HENDERSON, N.C. --- North Carolina became the first school to offer Zamari Ellis a scholarship. That offer, coupled with persistent recruiting pressure, has the Tar Heels in the driver’s seat for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound athlete from Southern Vance High.
“He’s a hardworking player, who is very talented,” Southern Vance head coach Lewis Young said. “He does everything the right way. The one thing that’s special about him – along with his height and his size – is he has great hands. He has great hands, great vision, and knowledge of the game.”
Ellis has started for Southern Vance since his freshman year. His primary position was/is tight end, but he’s split out wide as a receiver on occasions during the course of a game.
“We try to find a match-up problem by moving him around, because people are always keying on him and doubling him,” Young said. “So, we try to move him around and make it difficult on the defense.”
Last season, Ellis led the team in receptions with 21 catches for 402 yards and five touchdowns.
Furthermore, Ellis became a starter at defensive end last season. He finished the year with 45 tackles.
Ellis visited North Carolina twice last football season. During the second visit, the UNC coaches offered him a scholarship.
“It means a lot,” Ellis said. “It put a big impact on how I feel about them with them being my first offer.”
Thus, Ellis, who grew up rooting for the Tar Heels, says UNC is his leader.
“The atmosphere is nice,” Ellis said. “I like the college town. You feel it as soon as you get there.”
Ellis is also hearing from Clemson, East Carolina, and NC State. But, UNC remains his lone offer.
“Right now, Carolina is on him pretty hard,” Young said. “A lot of the other schools are trying to learn about him, but Carolina is staying on him hard.”
Specifically, Larry Porter has been recruiting Ellis for UNC. The two communicate on a weekly basis. Their communication included Porter inviting Ellis to the Tar Heels’ most recent junior day, which he gladly accepted.
UNC – like most schools – is recruiting Ellis as a tight end. Thus, the highlight of Ellis’s junior day experience was meeting new tight end coach Chad Scott.
“He was just trying to introduce himself,” Ellis said. “He’s new and I hadn’t met him before, so it was more about him and I getting to know each other.”
The junior day’s itinerary wrapped up with a basketball game against Miami.
“It was kind of different from football,” Ellis said. “It was louder, but I think that was because it was inside.”
During the fall, Ellis was in the stands when UNC beat both Duke and Miami.
“It's very energetic there,” Ellis said. “There were a lot of fans there.”
Ellis plans to return to UNC for a camp this summer.
The only other school Ellis has visited is East Carolina.
Ellis also excels in the classroom. According to Young, Ellis maintains a 4.0 GPA… After the football season, Ellis helped Southern Vance’s basketball team win a conference championship. He averaged seven points and nine rebounds on the season.