CLIFTON, Va. --- While in the area to play Durham (N.C.) Hillside the night prior, football powerhouse Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic visited North Carolina for its 2012 season opening victory over Elon. Within the group was a young Tino Ellis, who is now a four-star wide receiver.
Nearly four years later, Ellis, a freshman at the time, can completely recall the experience.
“It was a great visit,” the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder said. “… Actually, we got to tour the campus. We saw some of the basketball stuff as well. The campus was amazing – it was one of the top campuses I’ve ever seen. It was truly amazing. It was a beautiful sight.”
Fast forward to earlier this month when UNC brought Ellis’s scholarship count to an even dozen.
“I talked to [Gunter Brewer] and he said I had been offered by North Carolina,” Ellis said. “He said he felt he needed to offer me because he had seen my film – they went over it as a staff – and he dissected it. He said that they need me.”
Boston College, Maryland, Rutgers, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest are some of the other programs to offer Ellis.
With a UNC offer now in hand, Ellis has his sights set on returning to Chapel Hill. The visit will likely take place in June, but if his schedule opens up the trip could occur in May.
“I just basically want to see what they’ve done with the program,” Ellis said. “I want to talk to more of the coaches [and] talk to some of the players, as well. That’s the one thing that I really want to focus on: I want to focus on talking to the players and see their experience.”
Ellis has already visited Maryland, Rutgers, and Virginia Tech. In addition to UNC, he’s looking to set up trips to Kentucky and Wake Forest, as well as a return to in-state Maryland.
Amid the aforementioned travel schedule, three schools have grabbed Ellis’s attention – Maryland, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia.
“Those are the three that are sticking out,” Ellis said. “They’re not in my top five – I don’t have a top five or anything like that – but those are the schools that are sticking out to me the most. Basically, since the ninth grade they offered me and I have a great relationship with the coaches – I’ve been talking to them for the past three years, so that means a lot to me to have that relationship.”
Ellis has set July 31 as his decision date.
“There’s no significance to that date,” Ellis said. “It’s just that it’s right before the season starts. I just want to get it out of the way, so I can just focus on the season and focus on my team.”
That ’12 visit to UNC as a freshman isn’t Ellis’s lone connection to UNC. His cousin, Carlton Bailey, played linebacker for UNC in the late 1980s before spending nine years in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, and Carolina Panthers.
“He just told me North Carolina is a great school,” Ellis said. “Academic wise, you can get a lot of it. And it’s not just all about football up there.”
As a junior, Ellis caught 69 passes for nine touchdowns.
Four-Star WR Planning UNC Return
Inside Carolina Top Stories
July 21 Camp ScoopOutside of the 100 degree heat, the story of Friday's Camp was the handful of top targets hanging out on the sidelines and the performance of an elite 2020 quarterback.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 4:34 PM
Sheldon Anchoring UNC's Special TeamsThe Tar Heels have holes to fill at placekicker and return specialist.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 1:36 PM
Non-Conference Schedule AnnouncedDefending champions open the season on Nov. 10.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 8:25 AM
Sandidge has Tentative Top SevenA pair of UNC pledges have been recruiting the four-star defensive tackle.
Inside CarolinaWednesday at 7:05 AM