Watson, the sophomore quarterback who has guided the ACC champion Tigers to a 13-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff, was also voted the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
Under the auspices of the ACC, the league's 14 head coaches voted for an All-ACC football team, as well as Players of the Year, Rookies of the Year and a Coach of the Year award. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players and ballots were worth three points for each first-team, two points for each second-team and one point for each third-team selection.
Duke senior safety Jeremy Cash was voted the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, while Clemson’s Dabo Swinney earned Coach of the Year honors. The Pitt duo of Jordan Whitehead and Qadree Ollison shared the coaches’ overall ACC Rookie of the Year award. Whitehead, a freshman safety, was voted the Defensive Rookie of the Year, while Ollison, a first-year running back, earned Offensive Rookie of the Year accolades.
The 2015 Coaches’ All-ACC team is similar to the All-ACC squad announced last week by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA), as the two voting bodies agreed on all of the major award winners with only a slight difference on the overall Rookie of the Year selection (Whitehead finished ahead of Ollison to take the honor outright in the ACSMA voting).
Pitt junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd was the lone unanimous first-team pick on the Coaches’ All-ACC team, named on all 13 ballots on which he was eligible.
Watson, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Gainesville, Georgia, received 10 votes to lead the coaches’ overall ACC Player of the Year voting and 11 votes to lead the balloting for Offensive Player of the Year. The MVP of the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, Watson leads the conference in total offense with 338.4 yards per game while accounting for 41 touchdowns (30 passing, 11 rushing).
A finalist for the Heisman Trophy and numerous other national awards, Watson has thrown for an ACC-leading 3,512 yards while completing 69.5 percent of his passes. His 887 rushing yards rank seventh among all conference players. Watson is the only player in the nation to pass for over 3,500 yards and rush for over 850, and he ranks ninth nationally in total offensive yards per game.
After earning All-America honors each of the past two seasons, Duke’s Cash has been just as productive during his senior year. The Miami, Florida, native ranks among the ACC leaders in total tackles with 101 and among the nation’s top 10 in tackles for loss with 18. He is the only defensive back to rank among the nation’s top 50 in the latter category.
The three-time All-ACC safety, who has forced three fumbles this season and is Duke’s career leader in the same category with nine, is one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award which goes to the nation’s top defensive back, and he was one of five finalists for the Nagurski Trophy which is awarded to the nation’s top defensive player. Cash’s nine career forced fumbles are also tied for the most among active players. Cash earned six votes for ACC Defensive Player of the Year, one more than Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson.
Swinney, who has guided Clemson to a school-record 13 wins in addition to the 15th ACC title in school history, received 11 votes from his peers in the ACC Coach of the Year balloting. North Carolina’s Larry Fedora received the other three.
In addition to carrying an unbeaten record into their New Year’s Eve matchup with Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff, Swinney’s Tigers claimed the ACC Atlantic Division title with a perfect 8-0 mark in league play. Clemson ranks seventh nationally in total defense and 12th in total offense. Last Saturday night’s Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game marked the 100th game Swinney has coached at Clemson while compiling a career record of 74-26 that includes two ACC titles.
Pitt’s Whitehead and Ollison each received five coaches’ votes for overall ACC Rookie of the Year.
Whitehead picked up nine votes for ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year following a regular season in which he emerged as one of the conference’s leading tacklers and helped the Panthers to their first eight-win season since 2010 and a bowl bid for the eighth straight year. Whitehead finished the regular season with 99 tackles to rank among the ACC leaders.
The steady defensive back from Alquippa, Pennsylvania, has five games this season with double-digit tackles, and is one tackle shy of becoming just the second freshman in Pitt history to record 100 tackles in a single season. Whitehead has intercepted one pass while breaking up six others and has 5.5 tackles for loss, including a quarterback sack. A versatile player who also saw time on offense, Whitehead has rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries and has two pass receptions.
Forced into an expanded role for Pitt’s offense in September due to injuries, Ollison responded by rushing for 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead a Panther ground attack that ranks fourth in the ACC. Ollison was voted the ACC Rookie of the Week on two occasions, the first of which followed his 207-yard rushing performance against Youngstown State in the season opener. Ollison’s 1,048 rushing yards are the seventh-most by a freshman in ACC history.
