CUTigers Spring Blitz: RBs

From Mike Bellamy to the likely return of Andre Ellington, there is plenty to talk about at the running back position this spring.

With Clemson spring practice set to begin on March 7, we continue our look at the individual position battles by looking at the running backs.

1-Andre Ellington - RS Senior
2-Mike Bellamy - Sophomore
3-D.J. Howard - RS Sophomore
4-Rod McDowell - RS Junior
5-Zac Brooks - Freshman

2011 Stats (Returning)
Ellington - 223 carries for 1,178 yards with 11 touchdowns; 22 catches for 109 yards
Bellamy - 57 carries for 343 yards with three touchdowns; two catches for four yards
Howard - 41 carries for 230 yards with one touchdown; two catches for two yards
McDowell - 14 carries for 63 yards with one touchdown

Unit Ranking: B+

Last season, Ellington finished fourth in the ACC in rushing, sixth in touchdowns scored, ninth in all-purpose running and was named second-team All-ACC.

In need of 645 yards to become Clemson's fifth career 3,000-yard rusher, Ellington ranks 10th on Clemson's all-time rushing list with 2,355 yards. He needs 1,612 to break Raymond Priester's career rushing record.

In need of 645 yards to become Clemson's fifth career 3,000-yard rusher, Ellington ranks 10th on Clemson's all-time rushing list with 2,355 yards. (Getty Images)
There are question-marks after Ellington.

Bellamy was suspended twice last season for off the field issues, the second of which kept him off the team for the ACC Championship and Orange Bowl.

Howard was relatively productive during his opportunities, but had a few struggles in his first season on the field.

In the first two years of his career, McDowell has seen limited action.

Brooks, a four-star signee in the 2011 class, enrolled at Clemson in January.

Try and stay healthy

Despite his productive play during his career, Ellington has battled injuries for two of the last three years. He missed last spring's workouts because of a turf toe injury.

Assuming Ellington stays healthy through the spring and summer, he will have a full year of preparation heading into the 2012 season at full steam, like he did in 2009 and 2010.

He has as firm grip on the starting job and will be heavily relied upon this fall.

Still in the doghouse?

Bellamy ended his first season on campus in Dabo Swinney's doghouse. As long as he continues to stay in the good graces of the head coach, Bellamy should be able to build upon year one at Clemson.

Another slip up between now and the fall could make his ascent up the depth chart a harder journey.

The big back

Second-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris makes no bones about it. He is looking for a big, power running back. He thinks Brooks is that guy.

The highly skilled freshmen was one of eight enrollees from the 2012 signing class and has drawn comparisons to former Arkansas RB Darrin McFadden.

The rest

Howard is expected to contend for second-team duties with Bellamy and Brooks. Last spring, Howard and Demont Buice split first-team reps with McDowell.

Though McDowell has had only a few opportunities during his career, it's still too early to completely count him out of the mix.

Spring predictions
-Bellamy keeps his nose clean
-Zac Brooks proves he won't redshirt
-Howard keeps his name firmly in the mix Top Stories