RECRUITING: Cougs eye Ellis

THE LINEBACKER SPOT is a position of emphasis for the Cougs this recruiting season, one of the top needs numbers-wise for the 2005 class. One who might very well fit the bill is <b>K.J. Ellis</b>, a Texas 'backer who sheds would-be blockers, defends the run extremely well and has a nose for the football on special teams.

K.J. Ellis has not yet been offered by the Cougs. However, he has oft-mentioned his interest in the Washington State program. That interest looks to be mutual.

Washington State will head down to Texas and visit with Ellis next week after his school returns from the Christmas break. New Mexico, Colorado and SMU have offered the 6-2, 200-pound linebacker this recruiting season.

Depending on what takes place when WSU comes for the in-home, Ellis could have a new leader by the time the visit wraps. Or if the Cougar visit should come with an offer.

"The situation might change drastically should that be the case," laughed Ellis. "We'll have to wait and see."

Colorado recently postponed Ellis' scheduled official trip after receiving a verbal commitment from a wide receiver, telling Ellis they needed to now focus on offensive linemen as their class is filling up. However, Colorado still remains an option -- that WR has since de-committed from Colorado and verballed to Kansas.

"I'm just waiting on the situation with Colorado to see what they might do," said Ellis, who on his official trip to New Mexico, measured in at 6-2, 200-pounds. Actually, 198-pounds to be precise.

"I fluctuate right around the area of 200," he laughed.

The visit to New Mexico itself went well with the Arlington, Texas, native just wanting to wait and see what might be in store from Washington State and Colorado.

"It was nice. The football team had great chemistry. You could tell everybody was real close...I had fun overall. I just really want to make sure what all the other situations are before I make my decision."

LINEBACKERS ARE the key to any good special teams unit, an area WSU will be looking to improve upon in '05.

Scott Davis, Pat Bennett and Steve Dildine, to name but a few, are linebackers who starred on special teams on their way to earning starting positions. Ellis could be a player who follows in that role.

Ellis, a true student of the game, had an opportunity on a previous in-home with Washington State to meet with coaches Bill Doba and Leon Burtnett and break down some of his game film.

"I've already met with coach Doba. My recruiting coach is coach Burtnett, the linebackers coach -- real nice guy. I got a chance (last time) to actually sit down and watch film with them. That was great, I love watching film...They're real smart guys and just "football guys" and that's what I like. I'm just somebody who loves football, period. I love to play the game and I love to watch it so we had a great time talking."

AS A JUNIOR, Ellis racked up 75 tackles on his way to earning first team All-District honors. In his senior season, also a first team-All District campaign, he eclipsed that mark by Week 9, finishing with 101 sticks during the '04 year.

Ellis showed versatility during his senior season, playing three defensive positions for Lamar -- strong side linebacker, strong safety and weak side rover.

As is the case with many good athletes, Ellis grew up playing quarterback before shifting to defense -- it's served him well when reading an offense. More than that, Ellis just has great instincts out on the gridiron. He has an innate ability to shed the block and knife through to the ballcarrier. And it might not necessarily show up on a forty time, but Ellis plays fast on the football field -- he has "football speed", with a very good burst and closing speed.

Ellis is aggressive out on the gridiron, one of those guys that really packs a punch -- one that belies his current 200-pounds. And he still has some room to fill out on his 6-foot-2 frame.

  • K.J. stands for KaJean Jackson.

  • K.J.'s dad, Kelly Jackson, was a running back at the Air Force Academy.

  • Ellis was a two-time All District first team selection on defense.

  • A team captain for Lamar, Ellis carries a 3.0 core GPA and scored an 1170 on the SAT.

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