Coaches face battle in slowing tireless receiver Ellington

jkendall@thestate.comApril 5, 2013 

USC wide receiver Bruce Ellington

JEFF BLAKE — jblake@thestate.com

If South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington steps onto the Williams-Brice field during Saturday’s scrimmage, it will be only briefly.

That is not his decision but an edict from a South Carolina coaching staff that already believes in Ellington’s ability and is interested in seeing younger players in action and keeping Ellington intact for the 2013 season, during which he is expected to be the Gamecocks’ No. 1 pass catching target.

Coach Steve Spurrier already has booted his two-sport star off the practice field once this week.

“At practice the other day I fell down, and he thought I got hurt so he told me to get out,” Ellington said.

Going to the sidelines is hard for Ellington, who took only a short break between the end of basketball season and full participation in spring football practice. During the break Ellington attended every football practice and inevitably worked his way onto the field in sweat pants and no helmet for this drill or that.

“I can’t be just sitting out here watching people do stuff,” he said. “I have to get out there and enjoy it. Sitting down is boring to me. I am just out here grinding, and hopefully it pays off.”

Ellington, a 5-foot-9, 197-pound junior, led South Carolina in receiving yards last year with 600 on 40 catches. He also scored seven touchdowns and averaged 22.6 yards per kickoff return. He hasn’t made any goals for the 2013 football season but plans to on the suggestion of his brother and cousins, including former Clemson standout Andre Ellington, he said.

“When I do that, I’ll let you know,” he said.

Ellington started 19 games and averaged 32.2 minutes per game for the Gamecocks’ basketball team earlier this year, averaging 9.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

“I hear about (former Auburn two-sport star) Bo Jackson all the time,” Ellington said. “The people at basketball call me little Bo Jackson. They are just clowning around. It’s just fun to be out here playing, and I am grateful that God gave me the talent to do it.” Ellington will spend almost all of his summer working with the football team but plans to return to basketball next season, he said. He also expects to be back for his senior year on the football field in 2014.

“It depends on how my year goes, but I plan on coming back,” he said. One of the toughest transitions in making the switch between sports is the coaching style, Ellington said.

“Coach Spurrier will yell every now and then, but coach (Frank) Martin he gets after you. He loves to win. Coach Spurrier loves to win too, but Coach Martin is a different type of coach,” Ellington said. “I’m used to Coach Spurrier, so I had to get used to Coach Martin, but I’m used to him now.” Despite his full calendar, Ellington feels no fatigue, he said. “I don’t sit down and think about it,” he said. “I just do it.”

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