Penn State quarterback Will Levis set his feet and let a pass fly through the air at Holuba Hall on Wednesday evening.
It was impressive, a tight spiral deep down the middle of the field.
But it was intercepted, and the culprit was freshman corner and State College native Keaton Ellis, who leapt in the air, pinning the ball to his shoulder before landing on the ground.
"I think the two corners, Keaton and Marquis [Wilson], are really doing some good things," James Franklin said after practice. "The further away you are from the ball, receivers and corners, it helps with that (adjustment to college). But they’ve both been impressive."
"They’ve both got length. They’ve both got really good ball skills. I think that both of them were fairly high-level high school receivers really helps; they’re confident finding the ball in the air. And they’re not undersized. They’re fairly physical at this point. Those guys have flashed a lot of really good things. There’s a buzz and excitement with the players and coaches."
Ellis isn't unfamiliar with praise coming from his coaches. During Signing Day in December, cornerbacks coach Terry Smith was already high on what one of the newest Nittany Lions brought to the table. Ellis was rated the second best player in the state by the end of the recruiting cycle and a four-star prospect according to the Lions247 network.
And you didn't have to watch him for long to see why.
“He’s a completely dominant player,” Smith said at the time. “You watch his film, to me, I think he’s got the best corner film in the country of all corners — and we watched them all.”
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Ellis is an inch shorter than Tariq Castro-Fields in the cornerback room while equally as tall as fellow freshmen Wilson and Trent Gordon. It stands to reason that Castro-Field, John Reid and Donovan Johnson will get their fair share of meaningful snaps this season, but Ellis could work his way into the rotation if need be.
And if he keeps making plays in practice, it might not be long before he's making them in Beaver Stadium as well.