Ellington leads ACC in rushing, wants to be there at season's end

by - Senior Writer -
Ellington breaks loose for a 71-yard touchdown against Miami

CLEMSON – Clemson running back Andre Ellington walked into the WestZone Tuesday afternoon for his weekly round of interviews and Clemson Sports Information Director Tim Bourret announced the ACC’s leading rusher was in the room.

Ellington gave a weak smile in recognition of what Bourret said, but trying to get the sophomore from Moncks Corner to talk about himself off the field is just as hard as it is for defenders to corral him on the field.

Ellington is averaging 95 yards per game through four games, with 54 carries for 380 yards. Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt has played five games and rushed 102 times for 434 yards, or 86.8 yards per game, and is running second to Ellington.

Ellington said that it’s an honor to be recognized, even if it is early in the season.

“It feels great, and it’s an honor to be recognized,” Ellington said. “There are a lot of great players in this league. There are a lot of great backs, too. I am just trying to prove myself. I go out there and follow the five guys up front and try to be productive and be successful.”

Ellington has rushed for 100 yards in three of the Tigers’ four games and he said that success comes from the hard work he put in during his redshirt year.

“I just go out there and work,” he said. “If you work hard, then success will come. But you have to work it. You don’t listen to other people and I don’t try and let that stuff get to me. That is how I was brought up.”

Right tackle Landon Walker said that offensive linemen love blocking for a player like Ellington, who would just as soon hit someone as he would the hole.

“It’s fun when you have a guy in the backfield with the capabilities that Andre Ellington has,” Walker said. “He is the kind of player that you dream of blocking for. He is not a big guy, but he’s big enough to get down the field and get big chunks of yardage. He has really come alive and shown people what he can do. NFL scouts will be looking at him, I guarantee you. I just want to keep blocking for him and see what he can do.”

One national correspondent noted in a column last week that Clemson lacked a “home run” threat with the graduation of C.J. Spiller, but Ellington put that notion to rest with a 71-yard touchdown run against the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Ellington was asked about the play, and he admitted that extra film study and remembering last year’s game against the Hurricanes helped set up the score.

“Just going back to the film from last year, I saw that cut,” Ellington said. “I didn’t see it out on the field when it happened, but when I watched the film I saw that the cut was there. I knew if we ran that play again, I had a good idea of how the defense would react to it, and they did what I thought they would do.

“They overreacted to the run and I hit that backside cut. Once I did that I kind of know where the receivers are going to be, and Xavier Dye was downfield and made a great last block. I see those guys, and try to set up the defensive player because I know they can’t make a tackle through a guy.”

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier said on Tuesday that the coaching staff would increase Ellington’s workload – he had one less carry than backfield mate Jamie Harper last Saturday – but Ellington said he knows Harper will still get plenty of chances.

“I don’t even listen to that,” Ellington said. “He will have his breakout game, and fans will be asking for us to split the carries again. I have seen him break off a 60-yard run. I saw that last season, so I know that’s nothing for him to be a home run threat, too.”

The 5-foot-10 sophomore was asked if it his goal to still be atop the conference at season’s end, and the answer was typical Ellington.

“We will see,” he said. “We have a lot more games and lot more great defenses to face. I am just going to go out there and work, and hopefully I’ll be there at the end of the season.”

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