Spring Preview: Tigers will be young, inexperienced at guard positions

Spring Preview: Tigers will be young, inexperienced at guard positions


Spring Preview: Tigers will be young, inexperienced at guard positions


It’s a good thing Clemson recruits well.

The Tigers will need their talent to overcome some of their youth in 2020, especially at offensive guard. Clemson will be as young as they have been at guard on the offensive line in quite some time. Gone are experienced veterans in All-American John Simpson and All-ACC Gage Cervenka. Those two helped the Tigers lead the nation in yards per carry (6.4) and tied for second in rushing touchdowns with 45.

Clemson also finished 11th nationally in sacks allowed with an average of 1.20 per game and were 13th in rushing yards per game at 240.4.

Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell will have his biggest task to date in trying to get his offensive guards up to speed and ready by the time the season rolls around on Sept. 3 at Georgia Tech.

Redshirt sophomore Matt Bockhorst, the likely starter at left guard, returns with the most experience at the guard positions. The Cincinnati, Ohio native has played in 28 games, but just one of those was a start. He has logged 599 snaps thus far in his career.

After Bockhorst, Will Putnam played in 11 games last season, as a true freshman, recording just 192 snaps.

Here is a look at what the Clemson depth chart could look like at the guard positions going into spring practice. Clemson starts spring practice on Feb. 26.

Matt Bockhorst, *So., 6-4, 310: Bockhorst enters 2020 having played 599 snaps in 28 career games, including just one start. Last year, the redshirt sophomore recorded 421 snaps in 15 games with one start. Mostly as a reserve player, he helped Clemson finish fourth in the nation in points per game (43.9) and fifth in total offense (school-record 528.7 yards per game). 

Will Putnam, So., 6-4, 295: Putnam played in 11 games, while recording 192 snaps as a true freshman last year. He logged 34 snaps—a season high—in the Tigers 59-7 over Boston College. Clemson rushed for more than 300 yards and passed for over 300 yards in the 52-point victory.

Kaleb Boateng, *Fr., 6-3, 300: Boateng played in just four games last years and logged 21 snaps, while being redshirted. He can also play tackle and will likely cross train at both positions in the spring. He had a season-high six snaps against Boston College. Before Clemson, Boateng was one of the top offensive linemen in state of Florida coming out of high school.

Mason Trotter, *Fr., 6-2, 270: Trotter redshirted last season after playing in four games. He recorded 46 snaps, including a season-high 19 against Wofford as the Tigers racked up a season-best 702 total yards in the 59-14 win. A native of Roebuck, South Carolina, Trotter was a three-year starter at Dorman High School where he was a two-time All-Region selection. He also earned All-State honors as a senior. He started 41 games for Dorman.

Hunter Rayburn, *Fr., 6-4, 315: Rayburn also redshirted last year after playing in four games. He recorded 40 snaps, including a season-high 14 against Boston College. A 4-star recruit coming out of high school, ESPN ranked him as the 18th best offensive guard in the country. He started all four years in high school, and was an All-State selection in Florida after his senior year.

Bryan Tucker, Fr., 6-5, 292: Tucker is an early enrollee that will help with depth of Clemson at both tackle positions and could work some at guard as well in the spring. Tucker played in the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando on Jan. 2. He was one of six offensive line signees in the class of 2020. Tucker ranked as the No. 132 overall player in the nation, the fourth-best offensive tackle and the fifth-best player in Tennessee by ESPN.com. He also ranked as the No. 207 overall player in the nation by Rivals.com, which also listed him as the No. 8 offensive tackle and No. 7 player in the state of Tennessee.

Note: *redshirt

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