Clemson’s Travis Etienne to enter draft; WR Justyn Ross to return

Clemson All-American running back Travis Etienne announced Friday that he will enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

He leaves Clemson as the program’s all-time leading scorer and the holder of the Atlantic Coast Conference record for career rushing yards. He also joined former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne as the only player in FBS history to run for at least 13 touchdowns in four seasons.

A four-star recruit in the Class of 2017, Etienne had one year of eligibility remaining because of NCAA rules granting an extra year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My 4 years spent in South Carolina have been nothing short of spectacular,” Etienne posted on social media. “Who would have ever imagined a young kid from Jennings, LA would become a National Champion with the Clemson Tigers. My time here has allowed me to experience many accolates that some kids only dream of.”

In 55 games, Etienne rushed for 4,952 yards and caught 102 passes for another 1,155. He scored 78 touchdowns, and his career was highlighted by back-to-back 1,600-yard seasons in 2018 and ’19. He posted 24 rushing touchdowns in 2018 and 19 the following season, with both campaigns culminating in an appearance in the College Football Playoff championship game.

Despite Etienne’s expected departure, Clemson got good news when wide receiver Justyn Ross said he will return to the Tigers after a spinal condition sidelined him in 2020.

Ross underwent a congenital fusion procedure in June. After being injured in spring drills in March, diagnostic tests revealed the 6-foot-4 Ross had a bulging disk as well as the spinal fusion.

Before the surgery, Ross was projected as a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Ross caught 112 passes for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first two college seasons while starting 14 of 29 games played.

He burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2018, catching 46 passes — nine for touchdowns — and leading the Tigers with 1,000 receiving yards.