When Tino Ellis signed with Maryland, it was presumed that he would immediately help out at wide receiver.
However, Ellis is making waves in the defensive backfield during his freshman season in College Park.
In last Saturday’s 31-10 loss against Minnesota, Ellis started at cornerback over J.C. Jackson. Jackson had been the starter through four of the first five games.
“[Ellis] won the job in practice,” coach D.J. Durkin said. “Our practices our competitive, we grade them and Tino did that.”
Maryland’s secondary has actually defended relatively well against the pass. However, Durkin has made it clear that he hasn’t been happy with his team’s aggressiveness.
The Terrapins currently are yielding 176.5 yards-per-game through the air. Teams are completing just 50.8 percent of their passes against them.
Ellis played a very strong game against the Golden Gophers. He recorded a game-high two pass breakups and played very tight coverage on the Minnesota wideouts.
“We still view him as a two-way player, but he started for us in the game on Saturday,” defensive coordinator Andy Buh said. “For his first start, he played unbelievably well. We are excited about him and his growth. He’s going to be a major contributor. You’re going to see a lot of him in the future.”
Ellis is already draw rave reviews from the coaching staff and his potential is clearly through the roof. In fact, he nearly picked off quarterback Conor Rhoda last Saturday on a pass that he read beautifully.
Through six games, Ellis is tied for the team lead with three pass breakups. Cornerback Will Likely also has broken up three passes on the season.
While it’s very early, Ellis certainly has the skillset to be the next great Maryland cornerback.
Likely will gone after this season, which is why Durkin attacked the secondary so hard on the recruiting trail since arriving in College Park. If Ellis continues to see this amount of playing time as the season progresses, there’s no telling how good he could be in a few years.