Healthy competition behind Ellington

CLEMSON - Off the field, the Clemson running backs are as tight knit position group you'll find. It's a different story on the field.

There's no question who the starter is. But things start to get a little murky after that.

For the backup job, it's a four-man competition between Roderick McDowell, D.J. Howard, Mike Bellamy and Zac Brooks.

"Friends off the field, enemies on the field, it's a little dog eat dog type of situation," Howard said. "At the end, we're all friends."

Andre Ellington led the team in rushing last season with 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Bellamy was second with 343 yards and three scores while Howard was fourth with 230 yards and a score. McDowell had 63 yards and a touchdown.

"There's a lot of good competition. There are five of us and we all push each other hard," Howard said.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Howard isn't content with his role.

"I've never been the type of guy that's just been satisfied. I won't be satisfied until I get the starting spot," he said. "I'm going to continue to push Andre each day, as hard as I can, to the fullest. The days that he goes down, I'm going to advance each opportunity I get, to try to stand out."

As one would expect, Howard is much more comfortable in year two of the Chad Morris offense. With a better understanding of the hurry-up, no-huddle, Howard feels he's able to perform better on the practice field.

"Last year, it was like flying bullets everywhere," he said. "This year, it's two years in it. It slows down and you understand the concept of everything. It's a whole lot better coming into this spring."

And that's allowed him to pay closer attention to the smaller things.

"I try to work on different things each course of the year. This year, I've focused on my attention to detail, ball security, of course -- the fundamentals," Howard

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