Clemson’s Mitch Hyatt named Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month for October
DALLAS (FWAA) – For their outstanding individual performances and for leading their teams to undefeated records through eight games and into contention for the College Football Playoff, Clemson offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt and Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery have earned Outland Trophy National Player of the Month honors for October, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America and presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
The Outland Trophy, presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman. NFID is presenting the trophy to help increase awareness about the importance of annual flu prevention. Getting vaccinated each year is your best line of defense against the flu. This is the first season the FWAA has selected national players of the month.
Hyatt, the Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month, should need little introduction for those following college football the past three seasons. The 6-5, 310-pound senior from Suwanee, Ga., was an FWAA second-team All-American last year and now has 50 starts in 51 games played at Clemson (8-0) that includes three consecutive seasons and five career games in the College Football Playoff.
Clemson’s anchor at left tackle, whose uncle Dan Benish was an All-ACC defensive tackle on the Tigers’ 1981 national championship team, was the leading vote-getter in the preseason All-ACC selection process. Hyatt has helped Clemson’s offense approach record territory as it looks to earn a 9-0 record for the third time in the last four years (also 2015 and ’16). The Tigers are attempting to tie a school record Saturday by scoring 40 points in a fourth consecutive game, and have won their last three by 60, 34 and 49 points. A 30-point winning margin Saturday would make this the first Clemson team to win four straight by 30-plus points.
The Tigers enter the week as the only program in the country in the top 10 in both total offense (522.6 yards per game, tied for eighth) and total defense (263.9, third). Hyatt and the rest of the offensive line have helped running back Travis Etienne get to the verge (845 yards) of a 1,000-yard rushing season as Clemson has posted 450 yards of total offense in six straight games. The Tigers’ yardage differential (+258.7) is the best in the country. More specifically to Hyatt’s left tackle spot, the Tigers have allowed only 12 sacks this season, and Saturday could post back-to-back games with no sacks allowed for the first time since 2012.
Hyatt has had a decorated and expansive career at Clemson – his expected 51st career start this Saturday against Louisville will extend his school record for career starts by an offensive lineman, and is one start shy of tying Clemson’s school record of 52 for any position held by kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Hyatt was the first position player in Clemson history to record 50 career starts and will likely break the school record for career snaps from scrimmage against Louisville. The three-year letterman, with 3,343 career snaps, needs only 19 more to pass center Dalton Freeman (2009-12) for the all-time lead.
Tillery, the Outland Trophy Defensive Player of the Month, has the Notre Dame (8-0) defense surpassing expectations as it goes into a challenging final month of its regular season. The 6-6, 305-pound senior from Shreveport, La., leads Notre Dame and is tied 11th nationally with 7.0 sacks this season (ranked at 0.88 per game), and his 8.5 tackles for loss also lead the Irish and are tied for 79th nationally. From his defensive tackle position, Tillery’s 25 tackles, 16 of them solo, are 10th on the team. He is also tied for ninth nationally with 0.38 forced fumbles per game.
With Tillery plugging the middle, the Irish are 21st in the nation in scoring defense at 19.1 points per game and have only given up more than 17 points three times, each of them in a game they already had in hand. Opponents have gone three-and-out on almost one-third of their possessions against Notre Dame (29 of 104, 27.9 percent), and the Irish have held opponents to only 12 touchdowns in 22 red zone opportunities, and only 18 scores overall.
Tillery has started 21 consecutive games for the Irish and 35 games overall. Going into Saturday’s game at Northwestern, 8.5 of his 12.5 career sacks have come in his last 10 starts dating back to last November. The three-year letterman plays big in the biggest games – 11 of Tillery’s 16 solo stops came in games against nationally-ranked opponents Michigan, Stanford and Virginia Tech, along with six of his seven sacks. He also produced a game-clinching turnover late against Michigan, forcing a fumble that the Irish recovered.
The recipient of the 73rd Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 6, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee on Jan. 9, 2019. Up to seven semifinalists will be named on Nov. 14 in Omaha and three finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 19.
University of Wisconsin All-American Joe Thomas, the 2006 Outland Trophy winner who retired earlier this year after a stellar 11-year career with NFL’s Cleveland Browns, is serving as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador on behalf of NFID. Thomas has been an avid supporter of annual flu vaccination and is making media appearances on behalf of the #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind everyone 6 months and older to get an annual flu vaccine.
The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.
The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.