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Clemson LT Mitch Hyatt to Return for Senior Year; WR Deon Cain Declares for NFL Draft

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Clemson got two big pieces of news today.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson star left tackle, Mitch Hyatt, will play one more season in Death Valley. This is tremendous news for the Tigers who already must replace both Guards (Hearn and Crowder) after struggling along the offensive line against Alabama.

Hyatt was projected outside the top 10 for tackles in their year’s draft class by WalterFootball.com, so the decision makes a lot of sense for him. He’ll have a good opportunity to boost his stock into the first round with a more experienced offense.

This immediately lends confidence to Clemson’s ability to return to the college football playoff for the fourth straight season. Mitch Hyatt is a huge piece of the puzzle.

Tempering that news a bit is the announcement that WR Deon Cain will declare early for the NFL draft. This is largely expected, but losing your top receiver always hurts. He led the Tigers in receiving yards (734) and receiving TDs (6). WalterFootball.com has him as their #16 WR. Some outstanding WRs will be in this draft class include Calvin Ridley (Alabama), Christian Kirk (TX A&M), Simmie Cobbs Jr. (IU), and James Washington (OSU).

Nevertheless the move may be a win-win for Cain and the Tigers. For Cain, he may not have improved his mid-round draft grade much with another year in a (temporarily) run-heavy offense. Additionally, young wide receivers like Tee Higgins can’t be kept off the field much longer.

For Clemson, depth at WR cushions this loss. Rising 5th year senior Trevion Thompson, who has waited his turn, will benefit, as will Diondre Overton and Cornell Powell. Tee Higgins now has a good opportunity to earn a starting position. More notably though it opens up a scholarship in what is a very tight class. See the updated scholarship table below.

Updated 2018 Scholarship Breakdown

# Departing Seniors # Stated Transfers # Stated Early Departures # Other Open Scholarships # Potential Early Departures # Potential Transfers
# Departing Seniors # Stated Transfers # Stated Early Departures # Other Open Scholarships # Potential Early Departures # Potential Transfers
1 DJ Greenlee 7 Amir Trapp 8 Taylor Hearn 12 Kaleb Bevelle 15 Clelin Ferrell 18 QB
2 Maverick Morris 9 Ray-Ray McCloud 13 Kelby Bevelle 16 Christian Wilkins 19 RB
3 Tyrone Crowder 10 Van Smith 14 Pat Godfrey 17 Austin Bryant 20 Other
4 Ryan Carter 11 Deon Cain
5 Marcus Edmond
6 Dorian O'Daniel

15 scholarships were awarded to recruits in December. With three draft eligible juniors with NFL decisions to make and our projection of three transfers, there could be as many as four scholarships available for the February signing period. Rumors have circulated today that some, if not all three, of Clemson’s outstanding junior defensive lineman are considering returning for a senior season. If so, Clemson will need at least one transfer to make numbers work (we can assume there will be at least one) and need additional transfers to add more recruits in February.

All this is good news. Today was kind to the Tigers. Expect news on the defensive linemen to break soon and the inevitable offseason transfers to hit. Clemson is setting up for a great 2018.