WATCH: Mitch Hyatt on why he came back to school, facing the Clemson DL


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Clemson senior offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt spoke with the media Thursday at the 2018 Football ACC Kickoff.

Some of the topics that he covered were his experience with 42 career starts, his take on the Clemson defensive line, and trying to get another National Championship to one-up his uncle Dan Benish. (FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW)

Q. Mitch, just what you can say about the decision ultimately to return and be a part of the team this season? Why that was the best decision in your opinion, and then moving forward with this team, just what you have to offer with a lot of guys coming back.

MITCH HYATT: A big reason for me coming back, just talking to people close to me, I feel like I've got some unfinished business, want to finish school. And how the season ended last year is just something I didn't want to end it on, either. I'm just hoping with the work that we've done as a team in the off-season that we can -- that we're looking good for a good season this year.

Q. Mitch, you come into the season already with 42 career starts; Hunter Renfrow has 32. I feel like I've been watching him forever. When you've started that many games in this league, what are some of the things it enables you to do to get a leg up on the competition?

MITCH HYATT: I mean, I just have that experience. To start 42 games, it's just experience. I've seen a lot of things. I've played almost every team in the ACC, so I just can call back on that experience whenever I need to.

Q. Mitch, so much of the conversation about this year's team comes from the defensive line, but no one faces those guys more than you in practice. Could you just tell me about that unit and what makes them so special?

MITCH HYATT: Well, first off, they're just great guys. They're all-around just good guys, and I mean, the intensity they bring to practice and how hard they work is just -- they radiate it, and it comes off on everybody around them.

When I am coming to practice, I know I'd better bring it because they're coming after me, so I need to match that intensity of theirs.

Q. Mitch, the daily challenge of blocking Ferrell and Bryant and Wilkins, could you imagine getting better preparation than dealing with those guys every day?

MITCH HYATT: Yeah, just blocking every day, I really do feel like it makes me better and makes the whole offensive line better, and they make everyone better around them. It's just awesome to have that opportunity to go against them every day.

Q. You're a senior; how quickly did all this go by?

MITCH HYATT: Too quickly.

Q. Tell us about your teammate over here who's going to be stepping up here.

MITCH HYATT: Clelin, I've been practicing against him for the past three years. It's kind of crazy the fact that -- I definitely think his reason for coming back was because of me, because I decided to come back. But he's just a great competitor, great player, great person. He brings it every day in practice, and he really knows how to -- just knows how to compete. Whenever I think in practice I've got a leg up on him one day, the next day he'll somehow just -- whatever leg up I had was just gone, and he just is beating me the next day. It just goes back and forth. It's been a fun journey to have with him just to be able to compete with him every day.

Q. Is he the comedian of the team by chance?

MITCH HYATT: He thinks he is, but...

Q. You have a talented dual-threat quarterback in Kelly. Sometimes he stays back in the pocket and throws, sometimes he runs. Do you have a preference? Does it matter to you?

MITCH HYATT: You know, it doesn't matter to me. I'm just blocking for the point, so if he comes over to my side, if he tries to run around my guy and my guy tackles him, I'm not taking responsibility for that, I'll tell you right now. But I think he -- especially him, he has the maturity to understand when he needs to tuck and run or at least move out of the pocket and pass it. He's really smart about that.

Q. Mitch, your uncle Dan Benish, he's got a National Championship, you've got one. How special would it be if you could add that second and kind of have that over him? And have you talked about it?

MITCH HYATT: Yeah, he still thinks he has a leg up on me because he went undefeated in his National Championship year. I mean, I guess he could say that he still has that over me. But I definitely think I would like to get another one just so I can one-up him on that.

Q. Going into your fourth season, what has Clemson meant to you outside of the football field?

MITCH HYATT: Just the community. It really is. As soon as you're driving, you see the paws on the street coming into Clemson. You just have a different feeling about it. You kind of just have a smile on your face, feel more at home, and just the fact that everyone there is just super friendly, all the people. I can go sit next to someone in class for a semester and just become best friends with them and like hang out with them for the rest of my life, like that kind of thing. But it's just very contagious, that type of atmosphere.

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