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Paris High School outside linebacker Sed Ellis (22) wraps up an Atlanta ball carrier in a Nov. 4, 2011, game at Atlanta. He finished with eight tackles for the night, five unassisted. and forced a fumble. (eParisExtra! photo)
Ellis (22) celebrates with the rest of the team after quarterback Corban Taylor (15) threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Keandre Robinson with 1:07 left in the game to give the Wildcats a 15-14 victory on the road over the Atlanta Wildcats on Nov. 4 for a 9-1 regular season record and the district championship. (eParisExtra! Photo)
By BRETT VITO
DENTON, Texas — Sed Ellis never encountered a problem finding a niche in just about any sport or any position on a football field during his high school career at Paris.
Ellis excelled as a defensive end, played a little wide receiver, just missed qualifying for the state track meet in the 200-meter dash this spring, high jumped 6-4 and triple jumped 44 feet.
That physical talent is a big reason Paris coach Barry Bowman felt comfortable shifting Ellis to outside linebacker in the middle of last season, a move that helped the 6-3, 195-pound standout land a scholarship from the University of North Texas.
Ellis became the first member of the Mean Green’s 2013 class when he orally committed to play for UNT late Monday night.
Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day recruits in the Class of 2013 can sign national letters of intent is Feb. 1.
“When I was at defensive end, I was not that big. I was just tall,” Ellis said. “When I moved to linebacker, I was able to run around and make plays.”
Ellis made so many of them when he had that freedom. He earned first-team All-District 15-3A honors as a linebacker despite playing the position for only the final half of the regular season. Bowman moved Ellis to linebacker when Paris lost its starting outside linebacker to injury.
The district’s coaches were not the only ones who noticed how well Ellis played following the switch.
UNT’s coaches offered Ellis a scholarship in the hopes that they could convince him to commit early even though he was invited to a camp at Texas A&M and was also being recruited by SMU, New Mexico, Arkansas, Tulsa, Memphis, Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin.
UNT is the only school that has made an offer to Ellis. Bowman fully expects that to change over the next few months when some of those schools could try to convince Ellis to back out of his commitment to UNT.
“Sed runs really well, has a high football IQ and is very quick to the ball,” Bowman said. “He understands how to get off blocks, can get to the football and has good hands.”
Ellis decided to commit to UNT early largely because of the school’s proximity to his home in Paris and the comfort level he found with the team’s coaching staff, including offensive line coach Mike Simmonds, who recruited him.
Ellis’ sister Ashley Ellis will be a freshman at UNT this fall. The two were supposed to visit UNT’s campus last week, but Ellis didn’t make the trip because he had to work.
Ellis plans to travel to Denton soon and is looking forward to seeing Apogee Stadium and a campus that will be quite a bit different than Paris for the first time.
“They have 35,000 students there,” Ellis said. “That’s bigger than my whole town.”
Despite that disparity, Ellis believes that UNT will be a perfect fit for him.
“It’s not too far from home and I liked the coaches,” Ellis said. “I am really comfortable around them. North Texas also has the major that I am interested in. I want to major in aviation and be a pilot.”
Bowman said by the time Ellis arrives at UNT, he will have grown into a more conventionally sized linebacker without losing the speed that allowed him to post a time of 21.7 seconds in the 200. That potential is the reason Ellis has received more attention from college coaches recently.
“He has the potential to, in a year or two, weigh 220 to 230 and play outside linebacker,” Bowman said. “He’s a kid who all of the sudden this spring began to garner a whole lot of attention.”