In his career so far, Travis Etienne has already become Clemson’s all-time leading rusher. He holds the mark for the most rushing yards in a single-season at Clemson. He also holds the record for most rushing and total touchdowns in a season at Clemson and is already the ACC’s record holder for both in a career.
However, despite all of those accomplishments, there are some that think Etienne still has room to grow as a running back.
“Etienne is a showstopper, but he actually needs to work on some things to become a truly great back,” said an anonymous coach to Athlon Magazine.
This coach, who Athlon says is a competitor of Clemson’s, questions whether Etienne can carry the load as a running back if need be. He says the most productive running back in Clemson history is a benefactor of Trevor Lawrence being his quarterback.
“He’s always been a home-run guy because they’ve never had to lean on the running game with Trevor there,” the anonymous coach said.
Though the opposing coach is somewhat correct, he is also wrong. Yes, Etienne has never been the bell cow in the Tigers’ offense. However, he has proven he can be if they need him to be.
Case in point, the Syracuse game in 2018. With Lawrence injured, and on the bench, Clemson leaned on Etienne a lot that afternoon. The running back carried the ball 27 times for 203 yards and three touchdowns. He helped the Tigers come back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 43 seconds to play.
Later that year, he carried the football a career high 28 times against South Carolina, rushing for 150 yards and scoring two touchdowns in Clemson’s 56-35 victory.
As far as becoming a more complete running back, Etienne is well on his way. By the end of last season, Etienne was proving his worth as a three-down back in the Tigers’ system, something they have not truly had since the days of C.J. Spiller.
Etienne finished third on the team last year with 37 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns in 2019. It was the most yards and receptions by a Clemson running back since Spiller caught 36 passes for 503 yards and four touchdowns in 2009.
In the Tigers’ Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State, he hauled in three passes for 98 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner.
Granted, there are some things Etienne needs to work on or he would not have returned to Clemson for his senior year. However, if his career at Clemson to this point has proven anything, he is more than capable of being the bell cow if called upon and he has all the tools to be a complete running back.
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