McDowell left Boston with a pretty good idea that Ellington's status for the upcoming game versus N.C. State was in the air. Sunday text messages with Ellington and a phone call from running backs coach Andre Powell confirmed it.
"Like coach [Dabo] Swinney always tells us at practice, you never know when it's your time to get the ball—just be ready," McDowell said. "That's what I'm doing now. I'm just going to practice and getting ready."
Ellington passed along words on encouragement on Monday morning.
"He said, ‘Rod, it's time for you to ball out. You and Jamie carry the load, like I know y'all boys can.' We running backs stick together. We're like brothers, no matter what," McDowell said. "Just because one boy is down, it doesn't mean Clemson's offense is over. We're still going to go out there and execute—make plays."
One of the hottest names in preseason camp, his progression was slowed by injuries before the season started. He suffered a concussion in the final stadium scrimmage.
About a week after returning from the concussion, McDowell went down with a sprained ankle.
"That kind of set me back, because that sat me out a little longer than I wanted," he said.
McDowell insisted he's back to form, despite the bumps in the road.
"I'm still the same player. I'm going to go out there. If they need me the whole game, they need me no matter what," he said. "I'm going to carry my team. Me and Jamie [Harper] are going to do what we've got to do to bring home a [win]."
The redshirt freshman has 17 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown this season. His last carry was against Maryland.
"At the end of the day, I've got to go out there and make plays. That's it," McDowell said. "I came here as a running back. That's my calling. I've got to go out there and play ball."
Hot Rod hoping for hot start
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