The ACC is winning.
The Atlantic Coast Conference housed the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner as well as 2016’s College Football National Champion.
Point to the SEC all you want, but it was the ACC that had a total of 29 players named to the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards, the conference announced this week.
The Maxwell Award honors college football’s player of the year and the Bednarik goes to the player named the country’s top defensive player.
11 players from ACC teams were named to the Maxwell Award watch list.
Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, who not only collected the Heisman Trophy this past season but also took home the Maxwell Award, headlined the impressive group.
Florida State had a pair of players on the list in quarterback Deondre Francois and defensive back Derwin James.
Syracuse’s Eric Dungey and Duke’s Daniel Jones were the other quarterbacks added to the list from the ACC.
A duo of running backs – Miami’s Mark Walton and Georgia Tech’s Dedrick Mills – made the list while Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and Boston College defensive end Harold Landry were the only players from ACC schools at their respective positions to make the list.
Pitt’s Quadree Henderson (wide receiver) and North Carolina State’s all-purpose weapon Jaylen Samuels also were added to the Maxwell watch list.
Where the conference truly shined was the Bednarik Award preseason watch list, where it had a nation-leading 18 players named.
Four of those 18 were Seminoles. Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and linebacker Matthew Thomas joined James on the list.
Virginia (safety Quin Blanding & linebacker Micah Kiser), Miami (linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and defensive tackle Kendrick Norton) and Clemson (defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Wilkins) each had a pair of defenders on the list.
Also representing the ACC on the list was Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander; N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb; Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds; Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor; Duke linebacker Ben Humphreys; North Carolina cornerback M.J. Stewart; and Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead.