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Etienne: "I was rooting for Jacksonville"

Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) runs for a touchdown during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars felt they needed speed.

Travis Etienne didn't know for sure that that would mean a chance to join his college teammate. He did know for sure that he hoped that would be the case.

"I was secretly rooting for Jacksonville," he said.

Etienne got his wish late Thursday when the Jaguars selected the Clemson University running back No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. The selection reunited Etienne with his college teammate, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, selected by the Jaguars No. 1 overall three hours earlier.

"I did have it in the back of my mind that I might have a chance to reunite with Trev," Etienne said. "For it to come full circle, I'm just happy, excited and blessed. Being his teammate for three years, we've really built that camaraderie. I don't have to work on getting to know somebody else.

"I know Trev inside and out. It will be a great feeling. We're going out there with the same common goal, so there will be great things to happen on that field."

Etienne said Lawrence texted him shortly after the selection late Thursday.

"He was like, 'Let's go, man,''' Etienne said. "We're ready to get together and keep improving what we've done so far. We're just both excited to get a chance to play with each other. It's a great blessing and we're ready to get to work, honestly. I just can't wait to get down there, honestly."

Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke on Thursday spoke extensively of Etienne's versatility, with Meyer saying he is as good outside as a receiver as he is as a running back. Meyer also called Etienne a "matchup issue."

"The way the game's going in the modern-day era at the running-back position you have to be a three-down back," Etienne said. "Those checkdown yards really go a long way, and I feel like that really has helped me solidify my pick in the first round. That helped me get to where I'm at today."

Etienne, a two-time consensus All-America selection and a three-time first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, rushed for 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns on 686 career carries in four seasons at Clemson. He caught 102 career passes for 1,155 yards and eight touchdowns and was the ACC Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019.

He is the career rushing yards leader in the ACC, and also holds career ACC records for touchdowns rushing, touchdowns scored (78), all-time yards from scrimmage (6,107). He holds the NCAA record for all-time career games with a touchdown with 46.

"I feel like I haven't reached where I can get in my career," he said. "I feel like I'm only getting better at this point. I feel like this was the best pick they could have made, honestly."

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