Clemson’s Watson, Boston College’s Kent voted ACC Athletes of the Year
Clemson All-America quarterback Deshaun Watson joins two-sport standout Kenzie Kent of Boston College as the top male and female ACC athletes for the 2016-17 academic year, as voted upon by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).
Watson, who earned the 64th Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the conference’s premier male athlete, is a repeat winner from last year. Watson led Clemson to the second National Football Championship in program history this past season and earned a number of individual accolades as the Tigers posted a 14-1 overall record.
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 of the Raleigh (North Carolina) News and Observer, while Garber, of the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the nation.
Watson completed 388 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 against Pittsburgh.
In addition to earning Most Outstanding Offensive Player 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.
Watson claimed both the Manning and O’Brien Awards 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 a 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, 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 34 ACSMA members casting ballots to lead the McKevlin Award balloting by a wide margin. Pitt running back James Connor placed second with four votes. Watson is the sixth two-time winner of the ACC’s men’s student-athlete of the year award and the first since Florida State Heisman Trophy winner and NBA draftee Charlie Ward in 1992 and 1993.
Boston College’s Kent emerged as the most prominent and successful two-team sport athlete in the country, starting the year with the ice hockey team before joining the lacrosse team in mid-March following the conclusion of the hockey team’s season.
A junior from Norwell, Massachusetts, Kent started on left wing on the first line for the Eagles’ women’s hockey squad. She helped guide Boston College to its third-straight Frozen Four (and seventh overall), fourth-straight Hockey East regular-season title, second-straight Hockey East Tournament championship and second Beanpot (Boston) championship in a row.
Kent became the 15th player in ice hockey program history to record 100 career points, and will enter the 2017-18 season ranked 14th on Boston College’s all-time scoring list (107 points on 31 goals and 76 assists) while tied for 10th in career assists and eighth in career assists per game (0.64).
She continued to excel on the lacrosse field, where she posted a career-best 77 points in 12 contests to tie for 31st nationally (and fifth-most among ACC players) despite playing in only half the Eagles’ games. One of four nominees for the 2017 Honda Award for lacrosse and a two-time Tewaaraton Award Watch List member, Kent became the 24th player in program history to record 100 points, and tied the Boston College record for fastest to 100 career points (25 games).
Kent set a new NCAA tournament scoring record with 37 points in five games on 21 goals (one shy of the tournament record) and a tournament record-tying 16 assists. When she earned Most Outstanding Player honors following the Eagles’ 16-13 loss to Maryland in the title game, she became the first-ever student-athlete from a non-championship team to receive that honor.
Kent led the balloting for the Garber Award with 11 votes. Duke golf All-American Leona Maguire placed second with seven votes, and Florida State softball standout Jessie Warren received five.