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HOOS LIFE: Jordan Ellis: Actions Speak Louder than Words

Oct. 7, 2017

by Allegra Zamore

Patience and hard work are words tailback Jordan Ellis has learned to live by. The running back attributes his success and healthy attitude to prioritizing time for himself off the field, with his teammates, school and even a little bit of Netflix.

“It is very important to get away from it all and to get your mind off of things,” Ellis said. “When I am done watching film, I try to watch movies and TV shows that are completely unrelated to football and sports. I don’t ever want to get burnt out.”

Ellis watches a lot of comedians, or random movies that he has seen a few hundred times, even Christmas movies from time to time.

“For some reason I really love the Home Alone series,” Ellis said. “I can put those on and watch them all of the time, they never get old.”

Not only does Ellis keep his mind fresh by unwinding, but he also enjoys his American Studies major, where he was able to design his own concentration with race, gender and sports. 

“I really like that they design the major so I don’t have to take all American studies classes,” Ellis said. “I have taken women gender studies and media studies classes that relate to race, gender and sports, and I really enjoy it.”

Ellis recalls taking a course on men and masculinity one summer that gave him the opportunity to appreciate people’s differences and understand new perspectives.

“It really opened my eyes to masculinity and the stereotypes of men in general,” Ellis said. “I learned about things that I had not seen in my everyday life, and the class really gave me a new way to look at myself and my teammates.”

The relationship that Ellis shares with his teammates is unique and something that he holds close to his heart.



“My first priority is to be a great teammate and earn their respect,” Ellis said. “I know I don’t say a lot, but I try to be a consistent player on the field. I want people to know that I give it my all when I step foot on the field.”

Ellis’ hard work and dedication has paid off, as he was chosen by his teammates to have the first pick of jerseys two years in a row. He is known by his teammates as a quiet leader, one who leads by example.

“He isn’t a guy that is going to speak up or yell at anybody, but everyone follows his lead,” fellow junior Chris Peace said. “The way he works out and carries himself are all something people want to emulate.”

Peace and Ellis have grown close over the last few years after meeting the spring game before they committed to the Virginia. Each has played in keeping the other’s spirits high in times of frustration.

“He [Peace] kept telling me that it would eventually be my time,” Ellis said. “I am glad I listened to him and stayed focused because now I know what he was talking about.”

Ellis attributes his focus to the way he was raised by his parents in Suwanee, Georgia.

“I was always taught that if I wanted something I had to go get it,” Ellis said. “Nobody was going to give it to me or do it for me.”

The patience and focus off the field over the last three years has given Ellis the success that he has today. He noted the difficulty transitioning from high school to collegiate football where everyone is used to being on top.

“We all get here and are immediately humbled knowing that there are people here just as good as you talent-wise,” Ellis said. “The thing that separates you is the work you put in behind the scenes that people don’t always see. There was a lot of that for me and I’ve just had to be patient and trust the process.”

Ellis has used his reserved and introspective nature during his time at Virginia to earn the respect of his teammates through actions, not words. He keeps his mind sharp by giving himself that time off the field to reflect and enjoy life.

“There are a lot of people pulling for me back home as well as people who want to be in my shoes that can’t be,” Ellis said. “I try to remember who I am doing it for and why I am here. I am in this position for a reason.”



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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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