Before the Capital One Bowl, all eyes were on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. However, the tandem of quarterback Connor Shaw and wide receiver Bruce Ellington stole the show with a few jaw-dropping plays.
On back-to-back drives, Shaw and Ellington connected on a pair of touchdown passes. In a unique twist, the two players reversed roles for the second score, with Ellington tossing to Shaw on a trick play.
It was Ellington’s first and only attempted pass of the season (and only the fourth of his career). He was more prolific in his normal role, hauling in a career-high 140 yards on six catches, including touchdowns in the first and third quarter and a few highlight-reel-worthy grabs.
“Bruce had a heck of a game. Makes more big plays as receiver, I think, than almost any other receiver I’ve coached out of 25 years or so,” said head Coach Steve Spurrier. “He came down with a big catch when we needed it.”
A South Carolina native from Moncks Corner, the 5’9’’, 196 lb. redshirt junior may try to enter the NFL draft, but not before returning to help his teammates on the basketball team. Ellington earned his scholarship to South Carolina for basketball, and immediately became a starter his freshman year. Not only does his decision impact Coach Spurrier, but also basketball head coach Frank Martin, as Ellington averaged 10 points per game last season.
“I think Bruce [Ellington] has got a chance to play in the NFL, if that’s the direction he wants to go,” Spurrier said, before playfully jabbing his two-sport star. “You don’t want to go to Europe and play basketball, do you?”
Ellington has not made a decision on whether he will declare for the NFL Draft just yet, insisting that he was still reflecting on the game and looking ahead to the basketball season.
Clowney (who declared for the Draft within minutes of the end of the game) praised Ellington as one of a core group of players who have helped build the South Carolina program in recent years, along with former Gamecocks (and current NFL players) Melvin Ingram, Alshon Jeffrey and DJ Swearinger. “Every year there’s somebody thats ready to compete,” Clowney said. “Everybody wants to compete, and wants to be great, so it’s been a blessing to belong to a group of guys like that who also want the same thing as you — winning football games — and we just come out here and keep winning games for the Gamecocks.”
Ellington’s next opportunity to win games will come on the hardwood, as he’s expected to rejoin the Gamecocks basketball team within the week. As for whether the 2014 Capital One Bowl will ultimately be his last game, the receiver is happy with his college football career.
“I’ve had a great time here,” he said. “I think it’s been the right decision. I haven’t had any regrets playing both sports. These guys telling me go out there and do what you’ve got to do. Playing as a team, that’s what it’s all about.”