, there might not be an interior lineman in the country with more upside than Lawrence."

Consensus All-American Mitch Hyatt also made the top-50 at No. 47 overall.

Heisman winner and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray topped the list. Cotton Bowl opponent Notre Dame had four make the rankings in cornerback Julian Love (21), quarterback Ian Book (37), defensive lineman Jerry Tillery (40) and running back Dexter Williams (50).

Five Tigers also made the preseason ESPN top-50 list with: Wilkins (4), Lawrence (5), Ferrell (12), Austin Bryant (24) and Tee Higgins (40).

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