HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- Two of the most dynamic, explosive local receivers in the 2016 class just happen to be from the same area and know each other quite well, even though they attend totally different schools. Baltimore natives Steven Smothers from Franklin (Reisterstown, Md.) and Tino Ellis from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) grew up together and remain good friends to this day.
"I talk to Steven all the time; he's my friend. We're always pushing each other, and we trained together too," said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Ellis. "We have a bit of a competition going now to see what each of us can do on the field since we both play the exact same roles and positions for our teams. I'm always checking in to see how he's doing, and he checks in to see how I'm doing."
This past season, both also played pivotal roles in their squads' championship runs. DeMatha finished 13-1 and No. 1 in the state after beating St. John's in the WCAC title game, while Franklin ran through the Maryland state playoffs and ended with a huge victory against Linganore in the 3A championship.
"We're both doing really well, and it's going to be fun the next couple of years," Ellis said. "For me [personally], it was great just to get that championship and put DeMatha back on top. We all really worked hard, and I played a small role in building up the team."
Ellis lined up in both the slot and outside this season, though he only managed to haul in 13 passes on a run-first team. Even so, his talent was undeniable.
"I see myself as an outside guy, but I can play both well," said Ellis, who runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. "I'm pretty fast, I don't slow down out of my cuts and I have good hands. I need to work on my routes, though; there's still some routes I need to get down."
As far as recruiting is concerned, Ellis still holds the same four offers from Rutgers, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland. The Terps were the first to offer back during the summer.
"Maryland was a big offer for me, and it meant a lot that they were first," Ellis said. "It's the hometown school, and it's basically in [DeMatha's] backyard. I liked the program they have there."
Terps assistant Mike Locksley recruits the area, and he's been a presence at DeMatha and the other area schools. Ellis said he's seen Locksley around, and when he's spoken to him at games and such "he's been a real cool guy. I like Coach Locks."
Ellis wasn't able to attend any Terps games this year, but he does plan on being at the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md. He said the fact that UMD earned a postseason berth was a major step forward and will resonate with recruits.
"Getting to a bowl, that's a great accomplishment for them and it shows that they're building something there," Ellis said. "I'll probably be there for that [bowl game]."
Besides Maryland, Ellis wants to check out Tennessee, Penn State and Virginia this offseason. Of those, he said UVA is a "must" destination.
"UVA, I definitely want to get there," Ellis said. "I like what I've heard about them, it's a good school, and I like Coach [Anthony] Poindexter down there. They've offered me so I'll check them out."
Ellis went on to say that he'd love to procure offers from Penn State, Southern California and Georgia. He said he grew up watching USC and Georgia and likes the athletes they've produced.
"Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, the SoCal vibe, I love that Hollywood feel," Ellis quipped. "And Georgia, you've got A.J. Green, Knowshon Moreno, all those guys are great players I looked up to."
The DeMatha wideout, like his friend at Franklin, carries around that receiver swagger. Expect Ellis and Smothers to continue making noise on the field and the recruiting trail these next two years, as both will undoubtedly be ranked among the top players in the country.
"I've just got to keep working, keep grinding," Ellis said. "[Smother's is] working hard too. The work never ends. We won the championship and the next week we were all back in the weight room. There's a lot of room to get better."
Dynamic DeMatha WR Ellis Making a Name
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