New tandem gearing up for season

CLEMSON – Working as one-half of a running back tandem is nothing new to Jamie Harper, who split carries with another ACC running back at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville.

Harper and Boston College running back Montel Harris routinely put up 1,000-yard seasons back in the day.

Of course, these days Harper's teaming up with Andre Ellington to form Clemson's new dynamic duo.

With an offensive line that returns four of five starters and a continued emphasis on the running game, expectations for the 2010 season are through the roof.

"As a running back, you always want the ball, especially when you have a tandem. I'm used to it, coming out of high school with one," Harper said during a conversation with CUTigers, following Tuesday's skills and drills workout.

"It's almost second nature to me."

As a sophomore, Harper rushed for 418 yards, good enough for third-most on the team. He and Ellington tied for the second most touchdowns (four). In 2008, as a freshman, Harper was third among Tiger rushers with 133 rushing yards.

In those two seasons, Harper was played second and third fiddle to C.J. Spiller and James Davis.

With questions aplenty surrounding the Clemson offense heading into 2010, the Tigers may have to rely heavily upon the combination of Harper and Ellington.

But Harper's confident that won't be the case this fall.

"It's shaping up, the way it's looking, it looks like it's going to be an equal balance between wide receivers, tight ends, quarterback—we've got a lot of players," he said. "As far as carrying it, I don't think we'll have to. But, if we have to, I think me and Andre and the offensive line are prepared to get it down."

Heading into the summer before his junior season, Harper decided there was one area that needed more polishing than the others.

"There are attributes I know that I can improve, but the main thing is leadership. We've had great senior classes leave two years in a row. I'm trying to follow up behind them and do what they did for me," he said.

Harper now finds himself tutoring the younger players. In skills and drills work he's passing along advice to freshmen D.J. Howard and Demont Buice, who've recently joined the upperclassmen for workouts.

"They were recruited, so you know they have talent. They look quick in and out of cuts," Harper said. "They have a will to learn. It's a lot better when you have guys that want to learn, not just out there trying to do everything on their own."

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