For the second time in his life, Bruce Ellington has decided to go from a two-sport athlete to a one-sport athlete — and this time, it’s going to stick, Ellington said Friday at the NFL Combine.
“No regrets,” he said.
Ellington thinks he now can fully blossom in football for the first time in his athletics career, and he hopes to impress that room-to-grow theory on NFL teams he talks to at the Combine.
“I think that now that I am focusing on one sport, I can really focus on it and do a lot more things,” said Ellington, who played basketball and football at South Carolina for three seasons.
Ellington, who says he received a third-round projection from the NFL’s underclassman advisory committee, left the Gamecocks with one year of eligibility left after a Capital One Bowl in which he caught six passes for 140 yards against Wisconsin.
“That was the game that sealed the deal (on leaving early),” Ellington said. “I was thinking would I stay or would I come back. After that game, I knew I was gone.”
Ellington has leaned on cousin Andre Ellington, who just completed his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals, during his draft preparation process, he said.
“He told me, ‘If you are coming out, you have to give it everything you’ve got,’” Ellington said. “‘This is not college anymore. This is the NFL. Everybody is fighting for their job.’”
He and Andre have even talked wistfully about playing together with the Cardinals.
“Man, it’d be great. It’d be amazing,” he said. “I told him if I came, I’d try to get No. 83 because he has No. 38. I can follow his footsteps and learn from him.”
Playing for head coaches with distinct styles has prepared Ellington for joining a professional team, he believes.
USC basketball coach Frank “Martin, he is going to get after you. He might say some things that hurt your feelings, but you know that’s something you have to deal with as a player,” Ellington said. “He’s just fighting for his job and for you to learn from life experience. (Football coach Steve) Spurrier is a laid back coach, but he will get after you every now and then.”
Houston on the clock
First-year Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Friday his team is not close to determining who it will take with the No. 1 pick in May’s draft. He also declined to speak in depth about one of his candidates, former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney’s work ethic has been a topic of conversation at the combine, and Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier recently described that work ethic as “OK.”
“I am not going to comment on what coach Spurrier said,” O’Brien said. “I have watched Jadeveon on film. He is obviously a very good player. He played very well this year, but there are a lot of good players in this draft.”
Former South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw and former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd did not make their scheduled appearances in the media room Friday. Both players are expected Saturday.