David Ellis lined up in the slot during his senior season as his team, Chippewa Valley High School, battled Eisenhower High School Sept. 7, 2018.
He caught a pass over the middle of the field and fought into the end zone to complete Chippewa Valley’s opening, 72-yard drive and take a 7-0 lead.
In the second half, Ellis lined up in the backfield and helped lead a rushing attack 74 yards down the field, capping it off with a two-yard touchdown run.
After Eisenhower scored at the end of the third quarter, Ellis took the ensuing kickoff to the house to make it a 31-14 game.
Chippewa Valley went on to win 45-24, and Ellis, the team captain, finished with 210 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
“They called me up to be a team captain — I’ve got to perform,” Ellis told the Detroit News after the game. “At the end of the day, I might have had a good game, but it was still definitely a team performance.”
Ellis will bring his attitude and ability to Bloomington this fall as a freshman for IU.
The position slotted next to Ellis’ name on the IU football roster doesn’t read running back, wide receiver or returner. It reads, “ATH,” which means athlete.
Ellis said he’s expected to play running back, wide receiver and return kicks, like he did in high school, during his career with the Hoosiers.
“I believe Indiana recruited me for my versatility,” Ellis said.
The Clinton Township, Michigan, native was originally committed to play at Western Michigan University. While committed, Ellis took an official visit to IU in June of 2018 and in October, he decided to play in Bloomington.
“It’s really like a family here,” Ellis said. “Bloomington, having it be a large campus and Big Ten campus, but nothing too big with too many different distractions is just perfect for me.”
Ellis is fresh off a state championship victory in his senior year of high school, which was the first state title for Chippewa Valley since 2001.
His explosive speed led to his final stat line for the season being 39 receptions for 636 yards, 1,700 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns, including five on special teams.
He had a kickoff return for 94 yards in the state championship game. In the regional final, he became the 11th player in state history with a 99-yard touchdown rush and added an 80-yard touchdown reception. Ellis was ranked as the No. 21 prospect in Michigan by 247Sports and the No. 69 athlete nationally by ESPN.
He said he knows college is a whole other level, but he’s confident in his speed and agility to be productive.
“Honestly, you just have to prepare your body and prepare your mind,” Ellis said. “For me, I think the biggest part about it is not focusing on that the guys are older than me or they might be bigger and faster than me but realizing that I can play with these guys, and I can compete with the best.”
According to Ellis, expect to see him lined up in the slot more often than not this upcoming season for IU. He said he might try out running back in later years of his career but that he doesn’t have a favorite position to play.
“I like them both, honestly,” Ellis said. “Both of them come pretty naturally. I’m looking forward to playing receiver this year and if they want me to learn running back, that’s what I’ll do.”
Ellis said when running backs Coach Mike Hart would visit him in high school, he would bring up recently graduated J-Shun Harris II, who was a versatile player in IU's offense.
Harris finished his career tied for first on the program’s and eighth on the Big Ten's career lists with three punt return touchdowns and seventh with 426 punt return yards. He made 58 catches for 507 yards and four touchdowns. Harris also returned 20 kicks for 404 yards, averaging 20.2 yards per return.
“There’s definitely a lot of similarities,” Ellis said. “That’s how they kind of want to use me, probably more so on offense than special teams.”
Despite all of the experienced players IU has in the positions Ellis is capable of playing, his goal remains the same when the season kicks off Aug. 31.
“My goal is just to be starting,” Ellis said. “I came here to play.”
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