National Championships: A Family Tradition for Mitch Hyatt


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Hyatt celebrates a touchdown against Oklahoma
Hyatt celebrates a touchdown against Oklahoma

CLEMSON – Mitch Hyatt did something that few are able to accomplish when he added a second National Championship to his family’s name.

Hyatt – the nephew of Clemson’s 1981 defensive tackle Dan Benish – celebrated with his uncle after the Tigers beat Alabama 35-31 two months ago, and he told TigerNet after a recent spring practice it’s a feeling he’ll never forget.

"I knew right when we called the play that if everyone did their job, we were going to win the game," Hyatt said recently. "Right when I turned around I saw the ball in Deshaun's (Watson) hand and I saw Hunter (Renfrow) catch it. I immediately looked around to make sure nothing was called and that there were no penalties. When I finally knew what happened, it was just a relief.

"It was really emotional. I was really excited after the game and when I saw him (Benish) after the game, it put everything into perspective about what just happened. It was really emotional for him, even more than me. Just seeing how happy he was made me more excited and happy."

Now that he and his teammates have experienced the feeling of being atop the mountain, Hyatt said there’s nothing stopping them from getting back.

"It was so hard to believe what just happened. To know how hard we worked through the whole season, that it paid off and we finally got that moment," Hyatt said. "I think that now that we know what it takes to go through the whole process and win one, we're definitely going to be looking to win another one."

However, 2017 is a new year and pthe rocess of building a new team starts with winter workouts and spring practice.

“It feels good to be back on the field. It's been a short time, but we've been working out and not in full pads,” he said. “It's nice getting back to it and getting ready for next season. We have a lot of depth and we're trying to build our competitive depth right now. During spring ball, guys are going to be competing for their spot and trying to get the best out of guys. We're also trying to get ready for next year as far as getting everybody on the same page, looking at defenses and breaking down defenses.”

The good news is that Clemson’s offensive line returns four of five starters off of the National Championship team – Hyatt, Taylor Hearn, Tyrone Crowder and Sean Pollard. This year, though, Hyatt will be counted on to provide leadership after the departure of center Jay Guillermo, a task he said he’s ready for.

“It helped put things into perspective. This year is the year that I've been singled out as one of the guys who needs to step up and fill that role as a leader,” he said. “I definitely look forward to filling in that role that Jay had and I know how big of a role he had. Just me being able to go to him was a big deal. Now, it being the other way around, it's a big deal for me to finally have the opportunity to help the new guys.”

Last season, Hyatt gave up just two sacks - a half sack against S.C. State, one against Florida State and a half sack in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State – in 994 total plays. The key? Staying consistent and realizing every play matters.

"Just knowing the whole time that you have the weight of the team on your shoulders and if you don't do your job that it can really affect the whole team," he said. "That's how it is for every position, if you don't do your job it could really impact the team and the game."

Despite his success, Hyatt said he knows there’s always room for improvement.

"Something I want to improve is definitely my feet and hands as far as pass rush goes and being more consistent with it," he said. "Sometimes I get kind of sloppy and I'm not consistent with my technique."

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