Good Bye “Louisiana Lightning”: The Pleasure Was Ours

With the end of the 2020 football season and all the announcements to who’s going to leave for the draft and the transfers and all the chatter that is this time of year. One of the most important pieces to the Clemson football team over the past 4 years leaves quietly and as he did his entire career in Tiger-Town just “does what he does”. And that is go through life as he did on the field inside Memorial Stadium and that quietly astonishes with modesty and humility.

Travis Etienne the quiet kid with braces and a simple soft aura that just seemed so innocent upon his arrival to Clemson after picking the Tigers after a super late offer in the recruiting process. After previously being committed to Texas A&M the Jennings, LA native de-committed opened his recruitment back up and the Tigers came calling late. Just was this Tiger was the “ACC” version and not the mighty in-state LSU Tigers that Travis grew up watching and wishing to play for. Well, four years later it was the Clemson Tigers that benefited as “ET9” grew up right in front of us on the fields of the ACC and College Football Playoff.

The list of accomplishments is listed below, but no one saw this coming when this skinny sparkplug showed up 4 years ago. But soon after his arrival, the word began to leak out of practice that the new kid was a home run hitter as he carved up the practice time he got and managed to get on the field and make a huge contribution to the offense his freshman year. Since that breakout night At Louisville in his freshmen year it’s been nothing up upward and onward for the humble young man from Louisiana. That last piece to the puzzle in that recruiting class now has become the most prolific running back not just in Clemson but now ACC History. And has developed all areas of his game to make him an even more attractive pro prospect as he now moves on to the NFL projected as the Top Running back coming out of the college ranks.

This is our small tribute to the man we called “Louisiana Lightning” during his time in Tiger-Town. It was an absolute pleasure for this writer to cover Travis from his late commitment to his entire career here. I got to see this young man grow literally in all areas of his life on and off the football field and truly see a “Clemson Man” transformed in front of me. And I was a skeptic when he arrived this lanky skinny last-minute take that Spring. But man has this young man taken his opportunity and made the most of it. You hear that all the time in the sports world, but no better example can be pointed out than the one that is Travis Etienne. And everyone forgets Travis forwent the NFL and its lures a years ago to return to the surprise of many NFL analysts and more…And just as he was able to do in each of his previous 3 years, Etienne improved and grew and developed as he led the nation in receiving out of the RB position and made several 2020 ALL AMERICA list’ as the “all-purpose” back. To come back and refine his game and help his team back to the CFB Playoff and a 6th straight ACC title. Look no further than his graduation and the pride that brought to his family and Travis and you know it was about growing in every area of his life .. this is what Travis was able to accomplish in his four years in Clemson.

Courtesy Clemson Athletics:

2020: Doak Walker Award finalist … Maxwell Award semifinalist … Walter Camp Player of the Year semifinalist … named as a first-team All-American as an all-purpose honoree by the Associated Press and ESPN … second-team All-America selection by The Athletic and USA Today … named first-team All-ACC as both a running back and an all-purpose selection … second-team All-ACC pick at running back and all-purpose according to the AP … rushed 17 times for 102 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 47 yards at Wake Forest … with his 18th career 100-yard rushing performance in that game, broke Wayne Gallman’s Clemson record for career 100-yard rushing games (17 from 2014-16) … recorded his third career 100-yard rushing game against Wake Forest to tie a school record held by Kenny Flowers (vs. Duke, 1983-85) and Wayne Gallman (vs. South Carolina, 2014-16) for career 100-yard rushing games against a single opponent … his touchdown at Wake Forest moved him past Lester Brown (1978), Terry Allen (1988-89) and James Davis (2005-06) for sole possession of the longest streak of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown in school history (10) … gained 68 yards on eight carries vs.  The Citadel and also added 44 on his first career punt return … rushed 14 times for 73 yards with one rushing touchdown and also set a Clemson receiving yardage record for a running back with 114 receiving yards on five receptions with a receiving touchdown vs. Virginia, sharing team offensive player of the game honors … rushed 17 times for a season-high 149 yards with two rushing touchdowns and caught a career-high eight receptions for 73 yards vs. No. 7 Miami, earning team offensive player of the game honors … on a 72-yard touchdown run against Miami, he became only the 12th player in official FBS records to score 60 career rushing touchdowns … rushed 11 times for 44 yards with a rushing touchdown and caught two passes for 29 yards at Georgia Tech, and on his three-yard second-quarter touchdown run, he broke placekicker Chandler Catanzaro’s school record of 404 career points from 2010-13 to become the program’s all-time leading scorer … rushed 16 times for 86 yards with a career-high-tying three rushing touchdowns and also added three catches for 20 yards vs. Syracuse, entering the top 10 in FBS history in career rushing touchdowns … recorded 20 carries for 84 yards with one rushing touchdown and seven receptions for a career-high and school-running-back-record 140 yards with a receiving touchdown vs. Boston College, earning the Leather Helmet Award as the game’s MVP … broke the ACC career rushing record held by NC State’s Ted Brown (4,602 from 1975-78) on a 15-yard run to end the third quarter against Boston College … his 264 all-purpose yards in that game were a career high and tied for the 10th-most in school history … caught eight passes for 57 yards and gained 28 yards on 18 carries at No. 4 Notre Dame … rushed 11 times for 58 yards with two rushing touchdowns and caught three passes for 20 receiving yards vs. Pitt, breaking the Clemson record for receiving yards by a running back in a single season held previously by C.J. Spiller (503 in 2009) in the process … gained 66 yards on 16 carries at Virginia Tech … rushed 10 times for 124 yards with one rushing touchdown and caught three passes for 12 yards in ACC Championship Game vs. No. 2 Notre Dame, tying him with NC State’s Joe McIntosh and Boston College’s AJ Dillon (20 each) for seventh-most 100-yard rushing games in ACC history … recorded his 13th rushing touchdown of the season in that game against Notre Dame, allowing him to join Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the only players in FBS history to record at least 13 rushing touchdowns in four different seasons … gained 137 all-purpose yards, including 64 receiving yards, 41 kickoff return yards and 32 rushing yards against No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl … on a three-yard touchdown run in the first quarter agains Ohio State, he pushed his career point total to 468 to break Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins’ ACC record for career points (466 from 2009-12) … he also tied Travis Prentice (468 from 1996-99) for the seventh-most career points in FBS history and joined Keenan Reynolds (88), Montee Ball (77), Travis Prentice (73), Ricky Williams (72) and Kenneth Dixon (72) as the only FBS players ever to rush for 70 career touchdowns according to official NCAA records.

