COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Maybe the hardest thing for Bruce Ellington to do is take a break.
South Carolina receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. wanted Ellington to take some significant time away — maybe miss a couple of weeks of spring football practice — to recuperate after nearly eight months of practice and competition in Southeastern Conference football and basketball.
"The next day, he was at practice," Spurrier recalled with a smile. "He can't get away. He's got to run and be catching or dribbling of throwing something all the time."
That's certainly been the case at South Carolina.
Ellington was a multi-sport star at Berkeley High School, winning a South Carolina high school football title as a quarterback. But he decided to concentrate solely on basketball as a freshman, leading the team with 12.8 points a game and making the SEC's all-freshman team.
Something was missing, though, and Ellington wanted back on the football field. He joined head coach Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks soon after his first basketball season ended and ever since, it's been a time-consuming, non-stop juggling act of workouts, meetings and games.
"It's the love of the game. I just love doing it," Elllington said Thursday. "I'm just happy to be out here with the team."
Ellington has been a plus for both programs. The 5-foot-9 junior caught 17 passes as a backup his first season in 2011 as he learned the Gamecocks offense. He emerged as one of the team's big-play threats this past season with 40 catches for a team-high 600 yards. He had seven touchdowns, including a 32-yard scoring play with 11 seconds left in South Carolina's 33-28 victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.
A few days later, Ellington was back on the basketball court as the Gamecocks and coach Frank Martin prepared for SEC play. Ellington ran the team and was one of its top defenders, usually matched up against the opponents' top scoring threat.
Ellington ended with 9.9 points a game, good for fourth on the team. When basketball season ended with a loss at the SEC tournament, Ellington was coy about whether he'd go back to football. Martin, who supports Ellington playing both sports, had no doubt what his floor leader would do.