Freshmen wide receivers Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers have generated significant buzz through the first three days of Clemson’s fall camp, but they’re not the only newcomers who’ve stood out to the coaching staff thus far.
Another freshman that has drawn rave reviews in the early going is running back Travis Etienne.
“Travis Etienne, wow,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after practice Saturday. “He is going to be some kind of player.”
Etienne had a prolific career at Jennings (La.) High School, rushing for 7,518 yards in 42 games (179 yards per game) with 103 rushing touchdowns.
That includes Etienne’s incredible senior season, when he rushed for 2,459 yards on just 211 attempts, an 11.7 yards-per-rush figure. The former top-125 prospect by ESPN recorded 35 rushing touchdowns and produced 100-yard games in 12 of 13 contests, including six games with at least 200 rushing yards. He scored at least one touchdown in every game and multiple touchdowns in 10 games.
Etienne is looking to carry over that success to the college ranks, and so far, he has shown why he was such a dynamic runner at the high school level.
“He’s a 200-pound kid that’s got a great, thick lower body,” Swinney said. “He is smooth as silk, can fly, and tough.”
Clemson picked up Etienne at the eleventh hour of the 2017 recruiting cycle, scoring his commitment over LSU six days before signing day to gain a fourth scholarship running back.
There’s a long way to go before Clemson’s season opener against Kent State on Sept. 2, but according to running backs coach Tony Elliott, Etienne has a chance to push Adam Choice, C.J. Fuller and Tavien Feaster in the Tigers’ tight running back battle.
“This is probably the best competition that I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Elliott said. “There’s three guys that can legitimately, any one of the can end up being the starting tailback.
“And by the looks of it, there’s going to be a little pressure put on (them) by the freshman too. He just looks very natural back there.”
Though Higgins, Rodgers and Etienne are making headlines early in fall camp, Clemson’s true freshmen class as a whole has impressed, including players such as Blake Vinson, Jordan Williams, Justin Foster, Logan Rudolph, Baylon Spector, A.J. Terrell and LeAnthony Williams.
Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott feels the Tigers are getting everything they expected, if not more, from the new guys on campus.
“After the first practice, the coaches get together in the locker room and are like alright, how are your freshmen, what do you think?” Scott said. “And this is the first time I can remember that every coach was like, yes, we hit on them. This guy is exactly what we thought or even a little bit more.”
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