The national championship game on Monday night will feature two local football stars. One plays for Clemson. The other plays for LSU.
No matter which team wins tomorrow night, there is a guarantee that a former local high school football star will be getting a national championship ring.
Let’s start with Clemson’s Travis Etienne. The former Jennings Bulldog is now a First Team All-ACC running back.
Etienne is enjoying his time back in his home state of Louisiana, but his main goal is to help Clemson win it’s second consecutive national title.
“I’m just very thankful for the opportunity man,” Etienne says. “I can’t wait to go out there and go play football, just leave it all on the field for my brothers. I just want to thank God for the opportunity, because without him I wouldn’t be in this position today. You can play with your emotions, but that’s not going to get you anything. You have to execute at the end of the day. Emotions won’t help you when nothing else stays. It’s definitely going to have you fired up and ready to go. At the end of the day, you have to execute and play to the standard.”
“He grew a lot last year, and he’s just taking it to another level this year,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says. “More than anything, just physically where he is, with a maturity to his body. He’s bigger, stronger. He’s incredibly fast and explosive. His understanding of the game, his knowledge of the game, the details. The game has really slowed down for him.”
On Monday night, Etienne will try to avoid fellow Acadiana native Tyler Shelvin, a sophomore nose tackle at LSU.
The former Northside and Notre Dame standout is ready to compete for LSU’s first national championship title since 2007.
“It’s gonna be a good matchup,” Shelvin says. “It’s gonna be tough, but nothing too big that we can’t handle. We’re all solid upfront. We always scream ‘nothing between the tackles.’ We block out the noise. It’s just another step that we gotta get over.”
“He has really come along,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron says. “He’s a force. The thing about Tyler is that he’s still learning, still developing. To get a guy that big and that quick is very odd. He’s one of the most athletic linemen we’ve had here in a while.”
Etienne poured out similar praise for Shelvin. He remembers playing against him in high school.
“I just remember him running around the field just smacking dudes, me included,” Etienne says. “Just a big guy. He was very fast back in high school. Explosive. Just wreaking havoc on every play. Not much has changed. You see him on film now just being that same dude. Just creating plays, wreaking havoc on anyone who gets in front of him. It’s gonna be a great matchup again.”
A great matchup indeed. Etienne and Shelvin will run out for their Tigers tomorrow before vying for the national championship trophy. It all starts at 7 p.m. on ESPN in the greatest venue their home state has to offer: the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.