Matt Bockhorst does not feel there will be a drop off on the offensive line this year, despite the fact Clemson has to replace four starters.
“I wouldn’t buy into that, having Coach [Robbie] Caldwell as your coach, first off, he doesn’t accept much less than perfect,” the junior said. “Number two, we lost talented guys, but I wouldn’t say there is a drop off.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney agrees with his new starter at left guard. Swinney thinks the first group on the offensive line will be just fine. However, despite the talent Clemson has on the O-Line, the second group is young and before the Tigers departed from spring practice last week, their inexperience had been showing up.
“We got a bunch of freshmen playing with that second group,” Swinney said.
Though he is a first-year starter, Bockhorst is heading into his fourth season at Clemson. After redshirting in 2017, he has played as a reserve the last two years, primarily backing up All-American John Simpson at left guard.
Swinney says Bockhorst is one of the brightest players on his team, carrying a 4.0 in the classroom and as an honor student. On the field, he says the 6-foot-4, 310-pound guard is as nasty as any offensive line he has ever had play for him and now he can’t wait to see him lead the offensive line as a starter.
Bockhorst is embracing his new role. He says the biggest thing is telling all of his young colleagues not to freak out.
“You’ve come in your first day it is pretty overwhelming. The speed of the game, the physicality,” he said. “The biggest thing is to take it one day at a time, and learn as much as you can, absorb the offense.”
That is what Bockhorst did. Now, after three seasons watching Simpson became an All-American, he finally gets his turn to shine.
“I definitely take a lot of pride in it. I am really thankful for the guys who have come before me and guys that have taken me under their wing, John Simpson notably,” he said. “Now that it is my time, it is something I have to pay forward to the young guys.”
Unfortunately, Bockhorst will have to wait until the summer before he can continue teaching and helping the younger players up front. With Clemson’s campus closed due the coronavirus pandemic, the Tigers spring is likely over.
The ACC has already suspended all competition and gatherings indefinitely this spring and with President Donald Trump asking no more than 10 people to gather at one time on Monday, the league is likely to cancel all competition, activities and practices the rest of the spring semester when it meets this morning via a teleconference call.
That means no more spring practices and no spring game, which also means it could be May or even longer before the Tigers are allowed back on the practice fields or in the weight room again.
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