Of the four offensive linemen that Clemson signed in its 2019 recruiting class, three of them redshirted during the 2019 season in Kaleb Boateng, Hunter Rayburn and Mason Trotter.
All three players saw plenty of action on the scout team throughout the year, and each of them appeared in four games thanks to the redshirt rule implemented before the 2018 season that allows players to play in up to four games and still qualify for a redshirt.
Boateng, Rayburn and Trotter also received valuable reps at the end of Clemson’s bowl practices when the Tigers had what they call “JV” practice for redshirt players. Clemson had a scrimmage with those players as well.
“Got to spend some time with them the last couple weeks since the playoffs,” Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell told The Clemson Insider prior to the Jan. 13 national championship game, referring to his redshirt freshmen O-linemen.
“They’re on the scout team, so obviously we don’t spend much time together. But the last couple weeks have been really good.”
Boateng and Rayburn both enrolled at Clemson in January 2019, and Trotter arrived on campus last June.
Trotter earned the most playing time of the trio with 46 total snaps last season, while Rayburn played 40 snaps and Boateng was on the field for 21 snaps.
A local product from Dorman High School, Trotter earned second-team all-state honors from USA Today as a senior in 2018 and participated in the 2018 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
“Mason Trotter’s up a little over 270,” Caldwell said. “Strong as an ox. Quick. Will probably be a guy that plays that center spot.”
Rayburn is also a candidate for the center spot but has the versatility to line up anywhere along the offensive front.
The Pensacola, Fla., native was rated as a four-star prospect by ESPN coming out of Pensacola High School.
“Hunter Rayburn, he’s about 315, 318,” Caldwell said. “Really increased his strength. He and Mason are really, really smart. They know every position, played every position on the scout team. They know our stuff at every position. So, that part’s been good.”
Boateng was a former Sunshine State standout as well. One of the top offensive linemen in Broward County, Fla., he helped Fort Lauderdale High School to a breakout 2018 season as an athletic offensive tackle with a team-leading 49 knockdown blocks.
“Kaleb’s gotten better, has really improved,” Caldwell said. “His strength has increased. Coach Batson and them have done a great job in the weight room.”
The other offensive lineman in Clemson’s 2019 signing class, Will Putnam, did not redshirt. In fact, the former consensus four-star recruit and national top-120 prospect emerged as the Tigers’ backup right guard midway through the 2019 season.
Putnam began his career at Glenwood High School in Chatham, Ill., before transferring to Plant High in Tampa, Fla., ahead of his junior season.
“We had to use him because of injury to Blake Vinson,” Caldwell said. “But he’s done very well. Gotten strong. A little over 290 pounds. So, really making great progress mentally.”
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