Vikings Show Interest in Area Receiver

The Vikings are among the teams that have talked with a Division II wide receiver/return man looking to make it in the NFL. And he grew up a Vikings fan, adding to his hopes to get picked up as an undrafted free agent and given a chance to prove his speedy self.

Augustana (S.D.) College wide receiver Tommy Ellingworth may never be a household name, but NFL teams — including the Vikings — are starting to notice him.

The 5-foot-10, 186-pound Ellingworth, who racked up 211 catches for 2,398 yards in his college career, turned some heads at a recent pro day at the University of South Dakota with a 40-yard dash time that's among the best in this year's draft class.

Eric Hartz: Tell me a little about your pro day and how the workout went.

Tommy Ellingworth: I'd been training for it for two to three months, from right when the season got over, the next step was getting ready for that. I had worked with my agent as far as getting ready, training for the different drills and running routes and whatnot. It all built up for that one day ... I was running low 4.4s while I was training and I had hit 4.3 a couple of times and ended up popping out a 4.37 at USD, so I was really happy with that and the other tests went pretty well too, so it went better than I thought.

Hartz: That time caught the attention of some people. Were you surprised you were that fast?

Ellingworth: Well, yes and no. I kind of knew that I could run a high 4.3 on a good day if I was feeling right and I knew I had a chance, but it was one of those days were it all came together at the time I needed it to and I think some people were pretty surprised. I was more than happy with it.

Tommy Ellingworth in action last season
Photo: Inertia Sports Media

Hartz: You spoke with the Colts scouts at the workout, correct?

Ellingworth: I spoke with the Colts guy and he had me stay after with a quarterback and another receiver. He asked me to stay after and run certain routes for people to make sure I could catch and what I looked like running routes and what I looked like getting off the line. It was good; it went really well.

Hartz: What other teams have shown interest in you?

Ellingworth: Some of the other teams that have showed interest besides the Colts have been Minnesota, Jacksonville, Baltimore, the New York Jets, and Arizona.

Hartz: What's this experience been like, trying to make it in pro football, especially being a Division II guy from a smaller school?

Ellingworth: You're a step behind everyone as far as just being Division II, which is tough. A guy like me can test with the other guys and statistic-wise I have all that stuff, but the big thing is Division II is not Division I and I'm not on national TV every week. If you're not from around here you probably don't know much about Division II and the North Central Conference. So that's probably the biggest thing is just getting exposure. I've got a good agent that's working on getting my film out and getting my times out from Pro Days. Now it's just a matter of trying to get people to take a look at them and give a Division II person a shot.

Hartz: What's your agent telling you about your chances? Is he optimistic about you getting drafted or getting picked up afterwards?

Ellingworth: We're looking at getting picked up afterwards, hopefully getting an invite to a mini or rookie camp. The biggest thing I'm focusing on, I'm a receiver and play the slot, but I've had a lot of success in the return game all through college, either kick return or punt return, or even carrying the ball on rushes. So that's kind of a selling point, is that I can do more than one thing. A lot of teams are kind of looking for a 2-for-1, a guy that can come in as a third of fourth receiver in the slot and you can throw him back to return a punt or a kick. So that's a big selling point we're trying to push. Hopefully I can get into a camp and then it's kind of up to me just to show people I can play with the talent.

Hartz: Being a slot receiver, I'm sure you're aware of what Brandon Stokley was able to do during his time with the Colts. That has to be an exciting idea to work with those receivers and be in that offense.

Ellingworth: I keep a close eye on guys like Stokely and Wes Welker. Those are the kind of guys I like to think ... I'm obviously not them, but people I try to be like and work hard, as far as, I'm a shorter, stockier receiver that plays the slot. Both those guys could return if they had to. So that's something that's really exciting to me. So hopefully someone will give me an opportunity to show people what I can do, and hopefully that comes.

Hartz: Your brother was on the team at Augustana as a redshirt freshman last fall. What was it like having him on the team with you?

Ellingworth: It was great. When I was in high school, he was on the junior varsity team and I never got a chance to play with him. This year, it was fun, he was the third or fourth receiver in a lot of our sets. It's fun being in the huddle with an actual family member and a kid you grew up with, and now you're on the same field. It's one of those things where you really cherish the moment. I was lucky enough to play with him for a year. It was a big deal for my family and my parents to be able to come to the game and see both their kids on the field at the same time. That doesn't happen to a lot of people so I'm pretty fortunate.

Hartz: Who's faster, you or your brother?

Ellingworth: Right now, I am (laughs). But he's a little bit taller than me and who knows, maybe in a couple of years I think he might pass me in just about everything, so we'll see.

Ellingworth shows his receiving ability
Photo: Inertia Sports Media

Hartz: You're from Minnesota. Did you root for the Vikings growing up?

Ellingworth: Oh yeah, yeah. I'm a diehard Purple People Eater. Growing up where I did, if you're not a Vikings fan you're probably a Packers fan. I grew up with the Purple on and have attended a lot of games throughout my life. They're one of the teams, good or bad, I always root for them.

Hartz: You had 65 catches last fall. Is there any game that really stands out the most in your mind from last season?

Ellingworth: I started out pretty solid and was leading the nation in receptions and yards and the sixth game I had a little injury in my back. That threw me off a little and I had to take it easy for part of the season. That was kind of tough. But we played Minnesota-Mankato, it was a game we ended up losing at the very end, but I think I had 13 catches for about 200 yards, and a couple of punt returns I almost took back. It was one of those games that was really fun because I got to touch the ball a lot. As a receiver and a returner, that's the fun part of the game, is getting the ball and trying to do what you can. So that was a good memory that I had from this year.

Hartz: Anything else Colts fans might like to know about you?

Ellingworth: I'm a big Peyton Manning fan, if that helps (laughs). But, no, I've always enjoyed the Colts. I'm a Vikings fan at heart, but there are some teams, like the Colts, that I have kept an eye on throughout my life. I've enjoyed watching Peyton and that system they run down there. Hopefully something good can happen in the future, we'll see.

Hartz: If you were able to make your pitch to a team on why they should pick you up, what would you tell them?

Ellingworth: Basically I would tell them that I'm a 2-for-1, you're not just getting a returner, you're not just getting a receiver. I can get in the backfield, run routes, return punts and kicks. So it's kind of a package deal when it comes to me, I can do a lot of good things. And I actually pride myself on my blocking, too, quite a bit. Getting a chance is the biggest deal now, then once I get in somewhere it will be all up to me and I can show teams what I can do. Hopefully I get a chance.

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