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Slew Of RBs Set To Replace Ellington

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Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Rod McDowell has said several times this spring that he wants to make a statement in the upcoming season. With the void left by Andre Ellington, McDowell and some others appear to be on the verge of getting that opportunity.

Ellington, who is headed for the NF,L was the team’s leading rusher the last two seasons. He ran for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns, in 2012, his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing year.

Now Clemson is without Ellington, but has replacement options. Along with McDowell, Clemson has junior D.J. Howard, sophomore Zac Brooks and former track athlete C.J. Davidson, who was originally a walk-on.

So far McDowell has been impressive this spring, as have the other backs. In the team’s first scrimmage, Davidson led all rushers with 70 yards on seven carries. McDowell ran the ball five times for 58 yards in the scrimmage. After the game, head coach Dabo Swinney said all the backs ran hard.

It shouldn’t be surprising if McDowell puts up solid numbers for the Tigers. Coming into his college career he was thought to be one of the best running backs in the nation. He struggled through injuries for a good portion of his time at Clemson. That combined with the other talent at the position didn’t lead to much playing time for him in his first two seasons. In his freshman and sophomore season combined, he ran for 224 yards on 46 carries with two touchdowns.

McDowell saw a jump in playing time last year. He rushed for 450 yards and five touchdowns. All five of his touchdowns came in the first half of the season, but some of his better rushing performances came later. On two occasions last season McDowell rushed for 83 yards in a game.

McDowell is athletic but it will be interesting to see how the 5-foot-9, 190-pound back he reacts in pass protection situations.  Pass protection is an area Ellington also struggled with at times last season.

In all, Clemson fans can be slightly optimistic about the recent showings in spring ball by the group at running back. It is yet to be seen if any of the group can duplicate Ellington’s individual success, but they can all put up solid performances at any time.