Chez Mellusi is starting to see all his hard work, and patience, pay off in his second year at Clemson.
The sophomore running back has been surrounded by a plethora of talented players at his position since he stepped foot on campus in the summer of 2019, including Travis Etienne, Lyn-J Dixon, Michel Dukes, current freshman Kobe Pace, and former five-star prospect Demarkcus Bowman, who decided to transfer to Florida.
But instead of doing like so many others in this day and age of college football – packing up and leaving to play for another program where the path to playing time would be more clear – Mellusi has simply stuck it out at Clemson and grinded to earn what he has gotten.
Mellusi credited his mindset for helping him stay focused and patient while waiting for his opportunities on the field.
“I think if you come into college, especially, thinking that you’re going to get something handed to you, you’re definitely in the wrong place because nothing’s going to be handed to you here – especially with our running back room,” Mellusi said on Monday. “So, you kind of just have to put your head down and go to work, don’t pay attention to all the noise, because eventually your time’s going to come. So, the biggest thing for me is just patience.”
Mellusi has played in all but two games this season, including the Boston College game that he missed due to the death of a family member. In the six games he has seen action in so far, Mellusi has logged 18 carries for 78 yards, an average of 4.3 yards per carry, and scored a couple of rushing touchdowns.
The former four-star prospect from Naples (Fla.) High School is pleased with how his season has gone to this point and allowed him to continue to develop.
“Besides all that’s going on with the world and stuff, I think it’s pretty good, definitely for my growth,” Mellusi said. “Just the patience that I’ve had this season and all the stuff going on, it’s been really cool.”
Mellusi’s hard work and patience was rewarded against Notre Dame on Nov. 7, when he was given a chance to play meaningful snaps in a closely contested game and recorded a carry for five yards in the top-four matchup in South Bend.
“It’s a great feeling,” Mellusi said of playing at Notre Dame. “It kind of has a feeling like ‘finally, all the hard work is finally paying off.’”
Mellusi pointed to his performance on the practice fields as the main reason why he has earned the trust of offensive coordinator/running backs coach Tony Elliott and Clemson’s staff to play in big games like the one at Notre Dame.
“Just by doing what I can control, just by practicing hard, showing them what I can do basically and showing them that they can trust me in those situations,” he said.
According to Mellusi, Elliott has been a key figure in helping him stay patient and bide his time amidst all the talent in Clemson’s running back room.
“Coach, he definitely taught me that, how things are not going to be handed to you,” Mellusi said. “Coming into a running back room that’s pretty filled, just waiting my turn, Coach, he definitely had a big play in that.”
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