The timing was perfect for Keaton Ellis.
With Penn State coach James Franklin standing on the Memorial Field sidelines for Friday night’s game against Hollidaysburg, the State College cornerback used his 4.39-second, 40-yard dash to block an extra point. On Saturday, Ellis got Franklin’s attention again — by committing to the football program.
He would be the first Penn State commit from Centre County, to be offered scholarship, since the Little Lions’ Alex Kenney in 2010.
“I really felt the love from all the coaches,” Ellis told the Centre Daily Times, adding the local university checked all the boxes. “I just felt like, and was sure, that I couldn’t find anything better anywhere else.”
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The Class of 2019 recruit received a Penn State offer in June. He made his decision public on Twitter on Saturday, the same day Penn State beat Pitt 33-14 at Beaver Stadium.
“I feel I have a very strong connection with the PSU coaching staff,” he wrote on Twitter. “I know they are going to help make me a better player and person on and off the field.”
The 6-foot, 160-pound athlete — who plays both defensive back and receiver, in addition to competing on special teams — is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout. He likes playing on both sides of the ball, but prefers defensive back because “I love the challenge,” he told the CDT in June.
On Friday, he had four carries for 64 yards and one catch for 15 yards in the 55-27 win, along with that blocked kick that flew to the sideline and bounced not far from Franklin.
“That was perfect, for sure,” State College coach Matt Lintal. “We try to make sure Keaton had opportunities to make big plays as we always do, but especially wanted to make sure he got those opportunities in front of his potential future coach — at the time — and now his future coach.”
Ellis was also hearing from a number of other schools. But Lintal said Ellis is “100 percent committed” to Penn State, and would not be making any official visits to any other schools before national signing day rolls around more than a year from now.
“We’re very excited for Keaton and his family,” Lintal said. “It’s been one of those dreams that he’s always had and it kind of came to a reality in a hurry.”
Lintal said Ellis had been on the radar of Franklin and Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Brent Pry for a while, and Ellis attended a couple Penn State football camps this past summer.
Lintal also knows, despite making this decision so early in his junior year, Ellis will not let up, knowing there is a lot more work to be done.
“I’m super excited to have him representing our program,” the coach said, “not just because of his athletic ability but also what he does in the classroom and what he does just socially and how he represents our school. He’s a high-character young man.”