O-lineman poised to ‘surprise a lot of people’

O-lineman poised to ‘surprise a lot of people’

Football

O-lineman poised to ‘surprise a lot of people’

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When asked to name one offensive lineman that he believes will have a breakout season and be a pleasant surprise in 2021, Clemson rising sophomore tackle Walker Parks didn’t hesitate.

“Hunter Rayburn,” Parks said, singling out the redshirt sophomore center.

Entering spring practice, the center position was one of the biggest question marks for the Tigers, who are tasked with finding a new starter to fill that role following the departure of last year’s starter, Cade Stewart.

However, Rayburn looks like he may be the answer for Clemson at center based upon the rave reviews he has drawn so far this spring, whether the praise is coming from head coach Dabo Swinney, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott or fellow offensive linemen like Parks.

“I feel like Hunter didn’t get a lot of the credit or maybe opportunity that he deserved last year,” Parks said of Rayburn, a Pensacola, Fla., native who played 57 snaps across six games in 2020 after redshirting as a true freshman in 2019.

“Props to him, because this spring, I know everything’s hidden, but you guys will see during the spring game and you guys will see it this fall, he’s been working his but off – absolutely working his butt off.”

Rayburn, who served as a backup to Stewart last season, enters the 2021 season having played only 97 career snaps over 10 games.

But despite his limited experience the last two years, it appears as if the 6-foot-4, 320-pounder is poised to turn a lot of heads this fall.

“He’s developed a ton, and he’s a baller,” Parks said. “He is a dude. He’s strong. He’s one of the strongest dudes that we have. You guys see him, he’s built like a friggin’ fridge.

“I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people this season.”

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