Each Monday I provide a breakdown of my senior college Player/Prospect of the Week and my Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect of the week).
Last week's Diamond in the Rough , Troy wideout/returner Jerrel Jernigan was among the first players to earn a Senior Bowl invitation .
This week's recipient -- Hampton defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis -- could be among the next players who get a pass from the organizers of the Mobile, Alabama all-star game... especially if they pop in the film of Ellis against Howard (September 11) or Delaware State this past Thursday evening.
Ellis wasn't quite as dominant against the Hornets last week as he was against the Bison. Ellis was recognized as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week for his September 11 efforts. In that contest, Ellis, who measures in at 6-5 340 pounds, was credited with an eye-popping 16 tackles (seven solos), 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Against the Hornets Thursday night, Ellis "only" registered eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Ellis is surprisingly athletic and well proportioned considering his massive frame. Against the pass, Ellis shows a quick burst off the snap and can rock the guard back onto his heels from his defensive tackle position. He relies mostly on his natural tools, but does possess some pass rush technique, showing a good rip and dip to get under the arm and past his opponent, as well as a quick swim move (which wasn't as effective). As one might expect, Ellis doesn't have the closing speed to be a consistent rush threat, but he was often able to get past the right guard when single blocked Thursday and was an intimidator who often forced hurried throws. Ellis locates the football quickly and pursues laterally and downfield with passion.
With his size, Ellis has obvious potential as a run-stuffer. At times, his quickness and strength was too much for his opponent. Early in the second quarter (12:35), for example, Ellis exploded off the snap, locked out the guard, discarded him easily and made the play at the line of scrimmage. On other occasions, Ellis struggled with leverage, allowing smaller and weaker linemen to get into his pads and push him back onto his heels. Despite his bulk and strength, Ellis' inability to keep his pad level low raises concerns about how well he'd fit inside as a nose guard -- at least until he plays with better technique.
What was obivous, however, is that Ellis was a man among boys Thursday night.
Hampton's strong play isn't unexpected. He impressed early on as a member of Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks, but off-field troubles led to suspensions and ultimately a transfer. Scouts had hoped that he'd matured, but he was again suspended for the first game of this season, which means his first game of the year was his DPOY performance against Howard.
Scouts know Ellis can play. He's proven that. There is some concern that his best efforts have come in the first game back from his suspension and the game that earned ESPN coverage. Scouts would like to Ellis play with more consistency and make better choices off the field.