A native of Niagara Falls, New York, Ollison is one of just five freshmen in Pitt school history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing milestone. Ollison was the choice of eight coaches for ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Clemson’s Watson leads a 17-player contingent from the undefeated and CFP-bound Tigers voted to the 2015 Coaches’ All-ACC Team (nine first-team, two second-team and six third-team). Coastal Division champion North Carolina filled 13 slots on the teams, including two by junior Ryan Switzer, who was voted first-team specialist and third-team wide receiver.
Florida State and Pitt each accounted for nine selections, while seven were chosen from Miami.
2015 ACC Coaches’ Award Winners and All-ACC Team
(Total votes/points in parenthesis)
Coach of the Year
Dabo Swinney, Clemson (11)
Larry Fedora, North Carolina (3)
Player of the Year
Deshaun Watson, QB, So., Clemson (10)
Dalvin Cook, QB, So., Florida State (2)
Marquise Williams, QB, Sr., North Carolina (2)
Offensive Player of the Year
Deshaun Watson, QB, So., Clemson (11)
Marquise Williams, QB, Sr., North Carolina (2)
Dalvin Cook, RB, So., Florida State (1)
Defensive Player of the Year
Jeremy Cash, S, Sr.-R, Duke (6)
Shaq Lawson, DE, Jr.-R, Clemson (5)
Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jr., Florida State, (1)
Ejuan Price, DE, Sr.-R, Pitt (1)
Luther Maddy, DT, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (1)
Rookie of the Year
Jordan Whitehead, S, Pitt (5) -Tie
Qadree Ollison, RB, Pitt (5) -Tie
Mitch Hyatt, T, Clemson (2)
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson (1)
Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse (1)
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Qadree Ollison, RB, Pitt (8)
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (2)
Mitch Hyatt, T, Clemson (2)
Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse (1)
Travon McMillian, RB, Virginia Tech (1)
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Jordan Whitehead, S, Pitt (9)
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson (3)
Derwin James, S, Florida State (1)
Brant Mitchell, LB, Georgia Tech (1)
First Team Offense
WR Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt (39)
WR Artavis Scott, So., Clemson (34)
WR Isaiah Ford, So., Virginia Tech (26)
TE Jordan Leggett, Jr., Clemson (22)
T Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State (33)
T Adam Bisnowaty, Jr.-R, Pitt (30)
G Landon Turner, Sr., North Carolina (36)
G Eric Mac Lain, Sr.-R, Clemson (30)
C Matt Skura, Sr.-R, Duke (35)
QB Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson (37)
RB Dalvin Cook, So., Florida State (38)
RB Wayne Gallman, So.-R, Clemson (30)
K Roberto Aguayo, Jr.-R, Florida State (32)
Sp. Ryan Switzer, Jr., North Carolina (29)
Second Team Offense
WR Stacey Coley, Jr., Miami (20)
WR Kermit Whitfield, Jr., Florida State (20)
WR Canaan Severin, Sr., Virginia (17)
TE(tie) Jaylen Samuels, So., NC State ( 15)
TE(tie) Bucky Hodges, So.-R, Virginia Tech (15)
T Jon Heck, Jr.-R, North Carolina (19)
T Joe Thuney, Sr.-R, NC State (19)
G Dorian Johnson, Jr., Pitt (19)
G Caleb Peterson, Jr.-R, North Carolina (17)
C Jay Guillermo, Jr.-R, Clemson (14)
QB Marquise Williams, Sr., North Carolina (23)
RB Elijah Hood, So., North Carolina (29)
RB Qadree Ollison, Fr.-R, Pitt (20)
K Ross Martin, Sr., Duke (14)
Sp. DeVon Edwards, Jr.-R, Duke (23)
Third Team Offense
WR Ryan Switzer, Jr., North Carolina (15)
WR Rashawn Scott, Sr.-R, Miami (13)
WR Mack Hollins, Jr.-R, North Carolina ( 13)
TE J.P. Holtz, Sr., Pitt (11)
T Joe Gore, Sr.-R, Clemson (14)
T Mitch Hyatt, Fr., Clemson (14)
G Ross Burbank, Sr.-R, Virginia (11)
G Tyrone Crowder, So.-R, Clemson (10)
C Lucas Crowley, Jr., North Carolina (13)
QB Brad Kaaya, So., Miami (13)
RB Taquan Mizzell, Jr., Virginia (14)
RB Joe Yearby, So., Miami (13)
K(tie) Greg Huegel, Fr.-R, Clemson (10)
K(tie) Michael Badgley, So., Miami (10)
K(tie) Nick Weiler, Jr., North Carolina (10)
Sp. Kermit Whitfield, Jr., Florida State (13)
Honorable Mention: Offense (7 or more points):
QB--Jacoby Brissett, Sr.-R, NC State (8). RB--Matt Dayes, Jr., NC State (12); Travon McMillian, Fr.-R, Virginia Tech (7); WR--James Quick, Jr., Louisville (11); Travis Rudolph, So., Florida State (10); Quinshad Davis, Sr. ,North Carolina (10). TE--Cam Serigne, So.-R, Wake Forest (10). T-Danny Isadora, Jr., Miami (8); Lucas Patrick, Sr.-R, Duke (7); Kareem Are, Jr.-R, Florida State (7). C--Freddie Burden, Jr.-R, Georgia Tech (7). SP--Brisly Estime, Jr., Syracuse (12).
