3 Players to Watch in College Football Championship


No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Clemson will play Jan. 13 for college football supremacy. They're 14-0 this season and the game will feature a pair of the nation's top quarterbacks — LSU's Joe Burrow and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. Other than their signal-callers, both teams have a number of talented prospects and some are draft-eligible prospects.

Here are three players to watch in the College Football Championship.

Clemson RB Travis Etienne
Etienne is a home-run hitter. He's rushed for 3,194 yards and 42 touchdowns over the last two seasons while averaging 8.05 yards per carry. Etienne, a four-star recruit from Jennings, LA, chose Clemson over LSU and will face his hometown team Monday. He only had 36 rushing yards on 10 carries against Ohio State in the semifinal but had 3 catches for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"He's going to be a player because you love him for the athleticism," The Athletic's Dane Brugler said. "When you watch him, his ability in the open field, he accelerates in a blink. He obliterates pursuit angles and he has that rare ability to make cuts at full speed. That's something that makes him really tough to corral in space.

"He needs to shore up his pass pro and just being a better inside runner. We know what he can do in space if he can win the edge and attack that second level, but improving his vision, his tempo, allowing the blockers in front of him to do their job and anticipate those running holes. He needs to get better at just being a better runner inside the tackles. That's an area where he needs to improve and can help himself."

LSU WR Justin Jefferson
Burrow wasn't the only Tiger to put on a show in LSU's semifinal rout of Oklahoma. Jefferson had 14 catches for 227 yards and 4 touchdowns. He's Burrow's safety valve and totaled 102 catches for 1,434 yards and 18 TDs this season.

"Anyone who didn't know about Jefferson before the semifinal game, they definitely do now," Brugler said. "LSU uses him exclusively in the slot. They really take advantage of his size, his short-area quickness so he can attack the middle of the field. He shows off his toughness after the catch and he's just another example of why this year's draft class is loaded at receiver and has a chance to be special."

He added: "Ja'Marr Chase is the freakier of the LSU receivers, but he's only a sophomore. Jefferson shows a little more of that polish and that's something that will serve him well at the next level."

LSU EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson
The Tigers' offense has impressed all season, but LSU has a talented defense that features a trio of top-50 players — S Grant Depit (this year's Jim Thorpe Award winner), CB Kristian Fulton and EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson's traits are more appealing than his production, according to Brugler. Chaisson had 6.5 sacks this season and 3 in 2017-18 combined. He also had 58 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 1 forced fumble in 2019.

"He's an offensive tackle's nightmare because he stresses out blockers with his athleticism," Brugler said. "It's the threat of speed that makes him a problem. The production is good, not great. This season he had 6.5 sacks. Typically you expect more from a player with his ability, but the tape shows that he routinely affects the pocket and he does it in different ways. He's still learning the art of the pass rush. He needs to develop his instincts. As an athlete at that premium position, those types of guys rarely get out of the first round."

He added: "The hustle stands out. He can drop into space, so that athletic talent is a big selling point for teams."

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