Clemson plays 13 true freshmen in Saturday’s opener

Clemson played 13 true freshmen in the season opener against Wofford, the most in a single game since 1943. That year the U.S. Government drafted Clemson’s entire junior and senior classes, so Frank Howard’s team was made up of entirely freshmen and sophomores.

The true freshman Tigers who played in today’s game were Austin Bryant (DE), Kelly Bryant (QB), Deon Cain (WR), J.D. Davis (LB), Judah Davis (LB), Jake Fruhmorgen (OT), Albert Huggins (DT), Mitch Hyatt (OT), Ray-Ray McCloud (WR), Van Smith (S), Christian Wilkins (DT), Garrett Williams (TE) and Jalen Williams (LB).

The most true freshmen Clemson has played over the course of a season since 1952 is 12, in 2011. Eight of those 2011 freshmen were still on NFL rosters when the day started. One of the 12 from 2011 was Charone Peake, who is still on the Clemson team.

With Mitch Hyatt starting at offensive tackle Saturday for the Tigers, he is first Clemson true freshman to start the first game of the season at offensive tackle since Phil Prince started the opener against Presbyterian in 1944.

Hyatt is the first true freshman to start the season opener at any offensive line position since James Farr started the 1980 season opener at center against Rice.

Hyatt is first freshman (true or red-shirt) to start the season opening game at any offensive line position since Nathan Bennett against Georgia in 2003. Bennett was a red-shirt freshman.

Hyatt is just the third true freshman to start the season opener at any position under Dabo Swinney. The others are Chandler Catanzaro (2010, PK), and Adam Humphries (2011, WR). (Yes Humphries, not Sammy Watkins).

Since freshman eligibility returned to college sports for the 1972-73 academic year, Hyatt is the ninth freshman (red-shirt or true) offensive lineman to start the season opener. The others are Gary Brown (1979, OT), James Farr (1980, C), Frank DeIuliis (1985, OT), 1987 Eric Harmon (1987, OG), Jim Bundren (1994, OG), Glenn Rountree (1994, OG), Jermyn Chester (2000, OG), Nathan Bennett (2003, OG). All were red-shirt freshmen other than Farr.