Ellis is on campus now, arriving in Austin this week with virtually every member of his freshman class. He is projected at power end but the Horns are absolutely loaded at DE this season.
"I want to get in there and see how well I match up against the other guys and that will determine if I redshirt or not," Ellis said. "I'm not really 100 percent sure about getting playing time this year. If I do, it's a good thing, but I'm not going in the with mindset that I'm going to play."
Seniors Tim Crowder and Brian Robison were both named First-Team All-Big 12 last season and have combined for 60 starts. Meanwhile, Brian Orakpo was 2005 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Aaron Lewis saw action in 12 games as a true freshman while Christopher Brown appeared in six games in 2005 before suffering a leg injury). Five-star stud and consensus prep All-American Eddie Jones has been virtually guaranteed a spot in the rotation while Colorado Springs DE Lamarr Houston Jr. (6-2, 257) earned Parade All-American honors at linebacker and was named the Colorado Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Ellis' work ethic is a far cry from his freshman season at South Grand Prairie when he decided to quit the team because, to put it politely, he did not have an affinity for the weight room. His coaches, however, managed to convince him of his potential. He hit his growth spurt toward the beginning of his sophomore campaign but was still strictly JV. He did not earn a starting position on the varsity until halfway through his junior season. (As such, Ellis flew under the radar the radar screen of several D-I programs and recruiting services). By then, Ellis was the kind of physical specimen "you want getting off the bus first" South Grand Prairie coach David Fisher told Inside Texas earlier this year. His half-season as a starter resulted in 65 tackles and eight sacks on the way to first-team District 6-5A honors.
Ellis turned down scholarship offers to Oklahoma, LSU and Oklahoma State (he was literally in Stillwater when Texas offered) and gave TE coach Bruce Chambers his verbal in April of 2005. He went on to total 55 tackles, 16 TFL and nine sacks during his senior year while leading his team to a 10-2 mark and an appearance in the playoffs in 2005. He has kept in contact with fellow Longhorns throughout the off-season, particularly sophomore DT Roy Miller and freshman SLB Sergio Kindle.
"Sergio is a cool person to talk to. He'll tell you how it is. He'll answer whatever question you ask."
So, what has Sergio said?
"Hey says the work-outs are a lot harder in college, so make sure you're in shape when you get down there because they're going to be hard."
Ellis traveled to Austin "almost every weekend" during spring football and, of course, was on hand for the annual Orange-White scrimmage.
"The D-line looked real strong," Ellis observed. "especially with the two returning starters we've got at defensive end, They've got good chemistry working together."
Most consider Ellis' best asset to be his pass rush. He is a strong candidate to redshirt, but the consensus is that Ellis is a raw talent who has not come close to tapping his potential.
And he's still growing.