Chairman of the board: Rod McDowell steps to the front of Tigers' RB committee

Swinney: 'We had no problem handing the ball to Rod McDowell against LSU...He's 190-something pounds and is strong as a bull'

Clemson running back Roderick McDowell runs for a first down near South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Akeem Auguste during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson running back Roderick McDowell runs for a first down near South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Akeem Auguste during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson.

If it takes a committee to get the job done in Clemson's backfield, Dabo Swinney believes he has just the men to take care of his Tigers' running-game business.

This spring, Rod McDowell, D.J. Howard and Zac Brooks will step out of the shadows, helped along by in-house addition C.J. Davidson, and soon to be joined by Wayne Gallman and Tyshon Dye.

Swinney is confident the crew will carry on in the tradition of Andre Ellington, Jamie Harper, C.J. Spiller and James Davis.

"We know a lot about the guys we've got, and we're confident," said Swinney. "It's just like in the bowl game - we had no problem handing the ball to Rod McDowell against LSU, and he performed at a high level for us when we needed him."

Swinney describes McDowell as "one of the real positive stories from our team last year."

"I tell guys all the time that players develop differently," said Swinney. "But as long as a guy is working and competing and has the right attitude, he'll develop. Rod's a guy who's had to develop. He's put on about 20-something pounds since he's been at Clemson. Physically, he had a lot of transforming to do, and now he's done that.

"He's 190-something pounds and is strong as a bull. And with that development, his confidence has grown, and as his confidence has grown, he's had success on the field. I think Hot Rod is going to be a great player for us. He's not a guy who can do it by himself, but he's going be a great leader and is going to have a tremendous senior year."

Howard, who entered last season having won the backup spot behind Ellington, is healthy again after an injury-plagued sophomore season.

"D.J. was hurt all year - he couldn't stay healthy, so hopefully he'll be able to avoid the injury bug during his junior year," Swinney said. "D.J. is a very fast player and a different style runner. We feel very good about where he is physically and mentally."

Swinney said Brooks is a "different guy" than he was a year ago.

"Zac was a guy we'd loved to have redshirted, but we just couldn't," Swinney said. "But because of the experience he got with his offensive opportunities and his special teams play, he's a much more confident guy going into spring practice."

Davidson, a Daniel High product, arrived at Clemson as a jumper on the Tigers' track team.

"C.J. is a walk-on kid I'm really excited about," Swinney said. "He's a very talented player who signed here on a track scholarship. He decided he wanted to play football and gave up his scholarship to come out. He's a guy with legit speed and is a very gifted guy physically."

Swinney said Gallman and Dye will add size and a power element to the Tigers' running game.

"We've got two really special backs joining us this summer in Gallman and Dye," he said. "They're very different guys from what we have - big, strong, physically developed players who are going to have a chance to get into the mix, as well."

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