Ellington puts in double the work — no matter the season

jkendall@thestate.comJuly 20, 2013 

Jadeveon Clowney is used to being the spectacle, the guy who everyone stares at in amazement.

Last week, it was Clowney’s turn to do the gawking. South Carolina was holding its regular summer morning conditioning session, which included 12 gassers — each a 106-yard, sideline-to-sideline sprint.

Bruce Ellington ran his 12 and then ran 12 more with the next group. And then ran 12 more with a group that had extra punishment running. All of this happened in a span of 90 minutes.

“He’s the Energizer Bunny,” Clowney said. “I bow down to that guy. I don’t know how he does that.”

Ellington is entering his third season with the Gamecocks’ football team. He is South Carolina’s leading returning receiver after having 600 yards and seven touchdowns on 40 receptions in 2012, giving him 57 catches for 811 yards and eight touchdowns in his career. Add those numbers to his 11.4-points per game average in three seasons as the Gamecocks’ point guard, and Ellington will go down as one of best two-sport athletes in school history.

“I don’t ever think about that,” Ellington said. “I just have a love for both of the games, so I play both of the games. I just go out and play. God has blessed me with the ability to do both, and I am just happy that I can do both at an SEC school.”

The names of past two-sport standouts at South Carolina are lost on Ellington. The two most successful have done their double-duty in football and baseball, which is an impressive but less physically draining combination.

Jeff Grantz was a second-team All-American at quarterback in 1975 and also holds the school’s fielding record at shortstop and second base. He played in the 1975 College World Series final and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. Before Grantz, it was Bobby Bryant who set the standard for double duty. Bryant was an All-America defensive back in 1966 and went on to a 14-year career with the Minnesota Vikings. He holds the school record for longest punt return (98 yards) and was the first pitcher in school history to strike out 100 batters. He also was drafted by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Ellington has yet to reach the same stature in his sports, but he has logged more mileage than Grantz and Bryant combined.

“Oh my gosh, it is unbelievable,” USC quarterback Connor Shaw said of the amount of conditioning Ellington does with both teams.

“I have never met a guy who can do that,” Shaw said. “Basketball and football is a totally different type of conditioning. He runs for days on the football field and then goes to basketball practice and does the same.”

Ellington plans to finish his collegiate eligibility in both sports, he said.

“I don’t ever get tired,” he said. “I am just in good shape. Basketball is a different shape than football, but the more you are in shape, the more you can stay on the field.”

Ellington and Shaw expect his role to grow this year with another year of experience and no Ace Sanders.

“I just think he has the confidence now, and that makes all the difference in the world,” Shaw said. “Bruce is a very smart player. There were a few times last season where he would see a coverage and adjust his route, and most guys wouldn’t do that.”

Ellington has no goals in terms of number of catches or yards for the season, he said.

“My goal,” he said, “is just to go out every game and compete and give it everything I’ve got and hopefully help the team.”

Bruce Ellington at SEC Media Days

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