Saint Francis grad Ellison drafted
By: JEREMY FOWLER Media News Group
Posted May 1
Rhett Ellison didn’t know if he’d even be drafted. The Saint Francis-Mountain View graduate of 2007 spent Saturday with family in Portola Valley and cried when the Vikings called. Minnesota drafted the hybrid fullback/tight end from USC with its second fourth round pick, No. 128 overall.
Ellison is the fourth-highest Saint Francis alum ever drafted. Tim Rossovich (class of ’64) was picked in the first round by Philadelphia out of USC. Doug Cosbie (class of ’74) was selected in the third round by Dallas out of Santa Clara University. Cal alum Chase Lyman (class of ’00) was chosen by the Saints in the fourth round at No. 118.
More strong than quick, the 6-foot-5, 251-pound Ellison can be a backfield blocker and third pass-catching option behind tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. Ellison, who could get his share of reps blocking for former Stanford star Toby Gerhart, should fill the void left by the retired Jimmy Kleinsasser.
Ellison, who caught 22 passes in his last season at USC, said he can be used in pass protection and catching outlet passes. His biggest strength?
“I don’t have any specific skills,” he said, “I would say it is my will to win. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Ellison was a two-time First Team all-Daily News tight end, catching 31 balls for 394 yards his senior season.
“We threw to him a lot,” said Mike Mitchell, Ellison’s football coach at Saint Francis. “He played both ways and was a great player. He was as good as a defensive end as he was a tight end.”
At USC, Ellison played for his father Riki’s alma mater. Riki Ellison became the first New Zealand-born NFL player after being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round in 1983. Ellison won two Super Bowls in his six seasons with the 49ers before playing his last three NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders.
“Rhett went to USC where they were well-stocked with tight ends,” Mitchell said. “It was right in the heyday of Pete Carroll. Rhett had to work his way along. He became a better blocker, more physical.”
The Trojans weren’t allowed to participate in a bowl game the past two seasons because of NCAA sanctions.
“I was disappointed for Rhett because they didn’t get to go anywhere,” Mitchell said. “I’m happy for him now because this is kind of a reward. He’s a great kid, intelligent. And he has his dad’s aggressiveness in him.” If not drafted, Ellison was prepared to give up on football and pursue a career in communications management, in which he’s getting a master’s degree.
“I wasn’t really expected to get drafted or anything like that,” Ellison said. “I was kind of shocked.”