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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ellison follows his heart and his father to USC

Posted on Thu, Feb. 08, 2007

Ellison follows his heart and his father to USC

Mercury News

It had always been Rhett Ellison's dream to follow in his father's footsteps and play football at USC.

But last summer, Trojans coaches told the son of former 49ers great Riki Ellison there were no scholarships available. So the St. Francis senior orally committed to play at Virginia Tech.

All that changed Monday night, when USC Coach Pete Carroll called with a scholarship offer, which Ellison accepted Tuesday. The tight end signed his letter-of-intent in a ceremony on the St. Francis campus Wednesday.

``It was like Christmas Eve for the last two nights; I haven't got any sleep at all,'' said Ellison, an All-Mercury News selection as a linebacker last season.

Riki was a four-year letterman and member of the Trojans' national championship team in 1978. An All-Pacific-10 Conference selection in 1979, the linebacker went on to a nine-year NFL career, winning Super Bowl rings with the 49ers in 1985, 1989 and 1990. Now he is president of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance based in Alexandria, Va.

Rhett has attended USC summer football camps since he was in the eighth grade and has seen many Trojans bowl games with his dad.

``Rhett grew up with USC, he saw his first football game there,'' Riki said. ``He didn't have grand statistics at St. Francis because his team didn't throw the ball that much -- that's just high school football. But the USC staff knew he had talent.''

The 6-foot-5 and 235-pound Ellison caught 31 passes and scored two touchdowns last season, and he also had 49 tackles, with two sacks, and an interception on defense.

``This was all very exciting for Rhett -- he has wanted to play at USC since the beginning,'' St. Francis Coach Mike Mitchell said. ``I know it was hard for him to make the call to the coaches at Virginia Tech, but USC is the only school he would do that for.''

Said Ellison: ``Once I got the opportunity I knew I had to take it. Virginia Tech is an awesome program, but USC is where my heart has always been.''

Check out Dennis Knight's After School blog at Contact him at or (408) 920-5899.

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