by: Michael Carvell Updated:
It looks like the state’s No. 1 college football prospect for next year will get the recruiting drama out of the way early.
5-star offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt is expected to announce his college decision at 7 p.m. Wednesday at North Gwinnett High School, his coach told the AJC.
Clemson is the heavy frontrunner for Hyatt because of family connections, while Ohio State may be the No. 2 contender. He also lists UGA (he attended a pair of games this past season), Alabama and Auburn among his top five.
Why Wednesday night? That’s when North Gwinnett is having a ceremony for its senior college prospects, including defensive end Dante Sawyer (committed to South Caroina) and wide receiver Nate Brown (committed to Missouri).
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Hyatt is projected to pick Clemson because his uncle, Dan Benish, played for the Tigers – and because Hyatt attended Clemson’s Junior Day this past weekend.
Hyatt has been a regular at Clemson games since he was knee-high to a grass hopper.
“Knowing Mitch, we’d be crazy to think Clemson and Ohio State aren’t the two teams that everybody has to beat,” North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire told the AJC in a recent interview. “His mom and her family, they’re all from Ohio. I think she’s a big Ohio State fan. His uncle, who is really his role model and confidante, played for Clemson on that national championship team. But Dan has emphasized that it’s going to be Mitch’s decision. Lisa (his mother) and I’ve talked about it. They want Mitch to make the best decision for himself, and what he’s comfortable with. Dan actually told me at one point that he would be upset if he thought that Mitch in any shape or form made the decision for him. That’s not what he wants at all. But that’s an influence that has been there in his life. I think he has been on that campus and in that stadium too many times to count. Mitch is a guy who is not a thrill-seeker and likes to feel comfortable.”
Benish, who played five seasons in the NFL (including four with the Atlanta Falcons), also recently discussed with the AJC the rampant speculation that his nephew was a “lock” for Clemson.
“What I’ve talked to Mitch about is that everybody is talking about how he has family ties to Clemson. Everybody says that, and they’ve been predicting 100-percent Clemson. That may be true. You know, I would be the proudest guy in the world if he went to Clemson. I love the place. I am a Clemson guy all the way. But I told him I would kick his butt if he went to Clemson because of me. If that’s where he feels comfortable, I’d love for him to go there. But if not, I want him to go where he’s happy. I would hate to put a Gamecock jersey, but I would do it if he went there. Same thing with Georgia.”
What about Ohio State? “He is really impressed with Urban Meyer,” Benish said. “He left a really good impression on Mitch. Of course, he has been going to Clemson since he was younger. He hasn’t been to South Carolina. He has been to Georgia for a couple of games. I’d love for him to see some other places, including Alabama. I really get the feeling that once the onslaught of recruiting hits, he is going to shut it down pretty quick. I don’t think he wants to go through the summer being hounded, although you can never shut it down 100-percent.”