Our pre-draft series continues with a profile on a powerful running back who provides long touchdown scoring ability.
Clemson’s Andre Ellington was one of four ACC running backs to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards last season.
At 5-foot-9, 199 pounds, Ellington was a standout performer on an 11-win team. Speed is in demand for every NFL team and Ellington possesses that talent.
In his mind, it’s what allowed him to produce five, 100-yard outings as a senior.
Ellington touted his speed at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.
“My explosion. I have really, really good explosion throughout the hole,” said the runner who opened his senior year with 228 rushing yards against Auburn. “My acceleration is really good. I feel like that’s a huge asset to our game.”
Another one of Ellington’s strengths, blocking, fits another important aspect of the professional game.
Truth be told, Ellington relishes the opportunity to protect his quarterback against blitzing defenders.
“I kind of actually enjoy it,” the first-team All-ACC performer said. “I get a kick out of just going in there and hitting a guy when they don’t expect me to hit. Usually guys my size they always expect me to cut. Sometimes I switch it up.”
If Ellington wants to be an every-down running back in the NFL, those talents will be tested.
However, the Clemson running back’s mental fortitude should give him an advantage in that regard.
“I’m capable of being an every down guy,” Ellington declared. “Not the biggest guy, but I can do some of the things some of the biggest guys can do, if not better. I can play first down throughout third, or go in there on a 4th-and-1, squeeze through a hole and make a first down.”
Furthermore, Ellington takes pride in running hard. He, like every other runner in the NFL, will have to adjust to recently passed rules that prevent running backs from leading with the crown of their heads outside the hash marks.
In college, Ellington was eager to be the aggressor.
“It’s all about the technique and how you run the football,” said the runner who finished the year with 1,081 rushing yards to go with 232 receiving yards and nine total touchdowns. “Get your pads lower than the guy defending you, nine times out of 10 you’ll probably win that battle.”
Battles will continue early in Ellington’s NFL career. As he looks to carve out a role on one of 32 NFL rosters, the Clemson running back will look back to his college experience and remember how much he enjoyed the challenge of competing.
As a redshirt freshman Ellington competed for playing time behind C.J. Spiller, a former top-10 pick and current starting running back for the Buffalo Bills.
“Clemson is a great, great system. The program is great,” Ellington said of how his University prepped him for the NFL. “Great coaches and great people that surround the program to help you out throughout life, and help you prepare for life.
“As far as football, having those coaches that were there, they helped to prepare me by just understanding the game. Not just going out and playing, but understanding what I’m doing while I’m doing it and why I’m doing it.”
And most of all:
“Just having fun while I’m doing it as well.”
Ellington truly believes his experience playing behind Spiller has him ready to take on the next challenge in his football career. His enjoyment stems from competing with a premier play-maker in the NFL.
“It worked out in my favor a lot, I feel like,” Ellington said. “It gave me an opportunity to study a guy like him, which had a great college career, and on the track of having a great NFL career. Just having that ability to study a guy like that, just king of watching some of the things he do and learn from him and try to make my game better. It’s a privilege.”
Ellington might not be the first name spoken when TV analysts break down this year’s running back group, but he’s not too worried about it. Clemson’s standout runner helped his school earn its first 11-win season since 1981 and wants to lead a professional team to a double-digit win total in 2013.
The draft is one thing. Production is a whole different ball game.
The latter of the two is where Ellington wants to make his mark.
“Going out there and competing, actually, at that level, and separating from (other rookie running backs) then, that’s when you can say you’re the best.”