Coach Speak: Elijah Brooks On Tino Ellis

Maryland secured a commitment from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) four-star receiver Tino Ellis July 31, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Elijah Brooks, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-1, 182-pounder. Check out our question-and-answer session with Brooks below:

Maryland secured a commitment from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) four-star receiver Tino Ellis July 31, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Elijah Brooks, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-1, 182-pounder. Check out our question-and-answer session with Brooks below:

Terrapin Times: Coach, at this time last year, Maryland hadn’t had a DeMatha Stag in its program since Kenny Tate. Now there’s three class of 2016 guys committed in LoLo Harrison, D.J. Turner and now Tino Ellis. Did you envision this happening during the course of a year?

Elijah Brooks: You know, we’ve always supported Maryland and had guys interested in Maryland. It’s the hometown school and our guys have definitely always looked at Maryland. They just, for whatever reason, chose to go elsewhere over the years.

But we felt if we got one guy go there, other guys would follow. So after Lorenzo Harrison committed last summer, I thought that would definitely help [the Terps] moving forward. And as you’ve seen, it did; two other very highly-thought of guys are going to be Terps.

TT: As far as Tino personally is concerned, we’d felt he was a Maryland lean for awhile now. When did you know he was going to be a Terp?

EB: You know when Tino first came to DeMatha, we had a talk and he told me if he had a chance to play at the University of Maryland, that’s where he’d like to go. And then as the recruiting picked up and schools like Virginia Tech came into play, he started to look around to see what was out there. But maybe in the last couple weeks before his announcement, Tino just realized that Maryland is where he wanted to play and had supported him for the longest time.

TT: Was there something Tino said, specifically, that pushed him over the edge to the Terps? Was it that last visit with his family to College Park, where he met with Coach [Randy] Edsall and Coach [Mike] Locksley one last time?

EB: Yeah, I think it was a combination of that last visit, plus I definitely think it helped that they’re bringing in in an elite quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, and his teammates are jumping on board. Then the direction that Coach Edsall has Maryland moving, all those things helped push Tino to Maryland.

TT: Tino always said LoLo and D.J. were in his ear about the Terps. But to what extent? Did they always harp on Tino about the chance to play in the same offense for the next few years at the next level?

EB: Yeah, both those guys were recruiting Tino there. It was on a fairly-regular basis, that’s for sure. But, honestly, I really don’t think Tino needed much pushing. Like I said, he always liked Maryland; he came in liking Maryland. But having those guys on him definitely helped.

TT: Now with another top local recruit on board at Maryland, and a third Stag, has this local “movement” thing taken hold in the area? Is there a buzz over there at DeMatha among not just the seniors ,but the younger guys and with others in the DMV too?

EB: The movement is real. You look at the class, guys in this area going to Maryland, you’re talking about high-quality kids. Not just quality players, but quality kids too. And other guys recognize it, definitely. It makes them say, ‘Hey, Maryland has something going on over there.’

So I honestly thing the sky is the limit in terms of what Maryland can do recruiting this area. If they can keep this up, with guys staying home, the future is very, very bright.

TT: In terms of Tino’s game in general, can you give us a little scouting report? What does he bring to the table?

EB: He can stretch the field, he can be your hard-nosed receiver underneath, and he can make plays in traffic. Tino has great ball-skills; he can go up at high-point the football. He’s very physical as a player and a great blocker too.

But, really, I just like to think of him as a durable, high-performance player. He’s done well for us the last couple years, and he’s going to have a great senior year.

TT: What are some areas Tino needs to improve on before he reaches Big Ten ball?

EB: Well, like most receivers coming out, he needs to improve his route running and creating space. The windows get a lot smaller on the collegiate level, so he has to work on his patterns, just becoming even more refined.

TT: We only get a glimpse of Tino talking to him as media members. But what’s he like around his teammates and in the locker room?

EB: Tino is not a very vocal kid, but when he’s on the field, whenever he speaks, people listen. He’s just a guy who leads by example for us, and he has the ear of the team. Because he’s so productive, when he speaks, guys listen.

He’s not a rah-rah guy, and he’s not going to go around saying, ‘Hey, everyone come to Maryland now.’ But people definitely respect him and they know what type of kid he is. Naturally, people pay more attention to him.

TT: So he’s not going to go up to Anthony [McFarland] and tell him he needs to be a Terp (laughs)?

EB: I mean, he naturally will (laughs). But it’s not going to be overbearing. That’s not Tino’s personality. He’ll recruit guys, because of course he’ll want his teammates to keep playing with him, but it’s not going to be extreme.

TT: What kind of potential do you see Tino having at the next level? How would you compare his game to other top college receivers?

EB: You know, I’m not quite sure what Maryland has on their roster, but if he’s able to adjust to the learning curve of college football, he can compete physically [right now]. I’m never really concerned with Tino physically competing, but when you take that step up, only time will tell if you can master the mental aspects of it. If he can handle [learning the offense, etc.], he can come in and make an impact right away.

TT: I know Tino has been a four-year varsity player, which is rare at DeMatha. When did you know Tino wasn’t a normal freshman coming in? Was it as soon as he walked onto campus?

EB: The minute he began training with the team. He came in as a freshman and was running right with the seniors. And just the way he caught the football, he played well beyond his years.

So we knew physically he was ready for varsity right away, but what we’ve loved is his maturation over four years. He’s put it all together mentally over four years, and now that side [the mental side] has caught up to the physical. He’s going to have a great senior year.

TT: Yeah, Tino just strikes me as a guy that puts his head down and works. He’s not going to do anything flashy; he just works.

EB: Yeah, that’s him. He’s never going to be a me-me-me guy. There will be times when he won’t even say two words all day, but he’ll get out there and work his tail off. He just loves to work, and that’s what Maryland’s getting – a hard-hat, blue-collar worker who will make the program better.

TT: What’s up with the blonde hair?

EB: Oh, that’s his thing. Kids these days, they have their own style.

TT: I thought maybe it was just a Baltimore thing (laughs)?

EB: I think it just might be. But I can’t say for sure (laughs).

TT:Last question: Any fun stories about Tino? Anything cool to illustrate who he is?

EB: Honestly, I don’t have anything for you right now, because Tino doesn’t give you much to work with. He’s so much about his business that there are times we have to remind him that, ‘Hey, this is supposed to be fun.’ He wants to be so good, he’s almost ahead of his time in terms of his work ethic and preparation.


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