3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 80 DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks

Since joining the Redblacks in 2017, nobody on the team has been better than Avery Ellis at getting after opposing quarterbacks.

The 26-year old has carved out a vital role for himself in the nation’s capital, which is a bit funny if you consider that as a child, his dream was to be a basketball player.

Ellis only began playing football during his first year at Montclair High School, spending time on both sides of the ball at linebacker and tight end. Although his team advanced to consecutive state championships, they came up short both times.

He was recruited by Temple and, after a grueling workout with Matt Rhule — now the head coach of the Carolina Panthers — Ellis was offered a scholarship that he accepted on the spot.

The Newark, New Jersey native thrived with the Owls, racking up 41 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two blocked kicks in 48 career games. Although eligible for the 2017 NFL draft, Ellis went unselected and signed with Ottawa in May of the same year.

At six-foot-two and 250 pounds, Ellis is a dangerous threat coming off the edge of the defensive line. Excellent strength and a deep toolbox of pass rushing moves means Ellis is just as likely to bull-rush his way through a blocker as he is to dance around them to reach the quarterback.

A high-motor player who never gives up on the play, many of Ellis’ sacks are a result of his determination to chase down plays from behind.

Although recognized as a dynamic pass rusher, one area of Ellis’ game that is often overlooked is his ability to play stout against the run by setting the edge on rushing plays.

In three seasons with Ottawa, Ellis has played in 43 games, making 97 tackles, 16 sacks, forcing two fumbles and scoring one defensive touchdown.

In 2019, Ellis led all Redblacks defensive linemen with 54 tackles. Following the end of last season and set to hit the free agent market, Ellis worked out for the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing a one-year extension with the Redblacks. That means Ellis is slated to become a free agent in February 2021.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

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Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).