In Clemson's run to the national championship season, Wilkins was named a first-team All-American by the AFCA, Football Writers Association and Phil Steele.
He joins Ryan Nall (Maxwell Award), Sumner Houston (Rimington Trophy) and Nick Porebski (Ray Guy Award) on watch lists for the 2017 season. It's one of the newest honors, given annually to the nation's most versatile player.
BYU was represented previous year on the Butkus watch list when Harvey Langi was named as a candidate.
Elko's starting Mike linebacker in 2016 at Wake Forest - Marquel Lee - finished with 105 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Last year, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers became the first student from a current Big Ten school to earn the Hornung Award since it was first presented in 2010.
The semifinalists for the award will be announced on October 20 and the finalists will be announced on November 30. He had 13 tackles in the upset win over No. 2 Ohio State, including the game-clinching takedown of Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett on 4th-and-23 on OSU's final drive. Downs led Cal with a single-season career-high 84 tackles as a 2016 junior.
Penn State enters the 2017 season with high expectations after winning the Big Ten last season and making an appearance in the Rose Bowl.