One of the most surprising stay-or-go decisions by any underclassman in recent memory came down Friday, when running back Travis Etienne announced that he would return to Clemson for his senior year and bypass an opportunity to enter the NFL Draft.
Etienne, who has arguably been college football’s most effective running back on a per-touch basis over the past two years, was widely considered a lock to leave early. Though Etienne wasn’t necessarily slated to be a first-round pick, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper had rated him No. 4 among running backs, which would have potentially put him in the second or third round.
“I have long dreamed of competing at the highest level and getting a chance to compete in the NFL,” Etienne wrote in a message posted to Twitter. “But I’m not done dreaming here at Clemson either.”
Among the elite programs, Clemson has arguably more good fortune than anyone in getting draft-eligible players to return. The most notable instance came after the 2017 season when defensive linemen Christian Wilkins…