Elliott high on running back options

Clemson running backs coach Tony Elliott has a variety of options this year in the backfield.

The Clemson coaching staff hasn't been bashful this offseason when it comes to talent stockpiled in the offensive backfield.

Despite losing a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the last two years in Andre Ellington and Roderick McDowell, there's a sense this year could be the best in recent memory when it comes to ground game production.

If you think about it from their perspective, it makes sense.

After all, there are as many as six options vying for playing entering the start of preseason camp on Friday. All six players bring different skills to the table and varying degrees of experience.

Could it be running back by committee?

Clemson running backs coach says its possible.

"Going into preseason camp that's how we look at it," he said. "Going into last year there were a lot of unknowns with Andre Ellington leaving we had some questions and then Hot Rod kind of took over. Then he separated during camp.

"This is the same situation. The difference here is we could have four or five guys all competing for that starting spot against Georgia. Now that guy is going to have to be ready for that moment. But we've got a good problem going right now because of all this competition between these guys."

So how does Coach Elliott assess this unit headed into the start of practice? Here are his thoughts on each running back:

TYSHON DYE: "From what I'm hearing, he's a little bit ahead of schedule. They say he's a young man that heals quickly. Still probably October or mid-season when he's a 100 percent. He'll be in camp and will get mental reps and we'll find ways to get him physical reps too. I want to be safe with him because he's had two major injuries. He had high expectations coming so I need to see where he is mentally and then see what the trainers will allow me to do with him physically."

WAYNE GALLMAN: "I think he's got a legitimate opportunity. He impressed us in fall camp last year with how quickly he picked things up. We wanted to do what was best for his future so we decided to redshirt him and worked it out. We did the same thing with Andre [Ellington]. He can function in most of our situations but he still is learning. He's made of the right stuff. He's hungry. He wants it. He's not scared of the competition. The future is very very bright for Wayne. But I want him to be ready."

D.J. HOWARD: "I tell you what. He's a guy we've challenged. This is what I told him, 'I'm a guy that believes in seniority. You've paid your dues. But now you've got to be the guy and you've got to go perform. You've got all these young bucks behind you and it's up to you to hold them off. I can't do it.' And I think when you saw him healthy in the spring he was doing things he wasn't doing previously making cuts and doing things like that. So he's healthy and ready to compete and he has a sense of urgency that maybe some of the others don't have because they've got more years here. He's experienced. He's performed on the big stage. So you like that. But the big thing for him is to stay healthy and compete. He's the most knowledgeable right now. When I ask the question, boom, he knows the answer. So we like that a lot."

C.J. DAVIDSON: "Very excited about C.J. Hated it for him this spring because he broke a bone in his hand and he was limited early on. He's the kind of guy where it looks like two yards but then it's five. He's the kind of guy too where he spins in traffic, and you kind of cringe, but then you're like, 'ok, good job.' He finds ways to extend plays. He's probably our fastest running backs. He's becoming more physical and has transformed his body up to almost 200 pounds. We went into the Orange Bowl with a package for him because if you get him in space and get him in space he can take it to the house. He's at a point where he's ready to compete and function and compere in every situation."

ZAC BROOKS: "Zac Brooks is probably the guy you'd say right now, has the potential to be the most complete. The only thing he's been lacking is the ability to stay healthy and a little bit of size. If you watch him, he runs very strong for 195 pounds. He had the shoulder last year and that made it hard for him from a ball security standpoint. Zac can do everything. He can catch it out of the backfield and that's a big plus. He's got that natural pass catching ability and you don't see it out of running backs. He can catch the ball on the move instead of remaining stationary like a lot of guys."

ADAM CHOICE: "You tell Adam Choice, 'you go compete for the job.' I tell guys in recruiting, never be scared of who's on the roster. It's your job to beat those guys out. From what I've seen of him, he's got the complete package. He's already 208-210 pounds. He's the guy who can run between the tackles and extend it for the home run. How quickly can he pick it up? And is he completely healthy? He had the shoulder surgery that kept him from playing baseball last season because he's a great baseball player. But they are telling me he's not showing any signs. So that's good, but we'll see."

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