The Clemson football program lost a battle on Thursday.
The Tigers announced that starting left tackle Isaiah Battle, who played more total snaps (824) than other player on the team in 2014, was leaving school and entering the NFL supplemental draft.
“I have some family matters to address, with a child due this summer, and I feel it is in my best interest to enter the NFL supplemental draft.”
Usually, losing a starting senior left tackle unexpectedly at the midpoint of the summer would be a huge blow to any offensive line. However, the departure actually presents an intriguing opportunity for the coaching staff.
Incoming freshman Mitch Hyatt, a highly touted blue-chip 5-star OT recruit from North Gwinnett High School in Georgia, is a player who has the physical ability to come in right away and be an anchor for the line as well as a trusted blindside protector for QB Deshaun Watson.
Coach Dabo Swinney already took notice of the talented young tackle in spring workouts.
“We liked what we saw from Mitch in the spring and look forward to seeing his progress in August. We have other young offensive linemen who will also have a new opportunity for playing time.”
The Tigers obviously aren’t going to anoint the unproven freshman as the clear-cut starter before camp even starts. But it’s clear Hyatt will be the undisputed favorite to ultimately claim the left tackle job now that Battle’s gone.
The nimble 6’5’’, 270-pound All-American clearly possesses the type of physical tools it takes to square off against some of the highly athletic and explosive pass-rushers in the ACC. The only question is: Does Hyatt have the mental fortitude to handle such a vital role for a Clemson team that will be looking to compete for a conference crown in 2015.