Russell Ellington of Homewood-Flossmoor is one of the leading uncommitted football players in the Chicago area. Last June, however, he committed to Iowa State. Then he de-committed. Now he is no hurry to make a decision. It is a lesson for every athlete who is involved in the college recruiting process to learn.
Ellington, a 6-3, 210-pound wide receiver/linebacker, attracted a lot of interest from Big 10 schools. H-F coach Ken Smith described him as an "absolute playmaker." Smith added: "I have been around some talented kids at Hubbard, Rich East and Crete-Monee and he is by far the most explosive player of all. I'm willing to argue that there isn't another receiver like him in the state. He is a Big 10 player, a national recruit."
At first, Ellington thought he was a basketball player. His mother preferred basketball over football. But once she saw all the college letters with most of them touting her son as a football prospect, she saw the light. So did Russell, who realized there are a lot of 6-3 guards in basketball but not a lot of 6-3 receivers in football.
He said he would be patient and wait for more offers. At one point, only Eastern Illinois and Western Michigan offered scholarships. Then Iowa State offered and Ellington couldn't resist. "At the time, I thought that was the place for me and I wanted to end the recruiting process. I made a quick decision," he said.
In August, he chose to de-commit and reopen his recruiting. "I made too quick a decision. My parents wanted me to keep my options open and enjoy the recruiting process. It got hectic, all those text messages. I wanted to focus on school and football," he said.
He changed his game plan. Now he is interested in Iowa, Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Georgia, West Virginia, Kansas State and, yes, Iowa State still is in the mix. But he said the earliest he will make a decision is toward the end of the 2007 season. He made an official visit to Wake Forest last week and will visit Iowa State this weekend.
"I won't rush. I want to be 100 percent sure when I make a decision," Ellington said. "I don't feel I made a mistake originally. I just jumped into it too quickly. I want to sit back and see what everybody has to offer.
"I want to be patient and try to develop a relationship with the coaches, to see who is genuine and who isn't, who really wants me. Some are recruiting me as a receiver, some as a strong safety, some as an outside linebacker. I just want to get on the field early, no matter what position."
What is Ellington's advice to future recruits? "Develop a relationship with the coach and try to be comfortable with the staff. Be patient. Don't make a hasty decision based on the wrong reasons. Hopefully, during one of your official visits, a light will go off and you will feel you are in the right place. That's what I hope happens to me."