2019: Maxwell Award semifinalist … Doak Walker Award semifinalist … Walter Camp Player of the Year Semifinalist … second-team All-America selection by all five NCAA-recognized selectors … ACC Player of the Year, an honor he won for the second straight season … first-team All-ACC selection … ACC Honor Roll selection … recorded 1,614 yards on 207 carries (7.8) and 19 rushing touchdowns plus 37 catches for 432 yards and four receiving touchdowns in 579 snaps over 15 games (all starts) … posted a career-high 205 yards and matched his career high with three rushing touchdowns on 12 carries against Georgia Tech … earned Maxwell Award Player of the Week, ACC Running Back of the Week and team offensive player of the week honors for the performance … scored on a 90-yard touchdown run against Georgia Tech, setting a Memorial Stadium record and tying the school record for longest run … rushed 16 times for 53 yards and posted career highs in receptions (four) and receiving yards (52) vs. No. 12 Texas A&M … gained 76 yards on 14 carries and caught three passes for 32 yards at Syracuse … rushed 11 times for 61 yards with a touchdown vs. Charlotte … gained 67 yards on 14 carries including a 13-yard rushing touchdown at North Carolina … recorded 127 rushing yards on 17 carries, a 23-yard pass completion and a three-yard receiving touchdown vs. Florida State, earning ACC Running Back of the Week and sharing team offensive player of the game honors  … eclipsed the 3,000-yard rushing mark for his career against Florida State, becoming the seventh player in school history to reach the milestone … in that game, also became the first Clemson running back to complete a pass since C.J. Spiller on Nov. 14, 2009, at NC State … rushed 14 times for 192 yards with one touchdown to share team offensive player of the game honors at Louisville, marking the 11th time in his career he averaged 10.0 yards per carry in a game on at least five attempts to tie Colin Kaepernick for the most by any FBS player since 2000 … tied career high with three rushing touchdowns among his 16 carries for 109 yards vs. Boston College and also contributed three catches for 33 yards … Recorded a career-high 212 rushing yards on nine carries with two rushing touchdowns vs. Wofford, sharing team offensive player of the game honors … reached 200 rushing yards for the third time in his career in that contest to break the school record for career 200-yard rushing games (two each by Ray Yauger, 1967-69; Terrence Flagler, 1982-86; Raymond Priester, 1994-97; Andre Ellington, 2009-12) … broke James Davis’ school record (47 from 2005-08) for career rushing touchdowns with the two scores against Wofford and also reached the 1,000-yard mark in his ninth game of the season to tie Terrence Flagler’s school record for fewest games needed to reach 1,000 rushing yards (nine in 1986) … rushed 14 times for 112 yards with two rushing touchdowns and caught three passes for 31 yards with a receiving touchdown at NC State to earn ACC Running Back of the Week honors … scored his 50th career rushing touchdown in the contest, joining James Conner and Lamar Jackson as the only players in ACC history to accomplish the feat … earned ACC Running Back of the Week and shared team offensive player of the game honors for his 16-carry, 121-yard, one-touchdown performance vs. Wake Forest, in which he also caught three passes for 37 yards … the performance against Wake Forest was his school-record sixth straight 100-yard rushing game, breaking five-game streaks by Kenny Flowers (1985) and Raymond Priester (1996-97) … broke James Conner’s ACC records for rushing touchdowns (52) and total touchdowns (57) upon rushing for two touchdowns among his 51 yards on 15 carries at South Carolina … rushed 14 times for 114 yards with a rushing touchdown vs. No. 22 Virginia in the ACC Championship Game … rushed for 36 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown and led Clemson with 98 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns among his three receptions, including the 34-yard game-winner with 1:49 remaining, vs. No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl … contributed 144 all-purpose yards vs. No. 1 LSU, including 78 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, 36 yards on five receptions and a 30-yard kickoff return … against LSU, broke Raymond Priester’s Clemson record for career rushing yards (3,966) and became the first 4,000-yard career rusher in Clemson history and ninth 4,000-yard rusher in ACC history.

