Clemson's Watson, Notre Dame's Seidel Voted ACC Athletes of the Year

Pair honored with McKevlin and Garber Awards for performances during the 2015-16 academic year 

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Clemson consensus All-America quarterback Deshaun Watson joins NCAA champion Molly Seidel as the ACC’s top male and female athletes for the 2015-16 academic year, as voted upon by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).

Watson, who earned the 63rd Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the conference's premier male athlete, led Clemson to a 14-1 record, the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship, and an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.  He became the first quarterback in FBS history to throw for at least 4,000 yards and rush for at least 1,000 in the same season.

Seidel claimed the 26th Mary Garber Award as the conference's finest female athlete after capping off a decorated career with a historic senior season in cross country and indoor track & field. The first four-time NCAA champion in the 129-year history of Notre Dame athletics, Seidel captured the NCAA title in cross country, indoor 3,000 meter, and indoor 5,000 meter. 

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.

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 Award winner 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 Tajh Boyd’s single-season school record for total offense.

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 Capital One Orange Bowl Offensive MVP after rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown and threw 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 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.

Watson is the second Tiger to receive the honor, and the first since baseball All-American Kris Benson earned the honor in 1996. 

“This is a great honor, especially when you consider in 63 years Deshaun is just the second athlete across all sports to receive this award,” said Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney. “He had a special season, and is very deserving.  I am just as proud of him of the way he handles himself and represents our school and our conference."

A three-time ACC champion during the 2015-16 year, Seidel garnered All-America accolades in cross country and twice in track & field. She was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team, and was named the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for both cross country and indoor track & field.

During the fall cross country season, Seidel won the ACC Championship in a time of 19:36.2, won the NCAA Great Lakes Regional (20:04.4), and won the NCAA Championship in a time of 19:28.6. 

At the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championship, Seidel won both the 3,000 meters (9:02.24) and 5,000 meters (15:19.64), and followed that with a sweep of the two events at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Her times in the 3,000 meters (8:57.86) and 5,000 meters (15:15.21) rank as the fastest in school history, and helped lead the Irish to a program best fifth-place finish.

"Commenting that Molly has been outstanding for us this year would be an understatement," Notre Dame head coach Alan Turner said. "She has been prodigious. She has elevated not only herself to lofty heights, but has raised the expectations of our program. Not only is Molly tops on the track she is tops in the classroom, being named a first team Academic All-American as well. Being named ACC Female athlete of the year speaks volumes not only for her, but for our program and our university. The Notre Dame Family is extremely proud of her."

Seidel led the balloting for the Garber Award with 16 votes, just ahead of Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell, who won two individual titles at the 2016 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship with 13 votes. North Carolina’s Marie McCool, who led the Tar Heels to the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship, placed third with seven votes.