McDowell hopes for a grand ending

CLEMSON - There's no need to tell Roderick McDowell just how close he is to eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark.

The redshirt senior running back from Sumter knows that he needs exactly 44 yards to reach the milestone, and he's not afraid to admit it.

"It really means a lot," McDowell said. "Knowing that tradition, knowing that was a big question mark coming in and knowing that, for a fact, we pride ourselves on passing the ball, for me to [potentially] leave this program as a 1,000-yard rusher that means a lot."

Who can blame him for being so excited about the possibility of hitting that number?

After waiting his turn behind C.J. Spiller, Jamie Harper, Andre Ellington and others, McDowell has kept a tight grip on the starting running back job since it was given to him on the first of the year.

Through 12 games this season, McDowell has rushed for 956 yards and five touchdowns on 177 carries. The thought of going over 1,000 didn't really enter his mind until after his 161-yard, two touchdown performance against Maryland.

"I wasn't really thinking about it until then," McDowell said. "But, when it hit me, it's exciting. It's a blessing."

Since then, McDowell has had a two more 100-yard games, bringing his season total to four. Numbers aside, he knows there's something bigger on the table than his personal goals.

And there's no guarantee that he'll finish with more than 43 yards rushing against Ohio State.

"I just can't get settled and get all happy, because I've still got to play a game," McDowell said. "I know plenty of backs that have played us and been a 100-yard rusher until they play us, and they get 28 yards.

"I've just got to keep going out there and playing football, do what I do."

McDowell hopes to parlay what he's done into a career in the NFL.

"I feel like I've set myself up for that," he said. "But it's a one season game. I've got to go out there [and] compete, train right, eat right, do all of the little things that I was taught here and take it to the next level. I'm ready for it."

But he isn't quite ready to call it an end to his days at Clemson, at least not yet.

"It's a bittersweet feeling," McDowell said. "I set out to do what I said I wanted to this season and that's a 1,000 yards rusher. I'm close to it. That means a lot, knowing the tradition of running backs here. Me being in that category, it means a lot."

He added, "It can be done when you have a passing offense if you have a running back that can run the ball, coaches and offensive linemen playing their hardest, it can be done. I really have to give praise to the offensive linemen."

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