2023 Penn State football snapshot profile: No. 2 Keaton Ellis
Going into the 2023 football season, Nittany Lions Wire will be looking at each scholarship player listed on the Penn State roster. Over the preseason, each profile will cover where the player is from, how recruiting websites rated them coming out of high school, and what role they will play for James Franklin this season.
Continuing this effort is a look at a real homegrown talent that has gone from local high school standout to a fixture in the Penn State defense going into his senior season, safety Keaton Ellis. Ellis was easy to keep on Penn State’s recruiting radar from State College, and it is easy to see why James Franklin and his staff made sure nobody came into their backyard to lure him away from Happy Valley. Ellis’ father, Bruce Ellis, is a former Penn State player (1973-76) and both of his parents are Penn State graduates. You might say Ellis was born to be a defensive leader for this team.
Preseason Player Profile
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Hometown: State College, PA
247Sports Composite Ranking
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
[4-stars] | [No. 3 in Pennsylvania] | [No. 30 overall cornerback]
Class of 2019
Class in 2023: Senior
Keaton Ellis was a big addition to a loaded Class of 2019 that included Brandon Smith, Jaquan Brisker, Brenton Strange, and Joey Porter Jr. Ellis is considered a true homegrown talent after playing standout high school football at nearby State College High School.
Ellis committed to Penn State over offers from Buffalo and Syracuse, as he was long considered a strong Penn State lean throughout his recruiting process. Ellis earned DB MVP at The Opening Regional in Ohio in 2018 and he made a ton of visits to Penn State from 2017 through his commitment to the Nittany Lions.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Penn State certainly has an experienced player patrolling the backfield for the defense in Keaton Ellis. Ellis started all 13 games for the Nittany Lions in 2022 and he made one start in 11 appearances the season before. He also started five of his six games played during the COVID-adjusted 2020 season and earned a start as a true freshman in 2019.
Ellis is seen as an aggressive player although he hasn’t forced a fumble since the three he forced as a true freshman in 2019. He has just one interception as well, which came three seasons ago.
Depth Chart Overview
Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Penn State has two starters essentially locked into the defensive secondary going into the 2023 season. Kalen King will be an anchor at one cornerback position, leaving a starting job up for grabs following the NFL departure of Joey Porter Jr. And at the safety position, it is a similar situation with Keaton Ellis the fixed starter at one safety position after starting all 13 games at the position last season.
But Penn State does have to replace another NFL draft pick with Ji’Ayir Brown moving on to the next level. Who will start at the other safety position for the Nittany Lions alongside Keaton Ellis remains to be seen with Jaylen Reed and Zakee Wheatley the top candidates for the job.