By Brendan C. Hall | December 6, 2018 2:34 pm ET
Cedar Ridge (Round Rock, Texas) wide receiver Jaylen Ellis received his All-American Bowl jersey Thursday morning at his school as part of the All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“It’s really one of those happy moments where you feel relief because you actually lived your dream, you lived your goal that you worked hard for,” the affable Ellis, who’s the first ever from his school named to the game, told USA TODAY this morning following the ceremony.
“I’ve been doing this since I was five years old, and to all these years be named an All-American, it’s just something that I’m happy about, my parents are happy about, it’s just a crazy thing for me.”
The 6-foot, 180-pound Ellis, is ranked as one of the top 50 prospects in the state of Texas by 247 Sports. Originally a Baylor commit, Ellis re-opened his recruitment this fall, taking official visits to Michigan, Baylor and Arizona. He’ll take two more officials, to Houston and Tennessee, before announcing his commitment at the All-American game in January.
The biggest deciding factor in his college decision?
“Somewhere I can feel like I’m home — where I feel like I’m home, where my family feels like they’re home,” he said.
It’s pretty easy to see where all this interest has sprouted up from. Ellis is one the Austin area’s most dangerous deep-ball threats, a self-described connoisseur of the vertical patterns who averaged 26.3 yards per catch this fall for the 9-3 Raiders.
Taking some cues from his close friend across town, Chosen 25 wide receiver Garrett Wilson of Lake Travis, Ellis says he made the biggest leap in his game in his junior season thanks to significant progressions on the mental side of the game. That’s readily evident all over his highlight reel; of all the supremely-talented wideouts suiting up for the All-American Bowl, Ellis is one of the most creative route-runners:
To hear Ellis talk about the art of making every route look like every other route is something to behold.
“There’s a lot of different things you can do out there,” Ellis explained. “I watch football non-stop, all day, no matter if it’s another receiver like one of these nearby guys, Garrett Wilson or [McNeil receiver] Jordan Kerley, or big-name Division 1 guys. I’m watching them, watching what they do, using bits and pieces everybody’s game — watching Antonio Brown, watching great route runners like Odell [Beckham Jr.].
“Just mixing in parts of their game to be able to change people’s perspective on it, make them think I’m doing one thing when I’m really doing another.”
As for the game itself, Ellis says his team, the West squad, “is really going to put on a show.”
“We have a lot of good DBs, a lot of good receivers, so I feel like we’ll be good for it,” he said.
The All-American Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 5 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. EST.