Closer than expected

CLEMSON - Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington have contrasting personalities both on the field and off the field, but that hasn't kept the duo from forming unique bond in both arenas.

They hit it off instantly during practice week of the 2008 Under Armour All-American Game and the chemistry continues more than two years later as Clemson's 2010 running back co-starters.

"When I first saw him, he was the one that was doing all the talking around the locker room," Ellington said. "I was the quiet one."

The two have been nearly inseparable since they arrived to Tigertown.

"If we were anymore joined we'd be Siamese twins. We're with each other all day every day," Ellington said.

Harper said, "We're almost hip and hip almost everywhere we go…it's almost like a brotherhood."

He pointed out earlier this week that their different personalities can be credited to their respective upbringings in Moncks Corner and Jacksonville, Fla.

"We're pretty different. I came from a family of three brothers—all boys. He's an only child—momma's boy. I grew up with just boys—my three brothers and my dad," Harper said. "He's the quiet one. I'll talk up quick. He'll show you before he'll tell you. I do both. I'll talk all day."

On the field, Harper's the natural bruiser at 6-foot 230 pounds. Ellington's a little shiftier at 5-10, 180.

"He can also move as well as I can. I wouldn't say he's just a power back. He definitely has a lot of speed with him, too," Ellington said.


"We have that one common goal, which is that ‘w' at the end of the game. But as far as running styles, I'm bigger. I can take it the distance with a couple of moves here and there," Harper said. "He's a little smaller, shiftier—hard to tackle in space, really." (Roy Philpott)
And now that C.J. Spiller has moved on to the NFL Harper and Ellington will split time as the Tigers' feature backs this season.

"We have that one common goal, which is that ‘w' at the end of the game. But as far as running styles, I'm bigger. I can take it the distance with a couple of moves here and there," Harper said. "He's a little smaller, shiftier—hard to tackle in space, really."

As a sophomore in 2009, Harper rushed for 418 yards and four touchdowns. Ellington, then a redshirt freshman, picked up 491 yards and four touchdowns.

Both are expected to see an increased workload this fall. And so is head coach Dabo Swinney.

"There's no prima donna in either one of them guys," he said. "They make each other better. They get happy for each other when something good happens. That's a really good situation."

They'll rotate starts, possessions and situations. Neither has been labeled a specialist for third-downs or short-yardage, although Harper is a better pass catcher.

But no matter who's asked to step on the field and make a player, the other will be the biggest cheerleader on the sideline.

"Here's two really good backs that support each other…those two guys know they need each other," Swinney said.

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