In one season, Jackson Carman went from the new guy on the block, to the most experienced player Clemson returns on its offensive line.
Last year, Carman replaced two-time All-American Mitch Hyatt at left tackle on an offensive line that returned four seniors. With John Simpson, Sean Pollard, Gage Cervenka and Tremayne Anchrum all gone, the 6-foot-5, 355-pound junior is now the veteran leader on a unit that is loaded with redshirt sophomores and freshmen.
“I remember as soon as we got back from the natty, I was eating lunch and Coach (Tony Elliott) walked up to me and was like, ‘You’re a vet now.’ And it just hit me, I was like, ‘Wow.’ So, I’ve been enjoying it, helping everyone and just being there for people and also learning from them. It goes both ways,” Carman said prior to COVID-19 shutting down spring practice.
With four starters gone from last season’s offensive line, and a lot of young players within the unit who will be asked to step up this season, Carman has stepped up his game as a leader and as someone the younger players can look up to.
“I feel the biggest thing that’s different for me is my role as far as leadership and helping all the young guys, helping be a leader on the offense and on the offensive line,” he said. “So, that’s something I’ve been embracing and loving.”
In his first season as a starter, Carman played in all 15 games for the Tigers, while earning All-ACC honors in the process. The Fairfield, Ohio, native held his own and was named to the AP’s All-Bowl Team for his performance against Ohio State’s Chase Young in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl.
His role played a big part in Clemson’s come-from-behind victory over the Buckeyes.
“I had a good year,” Carman said. “No one’s going to be perfect throughout the year. I felt like as far as my goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the season, I hit those goals as far as me playing an entire season, getting my first start, playing in the national championship, stuff like that.
“I felt like as the season went on, I learned a lot, and the higher up the mountain per se we go, the better competition got, and I felt like I held my own.”
—Gavin Oliver contributed to this story
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