Spring RB Outlook
|Thursday, February 9, 2017, 9:52 AM- -|
Spring RB Outlook
Clemson will have to replace a guy in Wayne Gallman that broke the single season rushing record and an early entry in the NFL Draft. Gallman developed into a consistent threat and will be terribly difficult to replace.
Perhaps the most talented candidate in the race is Tavien Feaster who played sparingly as a true freshman last season. The other backs are talented, but Feaster has a different skill set. It is imperative he makes a jump and develops into the back the staff feels he can be.
A surprise last season was the improvement of C.J. Fuller. The Easley native is a power back that developed into the second team option last season. The staff trusted him more than the other candidates, and he did the most of the opportunity. Fuller is a one-cut back that has some limitations, but he is the most experienced heading into the spring. He also proved to be a valuable receiver out of the backfield. Fuller had huge touchdown catches against South Carolina and Ohio State this past season. He also set up the final touchdown in the national title game with a terrific kick-off return that put the Tigers in great field position.
Tyshon Dye transferred out of the program, and that leaves a big opportunity for Adam Choice. The Georgia native showed a lot of promise before his injury as a freshman and never seemed to recover last year. The staff is hopeful he can regain his confidence and be a factor this spring. At times, Choice has looked like a player who was ready to make a bigger impact, but setbacks have held down his role.
Clemson needed a back in this past signing class, and the staff came away with a very good one. Travis Etienne was committed to Texas A&M before he opened his recruiting back up again. At one point it looked like Tennessee was the favorite, but Clemson came in late and beat in-state power LSU for this great back. In his final two seasons of high school, Ettiene rushed for over 5,000 yards and 78 touchdowns. He will have to make the adjustment to the college game, but Etienne gives the Tigers a 215-pound back they have been looking for. Perhaps his best attribute, however, is the top end speed. My guess is that Ettiene may be second to only Feaster regarding breakaway speed.
Running back is a position that is more than just carrying the football. If you watched the Super Bowl, you saw the importance of protecting the quarterback when Devonte Freeman missed a blitz, and it cost the Falcons a huge turnover. Clemson will miss Gallman's tough yards, but maybe just as important was his ability to protect the passer. Whoever can do the little things this spring will say a lot about the pecking order at running back this fall.
Depth is a huge concern heading into the spring. Running back coach Tony Elliott will have his hands full developing the next answers at his position, but there is talent to fill the voids.
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