2018: Doak Walker Award finalist … Maxwell Award semifinalist … first-team All-American by ESPN.com and Sporting News … second-team All-American by the AFCA, AP, FWAA and Walter Camp … also garnered second-team All-America status from CBS Sports, College Football News, Sports Illustrated and The Athletic … ACC Player of the Year … ACC Offensive Player of the Year … first-team All-ACC … unanimous first-team AP All-ACC selection that also garnered AP ACC Offensive Player of the Year … Blanchard-Rodgers Trophy recipient as the best collegiate football player in or from South Carolina … produced the most prolific rushing season in school history, producing a school-record 1,658 yards on 204 carries with a school-record 24 rushing touchdowns and 12 catches for 78 yards and two receiving touchdowns in 486 snaps over 15 games (all starts) … tied the ACC record for total touchdowns, as his 26 total touchdowns tied the previous record held by Pitt’s James Conner since 2014 … gained 63 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown run vs. Furman … rushed eight times for 44 yards with a touchdown at Texas A&M … collected a then-career-high 162 rushing yards and matched his then-career-high with two rushing touchdowns vs. Georgia Southern, collecting team offensive player of the week honors … named ACC Running Back of the Week after an 11-carry, 122-yard performance at Georgia Tech that included one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown … repeated as ACC Running Back of the Week and added team co-offensive player of the week honors against Syracuse after posting career highs in rushing attempts (27), rushing yards (203) and rushing touchdowns (three) … the 200-yard rushing performance was only the 16th 200-yard rushing game in Clemson history and the first since Andre Ellington’s 228-yard effort against Auburn in the 2012 season opener … rushed 10 times for 167 yards with rushing touchdowns of 59, 3 and 70 yards at Wake Forest, becoming the first Clemson player to post back-to-back three-touchdown games on the ground since Travis Zachery in 1999 … pushed his four-game rushing total to 654 yards, breaking Woodrow Dantzler’s school record for most rushing yards in a four-game span (623 in 2000) … rushed for three touchdowns among his 15 carries for 39 yards vs. No. 16 NC State, becoming the first player in Clemson history and only the fourth ACC player since 2000 to rush for three touchdowns in three consecutive games … gained 45 yards on 10 carries at Florida State … rushed eight times for 153 yards vs. Louisville with one rushing touchdown … gained 78 yards on 11 carries at No. 17 Boston College, surpassing the 1,000-yard milestone on the season to mark only the ninth time in school history that a Clemson player rushed for 1,000 yards in a season in as few as 10 games … rushed nine times for 81 yards with two touchdowns vs. Duke … broke the school record for rushing touchdowns in a single season held previously by Lester Brown, James Davis and Wayne Gallman (17 each) in the midst of a 28-carry, 150-yard, two-touchdown effort vs. South Carolina … collected ACC Championship Game MVP honors against Pitt after rushing 12 times for 156 yards with two touchdowns, including a 75-yard touchdown on the game’s opening play from scrimmage … broke Gallman’s single-season school record on a 62-yard touchdown run in the midst of a 14-carry, 109-yard performance against No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl … tied Clemson bowl record with three total touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) against No. 1 Alabama in the National Championship Game, finishing the contest with 86 yards on 14 carries and five yards on his touchdown reception.

