Brooks Ellis talks Vanderbilt visit

Although Arkansas named Taver Johnson as their interim head coach, several programs are hoping to sway some of the Razorbacks' top targets amid the program's uncertainty. One of those players is Brooks Ellis who plays at Fayetteville High School, just a half mile away from Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"I've been hearing from Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi State, and a few others," said Brooks Ellis. "The school I've been hearing the most from has probably been Vanderbilt. I've been talking with the coaches once a week, and they invited me to come down to watch a practice."

Ellis, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound 'Mike' linebacker, accepted the offer and went to Nashville with his father the weekend of the Commodore's spring game.

"We toured the campus," Ellis said. "I got to talk with Coach Franklin and Coach Pry. The facilities are top-notch on both sides, academics and football.

"Academics are one of my top factors. In a few years I'm expecting to see a big leap in wins at Vanderbilt. I don't have an offer yet, but I'm hoping for one. My Dad thought [Vanderbilt] was very cool."

Arkansas and Ole Miss from the SEC have offered, as has Illinois, Purdue, South Florida, Tulsa, and Arkansas State. Ellis says his team's surprising run to the Arkansas 7A state championship game gave his recruiting an extra boost.

"It definitely picked up afterward," explained Ellis. "I felt I improved a lot last season with my reads, vision on the line, and seeing holes that needed to be filled. My speed and agility helped me accelerate quicker to the ball to make tackles. I got better in coverage playing deep balls and on pass rush.

"On the season, I made 85 tackles, 13 and a half sacks, and three forced fumbles. I also had 14 quarterback hurries if that counts as a stat. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette named me the overall Defensive Player of the Year."

Playing at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, the Fayetteville Purple Bulldogs defeated top-ranked Bentonville 29-28 in overtime to win the state championship. Earlier in the season, Fayetteville fell to Bentonville by 41-6. With star quarterback Austin Allen returning, Ellis wants another ring before he leaves, but hopes to sort out recruiting before the season gets underway.

"I'd have to say Arkansas is still my leader," said Ellis. "I was really impressed with Vanderbilt though and will be staying in close contact with the coaching staff there. Notre Dame and Stanford are two other great academic schools I would love to receive an offer from."

One hurdle out-of-state schools will face is Ellis' grandfather, David Lashley, played at Arkansas from 1951-1953. He also has a park in Fayetteville named after him for his local charitable endeavors.

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