Spiller helps put Tigers on map

CLEMSON – Running backs coach Andre Powell knows the go-to sales pitch that he and the Clemson staff have in the back pocket of their recruiting efforts.

With C.J. Spiller's selection by the Buffalo Bills in the NFL Draft last Thursday night, that pitch gains yet another shot in the arm. Thanks to Spiller and a few others, Clemson has ridden a nice run of top level running back talent over the past half-decade.

"C.J. put us on the map, more so than a lot of other players, whether you saw the highlights on ESPN," Powell said. "You talk to recruits and you say, ‘Have you seen us play?' They'll say, ‘Yea, I saw C.J.'"

Starting with James Davis, the Scout.com four-star rated, No. 26 ranked running back in the class of 2005, the run continued a year later with Spiller, a five-star, No. 4 ranked running back.

In 2008, the Tigers signed five-star Jamie Harper and four-star Andre Ellington.

In the 2009 and 2010 cycles, the Tigers have picked up three three-stars: Roderick McDowell, Demont Buice and D.J. Howard.

"We've got to go out and try to duplicate and get as close to that type of talent again," Powell said.

Clemson has targeted several prospects in the 2011 class to try and keep that trend rolling along.

"I think because people have seen (Spiller), a lot of kids want to be like him," Powell said. "I think will attract a lot of good players."
So far, so good.

Marlin Lane (Daytona Beach, Fla.) has been committed to the 2011 class for nearly a year now. In the newly released 2011 rankings, he was named as a four-star and the No. 9 running back in the class, despite an ACL injury as a junior.

"If Lane didn't tear his ACL last fall, then he would be closer to a top five back at this time," said Scout.com south recruiting manager Chad Simmons. "So if he comes back fully healthy and plays like he did before the injury, then he will likely make a move up the rankings."

The Tigers will look to add one more running back to the 2011 class and are right in there in the middle of the race for two more of the nation's elite running backs.

The No. 2 running back in the nation, Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Ga.), lists Clemson among his top schools, though Alabama and Georgia are the teams to beat right now. Not far behind him on the national rankings is Mike Bellamy at No. 5. Also a five-star, Bellamy (Punta Gorda, Fla.) plans to visit Clemson for two weeks.

He recently told CUTigers what he heard from Spiller the first time they met.

"I know how they would get me the ball (at Clemson). We talk about how it's a great fit for me—stuff like that," Bellamy said. "(Spiller) said it's a great fit because they moved him around to get him the ball. I saw how they used him there, so I think it's a good fit for me, really."

There others not far down the list. A pair of uncommitted four-stars remain on Clemson's running back board: Shon Carson (Lake City) and Mike Blakely (Bradenton, Fla.).

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