Height: 6-1 Weight: 307 Age: 30
Born: 7/9/1985 Los Angeles , CA
Selected By: New Orleans Saints
Pick (Overall): 7 (7)
The Trojans' three-year starter at nose guard, Ellis was regarded as one of the top interior linemen in the country entering his senior season, and only continued to build his reputation in 2007. The winner of the Pat Tillman Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award, Ellis was also the recipient of the Morris Trophy, given to the league's premier lineman.
Many had expected Ellis to be playing in the National Football League rather than for the Trojans in 2007. He seriously contemplated applying after his junior season, but because he missed a portion of 2006 while recovering from early season arthroscopic knee surgery, he decided to return for his final campaign. "I think I can mature more as a football player and a person," Ellis said last summer. "It's only one more year. How bad can one more year be?"
Southern California's gain resulted in significant losses for their opposition, as no offensive lineman could contain Ellis, who registered a career-high 8.5 sacks to go along with 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and seven pass deflections as a senior. After manhandling the Notre Dame offensive line in their 2007 encounter, the Irish head coach Charlie Weis told reporters, "Ellis is on about every (award) list known to mankind. He locates the ball, uses his hands, plays with good balance. He's a tough player."
At Chino High School, Ellis earned Super Prep and Prep Star All-American honors, in addition to garnering Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team, The Sporting News Hot 100, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tom Lemming All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first-team and Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 honors.
Ellis was also named to the Orange County Register Fab 15, Cal-Hi Sports All-State, All-CIF Southern Section, All-CIF Division II first-teams and was chosen Los Angeles Times All-Star Lineman MVP. The Los Angeles Times All-Inland Empire Lineman MVP selection as a senior offensive and defensive lineman, he recorded 122 tackles (35 solo), including 19 for losses (with 6.5 sacks), plus a blocked punt, a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries in 2002.
As a junior in 2001, he made the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass, All-CIF Southern Section, All-CIF Division II and Los Angeles Times All-Inland Empire first-teams. He posted 108 tackles, including 16 for losses (with 10 sacks), in 2001. As a sophomore, he picked up Cal-Hi Sports All-State first-team recognition. He also competed on the school's track team in the weights.
Ellis enrolled at Southern California in 2003, but during fall drills he suffered a left ankle fracture and was granted a medical hardship. He played in 11 games behind All-American Mike Patterson at nose guard in 2004, but saw just limited action, making two assisted tackles.
With Patterson graduating, Ellis took over nose guard chores in 2005, starting all 13 games. He received All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention, as he collected 50 tackles (28 solos) and ranked third on the squad with 4.5 sacks and eight stops for losses. He also deflected three passes and caused a fumble.
In 2006, Ellis earned Collegefootballnews.com All-American first-team honors, in addition to being a consensus All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice, despite missing three games after he suffered torn cartilage in his right knee in practice prior to the Nebraska clash. He still managed to win the Pac-10 Morris Trophy (for the league's top defensive lineman, as voted by the league's offensive linemen).
Ellis went on to register 34 tackles (17 solos), 4.5 sacks and 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage in 10 contests. He also had a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, three pass deflections and blocked a kick. USC center, Ryan Kalil, who battled vs. Ellis in practices for three years and was the offensive recipient of the 2006 Morris Trophy, raved about his former teammate, stating, "He's an unbelievable football player. He made me so much better because I had to block him every day. He's so strong, so man-strong. He's just a good player."
Ellis was a unanimous All-American and All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice as a senior. He was a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award (top defensive player) and Lott Trophy, in addition to being named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and winning the Morris Trophy for the second consecutive season. In 13 starts, he totaled 58 tackles (29 solos) and ranked second on the squad with 8.5 sacks and 12.5 stops for losses. He also batted away seven passes and recovered two fumbles.
In 48 games at Southern California, Ellis started 36 contests. He registered 144 tackles (74 solos), 17.5 sacks for minus-130 yards and 28.5 stops for losses of 158 yards. He was credited with three quarterback pressures, 13 pass deflections and a blocked kick. He also caused two fumbles and recovered four others.