My summer series continues after a couple of difficult installments where the talent pool was deep and pretty renown to pick from. Clemson’s offensive line tradition has not quite been on the same level as some of these other spots over the course of its history, but it should also be said that these players often grind away in relative anonymity and usually only get really noticed if things are REALLY good, or things are bad by any measure. The program has had some great ones and it still isn’t the easiest thing to decide which four should be on the statue, but I did have a little easier time deciding in this case.
- Mitch Hyatt (2015-2018). Hyatt is an absolute no brainer in my view. The guy started from day one and his teams won four ACC titles, three semifinal playoff games, and two national championships. He is right up there with Deshaun Watson as one of the most pivotal signees of Dabo Swinney’s career to that point. Hyatt was about as rock solid as you could ever hope your LT to be, and while he hasn’t been able to parlay that into a significant NFL career, he is an all time Clemson and college football great.
- John Phillips (1984-1987). Phillips, like Hyatt, didn’t have much of an NFL career to speak of but was the best guard in Clemson history in my eyes. My formative years were spent watching him maul people for Clemson’s 2 back power running game. He was a major factor in the Tigers returning from probation to reclaim the ACC throne, a two time All American and two time Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner.
- Joe Bostic (1975-1978). I had to have a Bostic brother on the mountain, if not both, and I had to go do a deep dive into their college days to figure which would get the nod if I just picked one. While Jeff had the more prominent NFL career, at least in terms of being on the iconic Washington Redskins “Hogs” OL, I believe Joe had a slightly better college run with accolades similar to those John Phillips received. Joe Bostic still had a 10 year NFL career of his own and was a major reason the Tigers emerged from an abyss in the late 1970s to become a prominent program once again.
This last selection took more time and thinking than I originally thought it might. I had several guys on my radar for this. Jeff Bostic (as mentioned above), Kyle Young, Jim Bundren, Barry Richardson, Tyler Shatley, Roman Fry, Dustin Fry, John Simpson, Tremayne Anchrum, Landon Walker, Holland Postell, Jackson Carman, Chris Hairston, Brandon Thomas, Dalton Freeman, and Thomas Austin to name more than a few that crossed my mind. It was very hard to pick one from that group of guys for sure. Ultimately I decided to go with:
4. Barry Richardson (2004-2007). I’m a Wando guy, so I am going with a Wando guy for the fourth spot. Richardson was the type of prospect the Tigers simply were not getting on the OL at that time, but he decided to graduate high school early and the Tigers were able to get him before he really would have blown up on the national scene. Richardson was a massive LT who, like Mitch Hyatt, would claim a starting role almost immediately and hold it the rest of his college career. Richardson was part of one of the best offensive lines in Clemson history in 2006 and was a pivotal recruit at a position where the Tigers needed to be able to upgrade to take the next step.