The winner of this season’s Heisman Trophy, which was presented to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield Saturday, seemed to be a foregone conclusion for the last quarter of the regular season. Sports Illustrated analyst Andy Staples is already looking forward to potential contenders for next year’s award.
Staples released a list of 15 potential contenders to take home the nation’s most coveted individual honor, and he included one of Clemson’s many young talents: running back Travis Etienne.
Etienne, a true freshman, leads the Tigers in rushing this season, having racked up 744 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He has split carries with sophomore Tavien Feaster — both have exactly 103 carries on the year — but Etienne has gained 85 more yards with his runs. Feaster will still be around next season, but Staples believes Etienne has earned the right to a lead-back workload.
“After averaging 7.2 yards a carry splitting time with Tavien Feaster, Etienne should be even better following his first full offseason with the Tigers,” Staples wrote.
In addition to Etienne, Clemson could have a few other players in position to contend for next season’s Heisman as well. Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant, who passed for 2,678 yards and rushed for 646 on the year, should be back at the helm next season. NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter has already tabbed Bryant as a likely Heisman candidate next year. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, widely regarded as the top overall prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft, could also be poised for a monster season in his junior year.
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