Clemson’s senior class can make history this Saturday at Death Valley.
With a win over Duke (7 p.m., ESPN) they can become the first senior class in ACC history to win 51 games. In last week’s victory over then No. 17 Boston College, they earned their fourth division championship, the first senior class to achieve such since the conference went to its division format in 2005.
“This group has kind of made history all year,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “It seems like every week they’re doing something that either hasn’t ever been done or hasn’t been done in a long time.
“It’s a real credit to this senior group.”
In addition to the group’s collective milestones, a number of seniors can make individual history this week as well. With his 53rd career start this week, left tackle Mitch Hyatt, who already holds the school mark for career snaps from scrimmage, can break former kicker Chandler Catanzaro’s school record of 52 career starts.
“For me personally, having a chance to recruit Mitch, and I don’t sell much in recruiting, but I said, ‘Look man. If you come to Clemson, we will have a chance to win a national championship,’” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott recalled. “I knew if he came others would want to come and play on this offensive line.
“We kid with each other every once in a while, ‘Man, it really came true.’ I think, his consistency and his demeanor and what he has meant, along with Deshaun (Watson), Mike (Williams) and all the guys that have come through, but really, I think, the transition has been when we became more solidified up front to give us a chance to compete with the teams we need to compete with down the stretch in the postseason.”
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is expected to make his 41st career start, which would break Jim Stuckey’s school record for starts by a defensive tackle (40 from 1976-79). And wide receiver Hunter Renfrow will seek a reception in his 39th consecutive game, which will break Artavis Scott’s school record of consecutive games with a reception (38 from 2014-16).
“It is just a great group of young men,” Elliott said. “I think when Coach Swinney started the program, he said, ‘You are going to build the culture through recruiting and graduation.’ And, that has held true because you are graduating guys that redefines the culture and each year when you recruit these guys, they are able to come in and see guys like Mitch Hyatt. They may have heard about him on TV, but then they come in and they are like, ‘Hey man, here is a regular guy that goes to work every single day. Maybe I just need to fall in line and do what he does.’”
List of accomplishments for the 2018 senior class to this point
- 50 wins (tied school and ACC record)
- 19-1 in true road games
- 25-1 at home
- 16-2 vs. AP top 25 teams
- 32-2 vs. ACC teams (includes ACC Championship Games)
- 23-1 vs. ACC Atlantic Division Teams
- 1 National Championship
- 3 ACC Championships
- 4 Atlantic Division Championships (ACC record)
- 3 College Football Playoff appearances
- 2 National Championship Game appearances
- 2 10-0 starts to a season (first time in school history)