Steve Ellis, who spent his first two years as cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator for the Blue Raiders, was elevated to defensive coordinator in January 2011. Ellis, who will have the title of co-defensive coordinator in 2012, will also remain as the cornerbacks coach for the defense.
In 2010, Ellis produced a First Team All-Conference selection in Rod Issac and helped the defense lead the league in pass defense for a second consecutive season. Starters Issac and Arness Ikner accounted for four interceptions and 10 pass breakups, and Issac scored twice. Issac was also taken in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ellis’ special teams were solid once again (with six blocked kicks) and produced First Team All-Conference picks in placekicker Alan Gendreau and punter Josh Davis.
In 2009, Ellis’ cornerbacks had 152 tackles, nine interceptions, 12 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 21 pass breakups on their way to leading the Sun Belt Conference in pass defense and interceptions. Seniors Marcus Udell and Alex Suber were tabbed First Team All-Conference as Udell led the league with seven interceptions and Suber had 12 pass breakups while ranking 28th nationally in passes defended.
His special teams blocked eight kicks, hit 18 of 22 field goal attempts, had 1,119 yards in kick returns, downed 22 punts inside the 20-yard line, and had seven punts of 50 yards or more. Sophomore placekicker Alan Gendreau earned First Team All-Conference honors.
Ellis made his way to Murfreesboro after serving the previous six seasons at Nicholls State, where he was the defensive coordinator his final three years. Ellis, who also served as the team’s pro liaison and supervised academic progress, was the team’s safeties coach in 2003 before taking over the linebackers in 2004 and 2005.
The Stringer, Miss., native became one of the youngest defensive coordinators in the country when he was named to the position prior to spring drills in 2006. He guided the Colonels to conference best marks in scoring defense and pass defense, and Nicholls finished the 2006 season ranked 19th nationally in total defense.
In 2007, Ellis’ unit led the Southland Conference in total defense, pass defense, and interceptions and was second in scoring defense. Overall, NSU ranked 33rd nationally in total defense.
In six seasons at Nicholls State, Ellis’ players won seven First Team All-Conference honors, four National Player of the Week awards, three All-American honors, and two conference Newcomer of the Year awards and garnered a defensive player of the year accolade.
During the summer of 2008, Ellis participated in the NFL Coaches Fellowship Program with the Pittsburgh Steelers under Head Coach Mike Tomlin. Ellis worked with the defensive backs under the guidance of legendary defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau. He participated in the same program with the Buffalo Bills in 2010.
He started for three seasons for the Colonels as a defensive back before sitting out his senior season after suffering a knee injury during the fourth game of the 2002 campaign against Southern University. While with the Colonels, Ellis was named to the All-Southland Conference team all three seasons he played and registered over 200 career tackles and five interceptions for the Colonels. Ellis, the team captain in 2001, was second in the Southland Conference with 104 tackles during the 2000 season.
The 32-year old was a four-year letterman as a quarterback and defensive back at Stringer High School before continuing his playing days at Nicholls State. Ellis earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Nicholls State in 2003.
THE ELLIS FILE
Season at MT: 4th
Date Hired: February 9, 2009
Recruiting Area: Central Georgia, West Coast Florida
Birthdate: January 25, 1980
Hometown: Stringer, MS
High School: Stringer, 1998
College: Nicholls State, B.S. Education, 2003
Cornerback at Nicholls State (1998-2002)
2003: Nicholls State (safeties)
2004-05: Nicholls State (linebackers)
2006-08: Nicholls State (defensive coordinator)
2009-2010: MT (cornerbacks)
2011: MT (defensive coordinator/cornerbacks)
2012: MT (co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks)
2009: New Orleans Bowl (coach)
2011: GoDaddy.com Bowl (coach)