- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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This one is for all those Clemson fans wondering why quarterback Tajh Boyd has not received more national recognition.
How is this: AFCA first-team All-American.
Boyd was voted the best quarterback in the nation by the American Football Coaches Association, beating out Heisman front-runners Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Collin Klein of Kansas State for the first-team spot. Dalton Freeman also made the AFCA first team at center, beating out favorite Barrett Jones of Alabama.
Boyd and Freeman are the first players to make a first-team All-America squad at their respective positions in Clemson history. This also is just the third time since the AFCA began selecting an All-America team in 1945 that the quarterback and center were from the same team.
Two other ACC players made the team: North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper and Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, who seem to be locks to make just about every All-America team that comes out in the next month. I think the only miss was Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins, who did not make the team. Coaches selected Quinn Sharp of Oklahoma State instead.
In all, the ACC ranks third among all conferences with four selections, better than the Big 12 and Big Ten.
The biggest shocker, of course, was seeing Boyd make the first team. This honor has to feel especially good considering the coaches are the ones who vote for this All-America team. He clearly has their respect; now maybe other observers will start giving Boyd the credit he deserves.
"This is a landmark accomplishment,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement. "You don’t see your program getting two first-team All-Americans very often [although Clemson did do it last year as well]. Both young men have been great leaders for our program for more than just this year. We really have a young team with just 11 scholarship seniors.
"Dalton in particular with his 48 consecutive starts, has been the cornerstone of the offensive line as the only senior. And Tajh has been a great example of leadership to the entire team. We have had a record-breaking season on offense that has led to a second straight 10-win season and these two young men have played a big part in it."
Boyd leads the ACC and ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency with a 168.5 rating, on pace for a Clemson record. He has gone 251-of-377 for 3,550 yards and 34 touchdowns, and added nine scores on the ground. His 43 overall touchdowns are tied for first in the nation.
Boyd also leads the ACC and ranks eighth in the nation with 336.8 yards per game. Earlier this week, I did a little comparison showing how Boyd compared to Manziel and Klein. Not too shabby, right?
As for the other players honored, Freeman has started 48 straight games, and has played more snaps than any other player in Clemson history (3,267). Cooper won The Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the ACC, while Werner has had a monster year, leading the ACC with 13 sacks and ranking second with 18 tackles for loss.
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