BYU cornerback Keenan Ellis talks to media throughout BYU soccer media day on the BYU Broadcasting Constructing in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret Information)
Estimated learn time: 5-6 minutes
PROVO — BYU defensive again Keenan Ellis by no means imagined the place his soccer profession would finish, that late summer time night time in Las Vegas within the Cougars’ 2021 season opener in opposition to Arizona.
However after the 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback went down with a scary neck harm and a concussion in opposition to the Wildcats that in the end value him the rest of the season, there wasn’t an entire lot of thought given towards soccer, both. Ellis struggled in his restoration, by no means returning to BYU’s squad in a taking part in capability, although he did spend time across the workforce that he’d grown to like by means of the remainder of the 10-3 season.
By Friday morning, Ellis had obtained a medical redshirt from the NCAA, promising that the few snaps he took in Sin Metropolis would not depend in opposition to his eligibility as a result of medical hardship. However the San Diego native opted for a distinct path, after consulting with a handful of medical doctors and BYU’s medical workforce in what he thought was a routine check-up to watch any post-concussion signs.
Ellis will medically retire from soccer, efficient instantly. He is already set to graduate in April with a level in sociology and plans to pursue a regulation diploma after taking the LSAT in June.
However the finish of his soccer profession — a sport he is performed since he was 5 years outdated — was a intestine punch.
“Listening to that information was a nightmare. There was no means; I used to be speechless,” Ellis stated. “However I’ve come to phrases with it; you possibly can solely management what you possibly can management. There is no use attempting to struggle the uncontrollable.
“As a nook, I discovered to manage what I can management. So I knew God has a brand new path for me, and I’ve simply acquired to belief it.”
Regardless of the tough information, Ellis is grateful for his time at BYU. Whereas learning for the LSAT, he is already been accepted again to this system as a pupil assistant till he earns his diploma — and presumably thereafter, if he’s accepted to regulation college at BYU.
“It is unlucky, as a result of he was far more than a soccer participant. He is such a tough employee,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake informed KSL.com. “The trail that he took when he acquired right here as a freshman to get snug with the place, but in addition study the sport, the approach, the basics and grasp it. He was set to have an unbelievable yr. I firmly imagine that if he had performed out the 2021 season, he may need entered the draft early.
“To have somebody that’s pressured to retire for medical causes with a lot potential in soccer is one factor. However the development and progress that I’ve seen him from him as an individual is superb. The soccer half is unlucky, nevertheless it simply takes one possibility away from him.”
After redshirting as a real freshman out of Bonita Vista Excessive Faculty in 2017, Ellis earned quick taking part in time the following yr, taking part in in all 12 video games with one begin in 2018. He began six of eight video games throughout the COVID-19 impacted season in 2020 and was set to be a full-time starter a yr later earlier than the harm took its toll.
He finishes his BYU profession with 22 tackles and 5 move breakups whereas incomes the nickname “Ellis Island” by his teammates for his lockdown nook expertise. And whereas Oregon State switch Kaleb Hayes did an admirable job filling in — he made 12 move breakups to steer the workforce and rank 14th nationally en path to Unbiased Defensive Again of the 12 months honors by the Professional Soccer Community — in aid of Ellis, arguably the largest loss to the BYU protection in 2021, together with main tackler Keenan Pili.
“It was superb to see that. I knew that dude was spectacular, and seeing him ball out was nice,” Ellis stated of Hayes, who’s listed as returning to BYU for his senior season two days earlier than opening spring practices in Provo. “He was at all times so constructive, at all times smiling, and I beloved his power and his play, all the pieces about him.”
Ellis’ teammates acquired to showcase the newfound depth at cornerback — certainly one of which Ellis himself spoke extensively previous to the season — and that, to some extent, made stepping away from the sport a little bit bit simpler. He now desires to teach them up, for nonetheless lengthy he can, a brand new group that features household buddy and fellow San Diego native Nathaniel Gillis, who signed with BYU as a part of the 2022 recruiting class.
“Being across the guys is the most effective a part of soccer,” Ellis stated. “You make so many nice bonds, and I do know there are youthful guys arising; Nate Gillis and I had been shut pals, and I positively need to assist carry him on and present him what I went by means of.”
And but, it is solely a part of the fifth-year participant’s journey, which can proceed by means of the spring practices as one thing of a gamers’ guide and mentor, Sitake stated.
“He can conquer so many issues in life proper now that I do not know what he will do, however he will be nice at it,” his coach added. “Soccer will not be certainly one of them, however he can nonetheless coach soccer, he can go to regulation college, he can get into enterprise; there are such a lot of issues that he can do. And we’ll nonetheless want him across the workforce as a mentor.
“He is accomplished lots for our program already, and I need him round our workforce as a lot as he desires to be. He’ll be closely concerned with coach Gilford and coach Lamb; these are his guys. And I am actually happy with him.”