A grand rusher

Andre Ellington

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - If 1,000 yards rushing is the gauge to measure a good season, then mark Andre Ellington down for a quality 2011 campaign.

The redshirt junior from Moncks Corner has rushed for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 109 yards this season. He's also returned five kicks for 131 yards.

"It kind of shocked me when I reached the 1,000-yard mark," Ellington said on Saturday morning. "I didn't realize that I did until coaches told me. It's a big accomplishment. That was one of my goals -- coming into the season -- that I wanted to reach."

For his career, he eclipsed 1,000 yards on just 151 carries. That's the second-fewest number of touches needed by a Clemson rusher to top the mark.

"He really didn't need a lot of practice to get adjusted to this offense," said Landon Walker, who's blocked for three NFL running backs while at Clemson -- C.J. Spiller, Jamie Harper and James Davis.

"[Ellington] came right in and knew how to cut, knew how to run in his lanes. He knew how to find a lane. That doesn't just happen overnight. You've got to be a special player."

Ellington has rushed for 2,239 yards on 399 carries and 24 touchdowns during his three-year career. He's also caught 45 passes for 273 yards with a score and returned 18 kicks for 464 yards.

Dalton Freeman said that Ellington's mental approach helps set him apart.

"He plays with an unbelievable confidence. It's something that's a lot of fun to watch," Freeman said. "He understands that we have guys like Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown. He understands their role, respects their role…he's a team player."

When Ellington does have the ball in his hands, Tajh Boyd can't help but sit back and admire what's going on.

"When Andre is healthy, he's one of the best backs in the country," Boyd said. "The way he gets in and out of his cuts, the things he's able to do when he gets out in open space, I just love to watch him play.

"Coach gets on me all the time for sitting back there when I hand the ball off and turn around and watch him. I want to see what he does when he gets the ball. I really feel like he's the best back possible for this offense."

In a spread offense that's perceived as a pass-first system, Ellington is happy to prove that 1,000 yards running backs do exist.

"It means a lot, just from my rushing standpoint for the offense, to show that we can rush the ball when you have a back rush for 1,000 yards," he said.

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