Ellington returns to the gridiron

Martin plans to get to know two-sports star before talking hoops

jkendall@thestate.comMarch 27, 2012 

New South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin wants to give Bruce Ellington time to make a decision about his athletic future.

Ellington apparently doesn’t need anymore time. He returned to the football field Tuesday afternoon hours after Martin was hired.

“Bruce wants to play both sports,” coach Steve Spurrier said after the Gamecocks completed their seventh practice of the spring. “He thought it over and thought he made a little too quick decision (to quit football two weeks ago). He was quick out here. His legs were fresh. He was one of the fastest guys on the field out here today.”

Martin had no plans to rush Ellington’s decision, he said.

“My intent is to allow Bruce to get to know me and understand me,” he said. “I know he’s a heck of a basketball player. I need to get to know him as a person. I can’t force him to do something.”

Ellington was recruited as the foundation of former basketball coach Darrin Horn’s program, but those plans fell apart last year when Ellington decided after one year of basketball that he wanted to play both sports, which he did last year, gaining 106 rushing yards and 211 receiving yards for the football team and averaging 11 points and 3.1 assists for the basketball team.

“I know who Bruce is,” Martin said. “I remember watching Bruce play when he was on the AAU circuit. When the time is right over the next two or three days as I continue to allow him to get to know me, we will cross those bridges. I am extremely excited about him.”

Spurrier believes Ellington will stick with the football team this time, he said.

“That’s what he said,” Spurrier said. “I certainly believe that’s what he wants to do. He realizes he is pretty good at football.”

Martin met with Ellington and the rest of the South Carolina basketball players Tuesday morning. Martin wants Ellington to have “peaceful heart and sane mind” when making his decision.

Ellington did not speak to reporters after Tuesday’s practice.

Ellington first attempted to join the football team last spring but an NCAA rule forbid it. He came out for fall practice and missed seven basketball games. Two weeks ago, Ellington announced he was giving up football to concentrate on basketball. However, Horn was fired the next day, prompting Ellington to attempt to return the football the same week. Coach Steve Spurrier told Ellington at the time to take another week to be sure of his decision.

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