Clemson star RB Travis Etienne surprisingly passes on 2020 NFL Draft to return for senior year

Clemson's 2020 football roster got a big boost Friday when running back Travis Etienne announced he will return for his senior season. Etienne ran for 1,614 yards and 19 touchdowns this season en route to winning his second consecutive ACC Player of the Year award.

He was also the team's third-leading receiver with 37 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

Etienne is 45th on CBS Sports' 2020 NFL Draft Prospect Ranking and third among running backs.

The Jennings, Louisiana native is the ACC's career leader in total touchdowns and is a two-time winner of the conference's player of the year award.

"When I arrived at Clemson in 2017, I was just a kid from Jennings, Louisiana, with a dream of becoming the best football player and best man I could be" Eitenee wrote. "Coach Swinney, Coach Elliott, my family, my teammates and so many others have helped me reach for that dream every single day, and I will always be thankful for their belief in me as a player and as a person.

"Speaking of dreams, I have long dreamed of competing at the highest level and getting the chance to compete in the NFL. But I'm not done dreaming here at Clemson either, which is why I'm announcing that I'll be returning for my senior season. 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."

Just 11 players have ever surpassed 5,500 rushing yards in a college career, and Etienne could be the 12th if he posts a third consecutive 1,500-yard rushing season. His return positions the Tigers to have their top three rushers and three of their top four receivers back for quarterback Trevor Lawrence's junior season.

Etienne combined with backup running back Lyn-J Dixon to total 2,249 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns as the duo helped fuel the Tigers' run to a fourth national championship appearance in five years. Dixon will be a junior during the 2020 season.

Junior receiver Tee Higgins declared for the draft after leading Clemson in receiving yards and touchdowns during the 2019 season. But second and third wide receivers Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers are expected back next season to catch passes from Lawrence, who will likely be a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate.

All that returning talent means a Clemson offense that ranked fifth in the nation with 528.7 yards per game in 2019 might be even better in 2020. 

The Tigers did lose co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, who left to become the head coach at South Florida. But Clemson is expected to have continuity on the offensive staff with co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, who has been with head coach Dabo Swinney since 2015.

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