Penn State is looking to return to the Big Ten this fall after a 7-6 record last season. The Nittany Lions fell 5-0 in 2021 and ended in defeat at the Outback Bowl, but have since done so using the transfer portal and a top 10 recruitment class to rearrange the squad.
PSU opens its 2022 schedule on September 1st in Purdue, and in the meantime, our Countdown to Kickoff series will feature players whose uniform numbers correspond to the number of days left until that matchup. Moving on to #91, which leads us to look at the Nittany Lions lineman D’Von Ellies.
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Red Shirt Junior
Size: 6-1, 302 pounds
Secondary school: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)
WAY TO PENN STATE
Considered the #9 defensive tackle in the nation in the 2019 247Sports recruit rankings. D’Von Ellies revealed four favorite universities ahead of his high school season: State of Ohio, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. However, Florida and Penn State soon renewed their offers and initial plans for a preseason commitment were cancelled.
Southern Cal emerged as a contender for its midseason bid, welcoming Ellies for an official visit to campus three weeks after using one in Happy Valley. He ultimately chose to sign with Penn State during the early signing phase, though he and the program kept things under wraps for almost a full month before an announcement was made at the Polynesian Bowl.
Ellies established himself as a Power Five prospect while playing part-time at McDonogh PJ Mustipher and Curtis Jacobs, who are now perennial starting defensive tackle and linebackers for Penn State, respectively. Ellies and Mustipher dominated together indoors, 27 total sacks and 34 tackles for loss in 2017.
A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Ellies accumulated 72 tackles, 17 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles as a senior to earn a berth in 2018 All-USA Maryland Football Team.
PENN STATE CAREER HISTORY
Ellies appeared in a game as a true freshman in 2019 and retained redshirt status. During an abbreviated 2020 Penn State campaign, he competed in three contests but finished with some momentum. Ellies picked up his first career college sack at Rutgers in December and then scored two tackles in the season finale against Illinois.
In Year 3, Ellies took a step forward and attended all 13 games. The Nittany Lions’ need for his involvement grew last October following a season-ending knee injury for Mustipher. After the senior, he then switched to the starting lineup for an Outback Bowl matchup against Arkansas Derrick Tangelo eliminated from the postseason game.
Ellies had a career-best four tackles in the 2021 Michigan State regular-season finale. He finished his sophomore redshirt season with 15 total tackles (1.5 for losses), two QB rushes and a fumble recovery.
Ellies is a redshirt junior with 17 games under his belt. However, due to the NCAA’s COVID-related admissions hiatus during the 2020-21 school year, he may choose to play in three more seasons of college football through 2024.
Mustipher remained sidelined this spring while working his way back from surgery, but he is expected to be there when Penn State resumes practice in August. Tangelo moved to the NFL and joined the Atlanta Falcons through free agency.
Red shirt sophomore Coziah Izzard filled Mustipher’s place in the first team in the second half of the 2021 season. He and Ellies led a staff look at that position on April 23 during a blue-and-white game, although there is significant competition ahead of Mustipher’s return.
Colleague Redshirt Junior Hakeem Beamon Projects as a key factor after missing every game in 2021 for unknown reasons (Beamon remained a training participant last season) and caused quite a stir this spring. Real newbie now Zane Durant immediately excelled on the practice field and is primed to burn the redshirt on defensive tackle.
Redshirt newbie Jordan van den Bergg has also established himself in defensive tackle after getting some rework last season. Red shirt sophomore Fatorma Mulbah and redshirt newcomer Rodney McGraw are other names to watch inside during preseason camp.
Ellies will face the challenge of staying in the starting lineup on September 1, but plans to make at least one rotational contribution in 2022. The Nittany Lions will try to keep their internal linemen fresh as Big Ten competition progresses, so expect several used early and often.
Another McDonogh grad joins Penn State’s roster this summer as a five-star fullback Dani Dennis Sutton will soon enroll and follow Ellies, Jacobs and Mustipher to Happy Valley.
*Penn State Senior Long Snapper Chris Stolla former walk-on who received a scholarship early in his career will retain his role and will also wear the number 91 in 2022.
review our previous Countdown to Kickoff profiles…
92 – Jake Pinegar and Smith Vilbert
93 – Brandon Noble
94 – Sander Sahaydak
95 – Carl Nassib
96 – Immanuel Iyke
97 – PJ Mustipher
98 – Jordan Stout
99 – Coziah Izzard