Etienne has 'Marshall Faulk Type of Skillset', Ready to be Tigers' Best Pro RB of All Time

After a legendary career in Clemson, Travis Etienne got his first and only chance to show scouts what he can do prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
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Travis Etienne doesn't need a combine for NFL scouts to know what he can bring in any pro offense.

A decision that made most on the outside turn their heads, Etienne decided to return to Clemson for his senior year; breaking countless school, and ACC records in the process and rounding out his game in a way that seemed inconceivable the first year he stepped into upstate South Carolina.

"He's an every-down back. And he didn't come here that way and that's not because he couldn't, he just hadn't been asked to do things and you know it was an option type of offense that he grew up in," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said during the Tigers' Pro Day on Thursday.

"But he's an every-down player, I mean he can pound it between the tackles, he breaks tackles, he runs through the smoke, he can run away from people, he brings explosiveness, and every time he touches the ball you hold your breath. He's one of those guys." 

Etienne only firmed up his stock as the best running back available in Thursday's Pro Day at Clemson's Indoor Facility, clocking consecutive 4.40 40-yard dash times and jumping 128 inches on the broad jump; which would have ranked first in 2020's NFL Combine among running backs.

"(Etienne) can play from third-and-1 to third-and-12," Swinney said. "His pass protection, he's really developed the tools that he needs to be successful there. He takes a lot of pride in that. And he's available, I mean this is just a durable young man. He never misses practice, he's always at the games, he's as tough as they come. Blue-Collar mentality, and just a great teammate."

With only five receptions in his first year as a Tiger, Etienne nearly doubled his reception totals every season with Clemson; finishing his senior year with 48 receptions for 588 yards and averaged 12.3 yards per reception firmly proving that he can be a do-it-all back at the next level.

"I think what's interesting with what you're seeing here with Travis Etienne is look at what they're doing with him, you know that's what the game has become at the running back position. "When you can take the running back, and you can line him out in the slot, you can line him up out wide, and you can run an entire route tree. These are Marshall Faulk type of skillsets that everybody covets, and I think it's something that separates, now, the good from the great at that position," ESPN's Tom Luginbill said during Clemson's Pro Day. 

"You look at the evolution of Travis from his freshman year as a starting running back, all the way through to the end of his Clemson career, and it's a versatile skill set, the need to never have to come off of a field. So when you get to this pro day setting, you can do all the three-cone drills and 510 five short shuttles, the 40-yard dash, and all those sorts of things."

Etienne finished his career at Clemson with 4,952 rushing yards on just shy of 700 attempts and racked up 1,155 receiving yards in his time with the Tigers, 1,020 of which came in his final two years with the team. 

Etienne gave most of the credit for his improvement in the passing game to former teammate Amari Rodgers, who also participated on Pro Day.

"Well, first of all, I have to give all the credit to Amari Rogers man, he just really challenged me to go out there and just get better," Etienne said. "After practice (Rodgers) would stay with me, catch on the jug machine about 10-20 minutes. Then we would catch a couple of tennis balls, we have those glasses where it flickers on and off, and we would throw the tennis balls back and forth to each other. 

"Really Amari just challenging me every day after practice of getting balls in. We stayed about 30 to 45 minutes after practice catching balls every day. During the summer, during the pandemic when everything was in quarantine, Trevor (Lawrence) coming out here, catching and throwing balls to me. It just really helped me work on my craft."