Physical Shatley embracing move to OL

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Tyler ShatleyTyler Shatley
RS Jr. Offensive Guard
#62 6-3, 295
Icard, NC

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has embraced his move from defensive tackle to right guard, a position he has grown to love because it lets him unload on unsuspecting defensive linemen and linebackers.

The best feeling? When he hears the air leave their body or knocks them down, just in time to see one of Clemson’s offensive specialists take the ball in for a score.

The 6-3, 295-pound native of Icard, N.C. spent 2010 and 2011 on Clemson’s defensive line, playing a grand total of 444 snaps. He registered 41 tackles and one sack over 26 games, but the Clemson coaches thought he would be a good fit on the offensive line – partly because of his leadership, partly because of his physical, in-your-face nature – and moved him in the spring.

Shatley actually came to Clemson as a fullback, and said it wasn’t too difficult to get used to playing back on the opposite side of the field.

“It wasn’t too bad. At first, it was kind of different because on defense you are firing out and you want to get to the ball carrier and run them over,” Shatley said after Tuesday’s practice. “It was a little bit of an adjustment. I have to have my eyes open – you can't just go bear down on somebody. I have to watch my steps – but it’s been a good transition.”

He said the biggest transition was getting to being on the field for several plays in a row, something he didn’t have to worry about as a backup defensive tackle.

“It was tough at first, but this summer Coach [Joey] Batson and Coach [Paul] Hogan got me ready, and they worked me really hard. Most of us, we take short steps, and really all we have to do is block for four or five seconds, and hopefully by that time Sammy or Tajh or Andre will have taken off and are running down the field and out-running everybody else.”

Shatley said he knows he needs to improve – as do many of his peers on an inexperienced offensive line – and said nothing will beat actual experience.

“We are getting used to all the slants and blitzes and stuff the defense can throw at us,” he said. “I think we are doing good and making a lot of progress. We are getting more experience and can handle more. We can make tweaks to our protection and pick up blitzing backers and offer Tajh more time. For me, I have to work on my steps and hand placement. I need to get more experience seeing everything the defense can throw at us. If you see something you haven’t seen before, it slows you down mentally because you don’t know what to do.”

Despite the learning process and the baby steps of learning to play offensive line at a high level, it still allows him the opportunity to do what he loves – run opponents over.

With that in mind, he said that playing offensive line is more fun than playing defensive tackle, as least from an aggression standpoint.

“Definitely offensive line,” he said. “It’s fun working with somebody else and doing a double-team. A lot of times, those linebackers don’t see it coming. It is fun working with somebody else on the double-team instead of being double-teamed. The best feeling is when you get them locked up, and you can see Andre or somebody else run by you – that is a good feeling to know that you helped out with that.”

The engineering major said it allows him the opportunity to leave the world of academics behind and – yes – just go hit somebody.

“That is all just punching numbers,” he said. “On the football field, I can just come out here and hit somebody. You know you got them when they are on their back, or every once in a while you hear them grunt or see them get weak in the knees. That is a great feeling when you drive them off the ball. That is a real good feeling.”

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