The 5-foot-10, 190-pound running back from Moncks Corner hit the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2009 when he had a team-high-7.2 yards per carry while splitting the workload with C.J. Spiller and Jamie Harper.
With Spiller on to the NFL in 2010, Ellington and Harper began the season as co-starters before Ellington played his way into the role as the primary back. Ellington racked up 686 yards and 10 touchdowns, but was limited to just nine games because of a foot injury he suffered against Boston College the day before Halloween.
The 2011 campaign was supposed to be Ellington's year to shine. Despite a number of nagging injuries, Ellington rushed for career-best 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns in 13 games.
A future in the NFL beckoned, if he wanted to answer the call.
"It was difficult. I kind of had people pulling me this way," Ellington said. "I kind of had to weigh my options out, talk to the right people. Coach [Dabo Swinney] was a big help in that situation. Getting to talk to him kind of made my mind clear."
Given a third-round grade by the NFL draft advisory board, Ellington opted to return for his senior year.
The best piece of advice he received through the decision making process?
"Really, just do what's best for you," Ellington said. "Just kind of hearing that made me realize I wasn't ready to leave Clemson yet. I still have some things to work on, just to better my game."
Atop that list of things to improve is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. In 2011, Ellington nearly doubled his career receiving total to 45 catches for 273 yards and a touchdown.
But he thinks there's still plenty to be accomplished as a pass catcher.
"That's the majority of my stock, my hands. They all know I can run the ball. I wouldn't be where I'm at now if I couldn't run the ball," Ellington said. "A lot of teams use backs in their passing game, in the NFL. I've got to be able to catch the ball."
Maintaining a clean bill of health through the course of the season, he thinks, could also help his stock.
"When I'm fully ready to go, 100 percent, it's a different guy," Ellington said. "It's one of those things where you've got to fight through some pain. I finally did that last year and still ended up having a pretty good season. I'm just curious to see what I can do when I'm 100 percent."
Ellington with a lot left to accomplish
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