CLEMSON — College running backs going in the first round of the NFL Draft is a rare occurrence in modern-day football.
However, Travis Etienne is not your typical running back.
The former four-star recruit from Louisiana played four years at Clemson and left school as the ACC’s all-time leading rusher with 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns. Despite averaging 7.22 yards per rush, Etienne was also a very efficient player in the passing game, serving as a safety blanket for Trevor Lawrence late in his college career.
Etienne finished his time at Clemson with 102 receptions, and 85 of those came in his last two seasons at Clemson. The star tailback averaged 11.3 yards per catch, to go along with eight receiving touchdowns.
Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars believe the versatile weapon can impact the game in multiple ways. The rookie is making a splash in minicamp.
“I saw flashes of what I remember seeing in college here the last week and a half,” Meyer told reporters on Monday. “The Jaguars, when you look at statistically, big plays were very hard to find last year, and this guy is a big play written all over it. He’s a space player, so ideally, we’re going to be one of those multiple offenses that has spread elements as well as the YY or the two tights. I think that’s hard to defend if you can do both.”
The Jaguars are working Etienne at both receiver and tailback as the organization believes the rookie can impact the offense in multiple ways. Meyer believes the young phenom could be a positionless player.
“At the worst-case scenario, you have a running back with the skill set of a wide receiver,” Meyer said last month. “Best-case scenario, you’ll have a hybrid player who does both, and that’s what we’re hoping to develop out of Travis.”
Despite the return of 1,000-yard rusher James Robinson, all signs point to Etienne being a major part of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s scheme in 2021. The dynamic athlete will attempt to impact the game both as a rusher and receiver. This is a player many people may want to consider adding to their fantasy football rosters in August.
Expect the Jaguars to get very creative with how they utilitze the No. 25 overall pick.
“He’s a space player, and you can see that the last few practices,” said Meyer.