Young players showing improvement up front

Young players showing improvement up front

Football

Young players showing improvement up front

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A couple of Clemson’s young offensive linemen that stepped foot on campus a year ago look like completely different players now, in the eyes of fifth-year senior guard Matt Bockhorst.

Watching rising sophomores Mitchell Mayes and Paul Tchio in practice this spring, Bockhorst can clearly tell they have taken a big step forward in their progression over the last year-plus after joining the Tigers ahead of spring practice in January 2020.

“The improvement that those guys have made from when they got here a year ago is incredible, and it’s great to see those guys starting to get ready to contribute, as we need,” Bockhorst said this week. “So, really proud of both of those guys and looking forward to seeing them finish spring strong and then have a great summer moving into camp.”

Both Mayes and Tchio were rated as four-star recruits and ranked as top-150 national prospects in the 2020 class coming out of their respective high schools.

According to Bockhorst, Mayes – who hails from Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, N.C. – has taken his game to another level since his true freshman season in 2020 when he played 61 snaps over four games.

“The jump and improvement that Mitchell Mayes has made from last fall to now — and really you think about he got here a year ago to where he is now — completely night and day,” Bockhorst said. “Really proud of the improvement Mitchell has made.”

Mayes served as the backup to Jordan McFadden at right tackle last season and has benefited from working with McFadden while also taking it upon himself to be a more physical player.

“He’s gotten with Jordan McFadden a lot to help him with his pass set and some technique things, and really just getting a little bit more physical as well,” Bockhorst said. “I think that’s a common theme throughout this young group is not just playing the game, but playing O-line and getting ready to hit somebody, and I think that Mitchell has really improved upon that.”

As for Tchio – who backed up Bockhorst at left guard last season and played 80 snaps over nine games as a true freshman – Bockhorst believes the former Milton (Ga.) High School standout has a bright future and chance to be an impactful offensive lineman once everything clicks for him.

“Paul is super talented,” Bockhorst said. “He’s got great size, quick feet. When he puts it all together, I told him, his ceiling’s a lot higher than mine, and as soon as he gets confident and learns some techniques and all the details, he’s going to be a very, very good player.”

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