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Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Clemson adds top junior on signing day

By Jared Shanker

Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) might have a few more bags to carry and fight songs to sing during his first preseason camp at Clemson. That is because the 2015 star stole some of his future teammates’ spotlight on signing day 2014.

Hyatt, No. 4 in the ESPN Junior 300 and the No. 1 junior tackle, committed to Clemson in a public announcement during North Gwinnett’s signing day ceremony Wednesday evening.

An underclassman committing to the Tigers on signing day is becoming a tradition -- February’s version of the Howard’s Rock and running down the hill. On signing day 2012, Deshaun Watson committed to Clemson; he finally enrolled in classes at Clemson a few weeks ago.

Hyatt visited Clemson for its junior day, which turned him from a Clemson lean into a Clemson commitment.

“We went to Clemson this past weekend, and we had the kind of visit that he and his mother needed to have,” his uncle, Dan Benish, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They got a lot of questions answered. The piece that we were missing from the Clemson side was academics, and we spent all day on Saturday dealing with that."

A number of the country’s elite programs offered Hyatt, but the family connection to Clemson was too strong. Benish was a member of Clemson’s 1981 national championship team.

“There was never any pressure from me to pick Clemson,” Benish told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But there has been a brainwashing going on since he was 5 or 6 years old. Never pressure, but a little brainwashing. ... I have a bunch of Clemson memorabilia around my house, whether it’s Clemson T-shirts or sweatshirts for his birthdays.”

It was only two cycles ago Clemson signed the No. 4 recruit in the 2013 class, Mackensie Alexander. Hyatt will be the third top-10 recruit Dabo Swinney has signed at Clemson.

The Tigers have seven commitments in the 2015 class, none rated higher than Hyatt. He is their third ESPN Junior 300 commitment, and his pledge comes on the heels of dual-threat quarterback Tucker Israel accepting the Tigers’ offer.