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Clemson Needs 'Collective Effort' at Running Back to Replace Travis Etienne

Clemson running backs coach C.J. Spiller told the media on Tuesday that the Tigers don't really need a featured back to be successful in 2021, and instead will need a collective effort from every player at the position.

With fall camp rapidly approaching, one of the biggest issues at hand for the Clemson coaching staff is having to replace the production of running back Travis Etienne.

Etienne, a first round NFL Draft pick, has been a staple in the Tigers backfield for the past three-plus seasons and left school as the ACC's all-time leading rusher with 4,952 yards, along with 70 rushing touchdowns.

Senior Lyn-J Dixon is expected to get first crack at being the starting running back. Although, in meeting with the media on Tuesday, first-year running backs coach C.J. Spiller emphasized that the Tigers are going to need production from more than one back if they want to be successful.

"Having just that one lead dog, I don't think we need that," Spiller said. "Gonna take a collective effort from everybody here. In years past you always had Travis, but I think as running backs, it's gonna take multiple guys for us to be successful."


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Along with Dixon, Clemson also has veteran Darien Rencher. That gives Spiller's room a wealth of experience to go along with the youth, as the Tigers have two very highly-touted freshmen in Will Shipley and Phil Mafah, and sophomore Michel Dukes.

"We have great leadership in our room," Spiller said. "You've got Lyn-J Dixon that's been here four years, you got Darien Rencher that has been here six years, so we have great leadership in this room. Those two are the older guys. I'm really leaning on those guys to help pour back into these young guys. Give them the wisdom that they done learned over their careers."

Spiller said the goal going into the season will be to have each one of his running backs ready to play to a standard. No matter whose number is called, or when, he wants his players prepared and doesn't want to see any drop in production.

"You never know what's gonna happen in the game," Spiller said. "You got to make sure that everybody in your room... got to make sure that they're prepared. Because you know somebody goes down, that don't mean that the standard got to go down. And the standard won't go down, the standards still gonna stay the same. It doesn't matter who you run out there."

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