CLEMSON, SC - It must feel like second Christmas to Dabo and the Clemson Family today, as the Tigers picked up the equivalent of a 7-star recruit with Travis Etienne's announcement that he will forego the NFL Draft and return for his senior season! I gave it slightly less than a 50% chance that the all-time Clemson rush leader and ACC touchdown leader would return despite losing the National Championship Game. It is a loaded NFL running back class this year, and the fact that Travis would likely have been a second-round pick probably factored into his decision. Still, Etienne has to be one of the best backs in history to return for a fourth year of eligibility. He is the only RB in college football history to average over 7 yards per carry in 3 straight seasons, and the only reason he hasn't been a Heisman Finalist or even winner is that Clemson has blown out so many teams. Etienne's number of carries per game is far less than other superstar backs. In fact, before the College Football Playoff, Etienne had just 2 carries in the 4th quarter all season!
Etienne is the biggest senior returnee for the Tigers since CJ Spiller in 2009. Dabo has had a nice run of RB's foregoing the NFL: Spiller, Ellington, Gallman and now Etienne. Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether any of the backup running backs decide to transfer. I doubt Lyn-J Dixon will, but it's a possibility for Chez Mellusi or Michel Dukes. The Tigers have a superstar incoming freshman RB in Demarkcus Bowman, who Dabo and Tony Elliott have compared to C.J. Spiller. One thing is for sure: the Tigers' nation-best 2-1 odds of winning the national title just got a lot better!
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