ORANGEBURG, S.C. – South Carolina coach Will Muschamp did not have to worry about recruiting Jabari Ellis’ mom.
Ruth Ellis wanted her son to be a Gamecock.
“I’m so proud that he (made) the right decision,” she said, after Jabari announced his commitment to South Carolina over North Carolina State.
“That’s where I wanted him to go. I’d get up every morning, put on that shirt and go in his room. He knew that. That’s where I wanted him to be, but I didn’t want to persuade him. I wanted him to do what he thought was right. It’s for him.”
Sitting by her side in the newsroom at The Times and Democrat, a smile crept across Jabari’s face.
“I actually told coach Muschamp, I told him the person that was recruiting me the hardest to go to Carolina was my mom,” Jabari said.
Ellis, who graduated from Lake Marion High School (Santee, S.C.) in 2016, is a rising sophomore at Georgia Military College. Former Lake Marion coach Chris Carter is impressed with how much Ellis has changed over the last year.
“His demeanor, his attitude about going through this process, it’s like night and day. … What he did, he adjusted to his teaching and it turned out to be a pretty good thing for him,” Carter said.
Formerly ranked by the 247Sports composite as the No. 102 defensive tackle in the Class of 2016, Ellis is now listed as the No. 4 JUCO defensive tackle in the Class of 2018.
“His development has been spectacular and we knew that was one thing that was going to happen for him,” Carter said. “But just watching his growth off the field was probably the biggest thing.”
Ellis is on track to graduate in December. When he gets to South Carolina a month later, he’ll major in sports management.
“Georgia Military is a different type of struggle,” Ellis said. “Basically, you’ve got to focus on yourself. In your time, you’ve got to evaluate yourself, make sure you’re in your books, grades and everything.
“Football will kind of take care of itself, so really it’s time to focus on your grades. At the end of the day, that’s why you’re there. That’s why you’re at the junior college.”