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Travis Etienne joining former Clemson teammate with NFL first-round selection


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Travis Etienne leaves Clemson with just about any record you can name (ACC photo).
Travis Etienne leaves Clemson with just about any record you can name (ACC photo).

Travis Etienne’s much-anticipated pro journey to set to begin in Jacksonville.

Etienne is a second Tiger to be drafted Thursday and the second headed to the Jaguars -- after Trevor Lawrence made Clemson history as the first No. 1 NFL draft pick -- with the 25th overall selection.

The duo became the first QB/RB pairing from a single school ever drafted by the same team in the first round of an NFL Draft in the Common Draft era.

New Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said they were sweating the pick out late.

"It broke right there at the end," Meyer said, who added that the Jags were zeroing in on Etienne in February. "I'm sitting there and it's like 4th-and-1. Watching to see who the Steelers would take (they took Alabama's Najee Harris) and they took a great player. The guy we had kinda penciled in -- we had him."

Etienne was just as anxious around the selection.

"When that 24th pick was there, I was kinda nervous," Etienne said on a media video call. "I was like, 'I don't know what they're gonna go with.' I was nervous, but I'm definitely humbled and excited to just be down there in Jacksonville. Can't wait. I've never been to Jacksonville honestly.

"I'm just so excited and happy for the opportunity I have to get out there and to have Trevor there -- I think it's going to make the transition easier and we'll help each other a lot...I was secretly rooting for Jacksonville."

Lawrence was obviously excited to see the pick.

"Me and my guy are ready to go to work. Man this is amazing - #DUUUVAL let’s do it, go time!" he said on Twitter.

Etienne and Lawrence are the sixth and seventh Tigers to go in the first round over the last three drafts. They join former Tigers offensive lineman Tyler Shatley in Jacksonville.

“Travis is one of the most explosive, dynamic players that I have ever seen," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a school release. "He is a bigger C.J. Spiller, which is the best way I can describe him based on the guys that I have had experience with. C.J. was probably 199-200 lbs. Travis is just bigger, but he has that same explosiveness. He is dynamic, as far as what he can do in the passing game. He can also return. He has an incredibly humble spirit to him. He is one of the best teammates you can ever have, and he is blue collar.

"He is just a tough, blue-collar football player. He is an every-down player. He is a first-, second- and third-down guy, and he can change the game any play, any quarter. Any time he touches the ball, he is one of those guys that you’ve got to hold your breath, and I can’t wait to see him at the next level and watch him continue to develop as a complete player.”

Etienne made a surprise call back in 2020 to return to school after drawing some late first-round and second projections by analysts, and he used his senior campaign to improve his stock -- particularly as a receiver.

Etienne ranked third on the Tigers last season in catches (48) and receiving yards (588), in addition to his 914 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns as a consensus All-American.

The Louisiana native leaves the ACC as its all-time leading rusher (4,952 yards) and leader in total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70) and points (468).

He holds the NCAA mark for games with a touchdown (46) and is one of only 12 FBS players to top 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his career.

His 6,894 all-purpose yards rank second-only in Clemson history to CJ Spiller (7,588).

Spotrac estimates Etienne's rookie contract being worth $12.9 million total with a $6.7 million signing bonus.

Etienne became Clemson’s third first-round running back in the Common Draft era, joining Terrence Flagler (No. 25 in 1987) and current Clemson running backs coach C.J. Spiller (No. 9 in 2010). He joined Spiller, Virginia Tech’s David Wilson (No. 32 in 2012), Virginia’s Thomas Jones (No. 7 in 2000) and Florida State’s Warrick Dunn (No. 12 in 1997) as the fifth ACC running back selected in the first round in the last 25 years.

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah ranked Etienne as the No. 19 overall draft prospect this week.

CJ Spiller on Etienne: “They’re getting a tremendous player and a guy that’s going to come in and work hard and he’s also going to be great in the community. He’s a guy that’s going to love playing football, love his teammates, put his team first and do whatever it takes to win. They’re getting a tremendous young man that’s going to be very successful. He’s somebody that comes from a winning program, so he understands what it takes to win at a high level. He’s going to come in and compete each and every day, so he’s going to be a great addition to their team.”

More Etienne draft notes

- After producing multiple first-round picks on defense in each of the previous two drafts, Clemson produced multiple first-round picks from the offense for the third time in school history, joining the 1979 and 2017, both of which featured quarterback/receiver duos.

- Clemson and Alabama (QB Mac Jones and RB Najee Harris) became the fifth and sixth programs since 2000 to produce a quarterback/running back duo in the first round of a single draft, joining LSU (QB Joe Burrow and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire in 2020), Georgia (QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno in 2009), USC (QB Matt Leinart and RB Reggie Bush in 2006) and Auburn (QB Jason Campbell and RBs Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams in 2005).

- Became the 66th player to have played for Swinney to be drafted into the NFL, including the 15th first-round pick of Swinney’s tenure.

- Became Clemson’s third first-round running back in the Common Draft era (since 1967), joining Terrence Flagler (No. 25 in 1987) and current Clemson running backs coach C.J. Spiller (No. 9 in 2010).

- Tied Flagler as the second-highest-drafted running back from Clemson in the Common Draft era.

- Joined Flagler (1987) and CB Antwan Edwards (1999) as the third No. 25 overall pick in Clemson history.

- Joined Spiller, Virginia Tech’s David Wilson (No. 32 in 2012), Virginia’s Thomas Jones (No. 7 in 2000) and Florida State’s Warrick Dunn (No. 12 in 1997) as the fifth ACC running back selected in the first round in the last 25 years.

- Gave Clemson multiple first-round picks by a single team in one draft for the first time in school history.

- Became the third Clemson player ever drafted by the Jaguars, joining DE Andre Branch (2012) and Lawrence (2021).

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