In the days leading up to the national championship game, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, who is also the Tigers’ running backs coach, said he and running back Travis Etienne have not talked that much about his decision to declare for the NFL Draft.
“The only thing we have said is that he does have a decision to make,” Elliott said Monday after the Tigers’ loss to LSU in the title game. “I think he is one of the top tier guys in the country. He plays a position where the longevity is not great. You really want to get as much money as you can when you transition to the NFL on the front end. You play the least likely position to make a second contract.”
Some have projected Etienne to be a low first to second-round pick in April’s NFL Draft should he decide to forgo his senior season at Clemson.
Etienne became Clemson’s all-time rushing leader on 5-yard carry in the first quarter, breaking Raymond Priester’s record for career rushing yards (3,966). Etienne has 4,038 career rushing yards.
Etienne finished the LSU game with 78 yards, and in the process became the first 4,000-yard career rusher in Clemson history. He joined NC State’s Ted Brown, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, North Carolina’s Amos Lawrence, Maryland’s LaMont Jordan, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Georgia Tech’s Robert Lavette, Wake Forest’s Chris Barclay and Boston College’s A.J. Dillon to become only the ninth 4,000-yard rusher in ACC history.
Dillon declared for the NFL Draft last month and did not play in Boston College’s bowl game.
“[Etienne] has a lot of things to think about, and it is a very deep class,” Elliott said. “It’s a good thing that he does not have to declare until [Monday]. So, it’s not like he has to make a rush decision.
“But I think he is the type of young man that he will way all the factors and then he will make the best decision he believes is necessary for his future.”
Etienne finished the 2019 season with 1,614 yards, the second-best single season rushing mark in school history. Only his 1,658 yards in 2018 was better.
He also finished the season with 19 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns. His 23 total touchdowns rank second to his 26 in 2018.
Etienne also set the ACC record for total touchdowns in a career with 62 and the league record for rushing touchdowns with 56. His biggest improvement came in the passing game where he stepped up his performance as a pass blocker, while his 37 receptions ranked third on the team, as did his 432 yards. He averaged 11.7 yards per catch.
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