Summer breakdown: Hyatt leads the way for solid, veteran offensive line


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Mitch Hyatt is one of the best left tackles in the nation
Mitch Hyatt is one of the best left tackles in the nation

Clemson's veteran offensive line loses just one starter from last season in center Jay Guillermo. Veterans like Mitch Hyatt, Tyrone Crowder, Sean Pollard, Tremayne Anchrum and Taylor Hearn will anchor a deep and solid group that should be among the ACC's best. In the fourth part of a series, Daniel Shirley takes a look at the secondary.

Starters on summer depth chart: Mitch Hyatt (Jr., T); Taylor Hearn (Jr., G); Justin Falcinelli (Jr., C); Tyrone Crowder (Sr., G); Sean Pollard (Soph., T) or Tremayne Anchrum (Soph., T).

Other key returners: John Simpson (Soph.); Gage Cervenka (Soph.); Maverick Morris (Gr.); Zach Giella (Soph.).

New faces: Cade Stewart (R-Fr.); Chandler Reeves (R-Fr.); Matt Bockhorst (Fr.); Noah DeHond (Fr.); Blake Vinson (Fr.).

The breakdown: The offensive line has gotten better throughout Dabo Swinney’s tenure as the Tigers’ head coach, and that’s understandable as this group works with one of the best offensive line coaches around in Robbie Caldwell.
Hyatt is the perfect example of the growth at this position in recent years. He was a tackle recruit every program wanted coming out of high school, and he has been a star since the first day he got on campus. Hyatt has more than lived up to the hype as he was a first-team freshman All-American and then a first-team All-ACC selection as a sophomore.

Hyatt has stretches of dominant play (he’s really good the rest of the time), and he was terrific in the national championship win over Alabama. If this is Hyatt’s final season before moving on to an NFL career, look for a big year as he continues to get better and better.

At guard, Hearn and Crowder have grown into terrific players, as well, while Falcinelli has some big shoes to fill in Jay Guillermo, who was one of the leaders of last year’s team (and not just the offensive line). Crowder and Hearn started every game last season, and Crowder has made 28 starts in his career.

Pollard stepped into the starting lineup during the 2016 season and performed well, but he’s going to have to work hard to hold off Anchrum for the other tackle spot. But, that’s really a good thing as that competition will help the growth of both of those players.

Clemson didn’t have that kind of offensive depth before the past few seasons, and with Simpson, Cervenka, Morris and Giella, along with the continued strong recruiting up front, that depth is there now and improving every year.
The strong recruiting continued again with the 2017 cycle in Bockhorst, DeHond and Vinson, and there’s no reason to think that is going to slow down any time soon.

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Midday Sports Zone on Middle Georgia’s ESPN, 93.1 FM and 99.5 FM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.


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