St. Petersburg Times
Online: Tech Times
Print storySubscribe to the Times

College football

Locals hit stride with Irish

Published October 7, 2004

Notre Dame defensive back Dwight Ellick has offered the following unsolicited advice to his coaches:

"If you want cornerbacks," he said, "go to Tampa."

Ellick should know. The Wharton graduate is a starter at cornerback for the Fighting Irish, and one of two Notre Dame defensive backs who call Tampa home. The other is starting cornerback Preston Jackson, a former Hillsborough star.

For an Irish defense that typically is pretty tough, Ellick and Jackson, both seniors, have been important figures, especially this fall. Ellick has two of Notre Dame's six interceptions. Jackson has one. In tackles, Ellick ranks sixth on the squad and Jackson is seventh. Between them, they've added four pass breakups, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.

Both players have their eyes on the NFL.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed," Ellick said. "I definitely think I've got a shot but you never know until that day comes."

Becoming a full-time starter was a challenging road for both. Each was a star in high school (Ellick was a state sprint champion; Jackson earned accolades in football and hoops), but success at the next level took time. After seeing limited playing opportunities early on, both began making significant contributions by their sophomore years. Ellick and Jackson each started six games last fall then became regulars this season for the Irish (3-2), who host Stanford on Saturday.

"I'm a lot better now than when I got here," Ellick said. "I wasn't physically ready. It's funny to look at tape from back then. I just say, "Oh, God, I can't believe I was that bad.' I got stronger, more consistent and a lot more sound in technique. I learned how to play."

The two have a bond that extends beyond the field, as Jackson and Ellick have become close friends. Whether in South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame is located, or back in Tampa, they talk often and regularly do things together.

"We've always been pretty tight," Jackson said. "It's been great having him here."

Playing for the Irish, each said, has been like a dream.

"It's fun because you're always everybody's biggest rival, everybody's biggest game," Jackson said. "It's kind of like when I was at Hillsborough."

Ellick went a step further.

"I don't think people realize how good it is to be here," he said. "You'll just be on the streets and you'll tell people you go to Notre Dame, and people will want to shake my hand just because I'm a Notre Dame football player. It's definitely a great thing."

[Last modified October 7, 2004, 00:30:24]

Baseball: AL playoffs

  • Red Sox blast Angels again, take 2-0 lead back to Fenway
  • Hernandez encouraged by his side session
  • Yanks not finished

  • Baseball: NL playoffs
  • Judge lets Furcal play before jail time
  • Astros start to erase their past

  • Bowling
  • Last WTC in Seminole has modest showing

  • College football
  • Got a minute? Leon Washington RB FSU
  • LSU finds how easy it is to fall from top
  • UF eyes LSU's stingy secondary
  • Tremble time at Texas
  • Locals hit stride with Irish

  • Colleges
  • Two sports leave her drained but delighted

  • Golf
  • Els is always a bridesmaid
  • In Cerutti, local golf scene loses a friend
  • Privacy played major role in Woods' wedding
  • The 19th hole

  • In brief
  • Ex-champ facing rape charges

  • Motorsports
  • NASCAR levies more penalties

  • NFL
  • Saints' Deuce back, won't play vs. Bucs

  • Obituary
  • Local baseball loses former coach

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Preps
  • Depth drives 'Canes
  • Mitchell notches 51 straight wins
  • State swimming changes locales
  • Terrapins build on Premier win
  • Tornadoes wrap up district No. 1
  • Warhawks, Spongers, Packers take team titles

  • Pro basketball
  • Cassell back, but contract up in air
  • Bucs
  • Simms takes the spotlight
  • Bucs may start Walker at RT vs. Saints
  • Lightning
  • Lightning's Modin signs in Sweden

    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111