Bellamy's arrow going up as running back shows spring improvement


by - Senior Writer -
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Bellamy exploded 75 yards on this run against Troy, a Clemson record for a first carry

CLEMSON – The arrow beside the name of Clemson running back Mike BellamyMike Bellamy
Fr. Running Back
#5 5-10, 175
Nocatee, FL

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is pointing up, at least according to Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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, a direction that Swinney is glad to see.

Bellamy has been a lightning rod for scrutiny since his high school days at Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Fla., and that didn’t stop once he arrived on campus at Clemson. Swinney said Bellamy pouted with issues over playing time, and offensive coordinator Chad Morris said he wanted Bellamy to learn more of the playbook, become a better blocker in protection and take care of the football before he could be a trusted member of the running back rotation.

The season started, and glimpses of Bellamy’s talent were on display early as he took the first carry of his college career 75 yards for a touchdown, the longest-ever for a Clemson player on his first carry. And then there was the run at Virginia Tech in week five, a 31-yarder in which he made one Hokie defender look silly in the open field.

Bellamy finished the season second on the team in rushing, carrying 57 times for 343 yards, an average of six yards per carry. His 75-yarder was the longest run from scrimmage on the season, but ball security was still an issue.

And then, the news came down that he was sent home from Charlotte on the eve of the ACC Championship Game by Swinney for a violation of team rules and was suspended from the team. That suspension continued through practices for the Orange Bowl and for the bowl game itself, and many wondered if Bellamy would return to Clemson in January.

He did return, and Swinney told TigerNet Monday after practice that he has been pleased with the running back – on the field and off the field.

“He’s not ready to be an every down, dependable winner for us yet but he has made a lot of progress,” Swinney said. “He is here [holding his fists about a foot apart],and we need to him over here [brings fists together]. He is not there yet, but he is close. Last fall, he was hovering in one spot and we couldn’t quite get him there.


“The question that I have had is, ‘Is he getting worse? Is he staying the same? Is he getting better?’ The answer to that is yes, he is getting better and he is trying to do things the right way. He is doing what we are asking him to do. Eventually, if he continues to do that, we will pull him through the knothole. Right now he still has work to do, but he has improved.”

Swinney said that in his meetings with Bellamy, he didn’t demand anything from the young back other than ownership.

“I don’t want any promises from him,” Swinney said. “I want him to just try and give great effort and take ownership of when he does make mistakes and things like that. He has made improvement in a lot of areas. He isn’t perfect and he isn’t even remotely where we need him to be, but the arrow is going up beside him and that is the main thing.”

Morris said that he has been pleased with Bellamy’s effort, but wants him to continue to work on holding onto the football.

“Mike is a guy that is trying hard,” Morris said. “He is battling. He has to improve his ball security, which is the same old thing. But he has been taking more initiative and he is learning and has proven he wants to be a part of this. He has unbelievable talent, so we will see.”

Swinney said that Bellamy is in a group of younger players who are improving.

“We have a group of solid guys that when it comes time to play they will be ready to play and we can count on them,” he said. “And then we have a group of guys that are improving. They aren’t quite winners yet. We aren’t ready to put them in that ‘solid’ category yet, but they are improving. I would say he is in that group. And then we have a group of guys we have to light a fire under because they are stagnant.”

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