It’s not uncommon to see a State College graduate continue his football career just up the road in Beaver Stadium.
Larry Johnson Jr., Jordan Norwood and Nate Stupar are just a few who come to mind in recent history. This year, Penn State has two former Little Lions on the roster in true freshman cornerback Keaton Ellis and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Collin De Boef, whose brother Adam De Boef also played for the Nittany Lions.
Ellis is making the most noise of the pair, and coaches and other Nittany Lions teammates are taking notice.
What are they saying about the State High standout? Here’s what several of Ellis’ teammates and his positional coach said during Saturday’s media day.
Defensive backs coach Terry Smith
“Keaton had a really good spring. He is a very mature kid who came in and had a mission and purpose for why he is here. He’s worked really hard this offseason. We had our first practice yesterday, he showed up very well. He is making an immediate impact. He’s already in the two-deep. He’s got an opportunity to make a strong impact on us this year.
He made a play yesterday, the offense ran a scissors route, which is a difficult route for sometimes veteran guys to recognize where the inside route is coming from. He broke on it and broke it up. If he can see that route right now man, he’s going to be able to see a lot of the easier routes and make plays on them.”
Junior S C.J. Holmes
“He’s a good kid and a hard worker. He’s got a good break on receivers. He seems like a natural in this position. We are looking for a good year out of him.”
Senior CB John Reid
“He’s shown really good range. He’s got pretty good ball skills. He has a good feel in zone, too, which is usually pretty hard. It’s usually one of the harder things to (do, to) get a good feeling, but he’s been able to pick up a lot of the defenses and concepts really fast.
The way he is able to break off on the post-corner route in the zone is sometimes pretty hard to see. For him to be able to see it and peel off on it, it’s impressive.”
Junior S Jonathan Sutherland
“Keaton is a guy, who was an early enrollee in January, he’s picked up the game pretty well, as far as playbook-wise and speed of the game. He had a good spring, just getting adjusted to the new system. He’s brought that same skill set that he had in the spring to training camp, so he’s been doing real well. I would say his competitiveness and his willingness to be coached and learning is definitely something that sticks out to me.”
Junior S Lamont Wade
“Keaton is showing amazing splashes. He showed amazing splashes in spring ball, and it continued with practice the other day. I think he had two pass breakups. Keaton is getting better with every practice. I’m excited to see him develop more. Keaton has good speed. He has instincts. You can’t coach instincts.”
Junior CB D.J. Brown
“I think he used to play receiver in high school. You can tell he’s got pretty good ball skills, and that really sticks him out with the group.”
Junior S Justin Neff
“He’s a pretty solid freshman. He looks good on the field. He’s made some big plays already. He’s a great person. He’s always a funny guy, always cracking jokes, but is serious when he needs to be serious.”
Senior S Garrett Taylor
“Keaton came in early and immediately worked really hard throughout winter workouts. He came out in the spring and was making plays. He is super explosive and fast. I think he is a ball-hawk. He has a knack for the ball in the air. He had a great spring in terms of that. I think he was one of the takeaway kings. This fall, he is already doing that again. I think he is coming in and making an impact right away. He’s a guy that I feel can contribute if he keeps up what he is doing.
He made a real good play on a ball yesterday that was a deep post. He was playing the up-field shoulder just like corners are supposed to, and right at the last second he undercut the ball. He tried to make a play on it. He didn’t come down with the pick but he got both hands on it.”