Stepping Up

CLEMSON - Jamie Harper was thrust into unfamiliar territory when Andre Ellington was sidelined with a foot injury earlier this month.

Harper, a former five-star, wasn't even the guy at Trinity Christian in Jacksonville, Fla. He split time with current Boston College running back Montel Harris.

Things didn't change when Harper arrived to Clemson in 2008.

He saw time during his freshman year, but James Davis and C.J. Spiller got most of the touches.

Last season, Harper and Ellington were in a time-share, but as backups to Spiller.

This season started as a time-share, but Ellington was moved into a feature role after hot start. Because of the injury against Boston College, Harper has stepped up as the feature back in the Clemson offense.

Through 11 games, Harper has more than doubled his career rushing total (551) with 686 yards. His six touchdowns are more than the five that he scored in the two previous seasons.

Lately, he's played some of the best football of his Clemson career. Harper put together back-to-back 100-yard performances against Florida State and Wake Forest.

"I've just been producing, doing what I'm capable of," he said at the West End Zone on Tuesday.

Harper doesn't claim to need a specific number of carries before catching his stride. But there more he gets, the more comfortable he feels.

"It's not really the carries, just being in the flow of things with the offense," he said. "Just being able to see the defense, being able to see what kind of blitzes they throw, being able to see what holes they open—things of that nature—just being out there with the flow of the game."

Ellington's potential return for Saturday's game versus No. 17 South Carolina is welcomed with open arms.

"I'm probably Andre's biggest fan, besides his parents," Harper said. "Every day, I don't really ask him if he's coming back. It's kind of monotonous question, seeing that everybody else always asks him. I tell him, ‘Whatever you do, I'm going to ride with you.'"

It's the same message to Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Billy Napier.

Whether that means going back to the time-share, or sticking to the feature role, Harper doesn't mind, one way or another.

"Whatever they ask me to do, I'm just going to try to step up and do my best—do it to the fullest," he said. Top Stories