Ellis in 2008
|No. 98, 57|
|Date of birth:||August 14, 1975|
|Place of birth:||Wendell, North Carolina|
|Height:||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Weight:||270 lb (122 kg)|
|High school:||East Wake High School|
|NFL Draft:||1998 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Gregory Lemont Ellis (born August 14, 1975) is a former football defensive end who played in the National Football League (NFL) for twelve seasons. He played college football for the University of North Carolina, and was recognized as an All-American. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft, and also played a season for the Oakland Raiders.
Ellis was born in Wendell, North Carolina. He attended East Wake High School in Wendell. An all-state selection as a tight end and defensive end, he intercepted five passes and returned all of them for touchdowns. He also blocked four punts and returned two of them for scores. An outstanding basketball player, Ellis was selected to play in the North Carolina East/West Shrine Game. The Raleigh News and Observer voted him the Male High School Athlete of the Year in 1993.
Ellis attended the University of North Carolina, and played for the North Carolina Tar Heels football team from 1994 to 1997. As a back-up defensive end during his redshirt freshman year, he ranked second on the team with four sacks. In 1995, he became the first UNC sophomore to be named first-team All-ACC since Reuben Davis in 1985. Ellis was also named honorable mention All-American by UPI, while recording 71 tackles and seven sacks. As a junior, Ellis was named second-team All-American by The Sporting News and was a first-team All-ACC selection after closing the season with 62 tackles, a school-record 38 quarterback pressures and 12.5 sacks—the second most sacks in Tar Heels history, behind Lawrence Taylor's 16 in 1979.
As a senior in 1997, he earned consensus first-team All-America honors, was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and an All-ACC selection for the third straight season after collecting 87 tackles, nine sacks and 32 quarterback pressures. Ellis received his degree in communications studies at UNC, where he was also a member of the junior varsity basketball team as a sophomore. He graduated from UNC as the school's all-time sack leader.
Ellis was drafted with the 8th pick of first round in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, a selection which caused a great stir among Dallas Cowboys fans who were disappointed that the team passed on the opportunity to take Randy Moss. Although rumored to be the destination where Moss would end up, Dallas opted to take a player in Ellis who did not possess the character issues that Moss did.
He became a starter at defensive end for Dallas immediately and started 155 of 162 games during his Cowboy career from 1998-2008. For the first eight years he spent a similar amount of time as the starting right end as he did the starting left end. In 2006, he was moved to outside linebacker as Bill Parcells implemented his 3-4 defense. Ellis started 35 games and made 38 total appearances at outside linebacker from 2006-2008.
During his tenure in Dallas he totaled 77 quarterback sacks, 377 tackles, 20 forced fumbles nine fumble recoveries and four interceptions. He scored two touchdowns, both in 1999, one coming on an 87-yard interception return and the other on a 98-yard return of a fumble recovery.
Ellis's top season in quarterback sacks was 2007 when he tallied 12.5 sacks in only 13 games. Other top sack seasons were 2004 (9.0), 2003 and 2004 (8.0 each) and 1999 and 2002 (7.5 each). In 2007 Ellis was selected for the NFC Pro Bowl roster and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, acknowledging his return from a season-ending Achilles tendon suffered during the 2006 campaign.
The Cowboys decided to release Ellis on June 2, 2009, saving $4.15 million in cap space.
Ellis agreed on a 3-year contract for $10 million with the Oakland Raiders on June 15, 2009. In Oakland, Ellis returned to the position of defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Ellis joined a Raiders line that would also include former Patriot and all-pro Richard Seymour.
Ellis started all 14 games he appeared in for the Raiders in 2009 at right defensive end. He amassed seven quarterback sacks, 26 tackles, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was released on March 8, 2010.
While attending East Wake High School, he met his wife, Katrina Holden. They have three children together: Tyann, Geremiah and Taliah .
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