Thursday, April 26, 2018
Colleges

East-West Shrine's biggest player Ellis expands skills

ST. PETERSBURG — Justin Ellis understands that his size alone helps him stand out on a roster. At 351 pounds, the defensive tackle from Louisiana Tech is the biggest of the 100-plus players in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.

His challenge this week is to show coaches and scouts how much he can do with his massive frame to disrupt opposing offenses. His first three practices for the West squad have been an impressive showing of his power.

"There are great guys from all over the country here, so you can get that NFL feel, what it's going to be like at that level," Ellis, who had 48 tackles and 5½ for losses as a senior playing for former USF coach Skip Holtz, said Wednesday.

"I've been getting better every day. I think I've had a decent week."

Ellis was listed at 357 pounds on Louisiana Tech's roster and weighed in officially at 351 for Saturday's game but said his goal is to put himself in shape to play at 335, if not lower. His strength is a given, so he's focused on showing athleticism and a burst of speed at the line of scrimmage, lining up in practice against elite program stars such as Oklahoma C Gabe Ikard.

"All my life I've been the strongest person on my team. I'm pretty powerful in the weight room," said Ellis, who has been training in Houston since the end of his senior season with other draft hopefuls.

BIG KICKS: The game has played host to top kickers in recent years: Georgia's Blair Walsh (Vikings) and Missouri Western State's Greg Zuerlein (Rams) played in 2012 at Tropicana Field, and Florida's Caleb Sturgis (Dolphins) played in last year's game.

East coach Jerry Glanville said his kicker this year, Arkansas' Zach Hocker, connected on a 60-yard field goal in Wednesday's morning practice. Hocker went 3 for 4 beyond 50 yards this season with a long of 54 yards.

The West's kicker might have a stronger resume: Texas' Anthony Fera was a Lou Groza Award finalist and second-team All-America selection. He went 6 for 8 beyond 40 yards with a season-long of 50 yards. He also handled the punting for the Longhorns.

THIS AND THAT: Practices have drawn more than NFL scouts, with dozens of Canadian Football League coaches and executives in attendance. Former Bucs DT Chris Hovan has been a regular, working now as an assistant for the Arena League's Tampa Bay Storm after time as a strength coach at USF. … Best defensive play of the afternoon practice was Michigan State LB Max Bullough making a high grab to intercept a pass from Ball State's Keith Wenning. … One big target to keep an eye on Saturday is Baylor TE Jordan Najvar, who is 6 feet 6, 255 pounds and has impressed coaches with his ability to go across the middle, this despite totaling only 10 catches as a senior.

Comments
NFL draft: Florida Gatorsí Taven Bryan goes to Jaguars at No. 29

NFL draft: Florida Gatorsí Taven Bryan goes to Jaguars at No. 29

Former Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan gave the Gators a first-round pick for the sixth consecutive year, after being drafted by the Jaguars at No. 29 overall.The 6-foot-4, 291-pound Wyoming native was one of the most talented players in the dr...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

Former Florida State safety Derwin James fell farther than expected Thursday in the first night of the NFL draft before being chosen by the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.James became the fifth former Seminoles defensive back ever drafted in t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Aside from former Florida State safety Derwin James, the most likely first-round pick from a state college is ex-Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan.He hopes, at least."That would (stink) if I didn't," Bryan said last month at Florida's pro da...
Published: 04/26/18
The case for the Bucs and NFL draft prospect Derwin James

The case for the Bucs and NFL draft prospect Derwin James

The best weapon against the NFL's evolving offenses, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher said, is a defender who can do it all — someone who can cover a tight end, shadow a receiver or blitz the backfield."The way the game is played now on defense," Fishe...
Published: 04/25/18
ESPNís Rece Davis on hosting College GameDay from the NFL draft

ESPNís Rece Davis on hosting College GameDay from the NFL draft

When ESPN's Rece Davis heard about the idea for boosting the college football insight into the NFL draft, he didn't need any convincing."My immediate reaction was, this is a no-brainer," Davis said.Davis will spearhead the network's overdue look at t...
Published: 04/25/18
ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway's off-field struggles continue.ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine.Former Florida WR Antonio Callaway -- who some cons...
Published: 04/24/18
Report: Florida Gatorsí Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gatorsí Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSUís Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSUís Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18