It was obvious Trevor Lawrence was happy when his backfield teammate, Travis Etienne, announced he was returning to Clemson for his senior year.
The Tigers’ all-time leading rusher announced his decision to return to Clemson just prior to the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft as an underclassman back in January.
At the time, Lawrence said he was still surprised to see Etienne return to Tigertown, even though he thought he might return for one more season.
“We talked a little bit. I can’t remember exactly when, but we had some private conversations before he decided what he was going to do,” Lawrence recalled. “I kind of thought he might come back, but I was not sure. I thought he might at the last second decide he was leaving, but man it is awesome to have him back.”
Etienne’s return means the Tigers have perhaps the most explosive and experienced players back at the major skill positions in the country. Etienne returns as the nation’s career leader in rushing yards with 4,038 yards, while Lawrence has thrown for 6,945 career yards and wide receiver Justin Ross has 1,865 yards on 112 career receptions.
With Etienne back, the Tigers have another experienced leader in the backfield to help Lawrence with what will be an inexperienced offensive line in front of them.
“He is just a great guy. It is an opportunity for him to build his leadership,” Lawrence said. “Everybody is looking up to him now, especially on this team. He is a big leader for us. I think it will be good for him to grow a little bit more and work on his game and then also get another chance to go win a national championship.”
Besides being Clemson’s all-time leader in rushing yards, he also owns the school and ACC record for career rushing touchdowns (56), total touchdowns (60) and points by a non-kicker (372).
By coming back, Etienne has an opportunity to become the first player in ACC history to earn ACC Player of the Year honors three times and obviously, three consecutive years. He will also have an opportunity to break the conference’s all-time rushing record and, depending on how far Clemson goes in the postseason, the all-time record for all-purpose yards as well.
In his first three seasons, Etienne is averaging 1,346 yards per season. If he matches his season average, it would put him near 5,400 career rushing yards. That would shatter Ted Brown’s all-time ACC record of 4,602 yards which he set from 1975-’78.
The 5-10, 210-pound running back is just 565 yards shy of breaking the ACC’s all-time rushing record and 795 yards short of becoming the all-time leader in yards from scrimmage.
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