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Clemson makes statement with Etienne's commitment

Jennings (La.) four-star running back Travis Etienne’s commitment to Clemson over LSU on Thursday evening speaks volumes to where Clemson is as a program right now.

Just a few years ago, it would have been almost unthinkable that Clemson could swoop in at the 11th hour and nab a Louisiana native from the reach of in-state, perennial powerhouse LSU. But after appearing in back-to-back national championship games and winning it all earlier this month, the ACC’s Tigers were able to do just that.

Clemson expressed its interest to Etienne shortly after four-star running back Cordarrian Richardson de-committed in December, and the program ratcheted up its pursuit of him over the past few weeks. Dabo Swinney went in-home for a visit with Etienne on Jan. 16, four days after Clemson offered, and Etienne took an official visit to Clemson last weekend instead of an originally scheduled official to Texas A&M.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and two assistants also made an in-home visit with Etienne on Monday, but by that point, it was likely too late. Clemson had already made a sizable impression on Etienne, who announced the next day that he would be announcing his decision tonight. Etienne had an official visit scheduled to LSU this weekend, but that of course won’t occur.

On the heels of a national title and with its shiny new $55 million football operations facility ready to show off, Clemson hit a home run with Etienne on his official. He was the first official visitor to see the facility in its essentially completed form.

Clemson had the ammunition to make a pitch that resonated with Etienne, and in the end, he couldn’t resist choosing Clemson. But it’s the way Clemson landed him that makes a loud statement about the state of Clemson’s program.

A month before national signing day, Clemson managed to start from scratch and build a relationship with Etienne while convincing him that he would be a good fit for the program. That isn’t easy to do, and to do it against LSU is a testament to not only the recruiting ability of Clemson’s coaching staff but also the strength of Clemson’s brand.

LSU, located about an hour away from Etienne’s hometown, was a self-admitted childhood favorite of his. And when LSU wants a recruit from inside the state, nobody — except for Alabama in some cases — has historically been able to prevent the school from getting its target.

See the theme here? Clemson beats Alabama in the national title game, and a little more than two weeks later, Clemson accomplishes an Alabama-esque feat.

It’s not like Etienne is a second-rate prospect, either. He held offers from nearly 30 programs and is the No. 114 prospect nationally according to ESPN, making what Clemson did all the more impressive. His combination of size and speed are tools that will help him fit right in for the Tigers.

Etienne announced for Clemson on a local news broadcast, saying he will take his talents to “the real Death Valley.”

Swinney likes to talk about the power of the Tiger Paw. Well, its power was evidenced with Etienne’s commitment tonight.

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