Rhett Ellison was hoping to join the New York Giants.
Ellison, a tight end/fullback, signed a four-year, $18 million deal on Friday. He said that he becoming a Giant was something in the making for a long time. Ellison visited the Giants before the 2012 NFL Draft after playing collegiately at USC.
The Giants thought highly Ellison as well. They liked him enough to keep him on their draft board but didn’t get a chance to pick him. The Minnesota Vikings selected Ellison in the fourth round.
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“It just kind of came together at the right time,” Ellison said during his first visit to the Giants’ locker at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. “It was unbelievable. It was cool to see that they were following and still keeping an eye on me and still wanted me to come here. It was the best-case scenario.”
Ellison became a Giants fan at the insistence of John Baxter, his position coach at USC. Baxter wanted Ellison to pay close attention to former Giants tight end Bear Pascoe. Pascoe played collegiately at Fresno State and Baxter was his position coach.
“They had just won the Super Bowl, so that was like my dream team,” Ellison said. “And in college all I watched was Bear Pascoe film. That’s what my role kind of was at USC, which was a lot of the dirty work. It was one of the few guys that I could learn from and watch because there are not a lot of those guys out there that do it at the level he did. That’s how I studied him.”
Ellison picked the right role model. The Giants brought him in to help jump start a running game ranked 29th in the NFL in 2016 and only a single 100-yard game by any Giants back.
“Rhett is a versatile, hard-nosed player who we feel is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “He also has good hands and is a capable receiver in the pass game.”
Reese may have been exaggerating about Ellison’s hands. He has 51 receptions for 515 yards and three touchdowns in five NFL seasons. The Giants do not need another Jeremy Shockey, they need a tight end with a lunch pail mentality.
“My whole MO is just whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it,” Ellison said. “Blocking, catching, whatever it takes. Whatever is going to help this team be successful is what I’ll be doing.”