This time last year, Travis Etienne was the talk of Clemson’s football camp. Whether it was head coach Dabo Swinney, co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott or a defensive player, someone had something to say about the Jennings, La., product.
Flash forward to Saturday’s scrimmage at Death Valley, and now Etienne is one of the people talking. However, he isn’t talking about himself. It’s running back Lyn-J Dixon that has caught everyone’s attention in camp thus far.
The Butler, Ga., native has made one big run after another in the Tigers’ first eight practices of fall camp, including a 50-yard touchdown run in the first stadium scrimmage of fall camp.
“Coming in here, and nobody really knows who you are, and going onto the practice field trying to prove yourself, you’re trying to show the guys that you belong,” Etienne said. “He’s definitely got that swag about him that he needs to be a running back. If he keeps that same mindset, the sky’s the limit for him.”
The sky is still the limit for Etienne as well. It’s not like Dixon is the only running back making plays. Etienne busted off a couple of long runs himself in the 106-play scrimmage, including a 45-yard touchdown. He also had a 35-yard run as well.
“I feel like I’m better at just being able to see a defensive hole,” the sophomore said. “I’m working on my job, where I should fit in and what I should do, things that I didn’t know last year and knowing the game as a whole. I feel like I have definitely gotten better knowledge wise.”
With Etienne still doing his thing, as well as Feaster, and now adding another explosive player in Dixon, Clemson has three legitimate explosive players at the running back position that can take the football the distance on any play.
All that does is open up the entire offense and the results are like Saturday when it produces 13 explosive plays against one of the best defenses, if not the best, in America.
“Everyone is out there competing, but we realized that we are teammates,” Etienne said. “We are at our best when everyone is just playing ball. We came out fast and have the right mind set. I feel everyone wanted to be here and wanted to play and is ready to get back to football.”
As for what Saturday’s performance against Clemson’s defense meant for the confidence of the offense, it was definitely a shot in the arm.
“It is definitely a good thing. We can’t get complacent. We’ve got to come out and keep getting better,” Etienne said. “We get to see this defense every day and iron sharpens iron. We are going to get their best effort every day. So, if you come out here lackadaisical, they are going to expose you. You have to go out with the mentality of being ready to play every day. I’m thankful for the defense that we have.”