Next month the National Football League will hold its annual Draft. Hundreds of college players will wait for the chance to hear their names called for a chance to play at the next level.
Among those are a few former Gamecocks, including safety Pierre Warren and tight end Gavin Ellis.
Warren, who declared to leave school early back in January as only a junior, was the second leading tackler on the Jacksonville State defense in 2013 with 76. He also recorded five interceptions, which he returned for over 100 yards for an average of plus 20 yards a return. Always around the ball, he also managed to recover three fumbles, force another one and block a kick this past season.
The native of Prattville, AL was a key leader for the entire Gamecock team. He was a first team All-Conference selection this season in the Ohio Valley after leading the team in interceptions and pass breakups.
The hard-hitting defender was never shy of attempting to score either as he owns some of the program’s longest defensive returns for touchdowns over his career. This season Warren had an interception returned for a score and a fumble he returned to the opponent’s one-yard line.
Ellis, a senior from Cullman, AL., also hopes to get a chance as well. Ellis started at JSU’s rival Troy, where he redshirted in 2009 before playing for two years with the Trojans. A product of the spread offense limited his offensive stats, which was a reason for transferring to JSU to contribute more. However, after one season Bill Clark was hired and installed his own spread at JSU.
Ellis caught a pair of touchdowns over his two seasons in Jacksonville, one coming in the quarterfinal playoff game at Eastern Washington in what turned into his final game in the red and white.
Coming from the FCS, many players get passed on because NFL teams don’t get to judge them against other top competition.
Between Troy and Jax State, Ellis played against Oklahoma State, Arkansas State, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida and twice against Arkansas.
Ellis attended a regional combine in Miami earlier this year and performed well enough to get invited by scouts to an invitational-only Super Regional Combine in Detroit, which he participated in last week. Even if Ellis isn’t selected by one of the 32 NFL teams in the seven rounds of the Draft, he has a strong chance at getting an invitation to training camp, which would allow him to select his own team to try-out for.
Last season JSU’s wide receiver Alan Bonner was drafted by the Houston Texans in the sixth round. The 2014 NFL Draft will be held May 8-10.