Mitch Hyatt is the leader of what should be an improved offensive line


by - Staff Writer -
Hyatt is back for his final season
Hyatt is back for his final season

SUNSET - Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell feels like he has more options than he has had in past seasons and, it never hurts to return an All-American at left tackle and a bevy of reserves ready to make a name for themselves.

Mitch Hyatt – who has started since the first game of his freshman season – returns for one final ride and is the nucleus of Clemson’s line. That is something that Caldwell is thankful for.

“Oh, tremendously. Just the fact that the knowledge, and it gives you the chance to bring guys along like Blake (Vinson), like Noah (DeHond), like Jackson (Carman), being able to get them to a point where not only is he able to teach them, he is an actual live shot of it. It’s easy for me to teach them what to do, it’s hard for me to demonstrate what to do anymore. That’s above my head now,” Caldwell said of Hyatt during head coach Dabo Swinney’s recent media golf outing.

Beside Hyatt at left guard will be John Simpson, who Caldwell said has made great strides this offseason in his understanding of what the offensive line and offense, in general, are trying to do.

“Just knowledge. He's always had the strength and the ability, but the knowledge has really come,” Caldwell said of Simpson. “He's so tall sometimes that it's a little bit harder at guard learning to uncoil a little bit. He's a powerful guy. He's comfortable enough that knowing what to do, he can move out there at tackle and do a great job, not just a good job but a great job. It's going to help him at the next level because he'll be able to play multiple positions.”

While the starting five of Hyatt, Simpson, Justin Falcinelli, Sean Pollard and Tremayne Anchrum have all seen playing time, there are a couple of players who Caldwell thinks may surprise some people.

Cade Stewart and Gage Cervenka are the two. Obviously, you know about Blake Vinson and Matt Bockhorst who we redshirted,” he said. “Blake probably could have gotten In there last year. Matt's knee wasn't quite ready. He would've made it but we wanted to make sure he was 100-percent. There's no sense in risking. Blake came in in January and got a little work in, so begin able to hold him and for him to add bulk and strength in his shoulder even more. His strength levels are way up now. Matt can bench it over 400 pounds and has been phenomenal. He's added a lot of bulk.”

Stewart is a local product from Central (SC) Daniel, who Caldwell thinks may have been overlooked because he wasn’t highly recruited.

“He didn't have all of those stars by his name and everybody probably slept on him a little bit, but he has a great sense of what is going on,” he said. “He's just a natural. He just steps up there and he doesn't seem to worry about a whole lot. He's cool. He jumps up there and plays center and then plays guard. He can play tackle. Just wherever we need him, he's just a great company man. He's the epitome of an offensive lineman.”

Another player who Caldwell thinks is ready to make an impact is Chandler Reeves, who is coming off of a torn ACL.

“Chandler tore his knee then he had to have it scoped. He has really made great strides. He is really coming on. I'm very proud of where he's at,” he said. “He's bigger. He's over 300 pounds now. His strength levels have really jumped. He's long-armed, so it's a little harder on him bench pressing but now he's catching up. He had his knee scoped and cleaned up again after he tweaked it again, so he feels better. He said it's a little bit sore, but he's doing much better. You'll see things out of him.”

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