|40-Yard Dash:||4.7 seconds|
|Hometown/School:||Willingboro, Nj. (Willingboro HS)|
Willingboro, New Jersey is not unfamiliar recruiting territory for the Penn State coaching staff, particularly assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Fran Ganter. In 1996, Ganter spearheaded the effort to land Willingboro offensive lineman, Kareem McKenzie, who SuperPrep magazine rated the top offensive lineman in the country his senior year. Now Franny has again journeyed to south Jersey with the hopes of landing another stud lineman from Willingboro, Ell Ash.
An All-Conference, All-County, and All-South Jersey performer in 2002, Ell might be the most athletically gifted offensive lineman on the east coast this year. According to Willingboro Head Coach Nelson Hayspell, Ell can really motor for a guy who checks in at 6'6'' and 275 pounds.
"Last time we timed him he was about a 4.7. We're doing testing again this coming Tuesday. We always test in the beginning of the summer before we start summer practices to see the guys' progress over the summer as far as working out."
Currently Ell has offers from Penn State, South Carolina, Maryland, Boston College, and Virginia, but Coach Hayspell said that interest has come in from schools up and down the east coast including Miami, Fl., Purdue, Illinois, North Carolina, Temple, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Ohio State. Although schools agree he has enough talent to warrant an early scholarship offer, not all agree on which position he projects best at to play in college.
"(Some) are looking at offensive tackle, but some mentioned to me he would probably play defense some place because of his athleticism and speed," stated Coach Hayspell.
With five very solid offers, could Ell be a candidate to make an early verbal?
"Ell wants to wait until after the season so he can take his visits. He's looking at who's offered him early so then he'll take a visit to those schools because he feels those are the ones that are really interested," said Coach Hayspell.
During Easter break earlier this spring, Ell and his father took a road trip to check out Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan, sacrificing a summer vacation to get an early look at some of Ell's suitors. Does visiting the Big Ten's "Big Three" mean that Ell may be leaning to playing his college football in that conference?
"No. I think his dad, when he heard from them, figured he would just take a ride out there and see. Ell's looking at where his major is and if he would fit in as far as depth chart," explained Coach Hayspell, who reiterated his opinion that Ell would not make an early verbal. "He said they were all nice but there wasn't any place he was going to commit to yet. They were ok. He didn't seem real excited but he said they were ok. I think he just wants to wait and go around and visit and go from there."
Penn State offered Ell a verbal scholarship in the beginning of the May Evaluation period, which Coach Ganter followed up with a visit to Willingboro to sit down with Coach Hayspell and Ell. Where does Penn State feel he will fit into their program?
"Penn State sees him probably coming in and playing at a (offensive) tackle. They like his size and his whole mannerism. They feel he fits into their type of kid," admitted Coach Hayspell. "He's very coachable, always willing to get better. He works hard in the off-season as far as strength and conditioning. Ell's a low key guy, a real quiet kid. But when he gets on the field he does what he is suppose to do. His aggression comes out. But off the field, he's a real quiet guy, more of a listener, he doesn't speak much. Really humble."
"Last year we had a long talk because he was the only returning offensive lineman from the previous year. So, we had a talk to let him know that if he did everything he was supposed to, it would take a lot of pressure off him when the season comes if he would go ahead and get his board score and keep his grades up. He's going to do what he needs to do to be successful."
Ell currently carries a 2.8 GPA, but Hayspell believes that with a good start in the classroom next year, he could push his average above a 3.0. It does not matter to colleges though, because by scoring a 970 on his SAT, Ell has qualified to play as a freshman.
LionNews plans to get in touch with Ell as soon as possible to find out how his recruitment is going in his own words.
(Interview by Steve Curry)