CLEMSON — Mike Bellamy’s up-and-down Clemson career is over.
Clemson officials announced in a release Tuesday night that the former five-star tailback recruit has been ruled academically ineligible this fall and plans to enter a junior college this summer.
Bellamy was the Tigers’ No.2 rusher as a freshman, taking his first collegiate carry 75 yards for a touchdown and rushing 57 times for 343 yards with two touchdowns. When he signed with Clemson, he was considered one of the nation’s top 30 overall recruits and top 10 tailback prospects, with blazing speed and big-play ability.
But he struggled off the field, enduring a pair of suspensions. He was sent home before the ACC title game win over Virginia Tech for an undisclosed violation and was suspended for the Orange Bowl.
Coach Dabo Swinney gave Bellamy a chance to earn his way back onto the team in January, and he had a positive spring practice.
“The biggest thing is, he’s come to work every day,” Swinney said late in spring practice. “He’s been focused in practice every day and he’s engaged. He’s just keeping his mouth shut and I’d say he’s been steady.”
However, his classroom struggles were his undoing.
“I am proud of the improvements Mike Bellamy made in the spring semester in a number of areas,” Swinney said in a statement. “We gave him the opportunity to return to school in January and to grow as a player and a person and by all accounts from his teammates and coaches, he was doing well.
“But, in the end, he came up short academically. We wish him well and hope he can get back on track in the classroom and continue his football career at a junior college this fall.”
Rising senior Andre Ellington –w ho had 1,178 yards and 11 scores last fall – will continue to pace the backfield, but a bigger load will fall on reserves D.J. Howard (41 carries, 231 yards), Rod McDowell (14 carries, 63 yards) and versatile freshman Zac Brooks, who enrolled in January and went through spring practice with Clemson.