Ellington says he's finally 100 percent healthy


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers will kick off the 2012 regular season in the Georgia Dome against the Auburn Tigers, and a familiar and experienced face will line up in the backfield behind quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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.

Senior running back Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Jr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 190
Moncks Corner, SC

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, who flirted with entering the NFL Draft in the off-season, returns to give offensive coordinator Chad Morris a steady and talented presence in the backfield. What could have been a sticky situation had Ellington decided to turn pro was avoided, and now Ellington says he is poised for bigger and better things in his senior season.


Ellington rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago – his rushing yards are the eighth-best single-season mark in Clemson history – but Ellington admitted this week that an ankle injury suffered against North Carolina hampered him the rest of the season.

This season, he wants to stay healthy and help his team win.

"I did not play to my full capabilities last year," Ellington said this past week. “When I'm fully ready to go and I'm 100 percent, I'm a different guy on the field. It is one of those things where you have to fight through some pain, and I kind of did that the whole season last year. I still ended up having a pretty good season. I'm just curious to see what I can do when I'm 100 percent all year."

The fact that he had battled through injuries over the prior two seasons, a disappointing end to a season in 2011 which started with such promise and the chance to help his family financially were all considerations as he pondered leaving Clemson for the NFL.

He submitted his paperwork to the NFL, and the paperwork came back and said Ellington was projected as a third-round pick.

With that information in hand, he said he finally sat down with head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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and made the decision to return.

"It was difficult because I had people pulling me in different directions," he said. "I had to weigh my options and talk to the right people. Coach Swinney was a big help in that situation. Talking to him cleared my mind.  He told me to `do what is best for you.' That's when I kind of realized I was not ready to leave Clemson yet. I still have some things I have to work on in order to better my game. That played a big role in why I came back this year."

And if he stays healthy and puts up even better numbers, he knows his stock will rise even further. He also declined to say whether he would have gone pro if he had projected in the second round.


"It's an opportunity for me to better my stock. It not only benefits me, but my teammates, too, as we shoot for another ACC championship," he said. “And I may have (turned pro), but that’s in the past now. I just want to talk about the future.”

Morris traveled to Nevada in February to learn more about the “Pistol” offense, and Ellington says he thinks the formation will be a “major” part of the offense.

"It's an advantage for the running backs because we are all squared up behind the quarterback," Ellington said. "Linebackers cannot tell where we are going to go as opposed to being in a slant formation where the majority of the time we are going to come across the ball. The pistol formation kind of slows the defense down a little bit."

Slowing down the defense for a healthy Ellington could only mean bigger numbers in 2012.


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