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On campus: Former Holy Spirit star Ray Ellis earning his keep at Florida Atlantic University

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By NICK KOSKO Correspondent There are hundreds of thousands of high school football players across the country, and only a select few get to play at the Division I level. Ray Ellis, a 2014 graduate of Holy Spirit High School, became one of those elite players as he took his talents south to Florida Atlantic University. During his high school career, Ellis won two Non-Public B state championships with the Holy Spirit football team and earned second-team All-State honors as a senior. He also had an impressive wrestling career through his junior year, finishing second in District 32 and second in Region 8, qualifying for the state tournament at heavyweight. A Division I defensive lineman has to be huge, strong and fast in order to compete at that level. Ellis displays all of those traits at the defensive tackle position with his 6-foot-1, 280-pound frame. The sophomore is among a handful of rotating starters anchoring a stout FAU defensive front. Ellis gets to see teams that he grew up watching and rooting for up close, except now he’s trying to outplay them on every single down. Although football at the college level can be like working a full time job, Ellis said he still manages to enjoy every moment despite the demands of balancing rigorous academic and athletic schedules. Ray Ellis, a former star defensive lineman at Holy Spirit High School, is now making a name for himself at Florida Atlantic University. (Photo courtesy of Florida Atlantic University athletics). Ray Ellis, a former star defensive lineman at Holy Spirit High School, is now making a name for himself at Florida Atlantic University. (Photo courtesy of Florida Atlantic University athletics). “Life is good down here, to say the least. It’s a busy lifestyle trying to balance schoolwork and athletics, but overall it’s great,” Ellis said. “Playing at this level is so fun and a dream come true because it’s something so many kids want to do but so few get to do. It’s honestly pretty crazy.” As soon as Ellis made the tripto Boca Raton, Fla., he knew Florida Atlantic was the place for him. His father, Ray Ellis Jr., said he knew immediately his son had decided on FAU even after visiting several other schools. “I wanted to get him exposed to a lot of schools. We waited for a few calls and once the bigger schools started rolling in, FAU was put on the list and, sure enough, Ray fell in love with the place,” Ellis Jr. said. Playing time didn’t come easily at first for Ellis during his freshmen year. He had to battle every day just to earn a traveling spot to merely dress for the sidelines on game day. Perseverance proved to be Ellis’ biggest asset in finally earning playing time. “It was definitely a roller-coaster ride. I ended up earning a traveling spot, but once some guys came back, I was bumped back down to the scout team, then eventually back to the travelling squad,” Ellis said. “Once the bye week passed, my coach told me I was finally getting to play and I was thrilled and prepared at the same time. At that point I didn’t even think about redshirting for the season because I finally earned my spot.” “He actually fits in real well with the other players. I was worried initially because he is a bit undersized compared to some of the other guys who are 6-6 and over 300 pounds,” his father said. “He works real hard on the field and in the classroom, and I’m proud of him. I know the coaches are, too.” With some experience under his belt, Ellis takes more of a leadership role among his teammates, he said, in addition to striving to improve. “There aren’t any actual full-time starters since it’s a constant competition, so everyone is always pushing each other to get better,” Ellis said. “I feel I have earned the respect from my teammates because they know when I go in, I’m going to get the job done to the best of my ability.” [adsense]

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