Is Etienne the best running back in the country?

Is Etienne the best running back in the country?

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Is Etienne the best running back in the country?

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Clemson running back Travis Etienne is considered one of the best running backs in the country. Okay, that’s really no surprise, right?

USA TODAY Sports ranked the Tigers’ record-setting running back as the No. 2 best runner in the country. The national newspaper, which also hosts the Coaches Poll, ranks Etienne behind Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, who won the Doak Walker Award last year as the nation’s best running back.

It is understandable while Taylor is listed ahead of Etienne. He has rushed for 100 or more yards in five of his 27 career games. He has rushed for 4,171 yards in his two-year career to his point. Taylor is averaging 154.5 yards per game running the football.

Etienne’s numbers are not quite that dominating, but he has shared the backfield with Tavien Feaster and Adam Choice the last two years. Though Taylor’s stats are impressive, understand he is carried the ball 100 more times than Etienne did last year.

Last year, Etienne carried the ball 204 times compared to Taylor’s 307 and still rushed for 1,658 yards. Etienne also averaged 8.1 yards per carry a whole yard more than Taylor’s 7.1. And though he played in one more game than Taylor, Etienne’s 24 rushing touchdowns far exceeded Taylor’s 16. Etienne had 22 rushing touchdowns after his 14th game.

For his career, Etienne has rushed for 2,456 yards and 37 touchdowns, eight more than Taylor’s. He is averaging 86.6 yards per game and 7.8 per carry. Taylor has averaged 6.9 yards per carry in his career thus far.

The Jennings, Louisiana native set the single-season school rushing record at Clemson last year, while also demolishing the program’s single-season record for rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns (26). His total touchdowns also tied an ACC record.

Etienne averaged 110.5 yards per game, the second-best figure in school history for a single season. His 8.1 yards per carry average is the best by any qualifying running back in a season. Obliterating Billy Hair’s 1950 record of 7.4 yards per carry.

Etienne rushed for 100 yards or more eight times last season, including a career-high 203 yards against Syracuse. He also rushed for 150 or more yards five other times and scored at least 3 touchdowns in four different games.

As Etienne enters the 2019 season, all of the career rushing marks are in his sight, including the granddaddy of them all – the career rushing record.

Raymond Priester’s career rushing mark of 3,966 yards, which was set from 1994-’97, is in range. Etienne needs 1,543 yards to become Clemson’s all-time leader, a mark he could pass if he averages the same number of rushing yards per game that he did last season.

Etienne’s 37 career rushing touchdowns already rank third in Clemson history and he needs 11 to break James Davis career record (47), which was set from 2005-’08. He ranks fourth all time in total touchdowns with 39, and he needs 13 in total to break C.J. Spiller’s record of 51, which was set from 2006-’09.

All three of those major records are held by running backs that played four years at Clemson. Etienne has a shot to break all three of them as a junior, as well as average yards per carry in a career, which he currently owns at 7.8 yards per carry. A minimum of 1,000 career yards.

To see the rest of USA TODAY Sports’ top running back list, click here.

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