2017: Second-team All-ACC by Phil Steele … Third-Team All-ACC selection … All-ACC Academic selection … had a team-high 766 yards and 13 touchdowns on 107 carries along with five receptions for 57 yards in 244 snaps over 13 games … had 19 kickoff returns for a team-high 389 yards … fourth in Clemson history in yards per carry (7.2) and tied for eighth in rushing touchdowns … tied for 10th in the nation in carries of 50+ yards (4) … sixth in the ACC in points (touchdowns) per game (6.0) … had a game-high 81 yards and a touchdown on eight carries against Kent State on Sept. 2 … had a game-high 98 yards and an 81-yard touchdown on six carries and two kickoff returns for 30 yards at No. 14 Louisville on Sept. 16 … had a game-high 113 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and a 26-yard kickoff return against Boston College on Sept. 23; named ACC Rookie-of-the-Week; received the Leather Helmet Award as the game MVP; named team co-offensive player-of-the-game … had a team-high 67 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against Wake Forest on Oct. 7 … had a team-high 68 yards and a touchdown on five carries and two kickoff returns for 53 yards at Syracuse on Oct. 13 … had 43 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and two kickoff returns for 33 yards against Georgia Tech on Oct. 28 … had 31 yards on eight carries, a 10-yard reception and two kickoff returns for 47 yards at No. 20 NC State on Nov. 4 … had a game-high 97 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, a 16-yard reception and three kickoff returns for 45 yards against Florida State on Nov. 11; named ACC Rookie-of-the-Week; named team co-offensive player-of-the-game … had 62 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries against The Citadel on Nov. 18 … had a team-high 41 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, a 23-yard reception and two kickoff returns for 67 yards at South Carolina on Nov. 25 … had a team-high 24 yards and a touchdown on six carries, two receptions for eight yards and a 23-yard kickoff return against No. 7 Miami (Fla.) in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2 … had 22 yards on four carries and four kickoff returns for 65 yards against No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

Before Clemson: Clemson’s last commitment in the class of 2017, he committed on Jan. 26 and signed just six days later … top-125 prospect by ESPN, he ranks No. 114 overall, is the No. 13 running back and No. 4 player in the state of Louisiana … No. 8 prospect in the state by 247 Sports … helped Jennings High to an 11-2 record in 2016 and third round of the state playoffs … had incredible senior year, rushing for 2,459 yards on just 211 attempts, an 11.7 yards per rush figure … had 35 rushing touchdowns and 39 total touchdowns … had two receiving and two on kickoff returns … produced 100-yard games 12 out of 13 contests … that includes six games with at least 200 rushing yards … had at least one touchdown in every game and multiple touchdowns in 10 games … had season-high 18 rushes for 283 yards and three scores against Iota High School … averaged 22 yards per rush and scored five touchdowns against Brusly High in a state playoff game … averaged 40 yards per kickoff return on just six attempts for the year … had 2,799 all-purpose yards as a senior and 39 touchdowns for 222 total points … as a junior, had 2,938 rushing yards over just 11 games, 267 per game … had 42 touchdowns … added five catches for 134 yards, a 27-yard average … had 11 kickoff returns for 342 yards as well … for his career, had 7,518 rushing yards in 42 games, 179 per game … had 103 rushing touchdowns … added 18 receptions for 421 yards for his career … had 22 kickoff returns for 822 yards, a 37-yard average … had 115 total touchdowns and 8,864 total yards … played for Rusty Phelps at Jennings High … three-time all-district three years and All-Parish performer … all-state in 2015 and state AAA MVP in 2015 … first-team All-Southwest Louisiana in 2015 and 2016, first-team All-Louisiana Coaches Association in 2015 and first-team All-USA Today Louisiana in 2015 … his college decision came down to Clemson, LSU, Texas A&M and Tennessee … first Clemson signee from Louisiana since Nick Watkins in 2003 … wore #8 at Jennings in football and #13 in basketball … recruited by Tony Elliott.

Personal: Born Jan. 26, 1999 … earned degree in sports communication in December 2020.

5 Comments

  • What an outstanding young man and athlete he has grown to become. Will enjoy watching him as he starts his new journey. #Allin

    Reply
  • Thankful for your electrifying talent that you brought to Tiger Nation! It’s been a joy watching someone so talented, and yet so humble. I pray God’s continued blessings upon your life! Looking forward to seeing you on Sundays!!!

    Reply
  • What an awesome and humble young man. He gives 110 percent at everything he does. Can’t wait to watch him on Sundays as he continues his career in the NFL.

    Reply
  • Where can I get this article that you rote on Travis? Is it in a magazine or anything? I am from Jennings and I am so
    Proud of this young man – I have been collecting little articles on him so one day my grandsons will have them

    Reply
  • Keep on Running ETN!!!!’ You are loved and you are awesome!! You will be great in the NFL!!! Thank you for giving your all to the Clemson Tigers!!!

    Reply

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