Hayward native gets full ride to play for Humboldt State

Marjani Ellison will be playing for Humboldt next season.

Courtesy | Justin Redemer

Marjani Ellison will be playing for Humboldt next season.

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Marjani Ellison, a Hayward native and high school football player, grew up down the street from Hayward High School. His whole academic and sports career took place on a street not too far from where he lives and grew up.

He attended East Avenue Elementary School and Bret Harte Middle School in Hayward, and now attends Hayward High School where he will graduate this June. Things will change for Ellison because he will not be attending school on the same streets anymore. Last month he committed to a full ride scholarship to Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif. for the 2014 football season.

“I went with Humboldt State, because when I took the visit up there… they really wanted me, so I felt at home,” Ellison said.

Ellison always had an aspiration to play at the collegiate level from the very first day he picked up a football, but has eyes on something past that.

“My main goal is to play in the NFL,” Ellison said. “I have been playing football since I was eight, but this is my 12th season playing football.”

He is currently working on improving his quickness and his 40-yard dash time by bringing it down to a 4.5.

“The last time I tested, it was a 4.7,” Ellison said. “The game is going to be faster and the guys are going to be a lot bigger and I have to be prepared for that.”

Ellison currently attends Hayward High.

Ellison currently attends Hayward High.

At Hayward High School, Ellison played on a Division I football team that struggled with a 0-10 record in the league. Ellison stands out, not only because he is a 6-foot-5-inch wide receiver, he plays quarterback and safety as well.

“His natural ability just carries him, everything he does is just natural. He has good awareness and experience,” said Dartise Jones, captain and senior on Hayward High School’s football team.

Prior to accepting his offer at Humboldt State, Ellison faced his share of obstacles throughout his football career and the recruiting process.

“I had a couple DI offers but due to injuries they went out the window,” Ellison said.

He suffered a back injury the second game into the season while a Fresno State coach was in the stands and a concussion in his junior year. He believes his inconsistent injuries played a factor with the three DI colleges that lost interest in him.

But back injuries are not the only setback Ellison has had to deal with.

“I was diagnosed with diabetes my sophomore year and that was a major setback, because I lost 20 pounds and this was during the football season,” Ellison said.

He continues to struggle with his blood sugar levels during games, but reiterated that anyone with a condition can succeed if they remain positive and grounded.

Aside from his athletic career, Ellison is also a committed student with an overall cumulative GPA of 3.0.

“This year is my best academic year, I started the semester with a 4.0,” Ellison said.  “Academics come first before anything, because you are a student athlete and the important part about that, is without grades you can’t go anywhere.”

Hayward High’s Head Coach Justin Redemer believes Ellison is very influential not only on the field but in the community.

“He’s a great leader and competitor that does everything you want him to do,” said Redemer. “He knows how to be a football player and that’s very rare for someone his size. This is our second football player in two years that’s gotten a full scholarship; this gives kids a vision of what they can do.”

Ellison is close with Redemer and his new strength and conditioning coach at Humboldt State.

“Ellison is a good athlete, he has all the intangibles in a wide receiver,” Patrick Walsh, offensive line coach at Humbolt State said in a phone interview. “The football program is excited to see what he’s about. His size and athleticism gives us an advantage.”

Aside from his football career at Humboldt State, Ellison plans to major in Environmental Engineering.

Ellison has a goal of breaking the Humboldt State catching record and making it onto the Hall of Fame wall, which is his motivation to be the best. Ellison is currently training with his father as he prepares for the college game.

“I think you guys should expect great things from me, because I plan on going in and breaking records,” said Ellison.