While quarterback Austin Allen may be the highest ranked of the three Fayetteville players that committed to Arkansas this week, linebacker Brooks Ellis could be the first one to see the field.
Ellis (6-3, 215), who joined Allen (6-2, 217) and safety Alex Brignoni (6-2, 195) in committing to the Razorbacks last Monday, is in position to graduate early.
He could then go ahead and go though practice with the Razorbacks in the spring of 2013.
"I didn't mess around with school when I was younger and put myself in position to graduate early if that was something I thought was the best thing for me," Ellis said. "I took some college classes so if I decide that's the best thing for me, I'll do it. All I really still need is an English class. It would allow me to get a jump on football and in the classroom so there are some benefits to doing it."
Ellis was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 after making 130 tackles and topped that by being named the publication's overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
He had 92 tackles last season – including 13.5 sacks – after moving from safety to linebacker.
"Those 13 and a half sacks show that I can get to the quarterback and put pressure on him and also that I can read the hole and know how to get back there," Ellis said. "I also can go side-to-side of the field really well. I want to work on getting bigger, stronger and faster because I know that it is going to be a big step up playing SEC football. I also want to work on my coverage ability. I do look forward to working hard and being ready when I get there."
Ellis had 14 offers, including ones from Arkansas, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Ole Miss as well as such prestigious schools as Darmouth and Yale.
"All my hard work paid off to get those offers, but in the end it was in my heart to be a Razorback," Ellis said.
That was clinched when Arkansas offered Brignoni last Saturday after offering Ellis and Allen back in February.
"Alex and Austin pretty much knew where they wanted to go all along and I was pretty sure, but not as certain as they were," Ellis said. "But I set down with my family and talked to them and thought about and just knew there was a great program right in my backyard."
The distance from Fayetteville High's Harmon Field and Razorback Stadium is certainly within walking distance.
"That's one thing about going to Arkansas early is that all my friends would still be right down the street so I could still keep my life with them going," Ellis said. "We'll just see how that goes and what decision I make when the time comes."
Fayetteville will be trying to repeat as the Class 7A state champions.
"It's not going to be easy at all because there are so many great teams, but I think we have a real good shot if we can just fill in at spots where we lost some guys," Ellis said. "We have got the talent and leadership and just have to put in the hard work, get a few breaks and make things happen like we did at the end of last season."
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