Clemson RB battle wide-open, set for future

Clemson running back Zac Brooks runs the ball in the third quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson running back Zac Brooks runs the ball in the third quarter.

Clemson has had a 1,000-yard rusher each of the last three seasons, a school-first.

After showing bursts from a reserve role in 2012, "Hot Rod" McDowell averaged the same 5.4 yards per carry on 106 more carries last season (189 total). Unlike 2012, there wasn't really a consistent No. 2 behind him, and that sets up as wide-open a competition as any in '14.

Assorted injuries kept Zac Brooks off the field for much of the end of the season, totaling 246 yards, two touchdowns and 5.1 yards per carry. The same went for rising senior D.J. Howard, who still had a career-high 57 carries, but at only 3.7 a clip.

Joining the fray out of nowhere was former walk-on C.J. Davidson, who averaged 4.6 yards per carry with four touchdowns. Joining the mix coming off redshirts are four-star prospects Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman.

"I think Clemson fans are really going to be excited about what they see out of this backfield and several years to come," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "I really, really do. We've got two freshmen that redshirted this past year that as a staff are really excited about. I can't wait to get to spring to see Tyshon Dye and Gallman to see where they are. Zac Brooks is a guy that's got all of the tools. Just got to keep him on the field.

"C.J. Davidson is a guy that really we feel like he's on his way. He's exciting. You saw him in the bowl game. Unfortunately he got hurt this year as well. He's going to do some things as well."

Clemson signed three running backs in the 2014 class, headlined by four-stars Adam Choice (Thomas County Central, Ga.) and Jae'lon Oglesby (Daniel HS, S.C.).

As a high school QB, Choice rushed for well over 3,000 yards and racked up 40-plus scores the last two seasons.

"Adam Choice is as gifted a runner with the ball in his hands as we've had around here," Swinney said. "He is very, very gifted. He's strong, powerful, had great vision and ability to break tackle and make people miss. He's played quarterback. He's very, very smart. He's going to be a great fit for what we do."

Oglesby was a back-to-back Independent Mail player of the year with over 4,000 rushing yards the last two years with over 50 scores. Swinney says he's seeing deja vu.

"I played with a guy that I never thought I'd see a guy like him and I'll be doggone if I'm not looking at the spitten-image of him (in Jae'lon Oglesby)," said the Tigers coach. "I played with David Palmer. David wasn't very big. Jae'lon may be a tiny bit taller, but he's faster. Everything is the (same). Just a great football player. Explosive and can do a lot of things when he steps on the field. He looks like he's 6-4 240. He's a big-time football player."

Rounding out the group is Easley's C.J. Fuller, who could also play DB in TigerTown. In a run-geared Green Wave attack, posted a 2,000-yard rushing season as a junior.

"C.J. Fuller is a guy we've watched grow up around here," Swinney said. "Thick, strong and fast. We're in good shape at that position and we just have to develop them."

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tigerrob44#291802 writes:

As most of the readers of this web site know by now, I give credit to overall numbers and wins more so than who the wins were against or who we racked up all the yardage against. You play the schedule you have in front of you no matter if it's Alabama, Auburn and Georgia every week or Furman, SC State and PC. I would much rather play Alabama than Wofford no matter how the game came out. This year, I do believe we will have more great skill position players than ever in Clemson football history. And with the early commitment from Mitch Hyatt, a 5 star offensive lineman that may give us a huge advantage trying to get a couple of more big time offensive lineman.Whether you all believe it or not but, I have always been partial to the option running game. I can shut my eyes and see Kenny Flowers catching a pitch on the corner and taking it 50 yards down the sideline leaving the defense scratching their heads and wonder what was that? I like a good running game and agree we need to beef up and get better offensive lineman. But you have to be pragmatic or a realist. You play to your strengths and our strengths have been Sammy and his little friends for the last 3 years. We recruited for the spread offense and won us 32 games the last 3 years so somebody did something right. We fixing to get some top of line offensive lineman. They are on the way.

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