CBS Sports Predicts Etienne to win Doak Walker Award

Christopher Hall

With the 100-day countdown to college football officially underway, CBS sports recently released storylines and predictions for the 2020 season. Among the bold predictions included a Doak Walker Award for Clemson running back Travis Etienne.

 Travis Etienne will be the Doak Walker Award winner: Top running back conversations too often ignore the efforts of Etienne because he doesn't rank high when writers sort stat sheets by yards and yards per game. The two-time ACC Player of the Year Award winner averaged 7.8 yards per carry in 2019 and 8.1 yards per carry in 2018 for Clemson, shattering ACC career touchdown and scoring records along the way. Lawrence might finally end up getting that ACC Player of the Year Award from the league, but Etienne will deserve national recognition as the top running back in the game.

CBS Sports' other bold predictions included LSU finishing second in the SEC West, Texas winning the Big 12 Championship Game, Oregon fielding one of the best defenses in the county and Florida State winning 10 games. 

Etienne’s decision back in January to return for his senior season took many by surprise. He didn’t feel completely comfortable with his late first, second-round draft projection and perhaps his gut instinct to return has already begun to pay off. 

In April’s 2020 draft, it took the 32nd overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs before a running back was selected in LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

“I just sat down and thought about what mattered the most,” Etienne said during his announcement to return for his senior season. “Just trying to leave a legacy. I’m trying to be remembered forever. Coming back gives me that chance to be one of the all-time greats here and in college football.”

Now the school’s all-time leading rusher is set to break a few more records in his victory lap around Death Valley. Through three seasons, Etienne has rushed for 4,038 yards in his career and has led Clemson in rushing the past three seasons. The senior will begin the 2020 season 2,466 yards shy of C.J. Spiller's ACC career all-purpose yard mark of 7,588. 

Etienne recorded 1,614 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns in 2019 while being named ACC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. He has also set the school and conference marks for touchdowns in his career (56).

With a national championship already in the bag, there is not a whole lot he hasn’t accomplished already, but a Doak Walker trophy and a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony would be a fitting end for the best running back in program history.

While those lofty goals seem obtainable, Etienne will have to do it behind a rebuilt offensive line in 2020 that returns only one starter. The Tigers have several options to fill in the holes left behind by John Simpson, Tremayne Anchrum, Sean Pollard and Gage Cervenka. Jackson Carman returns as the key leader in the trenches but it will not be easy to replace one of the best offensive fronts in the country from last season. 

If the Tigers can solidify that rotation and stay healthy, Clemson has the potential to take the offense to even greater heights in 2020 which could signal another monster season on the ground for Etienne.