Italian Power: The Rise of Clemson Running Back Chez Mellusi

Morgan Thomas

This week Scuderia Ferrari launched their newly redesigned Formula One car for the 2020 season. The famous Italian company has long been known as one of the most powerful auto manufacturers in the world. With this car, they hope to unseat the 2019 champions, Mercedes and end their 12-year long championship drought.

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Scuderia Ferrari

One of the main points for the racing team this year was to take what they have learned from last year and use it to help them win a championship this year.

Clemson also has its own powerful Italian racer in sophomore running back Chez Mellusi. His father is originally from Italy and moved to Washington D.C. when he was 21 years old.

The majority of Mellusi’s family is still in Italy and he goes to visit them for about 2 weeks every summer. He and his family moved to Naples, Florida about 8 years ago and that’s where Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney meet them.

Dabo says it was one of his all-time favorite recruiting visits ever when he went down to see the Mellusi family and had a chance to eat dinner at a local Italian restaurant called Barbatella’s where Chez’s father is the general manager.

Chez finished his freshman year with 6.3 rushing yards per carry and will be looking to have the right mindset going into the spring to build on last year’s experience, much like Ferrari.

“Everybody here is talented,” said Mellusi. “Everyone’s supposed to be here. So my mindset, like my body language. Just opportunities that I have with my mindset keeping my head up because opportunities will come.”

“The person that is starting is supposed to start. Travis (Etienne) is doing what he does. I have learned from him the most and I don’t take it as a negative. When I have the opportunity to go in the game, I’ll do exactly what I’m told.”

Mellusi seems to be focusing only on the things that he can control. Those things are his mindset, his attitude, learning from those around him, and specifically doing what is asked of him when he is asked.

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It is because of this mindset that I believe he is poised for a breakout year in 2020. However, it’s not just because of the mindset that I believe he will continue to see more playing time and have more success. He is also the type of running back that Clemson needs the most going into 2020.

He has long been talked about as a power runner with great balance and a low center of gravity. His mentality paired with those strengths will help him stand out in a group that at times lacked a power option in short-yardage situations.

Current, Clemson running backs Lyn-J Dixon and Mikey Dukes are talented and are definitely going to be battling for their share of touches this year. However, they aren’t built the same as Mellusi. When you look at his film, you can tell that he has the strength to convert on short yardage runs and he should be able to carve out a spot for himself in the 2020 rotation by being the power back that the Tigers are looking for.

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