Etienne's decision to return pays off with first-round pick

Etienne's decision to return pays off with first-round pick


Etienne's decision to return pays off with first-round pick


Last year, Travis Etienne decided to come back for his senior because he felt like he still had things he wanted to accomplish in college.

Since then, the Clemson running back has become the ACC’s all-time leading rusher, scorer and touchdown leader, while leading the Tigers to a third straight ACC Championship. He also earned his college degree this past December.

Late Thursday night, the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Etienne with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Etienne will now share the backfield with the same guy he shared it with the last three years at Clemson — quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Lawrence was selected No. 1 overall in the draft by the Jaguars earlier in the evening.

Etienne completed one of the most prolific careers in Clemson, ACC and college football history across the 2017-‘20 seasons. He rushed 686 times for 4,952 yards with 70 rushing touchdowns and caught 102 passes for 1,155 and eight receiving touchdowns in 55 games (42 starts).

He was part of a senior class that helped Clemson to four ACC titles, four College Football Playoff berths, two national championship appearances and a national title, all while becoming the first FBS senior class since 2010 to go undefeated at home (27-0 at Death Valley).

NCAA FBS record holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games), breaking the mark held by San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey.

Etienne was the ACC career record-holder for rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70) and points (468). He became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher in 2020, surpassing a mark held by NC State’s Ted Brown since 1978, one of only 12 players in FBS history with 4,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards, and his 4,952 rushing yards finished as the second-most by any 1,000-yard career receiver in FBS history.

He averaged 7.22 yards per carry for his career, a Clemson school record and 11th-best among FBS players (and first among ACC players) in history with at least 300 career rush attempts … exited tied with Travis Prentice (468 from 1996-99) for the seventh-most career points in FBS history … was the sixth FBS player ever to rush for 70 career touchdowns according to official NCAA records.

The Jennings, La., native became Clemson’s fifth three-time first-team All-America honoree, joining middle guard William Perry (1982-84), linebacker Anthony Simmons (1995-97), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2011-13) and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (2016-18).

Lawrence was the back-to-back ACC Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019 who became the first running back to win the award in consecutive years since Mike Voight in 1975-76. He was the first player in school history with multiple 1,600-yard rushing seasons and completed his career as one of only 16 Power Five players since 2000 to reach the 1,500-yard mark in multiple seasons, joining A.J. Dillon, Ameer Abdullah, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Darren McFadden, Ezekiel Elliott, Jonathan Taylor, Ka’Deem Carey, Kendall Hunter, Lamar Jackson, LaMichael James, Melvin Gordon, Montee Ball, Ray Rice and Steven Jackson.

He set single-season school records in rushing yards (1,658), yards per carry (8.1), rushing touchdowns (24), total touchdowns (26) and points scored (156) in 2018. He completed his college career as one of only two FBS players — and the only running back — since 2000 to average at least 7.0 yards on 100+ carries in three different seasons.

Etienne recorded 6,894 all-purpose yards, second-most in ACC history behind only College Football Hall of Famer and Clemson legend C.J. Spiller. His 42 career starts were one shy of the school record for a running back (43, James Davis).

Clemson Athletics Communications contributed to this story

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