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Why USF’s Jeff Scott compares Bucs draft target Travis Etienne to Barry Sanders

The Bulls coach thinks his former Clemson star can be an All-Pro, maybe with the Bucs.
Travis Etienne left Clemson as one of the best backs of the century. Could he be headed to the Bucs in this spring's NFL draft?
Travis Etienne left Clemson as one of the best backs of the century. Could he be headed to the Bucs in this spring's NFL draft? [ URSO, CHRIS | CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Mar. 17
Updated Mar. 17

When USF coach Jeff Scott saw our Joey Knight tweeting about the possibility of the Bucs drafting Clemson star running back Travis Etienne, Scott had to chime in.

“I wasn’t just saying that to hype him up,” Scott said Tuesday. “He doesn’t need any hype.”

No, he doesn’t. Etienne was one of the most prolific college backs of this century, breaking ACC records in rushing yards (4,952) and total touchdowns (78). His 46 games with at least one touchdown are the most in Division I-A history. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound speedster is one of the draft’s top two running backs (along with Alabama’s Najee Harris) and a potential first rounder being connected to the Bucs in mock drafts.

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But Scott, Etienne’s co-offensive coordinator from 2017-19, hyped him up anyway.

“He reminds me of a bigger Barry Sanders,” Scott said. “... If you go watch Travis, nobody tackles him the first time. If he’s out in open space, even if guys get a chance to go down and hit him, he just bounces off.”

Travis Etienne's resume includes this rushing touchdown against Miami as a true freshman in the 2017 ACC title game.
Travis Etienne's resume includes this rushing touchdown against Miami as a true freshman in the 2017 ACC title game. [ Times (2017) ]

Scott said Etienne has the same “unbelievable combination” of power, balance and speed as Sanders and other great backs. Scott and the rest of the Tigers’ coaching staff first noticed that during the first week of two-a-day practices of Etienne’s freshman season, when he ripped off three 80-yard touchdown runs against a defense that ended up allowing a nation-best five rushing touchdowns that fall.

Scott still calls Etienne “one of my favorite players” and would selfishly love the Bucs to draft him so his former star pupil can make appearances to chat with his current players at USF.

Related: Why one NFL draft expert compares FSU’s Asante Samuel Jr. to Bucs’ Antoine Winfield Jr.

As for the hype Scott is building? He’s doubling down on it.

“I meant what I put in that tweet,” Scott said. “If he stays healthy, my personal opinion, I believe he’ll be an All-Pro at the NFL level.”