Etienne says choosing Clemson is "the best decision I could have made"


by - Senior Writer -
Etienne already owns the school record for rushing yards
Etienne already owns the school record for rushing yards

Travis Etienne sat in front of the media after the loss to LSU Monday night and said that making the decision to attend Clemson was the best decision he’s ever made. And, after a little more thought this week, he’s not quite ready to leave the place where there’s something in these hills.

Etienne, a junior who has been a starter for three seasons, was widely expected to declare for the NFL draft. He wrote Friday on social media that he's "not done dreaming here at Clemson."

"I look forward to earning my degree from this great university and continuing to fight with my brothers on the team to make you proud during the 2020 season," Etienne wrote on Twitter.

Etienne has rushed for over 1,600 yards in each of the past two seasons. After rushing 107 times for 766 yards and 13 scores as a freshman in 2017, he exploded with 1,658 yards and 24 TDs on 204 carries in 2018. He didn’t fall far from that 8.1 yards per carry pace in 2019 either. Etienne carried the ball 207 times for 1,614 times and scored 19 touchdowns this season. He has 4,038 career rushing yards and an ACC-record 56 touchdowns on 518 carries, to go with 567 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 54 receptions.

Etienne earned ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors in each of the past two seasons and earned second-team All-America honors in 2018 and 2019. He's the first Clemson player to record consecutive 1,500-yard rushing seasons.

Etienne told the media Monday that the loss to LSU wouldn’t affect his decision, and that next year’s team will have to start over.

“Win or lose, my decision will be based on what I believe in and what I stand for as a person. I have to look at the pros and cons and decide what is the best decision for me going forward,” Etienne said. “We understand that next year's team, Team 125, will have a lot on its shoulders. It can't rest on what we've done in the past because that will be a whole new team and a whole new system. We can't use the past to determine future success.”

Etienne told TigerNet that choosing Clemson was the best decision he’s ever made.

“My time at Clemson has been the best three years of my life. This is the best decision I could have made for me as a young man,” He said. “I am grateful for the group of guys God has put around me. They have helped me grow as a man. They have made me a better man at the end of the day. I am thankful to God that I was put in this position. I have done some spectacular things in my three years. College life has been great and school has been going good, too. I couldn't have made a better decision.”

What does his decision mean for Clemson?

Etienne will rejoin quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the offensive backfield for Clemson, which likely will enter the 2020 season as the nation's No. 1-ranked team. They will be joined by skill players like Amari Rodgers, Braden Galloway, Justyn Ross, Frank Ladson, Joseph Ngata, Davis Allen, and a bevy of others to combine for another potent offense.

The Tigers likely would have started the season as the nation’s top-ranked team without the return of Etienne, but his presence likely cements Clemson’s top spot.

It also makes for a crowded backfield. Running backs coach Tony Elliott, as of now, has Etienne, rising junior Lyn-J Dixon, veteran Darien Rencher, rising sophomores Chez Mellusi and Mikey Dukes, and incoming freshmen Demarkcus Bowman and Kobe Pryor.

Mellusi and Dukes each made strides during the season, Dixon was a solid backup and Bowman is seen by many as having C.J. Spiller-like talent. That’s seven running backs slated to be on campus at the start of the summer, which could lead to attrition in the form of the transfer portal.

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