Versatile freshman Ellis ready to make impact #iufb

David Ellis is not shy.

The gregarious freshman from Clinton Township, Mich., has a variety of goals for his first year in Bloomington.

Add a little weight, improve his conditioning, and, oh yeah, get on the field early and often.

“My goal is just to be starting, honestly,” Ellis said. “I came here to play. That’s basically my goal.”

Fortunately for Ellis, he has multitude of ways to make that happen.

Listed as an athlete upon his signing with Indiana, he played primarily as a wide receiver at Chippewa Valley High School, also returning kicks. He was pretty successful at both with 39 receptions for 636 yards, accumulating 1,700 all-purpose yards and scoring five of his 20 touchdowns on special teams while leading the Big Red to a 14-0 record and a state championship, including a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the state title game.

And before that, Ellis was a running back.

“I believe Indiana recruited me for my versatility,” he said. “Coach (Mike) Hart came and told me he wanted me to play slot receiver, but he also wants me to playing running back and special teams returning punts and all that, so I think for my versatility and speed is why they recruited me.”

If there was one name that came up often in Hart’s recruiting pitches, it was J-Shun Harris, the wide receiver who shares the IU record for punt return touchdowns.

“Definitely a lot of similarities,” Ellis said. “Every time Coach Hart visited me in high school, he would always bring (J-Shun) up and say that’s how they wanted to use me, more on offense than special teams but still the same role he was in.”

As far as returns go, Ellis will start out working with Whop Philyor and Reese Taylor returning punts.

On offense, Ellis will start out at receiver and branch out from there. Despite being on campus for a little over two weeks, he’s not overwhelmed by the playbook so far.

“I came here with a late group, so they kind of threw us into the fire,” he said. “Learning all the different formations and positions, I wouldn’t say it’s any pressure. It comes naturally, you just have to put the time in, the work in.”

Running back will likely have to wait.

“This year it will be mostly slot, well, actually all different receiver positions, not just inside,” Ellis said. “Not as much running back. That might be next year. I’m definitely going to learn running back next year. This year just receiver.”

Just don’t expect Ellis to pick between the two.

“I like them both,” he said, flashing a smile. “I played running back in my younger years of football and all through high school I played receiver. Both of them come pretty natural. I’m looking forward to playing receiver this year, and if they want me to learn running back, then that’s what I’ll do.”

In the meantime, Ellis is already making an impression in the weight room, where he recently rated as one of the team’s top two offensive performers in the medball squat throw.

“Coach Ballou’s strength program is very thorough,” Ellis said. “I’ve only been here two weeks, and I can already tell the difference in my body and my strength. I just feel stronger, and it’s only the beginning. There’s a lot of workouts and ways to do workouts here.”

It’s just another way Ellis can get on the field sooner than later, something he has no doubt about.

“I think you just have to prepare your body, prepare your mind,” he said. “For me the biggest part about it would be not focusing on the guys are older than me or might be stronger or faster than me but realizing that I can play with these guys and compete with the best.”


  1. Ellis could be the type of play maker IU needs to win more games. IU needs players that can make game changing plays not just pick up 1st downs. Ellis has the versatility and seems to have the speed to be a difference maker for IU. Add in his new teammate from Wisconsin and IU could have two players like J Harris helping the Hoosiers get more play makers on the field. We will have to see how they play at the college level but they show signs of being special players.

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