Over the past week, we have began presenting the selections for the Dabo-Era All-Clemson team — a fan vote in honor of who are the top players at each position to play under head coach Dabo Swinney. Today we look at the offensive line. The big guys up front often don’t get the love or glory, but they are an integral part of the offense and lead the way for stars like Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne to dazzle us. Below is a quick reminder of the methodology for the selections.
- The STS staff narrowed the ballot to just two players at QB, RB, WR-9, WR-2, WR-slot, TE, C, SLB, MLB, and WLB. Voters chose one of two options for the best Clemson player of the Swinney-era at each position.
- The STS staff narrowed the ballot to four players at OG, OT, DL, CB, and S. Voters chose two of four options for the best Clemson player of the Swinney-era. The top two vote-getters made the team.
- From April 29th to May 2nd, STS readers cast their vote on an online ballot for each position.
- Voting concluded with 502 total voters. Voters were not required to vote on every position.
- Results are unweighted. 98% of voters are Clemson fans. 97% of the vote came from people living in the US. South Carolina led the way with 44% of voters. 13% of votes came from people living in North Carolina and 12% from Georgia.
Offensive Tackle: Mitch Hyatt & Jackson Carman (2nd Team: Brandon Thomas & Chris Hairston)
It’s hard to find a more decorated player, let alone offensive lineman, in the Dabo Swinney era than OT Mitch Hyatt. Hyatt was a four year starter for the Tigers, beginning with his first ever game in the 2015 season opener against Wofford. Hyatt was the first true freshman to start for the Tigers game one at offensive tackle since Phil Prince back in 1944. Hyatt’s freshman year was phenomenal, with him starting every game and not grading below an 80% in any game. He often scored over 90%, and even grading out at a 91% in the championship game against Alabama. Sporting News and USA Today named him first team Freshman All-American, and was a third team selection for the All-ACC team.
Hyatt continued to roll over the next three years, where he became a three time all ACC tackle, two time All-American and lead Clemson to three more playoff appearances and two national titles. Hyatt then joined the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent his rookie year.
The other OT is a current Tiger, Jackson Carman. Carman was a big get in the 2018 class, both figuratively and literally (he’s listed at 6’5” 345 lbs). It was a big coup for Clemson to land Carman, who was located right in Ohio State territory and many felt he might stay in his home state to play for the Buckeyes. In 2018 Carman worked in as a backup tackle getting 209 snaps over 13 games. The former Army All-American earned the left tackle job in 2019. In 2019 he played 798 snaps en route to being named third team All-ACC. It’s a tall task being named one of the best OT’s in the Dabo era for a player that has played just two seasons, but with what we’ve seen and his abilities, the sky is the limit for Jackson.
Brandon Thomas was a member of Dabo’s first class, the “Dandy Dozen.” Thomas worked in at both guard and tackle before settling in as a tackle. The Spartanburg native was a third round pick (#100) in the ‘14 draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Thomas has had an injury riddled career going from San Francisco, Detroit, and he is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was on the practice squad last year.
Chris Hairston had a big Junior year where he was named second team All-ACC as he helped lead Clemson to it’s first Atlantic Division championship. After his 2010 senior year, Hairston was taken in the fourth round (122nd overall) by the Buffalo Bills. He then signed with the San Diego Chargers in 2015, where he was for two seasons. Hairston is currently a free agent.
Offensive Guard: John Simpson & Eric Mac Lain (2nd Team: Tyrone Crowder & Gage Cervenka)
After dabbling in both tackle and guard duties, John Simpson found himself at home at guard and was a huge part of Clemson’s 2018 and 2019 seasons. Simpson made national headlines for himself before 2019 when he was selected by Dabo Swinney to be the offensive representative for the Tigers at ACC Media Days, an honor that many felt would have gone to Trevor Lawrence. With members of the media grousing about not getting to pick Lawrence’s brain, Dabo had Simpson show up for day one wearing a long, blonde wig. Media days were a great opportunity for America to learn about Simpson and his great personality and leadership skills. Simpson didn’t disappoint in 2019 as he went on to become just the sixth offensive lineman in Clemson history to be named a consensus All-American. John also added an exclamation point to Clemson’s blowout victory over NC State by scoring a touchdown as a running back in the “Fridge” package. Simpson was picked in the fourth round by the Las Vegas Raiders (that sounds weird to say), continuing John Gruden’s Clemson to the Raiders pipeline.