First Team Defense
DE Shaq Lawson, Jr.-R, Clemson (35)
DE Ejuan Price, Sr.-R, Pitt (25)
DT Connor Wujciak, Sr., Boston College (28)
DT Nile Lawrence-Stample, Sr.-R, Florida State (27)
LB Steven Daniels, Sr., Boston College ( 28)
LB Brandon Chubb, Sr.-R, Wake Forest (24)
LB Ben Boulware, Jr., Clemson (24)
CB Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State (36)
CB Mackensie Alexander, So.-R, Clemson (29)
S Jeremy Cash, Sr.-R, Duke (36)
S Jayron Kearse, Jr., Clemson (28)
P Alex Kinal, Sr.-R, Wake Forest (19)
Second Team Defense
DE Mike Rose, Sr.-R, NC State (16)
DE Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville (14)
DT Luther Maddy, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (26)
DT Carlos Watkins, Jr.-R, Clemson (17)
LB Keith Kelsey, Jr., Louisville (20)
LB Micah Kiser, So.-R, Virginia (19)
LB(tie) Dwayne Norman, Sr., Duke (17)
LB(tie) Reggie Northrup, Sr., Florida State (17)
CB Artie Burns, Jr., Miami (26)
CB Des Lawrence, Jr., North Carolina (11)
S Quin Blanding, So., Virginia (21)
S Justin Simmons, Sr., Boston College ( 16)
P Riley Dixon, Sr., Syracuse (17)
Third Team Defense
DE Dadi Nicolas, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (13)
DE DeMarcus Walker, Jr., Florida State (13)
DT Adam Gotsis, Sr., Georgia Tech (15)
DT Darryl Render, Sr., Pitt (13)
LB Matt Milano, Jr., Boston College (13)
LB James Burgess, Sr., Louisville (11)
LB(tie) Shakeel Rashad, Sr., North Carolina (9)
LB(tie) Nicholas Grigsby, Sr.-R, Pitt (9)
LB(tie) Jeff Schoettmer, Sr.-R, North Carolina (9)
LB(tie) B.J. Goodson, Sr.-R, Clemson (9)
CB Cordrea Tankersley, Jr., Clemson (10)
CB Trumaine Washington, So., Louisville (8)
S Jordan Whitehead, Fr., Pitt (11)
S (tie) Deon Bush, Sr., Miami (10)
S(tie) Josh Harvey-Clemons, Jr.-R, Louisville (10)
P Will Monday, Sr.-R, Duke (14)
Honorable Mention: Defense: (7 or more points)
DE--Mehdi Addesmad, Sr.-R, Boston College (8); Harold Landry, So., Boston College (8); DT--DeAngelo Brown, Jr., Louisville (9); David Dean, Sr.-R, Virginia (8); Corey Marshall, Sr.-R (7). LB--Trevon Young, Jr., Louisville (7); Devonte Fields, Jr., Louisville (7). CB--Shaq Wiggins, So.-R, Louisville (7); Brad Watson, Jr., Wake Forest (7); M.J. Stewart, So., North Carolina (7). S--DeVon Edwards, Jr.-R, Duke (8). P--Nicholas Conte, Jr.-R, Virginia (13); Justin Vogel, Jr., Miami (8).