Keaton Ellis — a State College graduate and early enrollee cornerback — picked himself up off the Holuba Hall turf and set off a celebration Wednesday night.
John Reid bolted over to and body-bumped Penn State head coach James Franklin. Redshirt senior Garrett Taylor rushed onto the field with a wide smile. Second-team safeties Jonathan Sutherland and John Petrishen ran to greet their play-making teammate. Ellis had intercepted Penn State quarterback Will Levis at the end of Wednesday’s practice, an example of how the former Little Lion has impressed this spring camp.
“I think the two corners, Keaton and Marquis (Wilson), are really doing some good things,” Franklin said of the early enrollees. “There’s a buzz and excitement with the players and coaches.”
It’s always at least somewhat of a surprise to see early enrollees generate buzz so soon. But maybe everyone should have seen this coming.
Ellis, an all-state honoree with the Little Lions, was a four-star prospect. His offer list wasn’t long; he was the first commit of Penn State’s 2019 class, remained faithful to Franklin and the staff and flew under-the-radar when the early signing period rolled around. Franklin said in December that Ellis “didn’t get all the attention he probably deserved.”
But the Penn State coaches saw this kind of potential. Cornerbacks coach Terry Smith said in the winter that Ellis had the “best corner film in the country.” “We feel really good about him,” Smith added at the time. “There’s an opportunity for him to make an immediate impact.”
And that’s showing up in spring camp.
“They’ve both been impressive,” Franklin said of Ellis and Wilson. “They’ve both got length. They’ve both got really good ball skills. I think that both of them were fairly high-level high school receivers really helps; they’re confident finding the ball in the air. And they’re not undersized. They’re fairly physical at this point. Those guys have flashed a lot of really good things.”