Somewhat abruptly and unexpectedly, Clemson has a rather significant hole in its offensive line to fill.
The football program announced in a press release Thursday morning that Isaiah Battle has decided to leave the Tigers and make himself available for the 2015 NFL supplemental draft. In a statement, the offensive tackle cited family issues as the reason for his departure.
“I have some family matters to address, with a child due this summer, and I feel it is in my best interest to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft,” Battle said. “I want to thank everyone at Clemson, especially Coach [Dabo] Swinney and the assistant coaches, for what they have done for me the last three years. I also want to thank my teammates. They have all had a big impact on my career.”
As stated earlier, Battle’s personal decision creates a significant hole in the trenches for Swinney.
Last season, the 6-7, 290-pound Battle started 11 of the 12 games in which he played. Exiting spring practice this year, he was firmly entrenched as the Tigers’ starting left tackle.
All told, Battle, a three-star 2011 recruit, started 16 of the 26 games he played in his collegiate career.
“We appreciate all that Isaiah has done for the program the last three years,” Swinney said in his statement. “He has made great progress in his development and has been a big contributor to our success the last three years, especially in each of the last three bowl games when he had outstanding games against very talented defensive lines from LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma. We wish him well in his pursuit of a professional career.”
With Battle’s departure, true freshman Mitch Hyatt will very likely be the starting left tackle for Clemson’s opener against FCS Wofford. An early enrollee who participated in spring practice, and who’s currently No. 2 on the most recent depth chart, the four-star 2015 signee would become the first freshman to “for the course of the season,” the school wrote, since 2004 when Barry Richardson started seven of the 11 games.