Ellis led Venice all the way to the Los Angeles City Championships in December, where his team lost to Carson, 30-20. On the season, the 6-1, 205-pound back ran for over 1,700 yards. But as impressive as his numbers were on the field, Gasca can't help but talk about what makes Ellis an unusual high school kid off the field.
"Byron has more character than any kid I've ever coached or been around," says Gasca, who's known Ellis since the running back was 14.
As an example, check out the course-load that Ellis carried last spring during his junior year at Venice. According to Gasca, Ellis had AP physics, AP chemistry, honors math analysis, honors American lit and Spanish III, while running for the Venice track team. The kicker is that Ellis earned four A's and one B that semester.
"There's never been a kid at our school that I have more respect for than Byron," Gasca says. "You hear so much about the character that Coach (Gary) Barnett has. I think it's a perfect match."
Gasca credited CU running backs coach Shawn Simms with doing a good job securing Ellis' verbal commitment. Gasca thinks that Ellis isn't through growing, and could carry as much as 215-220 pounds on his frame at the next level and still retain his 4.5 speed.
"He has great vision and balance," the coach says. "He runs with toughness. He's smart enough to know who to block when people blitz."
Each player and coach from the participating teams in the City Championships was given a medal following the game, played at the LA Coliseum.
"I walked straight to Byron after the game and I said, 'Here, I want you to have my medal because I've never had a guy like you,'" Gasca recalls. "I was overcome with the emotion of seeing him go. He's such a good person."
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