Running backs aren’t as prized in the NFL draft as they used to be. Last year, LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the only running back taken in the first round, going with the 32nd and last pick to Kansas City.
But the Jacksonville Jaguars thought highly enough of Jennings native and former Clemson running back Travis Etienne to use their first-round pick on him, taking in him Thursday night with the No. 25 overall selection.
Etienne will team up with his college quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick.
Most of Jennings, Louisiana, will pull for LSU during the national championship, but Clemson running Travis Etienne’s hometown will not root against him either, creating a pocket of Clemson fandom in the middle of a state obsessed with LSU football.
Etienne was one of two running backs selected in the first round. Najee Harris of Alabama went with the No. 24 pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The all-time leading rusher in Atlantic Coast Conference history, Etienne (5-foot-10, 215 pounds) ran for 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns on 686 career carries. He also caught 102 passes for 1,155 yards and eight TDs, making him one of just 12 players in FBS history with 4,000 career yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving.
Etienne helped Clemson to four straight ACC titles and four straight appearances in the College Football Playoff.
As a freshman, Etienne rushed for 766 yards and 13 touchdowns as Clemson reached the CFP semifinals. His sophomore season was the most productive, as Etienne ran for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns to help Clemson to a 15-0 record and a 44-16 rout of Alabama in the CFP National Championship Game in Santa Clara, California.
He followed up with 1,614 yards rushing and 19 TDs as a junior as Clemson lost to LSU in the CFP final, 42-25. As a senior, Etienne rushed for 914 yards and 14 TDs as the Tigers again reached the CFP semifinals.
For all his success at Clemson, Etienne found none of it in his home state. His Tigers lost twice in CFP semifinals in the Sugar Bowl to Alabama after the 2017 season and Ohio State on New Year’s Day, sandwiched around the CFP title game loss to LSU in January 2020.