Ellis: N. County quick-sketch artist

October 28, 1994|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Staff Writer

Topper Ellis draws for fun while opposing football coaches draw out of frustration trying to sketch a defense to stop him.

Purman Topper Ellis III is North County's senior ace back in the Knights' run-and-shoot, loves art and hopes to get into computer graphics.

The 5-foot-7, 155-pound Ellis has rushed for an Anne Arundel County public school-leading 1,059 yards on 116 attempts, an average of 9.2, and has scored 13 touchdowns in leading the No. 10 Knights to a 5-2 record.

Ellis' most prolific game came two weeks ago when he rushed for 304 yards and scored five touchdowns as the Knights hammered Severna Park, 46-26. He ran for 244 yards and four touchdowns on only five attempts in the second half.

"Topper is instinctive, not a plodder. He's a glider like Marcus Allen," said North County coach Chuck Markiewicz.

Markiewicz said Ellis compares favorably to 1992 All-Metro back Frank Brown, who set a county record for touchdowns (24) and gained a county-leading 1,652 yards rushing, the second highest total in county history.

"Frank and Topper are the same kind of runner, but Topper may be a little stronger and can get the tough yardage when we need it," said Markiewicz. "Topper has what we like to call functional speed, which basically is having a knack to read blocks and go for the hole. He wants the ball in crucial situations like Frank did."

Ellis has played running back in three of the last five years. His father, Purman Topper Ellis II, was his coach in eighth and ninth grade with the Andover Apaches, and played Topper at offensive tackle first.

"I didn't have any problem playing offensive line, but had a lot of fun running the ball my second year for my dad," said Ellis, who went out for North County's team and was a junior varsity running back as a sophomore.

In his first varsity season last year, Ellis was a slotback, catching 36 passes and showing off his 4.4 speed in the 40-yard --.

"Had we known he was as strong as he is, and can block big defensive ends, we would have moved him to ace back last year," said Markiewicz.

Ellis did not start lifting weights until recently.

"My dad told me to wait until I was 18 and my natural growth was finished before I lifted weights," said Ellis. "My dad played high school football in Osborne, Va., and at Howard [University] and says lifting earlier is bad for the body."

Ellis hopes to play in college, but Markiewicz thinks his size might scare off some schools but doesn't rule out Ellis' moving back to the flank or running back kicks.

Whatever he does, Ellis feels blessed that he has the support of his parents, Purman and Patricia, who never miss a game.

"They're always there for me, my brother and sister and some kids don't have that," said Ellis. "It means a lot."

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