Ellis throws his critics for loss

Division II defensive tackle Louis Ellis was a big-play machine for Shaw. Ellis, who wore No. 92 in honor of Reggie White, had 43 tackles for loss in his two seasons at the school and has caught the attention of the Packers.

Boston College's B.J. Raji, the clear-cut top nose tackle in this draft, finished his four-year career with 29.5 tackles for loss.

That's nothing. Lewis Ellis had 43 tackles for loss during his two seasons at Shaw.

Sure, it's Division II. But Ellis — who wore No. 92 in honor of Reggie White — won't let that obvious knock stand in the way of his dream.

"Some folks might get mad, but I just let the pads do the talking," Ellis told Packer Report last week. "I'm going to go out hard and do what I've got to do. If they think that, just give me the uniform. I'll play."

Ellis was one of the nation's hot recruits coming out of high school. He was supposed to play for Mississippi State but lacked the grades. So, it was off to junior college and then Shaw University in Durham, N.C.

"I ain't making no excuses for myself," he said.

Ellis didn't let missing out on an opportunity to test himself in the Southeastern Conference sidetrack his professional aspirations.

"Well, this is how I put it: If I'm as good as they say I am, somebody's going to find me," Ellis said of his mind-set. "At the same time, I was worried about getting my education. I came to school for two things: play football and get my education. Without the education, I couldn't play football."

Scout.com's Tom Marino, a former NFL scout, said small-school prospects need two things to catch scouts' eyes. First, they need to have the measurables, such as a fast 40-yard time or amazing size or strength. Second, they need to have production.

Check and check, in Ellis' case.

Asked about scouting a small-school player, general manager Ted Thompson said: "It doesn't differ a lot, other than the fact then I might not go there in the fall. But usually if we have identified a guy that we think can play, that is a draftable kind of player, we're still going to have more than one person go into that school in the fall. Sometimes, that player gets a little bit less exposure in the all-star games and sometimes they don't get invited to the Combine, but we still do our due diligence. Those are the kind of guys that we would invite in for physicals and visits and things like that. It's not that different, but clearly a guy that goes to Ohio State is going to get more attention than somebody that goes to a real small school, but we still scout them."

Ellis was the CIAA's two-time defensive player of the year. He was a man among boys, treating double-team blocks like mere speed bumps to the backfield. He had 22 tackles for losses and eight sacks as a junior and 21 tackles for losses and eight sacks as a senior.

"I saw a whole lot this year, and I still led my team in tackles," Ellis said of the double teams. "At the end of the day, just keep playing. Whatever the outcome is, hey, if I can say I gave it my all ... If I don't feel like I'm tired, I don't feel like I did nothing."

The Packers are one of the teams that have shown the most interest in the 6-foot-2, 315-pounder. Ellis, who wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine, says he's talked to Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey three times.

Asked if the Packers talked to him about playing nose tackle or defensive end, Ellis said he wasn't sure.

"If they want me at the nose tackle ... I'll play the whole D-line," he said. "It don't matter. I'm going to get the job done. I ain't got no excuses. At the end of the day, I've got to get it done."

Ellis has the frame to play nose tackle and the quickness to play defensive end. Scouts marvel at his initial quickness, but note he's got a long way to go before being ready to handle a major role in the NFL.

Ellis is ready to work.

"Man, it's like this," he said. "I want to play so bad that if I don't get to, I won't know what I'll do. But I won't give up, no matter what. I can go free agent and grind even harder. I ain't never had nothing just handed to me. I'm going to go out there and do my best and work my tail off. I'll do double. I'll be at the front of the line. It's my dream. It's now or never for me."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.

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