Former Cowboys DE Greg Ellis takes over college program as head coach

Greg Ellis is back on the football field. His new team, though, might not attract the same kind of attention that the Cowboys did when he was a starting defensive end.

Ellis, 46 years old, has been named the head coach at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, an NAIA school with about 2,000 students in the Texas town of Waxahachie, 30 miles south of Dallas. The SAGU Lions went 9-3 last season.

Ellis was previously the head coach at Texas College, located in Tyler. That program’s 2020 season, Ellis’s first with the school, was canceled due to COVID-19. Last season, he oversaw the team’s finish at 0-11, including a 63-0 drubbing at the hands of SAGU.

(As bad as that sounds, it wasn’t even the Steers’ worst loss of the year. They lost other games by 65, 68, 71, and 73 points. On the season, they were outscored 648-108. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Ellis and the school parted ways in 2022.)

A North Carolina native, Ellis played for the Tar Heels and went on to be the Cowboys’ first-round draft pick in 1998. Selected eighth overall, Ellis was perhaps best known initially as the player that Dallas took instead of Randy Moss.

But he quickly garnered his own reputation as a defensive stalwart, starting 155 of 162 games for the Cowboys over the next 11 seasons. After an Achilles injury derailed his 2006 campaign, Ellis returned in 2007 to be named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and earn his only Pro Bowl nod.

He compiled 377 tackles in Dallas, 77 sacks, 20 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, four interceptions, and two touchdowns off returns.

A salary cap casualty in 2009, Ellis went on to play one more year with the Raiders before leaving the game.

In his post-playing life, Ellis found a different kind of spotlight, though he didn’t stray too far from the field. He executive produced Carter High, a 2015 movie telling the story of a Texas high school football team fighting through racial prejudice and a legal scandal in the “Friday Night Lights” era. He went on to co-write and direct two stage plays, including one centered on the Juneteenth holiday.

Ellis is one of several former Cowboys players to return to the game as a coach. Deion Sanders famously helms the program at Jackson State and won the FCS Eddie Robinson Award in 2021. Within the ranks of Texas high school football, Jason Witten runs the program at Liberty Christian, and Jon Kitna coaches at Burleson High. And Orlando Scandrick was recently named head coach at St. Bernard High School in Los Angeles.

A press release from SAGU says that Ellis in his new football home “will utilize the coaching styles of three of his former coaches: Mack Brown, Mike Zimmer, and Bill Parcells.”


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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire