CLEMSON, S.C. — With the announcement of the 2019 Football Writers Association of American All-America Team on Thursday, all five All-America teams recognized by the NCAA toward consensus status have been formally recognized for the 2019 football season. Four Clemson players earned at least one first-, second- or third-team All-America selection, including a unanimous honoree and an additional consensus selection this season.
Presently, All-America teams recognized by the NCAA include ones awarded by the Associated Press (AP), American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF). To earn consensus status, players must appear on the first team of at least three of the five lists, with unanimous status being reserved for those who appear on all five.
By earning inclusion on all five first teams, linebacker Isaiah Simmons became only the sixth unanimous All-American in Clemson history. He joins Terry Kinard (1982), Gaines Adams (2006), C.J. Spiller (2009), Da’Quan Bowers (2010) and Christian Wilkins (2018) as the only unanimous All-Americans in school annals.
In addition to Simmons’ unanimous selection, offensive lineman John Simpson earned consensus All-America status by appearing on four of the five first-team lists. Clemson’s two consensus All-America selections tie the 1981, 1991 and 2015 seasons for the second-most in school history, trailing the 2018 squad’s three selections last year.
Notes on each’s player’s selections are included below.
AFCA – First TeamAP – First TeamFWAA – First TeamSN – First TeamWCFF – First Team
Linebacker Isaiah Simmons (Olathe, Kan.) earned unanimous first-team All-America status, collecting first-team honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation on Dec. 12, the Associated Press on Dec. 16, Sporting News on Dec. 17, the American Football Coaches Association on Dec. 18 and the Football Writers Association of America on Dec. 19.
As noted above, Simmons is the sixth Clemson player to earn unanimous All-America honors in school history and the second in as many years (Christian Wilkins in 2018). Simmons becomes the first linebacker in Clemson history to earn unanimous honors and joins Kinard (1982), Adams (2006), Bowers (2010) and Wilkins (2018) as the fifth Clemson defensive player to earn the honors.
This season, Simmons has been a central figure on a defense that helped guide Clemson to a 13-0 record, a fifth straight ACC championship and a record-tying fifth consecutive College Football Playoff berth. Simmons’ versatility has helped Clemson to at least a share of the national lead in points allowed per game (10.6, first), pass yards allowed per game (138.5, first), total yards allowed per game (244.7, first), opponent first downs per game (12.4, first), opponent completions (170, first), opponent passer rating (92.81, first), opponent completion percentage (50.3, tied for first) and opponent yards per pass attempt (5.3, tied for first).
The selection as a unanimous All-American joins Simmons’ honoring as the 2019 Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker and his selection as ACC Defensive Player of the Year. This season, he has been credited with 93 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, seven pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery through 13 games.
AFCA – First TeamAP – Second TeamFWAA – First TeamSN – First TeamWCFF – First Team
Offensive lineman John Simpson (North Charleston, S.C.) earned consensus All-America status by earning first-team honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation on Dec. 12, Sporting News on Dec. 17, the American Football Coaches Association on Dec. 18 and the Football Writers Association of America on Dec. 19. He also collected a second-team selection from the Associated Press on Dec. 16.
Simpson becomes the sixth Clemson offensive lineman to earn consensus All-American honors all-time, joining Harry Olszewski (1967), Stacy Long (1990), Jeb Flesch (1991), Stacy Seegars (1993) and Mitch Hyatt (2018) as the only consensus All-America offensive linemen in school history. The consecutive selections by Hyatt and Simpson in 2018 and 2019, respectively, represent Clemson’s first back-to-back consensus honors on the offensive line since Long and Flesch accomplished the feat in 1990 and 1991.
Powered in part by Simpson, Clemson’s offense enters the bowl season ranked in the top 10 in the nation in yards per carry (6.46, first), total touchdowns (81, second), yards per game (547.7, third), first downs per game (26.8, third), points per game (46.5, fourth), yards per play (7.51, fourth) and rush yards per game (252.9, 10th). The offensive line’s versatility as both run blockers and pass protectors has helped Clemson exceed 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in 10 of its 13 contests this season, one such performance shy of the most by any FBS team since 2000 (11 by both Marshall and Ohio State in 2014).
AFCA – Second TeamAP – Second TeamFWAA – Second TeamSN – Second TeamWCFF – Second Team
Running back Travis Etienne (Jennings, La.) picked up multiple All-American honors for a second straight season, garnering second-team selections from the Walter Camp Football Foundation on Dec. 12, the Associated Press on Dec. 16, Sporting News on Dec. 17, the American Football Coaches Association on Dec. 18 and the Football Writers Association of America on Dec. 19. Last year, Etienne earned honors from all five selecting organizations, including first-team honors from Sporting News and second-team honors from the AFCA, AP, FWAA and WCFF.
This season, Etienne has rushed for exactly 1,500 yards on 182 carries with 17 rushing touchdowns. With his performance in 2019, Etienne has become the ACC’s all-time career leader in rushing touchdowns (54), total touchdowns (57) and points by a non-kicker (348). He earned ACC Player of the Year honors for the second straight season, becoming the first running back to collect the award in back-to-back seasons in more than four decades (Mike Voight in 1975-76).
AP – Third Team
Safety Tanner Muse (Belmont, N.C.) earned his first career All-America selection when he was named as a third-team All-American by the Associated Press on Dec. 16.
This season, Muse was named as a Thorpe Award semifinalist en route to first-team All-ACC honors. He enters bowl season credited with 65 tackles, (5.0 for loss), 2.0 sacks, five pass breakups and a team-leading four interceptions in 496 snaps over 13 games (all starts).
Muse became the first Clemson defensive back to earn All-America status from the Associated Press since Cordrea Tankersley’s third-team selection in 2016. Muse is the first Clemson safety to earn AP All-America honors since Jayron Kearse in 2015.