On August 8, a few days after Clemson commit Matt Bockhorst underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus suffered during The Opening Finals in mid-July, fellow Clemson offensive line commit Noah DeHond (Hightstown, N.J.) surprised him with a visit to his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“It’s not something he had to do, but he did it because he wanted to be there when I wasn’t feeling great to lift my spirits,” Bockhorst said during a recent interview with The Clemson Insider.
That is just one example of the bond that the members of Clemson’s 2017 recruiting class share.
The class is loaded with four- and five-star recruits and rated among the best classes in the country, but Bockhorst believes it’s the friendship and relationships within Clemson’s class that truly separates it from others.
“When you talk about the relationships we have all built and how close-knit this group of guys is already, I don’t think you can find that anywhere in the country,” Bockhorst said. “These bonds we have built are special, and that is why this class is special. People can talk about rankings all they want, but nobody else has the brotherhood that we have.”
Bockhorst and the other 13 commits in the class chat almost every day through text message or social media, and he said it is one of the reasons they have become so close.
In fact, they are all a part of a group text that is regularly abuzz with conversation.
“Typically we talk about just how our games went and who will be visiting the next weekend, but it does get interesting in there at times,” Bockhorst said. “Since we are so close we can all kind of talk smack back and forth cause we all know that it’s in a joking manner.”
“Recently the conversations about the election have been quite interesting to say the least,” Bockhorst added with a laugh.
Last Saturday, Bockhorst made his second trip to Death Valley this season for Clemson’s game against Syracuse.
Bockhorst was able to catch up with fellow commits Chase Brice, Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers and Blake Vinson, who were also in attendance.
“The visit Saturday was awesome,” Bockhorst said. “Had to get up pretty early to drive down on Saturday morning, but it was well worth it. It was my second game-day visit of the season, but the first time I was able to hang out with my guy Blake Vinson since the day I committed.”
Personally, the road to recovery hasn’t been easy for Bockhorst after he tore his ACL and meniscus at The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Ore., in late July.
But the four-star offensive guard from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, has attacked his rehab, is feeling good and continues to progress.
“It’s coming along,” Bockhorst said. “I am just trying to follow the process and stay as focused as possible. I am feeling good, but my knee needs time to heal. I will be fully healed at about six months, but I do not know when I will be 100 percent. My strength is coming back quickly, but it will take a little bit longer for me to progress as opposed to most other people due to how big I am and the strength requirements needed to support by body weight.”
Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell and head coach Dabo Swinney offered encouraging words to Bockhorst on Saturday.
“Lately we have been talking about how he is really proud of me for attacking (the rehab) in the way I have,” Bockhorst said of Caldwell, “which coach Swinney also told me after the game.”
Like the commits, Bockhorst and Caldwell talk nearly every day.
“My relationship with coach Caldwell is great,” Bockhorst said. “He knows I am a hard-nosed guy and I am going to come there and work. I’ve been able to develop relationships with the guys there currently, and they all tell me how he is really tough and demands a lot on the field, but at the end of the day he loves you like a son.
“That is the type of coach I have always wanted to play for.”
And Bockhorst can’t wait until he gets to Clemson to start doing just that.
“It is really cool to be a Clemson commit because Clemson is really good,” Bockhorst said. “But when June comes around, it’s time for me to put the work in, to earn the right to wear the paw. I get to do my part in continuing the tradition of this program.”