5. RB Travis Etienne, Jr. Clemson
The 5-10, 200-pound speedster burst onto the scene as a freshman, tearing off 766 yards and 13 touchdowns. But Etienne didn’t receive a whole lot of national attention coming into his sophomore season.
The epic defensive front took center stage after all of the key parts decided to come back, and then the spotlight turned to the quarterback situation. First it was all about Kelly Bryant, and then Trevor Lawrence became every bit the No. 1 overall recruit the program was hoping he’d be.
Meanwhile, it was Etienne who saved the team’s bacon when Lawrence got knocked out of the Syracuse game, tearing off a season-high 203 yards and thee touchdowns to carry the team to a 27-23 win.
No one has come close to touching the Tigers ever since, and Etienne went on to become the ACC Player of the Year and a finalist for the Doak Walker award.
Lawrence is still going to be the star of the show, but if Etienne gets more work, he’ll be a legitimate threat to hit 2,000 yards after running for 1,463 on just 176 carries, averaging 8.3 yards per carry with 21 touchdowns.
He scored two touchdowns or more, and ran for 100 yards or more, in eight of the last 11 games, and next season it’ll be all about the workload.
If he gets 200+ carries, the numbers will be there behind what should be a terrific offensive line.
Then Lawrence might be along for the Heisman ride.