STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State picked up a victory over rival Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon, and a celebration continued into the evening as cornerback Keaton Ellis committed to the Nittany Lions. The local State College Area High School standout pledged to coach James Franklin while on campus.
Committed to the family🦁‼️ pic.twitter.com/Qb01hSgJ8z
— Keaton Ellis (@_keatonellis) September 9, 2017
“It’s been a dream my whole life to play at Penn State and to get the opportunity really hit home. It’s just a blessing,” Ellis told Land of 10.
The 6-foot, 168-pound prospect plays his prep games less than 3 miles away from Beaver Stadium. He also attended Penn State’s Sept. 2 game against Akron.
Ellis becomes the first member of Franklin’s 2019 recruiting class, which has plenty to live up to following immense success in the 2018 cycle. The son of former Nittany Lions receiver Bruce Ellis, this decision is the culmination of a longtime connection to the school.
It undoubtedly brought a big smile to his father’s face.
“When I gave him that call about my offer, he was just ecstatic,” Keaton said. “It’s his alma mater, so he loved it and he’s very happy and proud.”
Ellis landed a scholarship offer June 16 shortly after flashing elite speed during a Penn State camp. He finished the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds, which remains a personal-best time.
His speed continues to improve along with overall physique. Ellis has added approximately 2 inches of height and 13 pounds since his sophomore season. He tallied 32 tackles and 9 pass breakups in 2016, according to Josh Moyer of the Centre Daily Times.
I attended his first game as a junior and was wowed by his physicality. Ellis balances his quickness with an aggressive style of play, dishing out punishing hits and exhibiting excellent ball-tracking as both a run and pass defender.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) September 4, 2017
Ellis, who also lines up at receiver and punt returner for State College, looks capable of competing for early collegiate reps at cornerback. He could also become an instrumental player in special teams coverage, considering his zealous approach to pursuit.
“I’m all about being physical,” Ellis said. “That’s obviously a huge part of becoming a successful football player.”
— Mark Brennan (@MarkXBrennan) September 2, 2017
Franklin made a short trip Friday night from Penn State facilities to State College’s football field. It reaffirmed the strong interest Nittany Lions coaches have shown Ellis, who remains the only 2019 Pennsylvania prospect with a Penn State scholarship offer.
“That’s pretty special,” he said. “It means a lot, and it shows Penn State trusts in me and believes in me.”
An early commitment from Ellis could prove pivotal, as I anticipate he will add several Power 5 offers by the end of his junior year. Syracuse currently is the only other program that falls into this category on his offer sheet, though Ellis mentioned Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Rutgers among schools showing elevated interest.
Expect Ellis to be at nearly every Nittany Lions home game this season, so he’ll be counted on to help convince other 2019 targets to join this group as things progress.