Clemson has an embarrassment of riches in the running back room as it prepares to enter the 2020 season Saturday at Wake Forest.
The depth chart lists returning starter and Heisman Trophy candidate Travis Etienne followed by junior Lyn-J Dixon and senior Darien Rencher. Sophomore Michel Dukes is set to run out next, but freshmen Demarckus Bowman and Kobe Pace are vying for playing time behind the established crew at the top.
Head coach Dabo Swinney said the freshmen are not quite ready for serious playing time on Saturday, but both he and Rencher said this week the talent is “as advertised” at running back.
Rencher feels Bowman and Pace hit a lull in the middle of camp. But they have lagged because of the odd conditions of summer amidst the pandemic and believes they will make a splash in the near future.
“Two really good dudes that will be special on the field in different ways. Demarckus is a burner and is super super fast,” Rencher said. “Kobe is mature and came out of the womb ready to attack life. He is the strongest dude in the room.”
As Dixon deals with a nagging knee injury that has him questionable for Saturday, fans will likely see Rencher follow Etienne and probably get a dose of Dukes as well. But the likelihood of watching the freshmen against the Demon Deacons will perhaps come later.
“They’re both freshmen and for everybody involved it was a really weird summer and they realized that getting ready for college football included a lot more details, time and stress on your body,” Rencher said.
Rencher feels Bowman is the fastest player on the team after he ran a 10.4 second 100-meter sprint in high school on an electronic timer. The speed has impressed the veteran Tiger and he feels fans will enjoy the “freaky fast” speed on Saturdays in the near future.
“They got to camp and hit a wall because they weren’t used to it but both of them will be really special and fans should be excited about what these guys are going to do,” Rencher said.
The top-ranked Tigers kick off the season against the Deacons at 7:30 p.m. at Truist Field.