Green-Ellis takes nothing for granted

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a man of few words. He lets his actions on the gridiorn speak for him, but he can't hide his anticipation of spring training and the upcoming season after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Running Back Coach Frank Wilson calls rising junior Tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis "a complete back."

"BenJarvus can do it all - catch, run, block, whatever you need," said Wilson, "but what makes him a complete back is his work ethic and his desire to be the best he can be."

Green-Ellis, who transferred to Ole Miss from Indiana after two stellard seasons that netted over 1800 yards rushing as a true freshman and sophomore in the rugged Big 10 conference behind the Hoosiers' suspect offensive line, likes the compliment.

"It's all about being a complete back to me," said the soft-spoken Green-Ellis, who at 5-11 214 pounds is both punishing and elusive with the rock in his hands. "Being a one-dimensional back is like being a one-dimensional offense. It doesn't work.

"A running back can't just be a runner. You've got to be able to pass block, run block, run great routes, catch the ball effectively. You have to be able to get the tough yards or take it all the way when the opportunity presents itself."

BenJarvus proved he is that type of back last season. Each week during the 2005 campaign, Green-Ellis would get in the huddle with the outmanned scout team offense against the Rebs' number one defense and simulate the opponent's best back. He prepared the defense well.

"There were a lot of days we couldn't check him," said All-American LB Patrick Willis, "and it's not like we didn't know where the ball was going and not like he was running behind an All-American line. He's special, on the same level with anyone we faced last year.

"BenJarvus is a patient back who can run over you or around you. He has an extra gear when he needs it and he's a smart runner. He gets a lot out of what looks like nothing because he has good balance after contact and he keeps his legs moving."

Green-Ellis and sophomore Mico McSwain give the Rebel offense a good one-two punch at tailback.

"Mico is very fast and explosive. I've got good speed - I was timed in th 40 in 4.4 last spring, but I think I'm more comfortable running inside. Mico is doing the same thing I'm doing - working hard to be a complete back," BenJarvus allowed.

McSwain burst on the scene last year with some breathtaking moments exhibiting sheer athletic ability and speed, but behind the scenes, at practice, most observers could not wait to see BenJarvus and McSwain compete and have the opportunity to be in the same backfield.

"They will make each other better," explained Wilson. "They are both extremely competitive and want the ball in their hands. Spring training should be a lot of fun."

For his part, BenJarvus isn't taking anything for granted.

"I missed playing in the games last year, but I had to focus on the big picture - that I would be back in a year and that I needed to keep polishing my skills for when that time came back around," he explained. "I'm confident in my ability, but not overconfident. There's always something to work on, something to improve."

It's a constant process with Green-Ellis, who benched 375 pounds last spring and is gunning for the magical 400-pound barrier this spring.

"My spring goals are to have no missed assignments and to play to the best of my ability in all phases of the ame," he said. "We are currently learning the offense. I like it a lot because it has balance and won't put too much pressure on the run or the pass.

"I will continue to work on everything hard and will do my best to improve. At the end of the day, wherever I fit in with the team is fine with me."

BenJarvus says his body weight is in the range he wants it.

"I want to play between 214 and 220," he said. "I'm on the low end of that right now, but I feel I'm in good shape and I'm stronger than I've ever been. Our strength and conditioning program here is very good and it's helped me with my explosiveness. Right now, I'm pretty comfortable with where I am physically."

Starting March 6, when spring training opens, look for BenJarvus Green-Ellis to make a major impact on the team.

"I don't know how it will end up, but I know the coaches and the team will get my best," he closed.

And from what we've seen, his best will be more than good enough.

OM Spirit Top Stories