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Clemson Football

Trevor and Travis: Saying 'thank you' before it's too late

December 17, 2020

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CLEMSON, S.C. — You never really know what you have until it’s gone.

It’s a timeless quote, a cliche that has rung true across centuries of human existence. By the time most people finally take a moment to appreciate the beauty in what stands before them, it’s likely already out the door — and perhaps more tragically, out of reach.

Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne graduate from Clemson University this afternoon — Lawrence with a three-year degree in marketing, Etienne in sports communication.

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Lawrence and Etienne graduate on December 17th, leaving behind an unprecedented legacy.

This day is one that Tiger fans have known was fast approaching, yet in most cases, failed to digest the emotional reality of.

At the very greatest, Lawrence and Etienne have three more games left to suit up in orange. After this storybook, unorthodox-in-every-aspect 2020 season turns its final page, all that will be left of the pair in Tiger Town are memories.

Sure, they’ll probably erect statues of both in due time. Posters will be hung on the walls, murals painted and highlights of both studied by forthcoming Tigers for years. Truthfully, one could argue for more. Perhaps the amount of talent the pair have graced the Southland with warrants campus buildings renamed in their honor. Maybe the future children of today’s Tiger faithful receive the same treatment.

And who knows? As Disney proved this week, even a full-length feature film about the two may not be out of reach.

And sooner or later, the manner in which their memories are immortalized will be decided. But today, gratitude should be at the forefront of every Tiger mind.

Arguably the greatest quarterback and running back in program history are coming to the end of their road in Clemson.

“It’s been such a long run,” said Lawrence. “I’m happy to be done.”

Such a combination of talent is rare in sports.

Duos of the Joe Montana/Jerry Rice caliber come to mind in the football world. Both were the most outstanding at their positions during their reign over the NFL. In baseball, New York teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig dominated the league simultaneously, each in their own right. The sport’s greatest hitter and fiercest workhorse drove the Yankees to three championships throughout their storied 10 seasons together.

No, Lawrence and Etienne aren't entirely on that level. But in Clemson, their names will forever be synonymous with greatness.

To debate whether or not Lawrence and Etienne have been the overall best at their respective positions would be futile. Etienne’s four years in Tiger Town have seen the Louisiana-native tear through record books and opposing defenses alike. Earlier this year, Etienne became the all-time leading rusher in ACC history.

And just how extraordinary has Lawrence been? Well, simply ask the New York Jets — and the rest of the NFL, for that matter. Hailed as the most league-ready quarterback out of college since Andrew Luck, GMs are salivating at the prospect of seeing the 6-foot-6 stalwart don their team’s uniform in the fall.

There’s even been slight doubt about whether or not Lawrence will declare for the draft following the 2020 season. The Jets have taken #TankForTrevor to the next level and are on track to finish with just the third winless record in NFL history. The organization's incompetence has led some to question if Lawrence is better off returning for a final year of college.

“If I’m Trevor Lawrence, if the Jets finish with no wins, I just go back to Clemson,” said former NFL wide receiver Roddy White. “I wouldn't want any part of that organization. It would be awful for him to get drafted by the Jets. They don't know how to put anything together up there as far as quarterbacking, weapons around the quarterback, anything that has to do with offensive talent.”

Lawrence has been coyer in answering questions about his future.

“Whether I leave or stay, I have the option to do either one,” he said. “My mindset has been to move on, but who knows? There are a lot of things that could happen.”
- Trevor Lawrence

“Whether I leave or stay, I have the option to do either one,” he said. “My mindset has been to move on, but who knows? There are a lot of things that could happen.”

All odds point to the coming weeks being Lawrence’s last as a Tiger.

As for Etienne? Well, he wasn’t even supposed to be in this position in the first place.

After Clemson’s national championship loss to LSU in early January, most draft experts expected Etienne to declare early. Analysts projected Etienne to be a middle-round pick, the fourth or fifth running back taken off the board.

But Etienne wanted one more go with his Tiger teammates. His story — as masterfully written as it had been — wasn’t done yet.

“I went home for a week and just kind of contemplated things,” said the senior ball-carrier. “I sat down with my parents, thought about what really mattered the most. I’m just trying to leave a legacy. Coming back one more year gives me the chance to be one of the all-time greats here.”

Mission accomplished.

To name just a few of Etienne’s accolades: all-time leading ACC rusher, most games with a touchdown in FBS history, most points scored in Clemson history. The full list would take far too long to dissect.

Etienne feels he’s accomplished everything he wanted in his final season.

“I’ve grown as a player in so many ways that people wouldn’t understand, both on and off the field. Coming back to Clemson was the best thing for me, and I feel like I made the most of it. I’m a better player and person for that.”
Etienne shocked many when he made the decision to return to Clemson for his senior season.

So breathe it all in, Tiger faithful.

The No. 9 and No. 16 jerseys will soon hang from the rafters, but for just a little while longer, they’ll hang in the lockers of two of Clemson’s finest. Two legacies unmatched, two stand-up characters eternally unrivaled.

Two legends — both donning cap and gown and waving goodbye to the university they’ve called home —  that Clemson football will never forget.

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Trevor and Travis: Saying 'thank you' before it's too late

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