Will Etienne or Feaster or both become the go-to guys in 2018?
This time last year, everyone was curious what Clemson’s running game was going to look like in 2017.
Gone was Wayne Gallman, one of the more productive running backs in Clemson football history. The Tigers returned three players with experience in C.J. Fuller, Adam Choice and Tavien Feaster, but none of them had any real experience.
Then there was the wildcard in Travis Etienne, who the Tigers inked last February. Clemson running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was confident the freshman could come in and challenge the other three, but it all depend on how fast he picked up the offense.
Etienne picked up things pretty fast.
By the middle of fall camp, Etienne was the star of camp and was being raved about from coaches and players. The freshman from Jennings, La., did not disappoint once he got his opportunity.
In his first game, he rushed for 81 yards on just 8 carries and scored one touchdown. In Week 3 at Louisville, he announced himself to the college football world when he bounced a carry outside and raced 81 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
The next week against Boston College, Etienne rushed for 113 yards and scored two more touchdowns. The Travis Etienne train was on the track and few teams could stop him in 2017.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back finished the year with a team-high 766 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns, though he never started a game.
Feaster was the Tigers’ primary starter at running back. He started 11 of the Tigers’ 14 games at running back, and like Etienne, was very explosive at times. He rushed for a career-high 105 yards at NC State, including an 89-yard touchdown run right up the gut where he split the safeties in the middle of the field and out ran them to the end zone.
The sophomore from Spartanburg also caught a 60-yard touchdown pass against Virginia Tech.
Feaster finished the season with 8 touchdowns overall, while running for 669 yards and catching 12 passes for 112 yards.
The question is has Etienne and Feaster done enough to be considered the No. 1 and No. 2 running backs entering 2018?
Toward the end of the year, Choice clearly became the No. 3 guy and even took some carries away from Feaster in the last three games. The junior rushed for 326 yards on 67 carries and scored 6 touchdowns.
Choice had touchdown runs against Florida State and Miami.
Fuller’s workload slipped once Feaster and Etienne emerged as the workhorses. The redshirt junior ran for just 217 yards and scored three touchdowns on 58 carries. His best game came against Georgia Tech when he ran the ball 8 times for 50 yards.
Fuller did not get a carry in the Sugar Bowl or against NC State and Syracuse.