Our other first-teamer is Eric Mac Lain. Not only was he a fantastic guard, but also a phenomenal representative of Clemson. Nicknamed “Mr. Clemson,” Mac Lain stood out on campus by driving around in a custom orange and purple Dodge Challenger with Tiger paws on it. Mac Lain also had the honor to introduce then Vice President Joe Biden when Biden spoke at Clemson in 2015 as a part of the “It’s On Us” campaign.
Coming to Clemson as a tight end out of North Carolina, Mac Lain finished his career as the winningest player in Clemson history and led the Tigers to their appearance in the 2015 National Championship Game. Mac Lain is still around football, but now in the role of an analyst for the ACC Network.
On the second-team of our All-Clemson team, we start with Tyrone Crowder, who was a two year starter on Clemson’s 2015 and 2016 teams. Starting twelve games in 2015, Crowder finished the year as a third team All-ACC guard. In 2016 he was first team All-ACC, starting all fifteen games and racking up 25 knockdown blocks. Crowder had a tryout with the Bengals, but did not make the team. He then returned to the Clemson area and began his coaching career with the Daniel High School Lions in Central.
Gage Cervenka was a wrestling star at Emerald High School in Greenwood, SC and began his Clemson career as a redshirted defensive tackle before eventually moving to the other side of the ball. Cervenka started 2018 off as a reserve, but his efforts on the game winning drive in the comeback win against Syracuse. Cervenka also showed his versatility by starting at center in Clemson’s 59-10 win at Florida State, the worst home loss for the Seminoles in school history. Starting at guard, Cervenka was named second team All-ACC in 2019. Cervenka was named co-offensive player of the game for Clemson’s sixth straight win against South Carolina, and finished his career as a permanent captain.
Center: Jay Guillermo (2nd Team: Dalton Freeman)
Jay Guillermo was an outstanding center for the playoff era Clemson Tigers, but his story makes it all so much more amazing. Guillermo publicly discussed his issues with depression that seemed to come to a head following in 2014 football season. As it often does, depression can have an effect on one’s overall health. Guillermo was able to make a comeback and start in 2015 and 2016, earning second team All-ACC in 2015 and first team All-ACC in 2016. Despite his size and abilities, Guillermo’s NFL career was not long lasting, but his time in football is not over. Guillermo is the tight ends coach for the Western Carolina Catamounts in Cullowhee, NC
In his four years in Tigertown, Dalton Freeman started 49 games, including nine as a freshman in 2009, Dabo Swinney’s first full season as a head coach. Freeman came to Clemson as a top 20 guard recruit, however left as a decorated center with not only multiple All-ACC honors, but multiple All-ACC academic honors as well. Freeman went undrafted and joined the New York Jets as a practice squad member from 2013 to 2015. He then had a brief stint with the Buffalo Bills, an injury shortened run on the Houston Texans’ practice squad, before finally ending his career with a second run in Buffalo on their practice squad. He is out second team All-Clemson center.
With that, we’ve now revealing the winners at WR, TE, and across the offensive line. Be on the lookout for another article this week where we’ll see who won the tight race at RB between CJ Spiller and Travis Etienne.
Dabo-Era All-Clemson 1st & 2nd Teams
|Pos.||1st Team||2nd Team|
|Pos.||1st Team||2nd Team|
|OT||Mitch Hyatt||Brandon Thomas|
|OT||Jackson Carman||Chris Hairston|
|OG||John Simpson||Tyrone Crowder|
|OG||Eric Mac Lain||Gage Cervenka|
|C||Jay Guillermo||Dalton Freeman|
|WR||Deandre Hopkins||Mike Williams|
|WR||Sammy Watkins||Artavis Scott|
|WR||Hunter Renfrow||Adam Humphries|
|TE||Dwayne Allen||Jordan Leggett|
Past Articles in This Series: