Clemson running backs Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon are all business after the departure of Tavien Feaster this past spring.
Feaster opted to transfer upon graduation after spring practice. The former 5-star recruit and Spartanburg (S.C.) High School graduate is deciding between South Carolina and Virginia Tech soon.
Feaster’s experience in the Clemson program made him a leader in the running back room and in his absence Etienne and Dixon have an increased responsibility to lead the younger backs.
Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was surprised by the timing of Feaster’s decision but believes he is doing what is right for him and is supportive of his former player. But now, he is looking to Etienne and Dixon to carry the baton in the Clemson backfield that extends beyond the field.
“Travis had a little bit of a comfort level with Tavien being a senior and a leader in that room, but now he’s the guy,” Elliott said.
Etienne has been “the guy” on the field since he stepped on campus in 2017, leading the team in rushing each of the last two seasons. He set the school record for touchdowns in a season last year with 24.
The expectations for Etienne are high and he looks to improve on a stellar junior campaign with more in 2019, but needs to fill Feaster’s shoes in pass protection, is an area both he and Dixon have struggled in as Tigers.
Feaster moving on makes way for Dixon as the definitive No. 2 back after a breakout freshman season, and Elliott is excited to see how he fills the void.
“He might of thought he had a little bit of time, but everything happens for a reason and it’s time for him to step in,” Elliott said. “He can’t try to do too much, but needs to be who he is and try to lean into what we do in the meeting room every single day.”
Dixon racked up 547 yards last year on just 62 carries and got into the end zone five times, including touchdowns at Wake Forest of 52 and 65 yards. Now, Elliott is looking for him to improve his pass blocking and also to keep his head down and lock in on the task at hand.
“The biggest thing for him is coming back with the right state of mind and focus instead of resting on his success from last year,” Elliott said.