Clemson has reached into the heartland of the states in search of an interior offensive lineman for the 2017 class, and in its search they have found a prospect that has reciprocated the interest. Matt Bockhorst of the football factory, St. Xavier in Cincinnati, is a 6’4, 290 lb. road grader who is exactly what Coach Caldwell and the Tigers are looking for.
The big man from Ohio has had Notre Dame and home school Ohio State in his pecking order as his favorites, but he has not yet received offers from either of those two schools. In the meantime, Matt made his way down to Clemson to see the Georgia Tech game and also visit his bother, who is on the roster at nearby Furman University in Greenville.
Matt initially reached out to let the coaches know he was in the area, and Furman coaches--who are all very familiar with ex-Paladin and Clemson OL coach Robbie Caldwell--reached out to Clemson and let them know Matt was in the area and interested. Since then, the Tigers have extended an offer and ramped up their interest to the point Coach Caldwell is in Cincinnati today to visit the big guard prospect.
CUTigers took a few moments to speak with Matt, and we asked him about Clemson and his thoughts on the recruiting process.
CUTigers: Can you give us your thoughts on Clemson and the season they just had?
"I think there's a lot that can be said about the season Clemson had, but I feel like all of their success turns back to the culture of their program. All over social media, you see how much fun they have after wins and what not, and that is great because I love celebrating. But that doesn't mean that every single one of those guys didn't bust his butt in the offseason to get there. Even when they fell to Alabama, you could see the heart and desire in every player, and I particularly made note of the OL. Clemson is a true family with guys that care about each other and the game."
CUTigers: What are your thoughts on the Clemson OL and their development, as this year all five made All-ACC?
"It is pretty remarkable to think about how all five offensive linemen this year were first-year starters because of the high level at which they played. For each one of those guys, to receive All-ACC honors, that is a true testament to Coach Caldwell and Austin and their ability to develop players. Another thing that really attracts me to the Clemson OL is the closeness of the group--as they call it, 'The Union.' I think that is a huge part of their success."
CUTigers: Tell us about your visit for the GT game, the atmosphere and what you felt while you were in Clemson?
"My GT visit was kind of spontaneous. My family and I were going down there to visit my brother, and we decided to stop at Clemson. In all honesty, at that point I wasn't even considering Clemson because they hadn't offered, so I feel like maybe on that visit I shut myself off to all of the great things that were there because I figured I had no shot of getting an offer from there. Nonetheless, I still had a great visit. And even though it was quite rainy, to the fans it was nothing compared to the prior week's game against Notre Dame. But at Clemson, you really get this strong vibe of family and that the coaches care about their players. As I said, at the time I didn't have an offer but Coach Caldwell, Austin and Grisham all took the time to eat with my family. It's the small things that I take note of."
CUTigers: What are you hearing from the staff, and who is your recruiting coach with the Tigers?
"In the days following their loss to Alabama, a couple coaches reached out to me just to let me know how excited they are about me. For me, that was great to hear because I have a ton of interest in Clemson, and I am really looking forward to my visit at the end of this month. Coach Caldwell is my primary recruiting coach, but Clemson does not actively recruit Cincinnati. This whole relationship came about through mutual friends on the staff at Furman, where my brother plays and where Coach Caldwell played."
CUTigers: Who do you model your game after? Who are your favorite NFL and college players?
"I don't know if I'd necessarily say I model my game after a single person. My playing style has been called "old school" by multiple people, and I guess that is a pretty good way to describe it. Old school offensive linemen were mean dudes. If you had your hand in the dirt across from them, most of the time you were going to be put on your back. That is my goal every play. I have a finisher's mentality, and I do not let up until the whistle blows. But even though I do not model my game after anybody necessarily, I would say it is similar to La'el Collins in the NFL and Joshua Garnett from Standford. As far as someone on Clemson's team, I would say I am most similar in playing style to Eric Mac Lain."
Stay tuned, as CUTigers will closely follow Bockhorst's recruitment and keep you aprised of any updates!