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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- NC State halfback Jamelle Eugene took his Pop Warner football pretty seriously growing up in Naples, Fla. In fact, he was so intent on being the best running back out there that he took his mother's kitchen chairs, tied them to a rope around his waist, and dragged them around the yard in attempt to build his leg strength.
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|Jamelle Eugene averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season.|
Eventually, he progressed to the table, too.
No wonder he's earned the nickname "The Hurricane."
"I just felt like the only way to be better was to work out, and so I tried to do things everybody else wasn't doing," said Eugene, who enters his senior season with 1,168 career yards. "That's when I started pulling the chairs. I felt as a running back you need to build up your legs, and that was a way for me to act like I'm dragging people, dragging tables and chairs around."
His hard work paid off. Eugene averaged over 11 yards per carry in high school, but didn't start to take over NC State's running game until the second half of the 2007 season when he started the final six games. He was forced into the spotlight after injuries to juniors Toney Baker and Andre Brown, and he made the most of it with three 100-yard rushing games.
Eugene has rushed for over 1,000 yards in the past two seasons combined and will again be a strength of the Wolfpack's backfield. His 4.7 yards per carry last year led the team. Eugene, along with the return of Baker and fullback Taylor Gentry, will give NC State a formidable ground game -- if they all stay healthy. Eugene missed the first three games of last year with an ankle injury, and missed spring drills with a shoulder injury.
"My parents always preached to me and showed me that hard work is the key to being successful," Eugene said. "Whether or not we had everything we wanted, you had to work to even have a chance of getting it."