Clemson Football

Remember the Name: Travis Etienne getting better, and more popular, by the week

November 12, 2017
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Clemson running back Travis Etienne almost didn’t come to Clemson.

In fact, the freshman from Louisiana “still catches some trouble” back home for his decision to leave the bayou.

Etienne flew in under the radar when he committed to Clemson six days before signing day. Not many fans had heard his name before, and a lot of attention was on other top prospects.

Now fans chant his name after every big run he has.

© Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Etienne rips off one of his signature touchdown runs against Louisville.

Co-offensive coordinator and running back coach Tony Elliott was pleased with the development of the running back trio he was working with over the summer. But when asked about Etienne, his eyes would light up.

“He doesn’t always know where he’s going,” Eliott said in August. “But he gets there fast.”

Etienne’s talent is somewhat indescribable.

He’s listed as 5’10, 200 pounds but runs with the power as if he is 6’6, 280 pounds. Etienne will break through a tackle like a bull and then take off with the speed of a gazelle.

The freshman even makes the five-yard runs look impressive because of his ability to run downhill and escape the grasps of defenders.

It’s poetry in motion, and every Clemson fan wants to see him get more and more touches as the season continues.

“He’s special,” Dabo Swinney said after the 31-14 victory over Florida State.

He’s exciting because he is just one of those guys that every time he touches it, he’s just got that ability to break a tackle and take it the distance.
- Dabo Swinney

Swinney was complimentary of Etienne’s development this season through 10 games. The freshman is getting more confident with every game, with every touch.

“He’s exciting because he is just one of those guys that every time he touches it, he’s just got that ability to break a tackle and take it the distance,” Swinney said.

Etienne’s speed is similar to Clemson great C.J. Spiller, but his running ability is similar to the last player who wore number nine for the Tigers.

“He runs kind of like Wayne Gallman,” Swinney said. “He’s got that violence to it when he runs.

“But he’s faster.”

Etienne has 80 carries for 617 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

He’s averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

Not bad for a freshman.

“It was a really good feeling,” Etienne said after his 14 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns lead Clemson to its third-straight division title. “I’m just thankful for my offensive line, and I couldn’t do it without them. I’m just thankful.”

The best part about Etienne is the pure excitement and joy that he shows off the field.

I’m just thankful for my offensive line, and I couldn’t do it without them. I’m just thankful.
- Travis Etienne

As his popularity has grown on campus and across the country, Etienne remains himself when the cameras are on him.

The 18-year-old still gets a little nervous during interviews, but that doesn’t stop him from smiling and showing off his mouth full of braces when he has trouble thinking of what exactly to say.

“Coach Swinney and coach Elliott really know what they are doing, and they have a system that works,” Etienne said on what sold him to Clemson. “They were going to develop me into the best player I can be and a great man and great husband.”

He has noticed that his popularity, like his confidence, has grown since the first game of the season and those same fans that didn’t know him before attach themselves to him after the game.

“People on campus come up to me and tell me ‘good job,' and after the games, people create circles around me and it’s really hard to get out,” Etienne said. “I can’t sign every autograph, but I try to get as many as I can.”

How ironic is it that the same kid whose name wasn’t known when he stepped on campus, now doesn't have enough time to sign his name on every piece of Clemson memorabilia that gets thrown at him after games?

Etienne is a rising star and is just what Swinney describes him to be: special.

If you didn’t know who he was before, you do now just ten games into his career.


Travis Etienne Post Game Interview

Discussion from...

Remember the Name: Travis Etienne getting better, and more popular, by the week

THE Commish
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Awesome article! Thanks. Still his most exciting run to me and the one when I knew this kid was special was his 81 TD run against Louisville. Watch the two strides he takes from the numbers at the 20 yard line to about the 26. I'm dating myself here but almost Tony Dorsett-like. An "embarrassment of riches"!


Tigers Rise
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With you Commish! That was the run where I thought...we've got something with this kid.
Tigers Rise
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This also got me thinking, how good must he be compared to the guys we face weekly? He broke several long runs against our defense in camp. Think about that for a second.
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