DJ Uiagalelei certainly has big shoes to fill as the successor to Trevor Lawrence as Clemson’s starting quarterback. But of course, Lawrence isn’t the only superstar on offense that the Tigers are tasked with replacing this season.
Travis Etienne is now teammates with Lawrence in the NFL after both were picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. But despite how good Etienne was for the Tigers from 2017-20, ESPN’s Desmond Howard feels the loss of Etienne on Clemson’s offense is being overlooked because of Lawrence.
“I’m tired of everyone talking about Trevor Lawrence as if he was the only superstar they had on that fantastic team, you know what I mean,” Howard said on College Football Live recently. “They had Travis Etienne, who was an excellent running back for like three or four years for Clemson.”
Etienne’s accomplishments on the field speak for themselves. The Jennings, La., native left Clemson as the ACC career record-holder for rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70) and points (468), while he is the NCAA FBS record-holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games).
Etienne is also one of only 12 players in FBS history with 4,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards.
“Very productive,” Howard said of Etienne, “and what I really liked about Travis Etienne — from 2019-2020, when his productivity slowed down as a running back as far as carrying the ball, he actually reinvented himself as a receiver, a viable receiver for Trevor Lawrence coming out of the backfield. So, not only are they going to miss Trevor Lawrence, but the leadership and the experience and knowledge and the dual-threat ability as a guy who can run with the ball or catch the ball out of the backfield that Travis Etienne brought to the offense.”
While Etienne’s shoes will be difficult to fill, there is plenty of talent ready to make an impact at running back for Clemson – including guys like Lyn-J Dixon, Kobe Pace, Will Shipley and Phil Mafah – and Howard believes it will be up to all of those guys to help fill the void left by Etienne.
“That’s going to be some big shoes that they’re going to have to fill,” he said. “I think it’s going to be multiple guys. I don’t think there’s one guy who can fulfill the role that Travis Etienne had last year or the last three years for Clemson. I believe it’s going to be multiple guys to try to fill that position.”