WOODRUFF — Northern California is far away from South Carolina, both geographically and stylistically.
Moncks Corner (the hometown of Bruce Ellington) and Santa Clara, Calif. (the residence of Levi’s Stadium, home of Ellington’s San Francisco 49ers) are separated by 2,366 miles as the crow flies.
“It’s different from the South, man. That plane ride, five hours, it ain’t no joke,” Ellington said Saturday at the Tory Dandy Scholarship event hosted by his agent at Woodruff High School. “But I’m adjusted to it and I’m loving it out there — the weather’s great, the people are nice. It’s a little expensive, but it’s all good.”
After helping South Carolina to three straight top-10 finishes in the rankings, Ellington was used sparingly his rookie season, catching six balls for 62 yards in 13 games.
“Not having the good season you want, it was kind of hard,” said Ellington, whose team has moved on from the Jim Harbaugh era. Former Charleston Southern assistant Jim Tomsula is now the head man in San Francisco. “But I think this year with some guys leaving and some guys coming in, we’re going to be pretty good.”
His two highlight efforts were each in defeat — at Denver on Oct. 19 (three catches, 44 yards and a touchdown) and at San Diego on Dec. 20 (two touchdowns; one receiving, one rushing.)
“Guys like Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, they helped me learn everything about it,” Ellington said. “I had a guy named Quinton Patton, he was a second-year guy, so he knew what I had to go through my first year. He was a guy I followed behind.”
A fourth-round choice, Ellington was the Gamecocks’ only 2014 NFL draft selection besides top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
“I just want to get on the field and be a playmaker out there,” Ellington said.
There’s a group text going around including some of the top running backs in this year’s draft class — Georgia’s Todd Gurley, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Miami’s Duke Johnson, to name a few.
The group’s primary message, according to USC product Mike Davis: running backs are people, too.
“That’s our thing. We’re looking to run our value back up,” Davis said. “We want to let people know that we’re here, and don’t try to devalue us.”
It’s been two straight years there were zero running backs selected in the first round, which followed a 49-year streak with at least one first-round runner. So it goes in the pass-happy era when running backs are regarded as disposable as Gatorade cups.
Gurley is the best bet to end the first-round slide; Davis might go undrafted, though the 2013 All-SEC second-teamer feels positive about recent visits to perennial powers Indianapolis, New England and Seattle, with one more visit to the 49ers lined up for Wednesday.
Davis’ older brother, James, was a 2009 sixth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns out of Clemson.
“My brother’s advice is to just be patient,” said Mike Davis, who rushed for 2,165 yards and 20 touchdowns the last two years. “Just be ready for anything that happens. Just prepare well.”
Gamecocks fans might want to target the later hours May 1, a Friday night, to check on where their guys will continue their professional futures.
Davis and offensive linemen A.J. Cann and Corey Robinson are each regarded as third-round prospects, per WalterFootball.com. Cann could have some second-round potential, while Davis and Robinson might end up slipping to the middle or late rounds on Saturday.