Former Clemson running back Travis Etienne, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, will certainly not be easy for the Tigers to replace.
Etienne completed one of the most prolific careers in Clemson, ACC and college football history across the 2017-20 seasons, leaving Clemson as the NCAA FBS record holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games), as well as the ACC career record-holder for rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70) and points (468). He became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher in 2020, surpassing a mark held by NC State’s Ted Brown since 1978.
But while Etienne is gone, the Tigers welcomed a couple of talented running backs to campus in January as part of their 2021 recruiting class, including former five-star prospect Will Shipley.
The product of Weddington High School (Matthews, N.C.) was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back in the 2021 class. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder rushed for 4,173 yards on 503 carries (8.3 yards per rush) in his three-year high school career, while racking up 1,411 receiving yards on 84 catches for a 16.8-yard average, and scoring 80 touchdowns in his career — 55 rushing, 23 receiving and two on defense.
Speaking to Eric Mac Lain and Kelly Gramlich on the Gramlich and Mac Lain podcast, ESPN analyst and national recruiting director Tom Luginbill named Shipley as one of the players in this year’s ACC freshmen class that has a chance to play right away and make an immediate impact.
“If you ask me, from a running back perspective, I think sometimes — and you would know better than anybody else, Eric — I don’t think people are giving enough credit or credence to how big the loss of Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers together are, together,” Luginbill said. “You lose those two guys, because — and you’re an offensive line guy — but I think Clemson is in a phase right now in the offensive line where they’re very average, at best, and a Travis Etienne made them a lot better up front.
“And so, can Will Shipley come in after being a midyear guy and have a significant role? … As a freshman, I think Will Shipley’s got a chance to be outstanding for Clemson moving forward.”
— Eric Mac Lain (@EricMacLain) July 14, 2021
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