In February, Kalan Ellis experienced a first with a football scholarship offer from Hawaii.
Saint Louis’ 6-foot-5, 358 -pound offensive lineman waited two months until his next offer arrived. Syracuse, with former Hawaii assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh leading the O-line, came knocking. By then, “Cav” and Ellis were texting daily.
Though UCLA, Virginia and San Diego State entered the picture with offers later, Ellis never lost touch with Syracuse. He committed to the Orange on Thursday, capping a five-month odyssey through the world of recruiting.
“It’s been a lot. It’s a little bit shocking, now that I’ve made my commitment. It’s happening pretty fast,” Ellis said on Thursday night. My parents are excited for me. My mom (Penny) is really excited. My dad (Gilbert) just told me, they both said, ‘It’s your decision, we’ll support you no matter what.’ “
The senior-to-be has a 3.5 grade-point average and still considers UCLA as a top-notch destination. Syracuse simply won him over with Cavanaugh and head coach Dino Babers, the former Hawaii linebacker.
“I was doing some research on the coaches and the college last week. On Tuesday, I told my mom, let’s schedule a meeting,” Ellis said, noting that Coach Babers’ birthday was last weekend. “He said, ‘You know what would make me really happy?’ I said, Coach, your dream came true,’ and he got all excited.”
The distance from the islands to New York state is a drawback, but Ellis’ father is on board.
“He likes the program now, the kind of program they’re becoming, a Top 10 school in the nation in academics,” Ellis said.
Ellis said UCLA would be his second choice, followed by Virginia and San Diego State.
“It’s just the way it turned out,” he said.
After announcing his commitment on Twitter, Ellis got a follow from some coaches. One of them is from UCF.
Ellis plans to keep playing basketball next season. Then there’s the discus and shot put in track and field. The commitment won’t stop him from making a few trips in December and January, he noted.
“I’m probably going to visit, but I’m going to try to play basketball. I want to be known for playing multiple sports, not just one. Probably two or three (visits). I don’t want to visit so much. If the school is interesting enough, I’d probably visit. It would be fun just to get off the island. I’ve only been to Disneyland and Las Vegas,” he said.
After doing plenty of work in his garage weight room, Ellis is adding more cardio.
“It’s a little bit more, so me and my brother and cousins started playing basketball. Yesterday, we went to the park and played 3-on-3, seven or eight games,” he said.
Coaches, players and staffs across Hawaii are awaiting news about the start of the school year and fall sports. A record 60 new COVID-19 cases was announced today. The day before, there was a then-record 55 new cases.
“I’m just waiting for the word, saying you can play. It would suck to not have a football season. If it’s for the worst, I’ll keep training,” he said.
The possibility of stoppages due to new cases on campuses means game schedules could be altered regardless of season. In Nevada, the fall season has been moved to late winter, covering a short span of five weeks. Ellis would rather have a compact season without stoppages than a drawn-out slate with multiple stoppages.
“I wouldn’t like the gaps because depending on who’s the coach, you might take breaks and depending how long it is, it would be forever since you played a game. It would be awkward with gaps. Practice and game are two different things. Even with 11s and live reps, you’re not really, really going against another team, not really dominating,” he said.
Ellis gave thanks to his loved ones.
“Shout out to my family and coaches that helped me on this journey and helped me make this decision. They’ve told me who the good coaches and good programs are, just background research,” he said.