Redshirt report: Bockhorst ready to play again, but without smack talk to Big Dex


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Bockhorst has been playing a lot at right guard
Bockhorst has been playing a lot at right guard

It didn’t take Matt Bockhorst long to realize that a redshirt year was probably a good idea, and it didn’t take him long to realize that Dexter Lawrence isn’t the kind of player you engage in smack talk.

Bockhorst, a 6-3, 305-pounder out of Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier, redshirted last season as he continued his recovery from a knee injury. A fantastic interview, Bockhorst has also drawn rave reviews from those around the program for his working on the scout team and during bowl practice. He’s destined to become a fan and media favorite but told TigerNet at the Sugar Bowl that a redshirt year was just what he needed.

“I am absolutely glad I redshirted. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it's tough, and it's a grind and he gets on us just like he does on the defense,” Bockhorst said. “You get out of Power Hour and you have 15 minutes to get all of your stuff on, so there is a lot behind the scenes that makes it even tougher. And then you come from being the guy in high school and going to all of the bowl games and all-star games and you're the celebrity, and then you come in and you're at the bottom of the totem pole again.

“It's humbling, and a lot of us needed that. Also, for me, just from a development standpoint I came into camp having not played football in almost two years, so it was just getting comfortable again. Camp was fast-paced and I was doing fine and holding my own, but I think it took me a while after camp to feel good. That is elite competition in practice every day. I don't care who they put on the d-line, it's a battle.”

He quickly learned that talking smack to Dexter Lawrence isn’t good for one’s health.

“I am no stranger to giving a little lip to the opponent. It was summer, and we were doing skills and drills, which is no pads, kind of like a voluntary bar fight,” he said with a laugh. “We ran a pass play and Dexter got caught up on a stunt and ran into another player, so I kind of started chirping a little bit. And then he put me flat on my back the next play. I think I had it coming, and that is when I realized I wasn't the big dog on campus anymore.”

Clemson loses starting right guard Tyrone Crowder and valuable backup Maverick Morris to graduation, so Bockhorst has been working at that spot. With a healthy knee, he’s looking for a starting spot.

“My knee feels great and everything is good with that,” Bockhorst said. “Mostly at right guard but nothing is set in stone with that. I have been shuffling around - even left guard and center - but mostly right guard. With the starting position open, I would love to get it. I want to be able to compete and have focus on spring ball. I am excited to finally play in a game. I haven't played in a game since my junior year of high school, so I am really excited for that level of intensity again.

“But there are other, older guys and you can't discount what they do. They have been here longer and they know the plays better. I have a great amount of respect for those guys, guys like Cade Stewart, who came in as a walk-on. It will be a good competition and I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute.”

He knows that no matter where he plays, he will be prepared.

“The biggest thing is being prepared mentally, Bockhorst said. “If you know the plays well and don't have to think about it, it makes you a better player. That will be the biggest thing for is getting mentally prepared.”

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