In the time span of just a few months, freshman running back Travis Etienne went from being ranked fourth on the depth chart to breaking former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller’s record for most rushing touchdowns in one season by a freshman.
Spiller set the record for a freshman running for 10 touchdowns in 2006 and this past Saturday Etienne surpassed the mark after he got his 11 of the season on a 7-yard run in second-ranked Clemson’s 61-3 victory over The Citadel in Death Valley.
Etienne also had a 6-yard scoring run in the first quarter.
“It’s just a humbling experience just to be mentioned in the same sentence with him,” Etienne said. “To go out there and break his record, I’m truly honored, just truly blessed.
“I have to give all the credit to my offensive lineman and the receivers blocking downfield for me. They made it possible for me to go out there and get that.”
Coming in as a freshman from Jennings, La., Etienne had to prove he was capable of getting the job done at running back. With 679 rushing yards this season he quickly went from working his way up the depth chart to a standout and crowd favorite for the Tigers.
“When I get in there I just have to be the best that I can be,” he said. “I don’t worry about the opportunities I’m not getting and just focus on the ones I am getting. Just give 100 percent every opportunity I get and let things happen from there.”
Etienne describes Saturday’s victory over the Bulldogs as a “confidence booster” as the Tigers have one more game left in the regular season before they attempt to win another ACC Championship and make another run in the College Football Playoff.
“Today was definitely a confidence booster,” he said, “to get our confidence back up under us and just go out there and prove to ourselves that we can do it. Don’t get weary in the process, just keep on fighting.”
This Saturday Etienne will experience his first South Carolina game as the Tigers (10-1) travel to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (8-3) at 7:30 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“I’ve heard a lot (about the rivalry),” Etienne said. “We’re going out there playing for pride, playing for the state and see who is the bigger brother.
“We just have to go out there and give it our all because for the people here in the state, it means a lot to them. It means a lot to the fans so I’m just going to go out there and give it everything I have for them.”
Although Etienne has never experienced this game himself, teammates have told him the atmosphere can get chaotic and he is ready to go out there and give it his all.
“I heard it’s very hectic (in Columbia),” said the freshman, “and I have to bring the best I got. They’re going to be out there playing just as hard as us.”