Yesterday, we gave you a breakdown of the first new recruit to officially sign on the dotted line, Trey Dunkelberger. Today, we’re moving to the other side of the ball for a New Jersey high school prospect who projects as a defensive back at the next level, Daivon Ellison. 

Prospect Info: 
#2 CB Daivon Ellison – Don Bosco Prep High School.
5’9 178
Offers from – Syracuse, Army, BC, ODU, Rutgers,

Tale of the Tape:

Daivon has a rather short highlight from his senior year due to being held out of action for the last part of the season. I really think Ellison projects better as a Safety at the next level rather than a Cornerback. There’s some really good things to see in this highlight. One thing that sticks out is his ability to help with the run game. He tackles very well and has a nose to get to the ball. Numerous times he shows great pursuit angles to make tackles that busted through the line of scrimmage. I’m not so sure about his top end speed. He shows quick bursts in space, but there are some times in coverage when he is running with receivers and seems to be a sliver behind. Let’s analyze some tape.

.44 mark – We see DE’s first highlight in coverage. The defense is playing a Cover 2 alignment which gives him safety help. The route is a go route, which can be difficult for a cornerback to cover, given he has to make up for the receivers acceleration. DE recognizes the route quickly and immediately turns his hips to start running with the defender. This shows good recognition skills and natural hip movement. The easier it is to move your hips (which IMO he does a good job at throughout the video), the more easy it is to play defense in the secondary. 

1:00 mark – We get a glimpse at something DE may struggle with at the next level. He’s playing press coverage and is looking to jam the receiver. Even though he misses the jam and the receiver puts an inside/out move against him, he does a great job at turning his hips and running with the receiver. Ideally, the cornerback wants to “magnet” his hips with the receivers hips. This allows him to bump the route without getting called for PI. This is also a cornerbacks best friend when the receiver is trying to run a route down the sidelines. If you can magnet your hips to his, and force him out of bounds, you’ve just won that play. Because of DE’s size, i’m not too sure how well he is going to be able to jam ACC receivers. If he’s pressed up against a receiver who is 6’3, 210 pounds – it’s going to be hard for him to get his hands inside for a solid jam.

1:09 mark – On this play DE reads the bubble screen and attempt to close to the LOS to make the tackle. He is faced with a 1 on 1 block with his wide-receiver and displays a bit of poor technique. If you pause the tape at the 1:11 mark, you see DE expose his back to the receiver in trying to go around him to the outside. Any strong blocking WR is going to have a field day with a situation like that. While DE doesn’t want to give up the possible outside containment; a good CB will take on that block with his hands, keep his feet moving, and shed to make the play. Brandon Reddish did an amazing job of this in his last season. He made it difficult for teams to bubble to his side.

1:40 mark – DE makes a great play on this hitch route. When you are manned up with a WR and you see him clean his cleats and expose his back to you, you need to eliminate the space and get on his back as quickly as possible. The minute the wide receiver exposes his backside after the hitch route is complete on this play, DE flies to the ball and makes contact as the ball is arriving. It’s this type of recognition that can make a hitch pass very susceptible to the pick-6.

1:49 mark – Here you see some traits that could make DE a great safety prospect. He recognizes the run as the receiver is coming out of his stance. He is playing a tad bit high for a corner, but he sinks his hips immediately and takes a great angle to the ball.

2:30 mark – You see DE again try and run around the blocker to make the play. This is an easy way to take yourself out of the play. You need to engage, spill, and make the tackle.

2:55 mark – When you are the cornerback playing on the boundary side where a TE is lined up, you often times are brought on the edge and have outside-in responsibility. Don’t let anyone outside you, and work your way inside to make the tackle. DE makes a really good read here, sees the TE block straight ahead, and recognizes he is to read and make and get to the ball. He accelerates well and makes a good tackle. 

3:17 mark – DE actually has a decent jam opportunity here but realizes his WR is not running a hard pattern. While he has to respect the route, he keeps his head in the backfield , recognizes the run, releases from his receiver and makes a good tackle for a short gain. He displays good technique in recognition, another reason why I think he’d make a great safety prospect.

Final Analysis

Strengths – Quick hips, good tackler, physicality & quick recognition skills. I think he fits more in zone defense scheme, rather than a M2M scheme (another reason why I could see him as a safety). I see a good development of fast-twitch muscle fiber in how he turns his hips fluidly. 

Areas of Improvements – Size. This is a no brainer. He’s always going to have to play with a chip on his shoulder. He needs to add muscle to be able to take on blocks more efficiently and effectively. I mentioned earlier that i’m not sure on his high end speed. I could see him in the 4.7 range. I think with proper development, he could be in the 4.5 range. 

All in all, his size makes him a riskier prospect. If he played more safety in high school, I think he’d be a legit, no question, 3* recruit. With cornerback next year being a concern, will DE be ready to contribute in year 1? I don’t think so. I’m projecting a redshirt during his first year, however I would not be surprised to see DE being a regular in the rotation somewhere in the secondary by his Redshirt Sophomore year.

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Justin is a 2011 graduate from SUNY Buffalo State. Since that time, he spent several years coaching high school football in North Carolina while also working at NC State, and has also served as a head and assistant tennis coach at the Division III and Division I levels. During this tenure coaching high school football, he sent players to continue their football career at Alabama, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Purdue, North Carolina State, East Carolina, and other Division II and III schools.