Tigers now must depend on Ellington

CLEMSON – If the comparison wasn't apparent last season when Andre Ellington finished as Clemson's second leading rusher, carrying for 491 yards for an average of 7.2 yards per carry, it sure proved it to be true this spring.

It all started during preseason camp last year when coach Dabo Swinney admitted that he would, on occasion, confuse Ellington's No. 23 with C.J. Spiller's No. 28.

For running backs coach Andre Powell, he really began to take notice this spring.

"Andre solidified the fact that he's quick as lightning," he said. "He can play."

In April's Orange and White spring game, Ellington rushed for a game-high 86 yards, scored the games' only rushing touchdown and caught a pair of passes for 28 yards. His effort helped lead White to a 17-0 win.

"That was just going out there and having fun. I kind of had the upper hand with the offensive line," he said. "Those guys knew more than the other side. That's why my success was a little bit better than Jamie's (Harper) was."

The roles for Ellington and Harper in 2010 will be interchangeable. Neither has been nor will be named a starter.

That suits Powell just fine.

"Both of can do what the other can do," he said. "It's two different packages. One's a bigger package and one's a smaller.

"If we call a pass, it really doesn't matter who's in the game. If we call a run, it really doesn't matter who's in the game."

Though Harper has been touted as a better receiver, Ellington foresees a big role for himself in the passing game.

"This offense is made to get the ball in the play-makers hands. That's what we're going to do this fall," Ellington said.

And his focus this summer is to take another step closer towards a leadership role.

"A lot of the guys kind of look to (the running backs) as being leaders because we're always around the ball or involved with the play," Ellington said. "I just have to take that as an advantage and be the best leader that I can be."

Considering the Tigers lost ACC Player of the Year C.J. Spiller to the NFL, Clemson will need every ounce of Ellington's playmaking ability and leadership to once again contend for the ACC's Atlantic Division.

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