Hoffman-Ellis, stock rising, awaits NFL draft

ALEX-HOFFMAN ELLIS, a wild-eyed warrior on the football field, often shocks fans who meet him for the first time away from the field and discover that he's usually rather laidback when the helmet and shoulder pads come off. Hoffman-Ellis, the Cougars' top prospect for this week's NFL draft, projected his usual calm and cool manner on Monday when he discussed his draft outlook.

"There's a little anxiety as far as I just wish this would get over with already so I could know where I'm spending the next ‘X' amount of months," Hoffman-Ellis said by phone from his parents' home in Los Angeles. "Other than that, I'm just working out and waiting. I mean, I'm not nervous or anything, because I know I'll get a shot whether it's in the fifth round or as a free agent."

Hoffman-Ellis is forecast to go in the fifth round by NFLDraftScout.com, which ranks him 17th among outside linebackers. The website doesn't expect any other Cougars to be picked during the draft's seven rounds, but several WSU seniors – including wide receivers Jared Karstetter and Isiah Barton and offensive linemen B.J. Guerra and David Gonzales – hope to be drafted low or sign as free agents. Offensive lineman Andrew Roxas has signed with the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.

"It'd be nice to be drafted," said Hoffman-Ellis, who posted a team-leading 253 tackles over the last three seasons, "but if not, it's not going to make or break me. The goal at the end of the day is to be on that 53-man roster, and to be playing."

His stock has been rising since he posted a 4.54 time in the 40 and 36 1/2-inch vertical jump at WSU's Pro Day in early March. Hoffman-Ellis said "10 to 12" NFL teams have contacted him or his agent. The Oakland Raiders brought him in for a physical and interview.

SI.com's rating system projects him as an NFL practice squad player, calling Hoffman-Ellis an "Athletic and intense linebacker with an underrated game. Remains disciplined with assignments, keeps the action in front of him and instinctive. Scrapes well laterally, takes good angles to plays and wraps up when tackling. Remains disciplined with coverage assignments and shows skill in zone. Stacks well against the run, squares into ball carriers and wraps up tackling. Chases the action hard."

One of Hoffman-Ellis' former college teammates, punter Reid Forrest, said he's going to give the NFL at least one more shot. Forrest signed with Buffalo as a free agent last year but was released in training camp.

"If I never play another down of football, I'm fine with that, because I far exceeded any expectations I had coming out of high school and walking on at WSU," Forrest said. "I just want to know I gave it everything I had."

Forrest said he's "certainly improving." He said Buffalo, Seattle and Arizona have expressed interest in possibly signing him after the draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday.

Forrest, an Ephrata native, moved to the Phoenix area for the second straight winter to train. He occasionally hooks up with his former snapper at WSU, Zach Enyeart, but due to the distance between their homes and Forrest's work schedule, Forrest usually puts longtime girlfriend JoAnn Rogers (a former WSU student) to work giving him the ball and clocking his hang time at a local park.

"It works out great; she gets a suntan," Forrest said with a laugh.

Enyeart also has trained in the Phoenix area the past two winters. Forrest said Enyeart "hasn't really heard from anyone" in the NFL of late.

Forrest, who started a penny auction website with his brother after graduating from WSU in December 2010, said they've already sold the business for a profit to a larger, similar company. Forrest recently began selling cars for a Cadillac dealership in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, where he lives with Rogers.

"I sold four cars my first month," he said proudly.

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