"It was the first game I started," recalled Ellis, who went on to All-District honors by year's end.
Scout.com's choice as the nation's No. 16 DE prospect, Ellis recently told Inside Texas that his work with a personal trainer has resulted in knocking two-tenths of a second off his 40 time and has been clocked at 4.7. He has also added 35 pounds to his bench press numbers and now maxes out at 315. Yet, it was a work ethic that was so sorely missing (by his admission) that Ellis announced that he wanted to give up football following his freshman season.
"I think I was just lazy," Ellis said. "I didn't take football seriously at the time. They wanted me to do weights all the time. They had a good program but I didn't want to follow it because I was like, 'What for?' At the time, I didn't really see myself doing anything with it."
His coaches, however, begged to differ. They saw enough raw talent in Ellis as a potential D-I prospect that they scheduled a little heart-to-heart session in the coaches' office prior to his sophomore season. They also suspected that Ellis' issue had more to do with self-confidence than it did laziness. They also moved him from linebacker to DE to maximize his explosiveness from the edge and groom him into a pass-rush dynamo.
"I wanted to quit because I was never really focused on football," Ellis continued. "The coaches kind of talked to me like counselors do and they helped me realize how well I could do something in the future. So I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad they changed my mind."
Although he was widely considered a work in progress just before his senior season, Ellis received a scholarship offer from Oklahoma State. The usual suspects -- Oklahoma, LSU and Texas -- also fell in line. Born and raised deep in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Ellis was also weaned on the Red River Rivalry waged at the Cotton Bowl every second Saturday in October. It was also a good indicator of his true colors: he cheered for Texas.
"Recently, I was mad," he said of the Sooners' five-game win streak, "but then it changed."
Ellis joins Kilgore Five-Star commit Eddie Jones as the only other DE in this year's class. Both prep stars intend to enroll at Texas this June and participate in voluntary summer drills.