IN THE HUDDLE: Ryan Ellis

After a year in which he caught 74 balls for over 1,600 yards, Nease receiver Ryan Ellis could re-write the state pass-catching record book this season as he will once again be on the other end of Tim Tebow's rockets.

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similiar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Ryan Ellis.
POSITION: Wide Receiver.
SCHOOL: St. Augustine Nease.
HEAD COACH: Craig Howard.
HEIGHT: 6-2.
WEIGHT: 180.
SPEED: 4.45
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 155.

When you have a quarterback that throws for over 3,000 yards, and you just happen to be his No. 1 target, there's a good chance that you will be thrust into the spotlight quicker than most.

Still, no matter how many opportunities you have to catch the ball, you still must have the skill level to get open and make things happen once you catch the ball. It does take talent to make great things happen.

While there were many times in 2004 that Tim Tebow made Ellis look good, you can say the very same thing about Ellis who was known for coming up with the tough catches, making Tebow equally as impressive.

Having come up with 74 catches for 1,630 yards and 16 touchdowns will put you on the radar screen at any level. There is little doubt that he will be a marquee player at the next level and beyond.

STRENGTHS: When you have good size, quickness and have a knack of going over the middle to catch a ball in traffic, you automatically push yourself into a spotlight that everyone wants to see.

While many detractors say that being a receiver at Nease, especially with the offense they run, you become a product of head coach Craig Howard's system. I totally disagree.

As I do with anyone I evaluate, I watch every phase of the athlete. From blocking skills to route running to becoming the ultimate team player. I jot down notes and use them when sitting down to write an evaluation that 20 colleges per week call to ask for.

On Ellis, you watch three plays and your are totally sold with his skills, and of course, his ability to get it done at the next level - and beyond.

The St. Augustine thrillers a year ago are the perfect opportunity to sit down and evaluate. There, you know that it's a rivalry and the athletic ability on the defensive side of the ball is among the best in the state.

On the first play, Ellis did a simple out, looked the ball in and immediately had the instincts to turn the play up and make what could have been a seven yard gain into one that covered 22 yards. That‘s speed and the experience of knowing what to do with the ball.

The next play in his direction was one that was made possible by Tebow's scrambling. It did buy him ample time to run around and find an open spot on the field. Waving his hands high enough to grab the attention of his quarterback, Ellis caught the ball with a corner and safety locked on him. He still managed to come down with the ball for a 36 yard gain.

The next play was a stop and go, where he failed to fake the defender out, but still managed to leap high enough and grab the ball. That was impressive where he made something out of nothing, using pure concentration and skill.

The final play saw the ball go to the back on a running play, and it gave me the opportunity to watch his blocking skills, which he did pretty well.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: While he does have superb football speed, Ellis still needs to work on running more defined, crisper patterns where drives the defender off the ball. His fakes sometimes do not get the better corners off him enough, which he will be taught at the next level.

While I was talking about downfield blocking, he may want to watch some Jerry Rice, Cris Carter or Irving Fryer tapes. They are three receivers who make you pay when they don't get the ball, and in the process, help their teams out.

OVERALL: From watching this gifted young man, there is little doubt that when he gets to the next level, he will create some positive opportunities with his many skills and experience in running wide-open offenses.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: For Ellis, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Texas Tech were his early choices, but as the spring and summer unfold, colleges will begin to offer him at a record pace.

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