When Clemson's season ended with a disappointing 42-25 loss to LSU in the national championship, running back Travis Etienne had to quickly process the teams first loss in two years.
Once the season ended, he had to make one of the biggest decisions of his life.
Etienne was tasked with deciding whether to enter the NFL Draft -- a decision he had less than a week to make after the team's loss to LSU.
After not receiving the grade he was hoping for from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee, Etienne decided to return to school for a final season and improve his draft stock. However, he is fully aware that another season could mean becoming the most prolific back in ACC history.
"It kind of dawned on me after my decision, I was just kind of home," Etienne said. "My mom had called me and she kind of like just mentioned it to me. It was just really mind blowing."
Before Etienne can get there though, there are still some things he would like to fine tune. He's also determined to make every moment count, and leaving everything on the field.
"By challenging me to get better," Etienne said. "Just finishing through the end zone every rep, just practicing, and creating that muscle memory so that I don't take things for granted. So when game time situations come, I'll just be ready and reacting."
His decision to come back has also created a somewhat crowded running backroom. While that may mean less reps in practice, he is liking the extra help.
"They've been pretty great," Etienne said. "Just having all the extra backs that we have. Just having a full group. We have a lot of backs now and I mean it kind of just cuts down on my reps, just minimizing my reps. And I mean I definitely go out there and get after it and when I'm in there."
Etienne has started to realize just how far that kid from a small Louisiana town has come. He is also aware of the kind of career he has had, and proud of what he has accomplished.
"Just me, I came from Jennings, Louisiana just three years ago," Etienne said. "My only focus was just to get here and just be on the team and now just to have the career that I have and just looking back on it when it's all said and done, I was pretty good."
Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.SI.com/college/Clemson
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