Tavien Feaster’s decision to transfer from Clemson does affect the Tigers’ depth chart this season at running back.
It does not necessarily affect the numbers, Clemson will still have five running backs available, but it will make a difference when it comes to experience.
Here is how Clemson’s depth chart at running back should stack up in 2019.
Travis Etienne, Jr., 5-10, 200: Etienne is one of the best running backs in the country. He led the ACC last year in rushing yards with 1,658 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. He also had 26 total touchdowns, which tied an ACC record for a single season. His 24 rushing touchdowns and his 1,658 yards are both Clemson records for a season. As is his 8.1 yards per carry. At the end of the year, Etienne was voted as the ACC Player of the Year. He also earned MVP honors in the ACC Championship Game after running for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Tigers’ win over Pittsburgh. Eight times last year he eclipsed the 100-yard mark, including six games in which he ran for more than 150 yards. He had a career high 203 yards and scored 3 touchdowns in Clemson’s come-from-behind win over Syracuse. Despite being so dominant, Etienne still has to improve as a pass blocker as well as improve in the passing game.
Lyn J-Dixon, So., 5-10, 195: Dixon draws a lot of similarities to Etienne. He runs hard between the tackles. He is stronger than he looks, and he has explosive speed. Dixon averaged 8.8 yards per carry last year while rushing for 547 yards and 5 touchdowns. He had just 62 carries, but when he got his opportunities, he made the most of them. With Feaster now in the transfer portal, Dixon moves up to No. 2 on the depth chart. Though Dixon lacks experience, running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said Dixon is a little bit of head of where Etienne was as a sophomore when it comes to understanding and reading a defense in pass protection and when it comes to recognizing coverages. Experience, right now, is what Dixon lacks the most.
Darien Rencher, Jr., 5-8, 195: Rencher is a walk-on that has not played very much, but in the last year he has earned Elliott’s trust on the football field. He is a smart player who understands the scheme and knows how to read defenses. However, he lacks experience and is relatively small for a running back. He carried the ball 15 times for 65 yards in mop-up duty last year while playing in seven games. However, what Rencher lacks in ability, he makes up for in leadership. He is one of the more respected players on the team and is a P.A.W. Journey Ambassador.
Chez Mellusi, Fr., 6-0, 175: Mellusi is not on campus yet, but he will be next month. He is one of the top running backs in the nation coming out of high school and one of the top all-around players from the state of Florida. 247Sports listed him as the 17th-best running back in the nation, while Rivals has him as the 20th-best running back. A unanimous 4-star running back, Mellusi finished his high school career with 3,905 yards rushing and 50 touchdowns. He had 4,409 all-purpose yards and 55 total touchdowns. He averaged 9.3 yards per carry over 32 games and 421 carries. He had 21 100-yard games. Last year, as a senior, he had career-best 1,819 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged 165 yards a game and 9.9 yards per rush. As a junior, Mellusi had 1,505 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as he helped his team to the state playoffs. Mellusi played his high school football at Naples High School.
Michel Dukes, Fr., 5-11, 190: Like Mellusi, Dukes will not be on campus until next month. Elliott really likes Dukes. The coaches feel like he was a hidden gem. A two-sport star, Dukes shined in basketball as well where the Clemson basketball coaches really liked him. In High School, he ranked by 247Sports as one of the top 50 running backs in the nation and as the No. 13 player at any position in South Carolina He was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 21 player in the state. He concluded his prep career with 685 carries for 8,762 rushing yards and 117 rushing touchdowns as well as 34 receptions for 743 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. He led his team to an 11-2 record and a state runner-up finish as a senior in 2018 in the school’s first season in AAA. He rushed 188 times for 2,030 yards with 29 rushing touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 136 yards with two receiving touchdowns in 2018. He won Lonnie Robinson Memorial Award as SCISA Player of the Year and shared All-Lowcountry Player of the Year honors. Dukes ran for 335 rushing yards in a win over Porter-Gaud in the SCISA AAA semifinals. He helped First Baptist School to SCISA AA titles in 2016 and 2017.