CLEMSON -- There is one benefit to running track that C.J. Spiller had not expected.
In football, the electrifying running back tired of the rampant external criticism for how he "dances" instead of barreling ahead and minimizing his losses.
When it comes to track, there is only one voice in his ear -- sprint coach Charles Foster, whose job it is to instruct Spiller on running exclusively with tunnel vision.
"Only thing they can say in track is you're not running fast enough," Spiller said.
Which has rarely ever proven an issue for Spiller, who might be in his last tour of duty with Clemson's track team as a result.
Spiller will compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes as well as run the first leg for the 4x100 relay team at the NCAA East Regional today in Tallahassee, Fla.
Teammate and Olympic hopeful Travis Padgett is the prohibitive favorite in the 100, but Spiller might not be far behind.
Spiller is tied for the region's sixth-highest qualifying mark based on a personal-best 10.33-second mark recorded three weeks ago.
Only two Division I football players have posted a better or equal time -- LSU scatback Trindon Holliday (10.17) and Florida State kick returner Michael Ray Garvin (10.33)
If Spiller advances to Saturday's final and finishes in the top five, he will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, starting June 11. Otherwise, he will have to hope for one of the few at-large bids.
Foster is admittedly prone to tooting Clemson's horn -- he recently proclaimed its sprinters like a laxative; they will run through you.
With that in mind, Foster does not think it a stretch for Spiller to wind up at the U.S. Olympic Trials in late July.
If Spiller shaves five-hundredths of a second to post a 10.28, he would meet the standard to be considered for invitation if not enough pros and amateurs make the higher 10.07 standard.
"The Olympic Games -- Tommy Bowden would probably lay an egg right before our eyes if we tell him he qualifies," Foster said.
The odds of Spiller making even the trials are remote at best, but that he can be in the conversation speaks to his talents.
Called his football jersey number "Two-Eight" by track teammates, Spiller has an affinity for track that goes beyond the gridiron benefits.
To that end, he bypassed watching some NFL draft coverage this spring to return home to Lake Butler, Fla., and watch his sister, high school freshman LaShae, compete in a meet.
"You really want to see where you're at against the other guys. You want to be faster than everybody, but realistically, everybody's just as fast as you," said Spiller.
Although spring football practices limit his instruction, Spiller can see the results of how track has made him more of a football weapon.
It has gone without saying that Spiller would inevitably explore his NFL draft options after next season, making this probably his last turn on the track circuit.
Spiller said it would be premature to predict his future until the NFL's underclassmen advisory committee projects his draft status next January, but he does expect his track experience to help whenever his NFL Combine opportunity arrives.
East Carolina's Chris Johnson rocketed into the first round of April's draft with a 4.24 40-time. Arkansas' Felix Jones (4.47) likewise was a first-round pick based on his reputed straight-line speed.
Spiller said he has yet to run the 40 at Clemson because the team has always had its timed sprints during the first session of summer school, and he was at home at that juncture last year.
He claims a 4.28 from his prep days. And if he can turn anywhere near that at a Combine while continuing to showcase his game-breaking skills in the fall, Spiller figures to cash in on his wheels.
"I think it will really help me when (the NFL) looks at my background," Spiller said. "They're going to know I'm fast, but they'll want to see how quick I can be."