Vanderbilt’s Trey Ellis: Scholar, Athlete, and Future Public Servant

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Trey Ellis celebrates with CJ Duncan #19 after scoring a touchdown vs. Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt Stadium November 4, 2017, Nashville, TN Photo By Kate Pearson Halyburton LWOS
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Vanderbilt’s Trey Ellis: Scholar, Athlete, and Future Public Servant

Vanderbilt’s Trey Ellis has a passion for politics and is driven to serve. There are a number of quotes about leaders, this one by Vince Lombardi is a particular favorite:

“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile”.

And this Vanderbilt Man is putting his every ounce of effort into becoming a great leader.

The Touchdown

You will remember Ellis’ incredible touchdown last season during the Western Kentucky game. It was a deflected pass that landed perfectly in Ellis’ hands as he ran straight into the end zone. That amazing play made it to No. 2 on Sportscenter’s Top Ten that Saturday night and was ranked at No. 9 on ESPN’s College Football’s Final Top 10 plays of the year.  The pure joy on Trey’s face was priceless, as you can see below.

Trey Ellis runs to his teammates after scoring a touchdown off a deflected pass vs. Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt Stadium November 4, 2017, Nashville, TN Photo By Kate Pearson Halyburton, LWOS.

“It was just a great play I was glad to be able to make for my team. To be able to contribute and to put us ahead going into the half.” Recalled Ellis. The reaction of his teammates was just as priceless as he leaped into CJ Duncan‘s arms to celebrate.

Trey Ellis celebrates with CJ Duncan #19 after scoring a touchdown vs. Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt Stadium November 4, 2017, Nashville, TN Photo By Kate Pearson Halyburton, LWOS.

Ellis played in 11 of the 12 games in 2017. His first career start was against Alabama, and he finished the year with five catches for 70 yards and possibly the best touchdown of the season.

When Did You Fall in Love with Football?

“Oh, at a young age when I first started playing flag football. I was about five years old.  There was just something about the camaraderie of the sport and everyone working together to achieve a common goal, I have loved that about the sport since I started playing. I still continue to love that part of the sport. I do not remember the first football game I attended, but football is in my family. My dad played at Florida so it has always been in my family. Growing up in North Carolina, I went to Carolina Panthers games; I was a big Panthers fan. I always enjoyed watching Steve Smith play.”

Walk-On

Ellis did not receive any scholarship offers coming out of high school, however that did not stop him from pursuing his dream of playing college football. Vanderbilt is the ultimate academic institution in the SEC, which was the driving force behind his choice of schools.  The chance to play football in the SEC was just an added bonus. Ellis has big goals after college, and Vanderbilt was the logical choice for him to pursue his dreams on and off the field. He works diligently in the classroom and has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll every year he has attended Vandy.

“Balancing school and football is a difficult task especially at a school of this caliber with the workloads of the classes.” It makes life tough, but Ellis sees it as a benefit of the school, “It prepares you for things later in life where you have to balance multiple things at once. It is a strenuous task being an SEC athlete as well as being a student of high achievement in the classroom. I see it as good preparation for the future.” Ellis will graduate in May with his undergrad degree, and he plans to get his Masters in either finance or business administration.

President Ellis

Inspiration hit Ellis at a young age on a trip to Washington DC. It was on that trip that Ellis found his calling, “I was at that age where I was learning the process of how it all worked.  It struck me like, WOW this is where all of this happens, and you can have a large impact on so many people from this platform. What better way to impact the most people as possible than in D.C. and with laws or arguing for the support or opposition of laws that will impact people on a large scale,” Ellis explained. “I am a people person, and I am a firm believer if God gives you a talent, you need to use it. I feel like this is the best way to use the gifts that God has given me to help the most people.”

In high school, Ellis served as the vice-president of National Honor Society, as well as their chapter President for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He also ran for Vanderbilt student body president last year, but unfortunately, he fell short of the win. He is still active in the student government as a senator, as well as a member of the community outreach and diversity committee. Not to mention, he is the President of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.

Because of Trey’s passion to serve, he is majoring in Political Science. He spent the summer of 2016 an intern in the office of Nashville’s Mayor Megan Berry. Ellis was able to sit in on press conferences as well as contribute to research for bills. He described the experience, “It was fascinating. The research, the conversations with her staff, as well as other interns; overall it was a great experience.” That internship fueled his fire for politics and confirmed for Ellis that he was on the right path. His political goals include becoming a congressman and possibly even The President Of The United States someday. (He has my vote!)

Relentless, Tough, Intelligent

As Ellis prepares for his life in public office, Coach Derek Mason‘s enthusiasm has become a daily inspiration, “My favorite thing about playing under Mason is his emphasis on RTI.  Being relentless, applying it outside of football in all activities I’m involved in. Never giving up while continuing to persevere. Not settling for anything less than greatness. All the while being tough and realizing that nothing is going to be easy. Greatness does not come easy. It is important to have the mental toughness and realize that things will be difficult at times. Then, intelligence on the field using your football intelligence and reacting in a manner that is smart. Outside of football, of course, using your intelligence being a Vanderbilt man, with Vanderbilt being the top academic school in the SEC and applying that intelligence in the classroom as well as on the grass on Saturdays.”

Finish Strong

To reiterate Vince Lombardi: “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” Trey Ellis is putting in his hard effort in the classroom as he will graduate in May. He is hoping to spend another summer as an intern in the public service arena. Ellis’ football goals extend beyond college as well. This week, he is taking another step to make himself a better athlete as stepped back on the field for spring ball. His personality is inspiring, his laugh is infectious, and his smile is contagious. It is no wonder he is a favorite with his Commodore teammates. Ellis was born with a passion to serve, it will be exciting to see how far his fervor and drive take him.

Main Photo Credit:

Trey Ellis celebrates with CJ Duncan #19 after scoring a touchdown vs. Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt Stadium November 4, 2017, Nashville, TN Photo By Kate Pearson Halyburton, LWOS.

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