Tuesday marked the one-year point since Williston-Elko offensive tackle Taylor Hearn committed to Clemson. On Wednesday, he made it official when he signed his letter of intent.
Hearn was glad the day finally came for him to put pen to paper.
“It's been an incredible journey. I've been waiting on it a while, and it's finally here,” Hearn said. “It's pretty crazy to be at this moment. It's exciting.”
Hearn said everyone was welcoming when he visited Clemson, and in turn he fell in love with the school immediately.
Hearn, a member of the All-Aiken Standard first team offense this season, was ranked as the No. 18 recruit in the state by Rivals and the 65th ranked offensive tackle in the nation. He was a big part of the Williston-Elko program since his freshman season, and believes his time as a Blue Devil has prepared him well for the next level.
“I'm just a competitor,” Hearn said. “I like to compete, and I'm hard working. That's definitely going to carry on when I get up there.”
His head coach Dwayne Garrick also mentioned the 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman's ability to compete. He believes it could translate into competition for playing time early on in his college career and even potential on a higher level at some point. Garrick praised Hearn's physicality and work ethic among other intangibles that set him apart from other athletes.
“He's aggressive and competitive you know, you've got a lot of big kids out there who are offensive lineman that are kind of passive,” he said. “He's an aggressive, 'get after you' kind of player. The big thing is he loves to compete, so I look for him to compete early for a chance to play.
Clemson has had no shortage of talent on the offensive line in recent seasons. Four of Clemson's five offensive lineman, including sophomore right tackle Isaiah Battle, will be back this season. The one lineman to leave was left tackle Brandon Thomas, a member of the All-ACC second team offensive squad.
Hearn isn't thinking too much about how things will work out with playing time in the future. He said his focus now is on continuing to stay in shape and finishing out the academic year strong. Hearn was thankful for all the help he received from the coaching staff and his teammates at Williston-Elko. He mentioned that he would always be a Blue Devil, and he hopes that he can inspire others much like his coach.
“He's going to play on the elite level,” Garrick said. “It's a big deal for our program, especially since we're a small program. Having kids sign and seeing that all the things we're preaching to them are going to pay off is always good for the school and other kids in the program.”
Hearn added that one thing he's “really excited” to make his first trip down the famed hill at Memorial stadium. Hearn plans to head up to Clemson in June a few weeks after graduation. He has not decided what he plans to major in yet at the university.
Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on twitter @EricJ_Russell.
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Williston-Elko offensive lineman Taylor Hearn, center, puts on a Clemson hat before he signs his letter of intent to play football at Clemson University. Alongside him are his mother, Kay and his father, Rodger.×
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Williston-Elko offensive lineman Taylor Hearn, center, prepares to sign his letter of intent to play football at Clemson University. Alongside him are his mother, Kay and his father Rodger.×