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December 24, 2012

From playground to prime time, Ellis looked to excel

New Orleans Edna Karr cornerback Noel Ellis success and accomplishments, when looking back, could have easily been foreshadowed. It began long before he helped to lead his team to a state championship. His winning ways go back before he racked up a 4A First Team All-Sate honor and before being selected to play in the Under Armour All-American game. According to Ellis' family when looking back it could be seen before he was identified as a four-star cornerback and selected as an elite member of the Rivals 250.

If you ask Ellis, it started at age 7 on the Terrytown playground. Playing for hours on end, he was able to develop a playing style that shut down opposing receivers and drew attention to himself.

"On the playground is where I first learned how to play," he said.

Even at that young age, he was eager to be great. Playing on the defensive side of the ball came naturally to Ellis: simply put, he decided early on not to let anyone on the other team get their hands on the ball.

"I've been playing corner ever since park ball," he said. "Even as a kid my mindset was just follow the receiver. Growing up I learned the fundamentals and I am always working hard to perfect my game."

His hard work and determination certainly paid off and he is now a member of the Texas A&M recruiting class, which is almost universally regarded as one of the best in the nation.

Ellis said that, even though his senior year was filled with personal highlights, his best game of the year came in week four.

"Salmen was undefeated and so were we," he said. "Both teams came out on fire playing with a chip on their shoulder."

Salmen did not score a point that night. It was too late, 22 points too late, when they realized they could not throw it towards Noel Ellis.

Ellis picked off one pass and recovered two fumbles, including one he returned 59 yards for the game's final touchdown.

The Salmen offense learned the hard way to not be deceived by Ellis' five foot, 10-inch, 170-pound frame. The Rivals recruiting staff sent out a warning after watching Ellis perform at the Opening over the summer.

"Ellis is small but he was all over the field and did an exceptional job of reading where the ball was going and closing on it. He had two nice interceptions and came close to a third and he was key for his team's march to the title game. Despite going against bigger receivers all the time and sometimes being forced to play more off coverage than he'd like, he had a very strong day," they said at the time.

Ellis' strong senior season could have been predicted during the summer circuit when he became a regular on Rivals' top performer's list. Then again, when looking back, it was clear at seven years of age on the Terrytown playground that a star was in the making.


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