By Heath Bradley.
By Heath Bradley
With the regular season wrapped up we will take a look at the current depth chart. We will look at who played, who redshirted, who will or will not return, and how this will determine how the Clemson coaching staff finishes its recruiting class for 2013.
For the second installment we will look at the running back position.
The Tigers have one of the best in Clemson history at the running back position in Andre Ellington. This season saw Ellington go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a season for the second time in his career. He joined James Davis, Woody Dantzler, and Raymond Priester as the only Tigers to accomplish the feat.
To this point in 2012, Ellington has rushed for 1,031 yards on 201 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per carry and eight touchdowns. This gives Ellington 3,386 yards career-rushing yards on 610 career carries. Ellington has found the end zone 36 total times in his Clemson career heading into his final game as a Tiger, scoring 33 rushing, two receiving, and one return touchdown in his career.
Rod McDowell finally showed Clemson nation what everyone expected to see from him coming out of Sumter High School. His playmaking ability as a backup to Ellington has been spectacular. On many occasions McDowell stepped onto the field for a winded Ellington and broke off another big play for the Tigers, scoring on numerous occasions.
McDowell has rushed for 424 yards and five touchdowns, both career highs. One of the biggest improvements in McDowell’s game has been his knowledge of the offense, as he told TCI in an interview earlier in 2012, he is now completely “all-in”, and it has shown on the gridiron.
While he may not be the physical back that Ellington is, The Tigers will not lose much if any in dynamic playmaking ability when Ellington leaves. TCI expects McDowell to only improve with each rep he takes. As he improves his pass blocking and ability to run between the tackles he will only garner more merit to be the starter heading into 2013.
D.J. Howard and Zac Brooks have spent most of the season as the No. 3 running backs. Howard has 34 rushes for 137 yards and two touchdowns, while Brooks has 26 rushes for 119 yards.
The Tigers currently hold commitments from two of the top running backs in the southeast for the class of 2013. Wayne Gallman, a four-star back out of Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia, has held strong with the Tigers even after two of his fellow teammates have de-committed. At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Gallman offers both speed and power as a running back. While playing in primarily an option offense in high school Gallman has shown good ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make explosive plays down the field.
The second commitment for the class of 2013 is Tyshon Dye. He hails from Elbert County High School in Elberton, GA., where he is a power back whom also has great agility. At 6-foot, 205 pounds, Dye will hopefully add a difference between the tackles dimension in this already powerful Clemson offense.
Clemson also has a verbal commitment from one of the nation’s top 2014 backs, Dalvin Cook out of Miami Central High School in Miami, Fla. Cook, a four-star recruit is a game-changer, his speed and playmaking ability in both the run and passing game is electric. TCI was able to watch him in person earlier this year and he has the ability to not only play multiple positions, but also to play them well.
He has flirted with other schools, especially the Hurricanes, but right now he remains committed to the Tigers. Jae’lon Oglesby, a running back from nearby Daniel High School in Central, S.C., looks to be the next great Tiger to come out of Daniel. Oglesby has had a season for the ages in 2012, seemingly breaking every Daniel rushing record on a weekly basis, and TCI only expects him to improve as a senior.
These next two recruiting classes could give the Tigers the same type of stable of running backs as you currently see at the University of Georgia.