After tearing his pectoral muscle during the 2019 season, former Maryland cornerback Tino Ellis says he is “ready to go” ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft and that his time in College Park, Md., helped him grow as a person.
“It definitely shaped me to be a better man,” Ellis said of his time at Maryland on Glenn Clark Radio March 20. “Some of the things I went through [and] had to overcome such as the whole thing that happened last year then me tearing my [pec] my final year, I think it’s helped me at getting me better and just trying to overcome things.”
In 2018, teammate Jordan McNair fell ill during a team workout and later died of heatstroke, sending the program into turmoil. As a senior, Ellis tore his pec six games into the season against Purdue (Oct. 12). The 6-foot-1, 195-pound cornerback finished his college career with 71 total tackles, 22 pass breakups, one interception and a fumble recovery.
But Ellis wasn’t always strictly a corner. He attended football powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md. DeMatha has produced other football players such as top 2020 NFL Draft prospect Chase Young, former Philadelphia Eagle Brian Westbrook and even his teammate Anthony McFarland Jr.
Ellis made his name as a wide receiver at DeMatha, where he became a consensus four-star recruit and Under Armour All-American. He was rated the No. 9 prospect in the state of Maryland for the Class of 2016 in 247Sports’ composite rankings. Ellis says his coaches at Maryland helped ensure a smooth transition to a new position.
“It was a tough transition at first,” Ellis said. “I never played that position before. But thanks to the coaching staff, [they] helped me make that transition easily. … I started to feel comfortable toward my sophomore year, that’s when I started to get a better feel for it.”
During his sophomore year (2017), Ellis totaled 27 tackles and five pass breakups.
“I remember my first start. It was Oct. 17. It was like my 19th birthday. And I remember it like it was yesterday against Minnesota as my first career start,” Ellis said. “I was nervous at first, but then I started to get a couple of tackles and stuff like that and started to build a little bit more confidence.”
As a native of Reisterstown, Md., Ellis is well aware of former Terps who have had success in their NFL careers such as Stefon Diggs, who played at Good Counsel High School (Olney, Md.) before starring at Maryland.
“I remember me being a kid and watching guys like Stefon Diggs [go to Maryland], so it feels great to build it and continue to stay on the grind for this. It’s amazing,” Ellis said of showing kids in Maryland they can stay local and be successful.
Ellis also mentioned Rakim Jarrett, a 2020 recruit for the Terps who played at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. Jarrett, a 6-foot, 190-pound wide receiver is the top-rated prospect in D.C. for the Class of 2020, according to 247Sports. Jarrett originally committed to LSU but decided to sign with Maryland in December.
“I feel like the younger generation understands what it’s about, and they will continue to do the same. … Rakim Jarrett, I feel like he has a great understanding of that as well,” Ellis said.
Ellis is now preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft. He says his favorite team growing up was the Baltimore Ravens and that playing for the team his idols (Ray Lewis and Ed Reed) played for would be a dream come true. But he’s ready to play for any team — even the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It would be some awkwardness in Pittsburgh, but I’d be happy with it,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ message to teams is simple.
“I have a great character. I have a clean background, no pop-ups or anything like that,” Ellis said. “I’m a hard worker and also, I’m a great football player as well. I’ll try my best to do whatever they want me to do or whatever they need. I’ll do it.”
Ellis is 100 percent recovered from his torn pec, too.
“I’ve been telling teams and telling guys I’m ready,” Ellis said. “I feel great. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m ready to go.”
For more from Ellis, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox