Ellington happy to be back where he belongs

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Ellington working out late last week
Ellington working out late last week

CLEMSON – Halloween in Beantown turned into a nightmare that lasted several months for Clemson running back Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
Running Back
#23 5-10, 190
Moncks Corner, SC

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, a nightmare that he is finally waking up from.

Ellington was enjoying a tremendous season a year ago – 686 yards on 118 carries with 10 touchdowns rushing – before suffering an injury early in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ Oct. 30th game at Boston College, a 16-10 loss that effectively ended Ellington’s sophomore season.

Ellington sat down with TigerNet Wednesday night following practice, and he talked openly about the play in which he was injured, his rehab, and his return to the field this fall, and he admitted that the aftermath of that game started a very dark period for him.

The Tigers trailed the Eagles 16-10 but had driven as far as the Boston College 13-yard line when the injury occurred. The play before the injury, Ellington had rushed for a six-yard loss and the Tigers faced a 3rd-and-16 at the Boston College 19-yard line.

Quarterback Kyle ParkerKyle Parker
#11 6-1, 200
Jacksonville, FL

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dropped back to pass, and had several seconds to throw and missed an opportunity to an open Ellington over the middle, and Ellington moved back toward the far sideline. Parker escaped the rush, and then threw up a floater that was intercepted by Donnie Fletcher at the nine-yard line.

Ellington said he has never watched the film of the Boston College game because he doesn’t want to see that play.

“It was kind of a throwback pass that wasn’t really supposed to be thrown at all,” Ellington said. “All I remember is going up and coming back down and the pain starting. I didn’t want to watch the film, so I haven’t seen exactly how it happened. I just remember coming down. There wasn’t anyone around me at the time – I think it was just how I landed.”

He struggled to get to the sideline, and later learned the injury occurred as soon as his foot hit the unforgiving stadium turf.

“It was instantaneous. It happened right then and there,” he said. “It was broken right when I did it. I tried to play the rest of the game, but as it went on, I felt it more.”

Ellington hobbled into the interview room under Alumni Stadium, and endeavored to put on a brave face for reporters and said he hoped he would be able to play the next week in a crucial home game against N.C. State, but that wasn’t to be the case.

“I wasn’t sure at that time,” he said. “No one knew exactly what had happened. I thought it might be a minor injury that I could rehabilitate that week and I would be ready for that next game. But I went and I got the X-rays, and they told me it was a little more serious than I thought it was.”

He had separated the ligament from the bone and had a broken bone in his right foot, and he tried to postpone surgery for as long as possible, hoping to get back on the field to help his teammates as they chased an Atlantic Division crown and a bowl berth.

He even came out on the field for warm-ups before the game against arch-rival South Carolina, but quickly shook his head “no” at running backs coach Andre Powell after taking several handoffs.

“He [Powell] had kind of asked me to just let him know how it felt,” he said. “It had been frustrating watching my teammates play without me, and I wanted to be out there for them. That was before the shot [cortisone shot], and I told him I just didn’t feel the same. Then we went in and did some things to try and help me, and when I went back out there, it still didn’t feel the same.”

He had surgery to repair the damage, and he said when he felt like he wasn’t progressing fast enough or healing quick enough, the doctors told him to stay positive.

“I stayed positive because I had the right people to motivate me,” he said. “The doctor kept telling me that I would be back, and I believed him. I kind of had that in the back of my mind that I would be ready.”

Ellington limped through much of the spring and didn’t participate in spring practice, but he said he realized he was “back” during summer drills with his teammates.

“I started going through all of the drills in the off-season, doing things where I had to cut and actually getting on it,” he said. “I was doing a lot of drills that were forcing me to cut off that right foot. Once I was able to do that without any fear or pain, I felt like I was ready to go again and I couldn’t wait for fall practice to get here.”

He has looked like the Andre Ellington of old during the practices over the past week, and said he doesn’t even think about his foot while he is running.

“It is normal, just like the left foot,” he said. “I don’t even have the thought of my foot in the back of my mind. I don’t feel like I can hurt it again. I feel normal back there.”

The Tigers are going to need a “normal” Ellington this season to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
#10 6-1, 230
Hampton, VA

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, and he says he and the rest of the skill players just need to play smart and they will be fine.

“We have a lot of weapons this season,” he said. “But if you aren’t smart about doing what you are supposed to be doing, then those weapons won't be a factor. We have to focus more and study more and get ready for this season, so we can achieve our dreams.”

And in his dream, the nightmare is finally over.

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