August 24, 2008

Ellison's play speaks volumes

During summer workouts and fall camp, senior safety Kevin Ellison didn't have much to say to the media.

In fact, he turned to the silent treatment.

On the field, though, Ellison was more John Moschitta (of Micro Machine commercial fame) than Helen Keller.

Ellison tutored young Trojans in the secondary like T.J. Bryant and Drew McAllister. He talked a little junk to the offense. He unzipped his lip.

Saturday after the Trojans' final workout of fall camp, Ellison finally broke his silence, speaking to the press.

"I just wanted to make sure my mind was right," Ellison said.

It was. Ellison's work on the field and in the locker room led to his election of team captain in the final days of fall camp.

"He's a guy who has been exactly the epitome of what we hope a Trojan football player and student-athlete would be," head coach Pete Carroll said. "He's been a fantastic part of this team. And it's the stuff you guys wouldn't know about - his work ethic and his desire to do everything he possibly can to be a great asset to this team in all ways, on and off the field."

Ellison said his final fall camp in a Trojan uniform was filled with plenty of heated battles - just the way the Trojan coaches like it.

"It was a good camp," Ellison said. "Anytime you come out here, working as hard as we do on the practice field, you take something out of it. I saw us competing really well. It's a live group on both sides. "

With Mark Sanchez out for most of camp, Ellison and the rest of the Trojans' experienced secondary feasted on the young Trojan quarterbacks, prowling the field with one thought in mind,

"It's been emphasis the last few years, especially for the secondary. We want to get our hands on the ball and make big plays," Ellison said. "We work on that every day."

Along with Ellison, cornerbacks Cary Harris, Shareece Wright and Kevin Thomas have all had big camps. And if the secondary wasn't strong enough, Taylor Mays lines up next Ellison, forming one of the top safety combos in college football.

The time Ellison and Mays have spent playing next to one another has helped both players grow.

"It's been very important to me. We work really well together," Mays said. "We have a relationship on the field; we have a relationship off the field. How close we are off the field carries over to on the field.

"We work together. I understand what he's doing, and he understands what I'm doing. It makes it a lot easier for us to go about our stuff in a professional way."

Ellison and most of the team now are ready for the next step this season - preparation for Virginia.

Ellison said the coaches have made sure the players are fresh headed into the year.

"They're always pretty aware of how hard we're going. Coach Carroll's been doing this a long time. He understands where we're at and how our legs feel," Ellison said. "I don't know how to compare it to other camps. They're always different. It's hard to remember how the last camp even was.

"We keep moving and keep going."


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