DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) junior receiver Tino Ellis didn’t realize he’d stolen his teammate’s thunder Jan. 24. It’s just the 6-foot-1, 185-pound four-star was so proud of Darryl Turner’s commitment to Maryland, he couldn’t keep the thought to himself, releasing the news to the Twitterati before the new Terps pledge even had a chance to.
“Oh, we were so proud of D.J. – so proud,” said Ellis, who holds offers from the likes of Maryland, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Virginia, Rutgers and Virginia Tech, with numerous other Big Ten and ACC programs monitoring him closely. “That was really huge for him to get the Maryland offer and then commit almost as soon as he got it. He’s one of the guys in our class that committed first to Maryland, so it was huge.
“He’s one of the trendsetters now, one of the guys who jumped on early. When we look back, if the whole DMV movement thing works out, he’ll be seen as one of the guys who started it. So it was huge, kind of a milestone.”
Speaking of that DMV movement, the major question since Turner’s verbal commitment has been, “Is Tino next?” Ellis has never claimed any clear leaders in his recruitment, but he’s made it fairly clear his affinity for the hometown school.
It only helps that Turner and fellow DeMatha Stag Lorenzo Harrison are already on board with UMD.
“The feeling with Maryland is if we [local recruits] all stay home we can all compete for national championships or major bowl games,” Ellis said. “We have the talent here, but everyone needs to stay home and believe in what we can do if we do stay around.
“But that’s the thing, though -- Jalen Tabor leaves for Florida, Eddie Goldman goes to Florida State, Blake Countess goes to Michigan. These guys leave to go to Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, but if they’d have stayed home, we could already be competing with the schools like Ohio State right now. So that’s the main thing we [DMV recruits] talk about.”
So, can it happen now that Turner, Harrison and Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) four-star linebacker Keandre Jones are on board?
“It can happen, and Maryland getting commitment from D.J., Lo, Keandre, that’s huge,” Ellis said. “But I just have to see other schools and where they stand, that’s the main thing. I think that’s where a lot of the guys are right now like Dwayne [Haskins], Terrance [Davis] -- those guys. We’re all just waiting and just seeing what’s out there.”
All the while, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall and the Terps’ DeMatha recruiter, Mike Locksley, have put in the legwork with the Stags’ class of 2016 crop, in addition to other nearby power programs. Ellis said both coaches have a terrific relationship with the top DMV talents, and have continued to build on it this offseason.
“Coach Edsall and Coach Locks, they keep asking me, ‘Are you next [to commit]? Are you next?’” Ellis said. “They keep trying to get me to jump in there and be the next DeMatha guy to commit. They want me to come up there and learn a little bit more and just get back on campus.
“And Coach Locksley, his whole message to us [local recruits] right now is that we can do big things if we stick together. I’ve had a relationship with him since eighth grade, and he says, ‘You guys come to Maryland, we’re going to get you guys right, we’re going to take care of you guys.’ He tells me about [star receiver] Stefon [Diggs] and how he did his thing there, and how I could do the same thing. Like, I look at a guy like Stefon, and it’s like, ‘Hey maybe I can do the same thing he did at Maryland.’”
The DeMatha product will need a quarterback to throw him the ball, however. And that quarterback could potentially be the aforementioned Dwayne Haskins, the four-star local triggerman from Bullis (Potomac, Md.), who has Maryland under prime consideration.
“You know, Dwayne’s decision doesn’t outright affect me,” Ellis said. “I feel like if I go to Maryland, they will have a good quarterback there. But if Dwayne does choose Maryland, it would definitely make me look at [the Terps] even more.”
Ellis was last at Maryland for its game against Rutgers Nov. 29, 2014. He said he wants to return in February with his family for a personal campus visit and meeting with the staff.
Of course, the last time a Stag had a one-on-one with Edsall and Co. in College Park, Md., (see: D.J. Turner) a commitment followed.
Ellis said that probably won’t be the case with him, however.
“No, that’s not me,” he said, chuckling. “I just want to get up there with my family to meet the coaches and all that. Right now I’m still in the recruitment area. I’ve still got to take some visits and see where this goes. Then hopefully I’ll end up where I want to be.”
The receiver plans to be at West Virginia for its junior day Jan. 29, and the weekend after he’ll travel to Virginia Tech. Then during the spring, Ellis wants to see Rutgers and recent offeree Wake Forest as well.
Ellis said he’s eager to see the Hokies so he can find out “what’s up with their receiver coach situation” now that Aaron Moorehead is at Texas A&M. He noted how the Mountaineers’ staff has been pushing hard for him, so he’ll honor them with a trip as well. Meanwhile, Rutgers has sent coaches through DeMatha and has Ellis’ ear too. And the Deacons are a newer suitor Ellis is just beginning to learn about.
“So what I’m thinking is I should be making a commitment sometime in July, maybe late July. The thing is I want to go through spring evaluation and see what comes in from that, and just see a couple other schools,” Ellis said. “I don’t feel rushed; I can take my time with this.”
And now the question everyone in Terps country wants to know: Will Ellis be making that commitment at R.J. Bentley’s, the popular Maryland bar/restaurant?
“It was just a thought, that’s all it really was,” laughed Ellis, in reference to a recent Tweet he sent suggesting he’d be announcing his college destination at said establishment. “I mean, we’ll see – it got a lot of people talking (laughs). But I’ll probably just Tweet [the commitment] out or something like that.”
Is Ellis Nearing A Decision?
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