Career Recap: Clemson has become a powerhouse in college football, led by some superstar quarterbacks with tons of NFL talent on both sides of the ball recruited by Dabo Swinney. Etienne will continue the Tigers' streak of putting running backs into the NFL, as he has been a sensation since arriving on campus.
As a freshman, Etienne averaged 7.2 yards per carry for 766 yards with 13 touchdowns. In 2018, Etienne averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 1,658 yards with 24 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 78 yards and two scores while helping the Tigers to win the National Championship. In 2019 as a junior, Etienne played well for the most part. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry for 1,614 yards with 19 touchdowns. He also has 37 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns. It wasn't all been good for Etienne, who demonstrated some ball-security issues against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. The game against the Tar Heels was a rough tape as a blocker and runner for Etienme.
2020 Season Outlook: The ACC is weak in 2020 so Etienne should rack up some huge numbers rolling over a number of weak opponents. The best defenses he will see are Florida State (Oct. 10), Notre Dame (Nov. 7) and South Carolina (Nov. 28).
Skill-Set Summary: The first trait that stands out about Etienne is his extraordinary speed. He has a sprinter's speed, making him a threat to take any touch of the ball the length of the field for a touchdown. With his first-step quickness and burst to the hole, Etienne gets to the second level in a hurry and will explode down the field. He is so fast that he can take away angles from defenders as he runs away from the defense. Once Etienne breaks into the open field, he doesn't get from behind as he is too fast to catch.
On top of being very fast, Etienne has very good running traits with patience to let holes develop, vision to see lanes about to come open, and good body lean to run behind his pads. While Etienne is not a big back, he does flash some nice contact balance to maintain his feet after contact, plus he has a nose for the end zone. At the college level, there are some plays on which he picks up yards after contact and runs through some tackles; however in the NFL with bigger and stronger defenders, Etienne will not be a back who runs over tacklers and picks up a lot of yards after contact.
Etienne is natural and fluid in the passing game. He catches the ball with his hands and is able to run some good routes. Etienne has the potential to become a good receiving back in the NFL and serve as a dangerous weapon to rip off yards in chunks on check downs to the flat.
Like all college backs, Etienne will need work in blitz pickup for the NFL. He would likely do best in the pros by being paired with a big back who can help protect him from getting worn down and also handle the short-yardage and goal-line situations.
2021 NFL Draft Expectations: In the 2021 NFL Draft, Etienne looks like a potential pick late in the first round or early on Day 2.