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Naz grad aims to break through as Purdue long snapper

Grant Ellington looks to earn playing time at Purdue after transfer

Grant Ellington shares a moment with his parents on the Ross Ade Stadium field after the spring football game at Purdue University.
Grant Ellington shares a moment with his parents on the Ross Ade Stadium field after the spring football game at Purdue University.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Long snapper is a position you don’t want to have your name called for.

The only time you get attention for it is when something goes wrong.

Purdue’s Grant Ellington, a Nazareth graduate from La Grange, is entering his second year with the Boilermakers after spending a year at Drake. After snapping and playing tight end at Nazareth, he joined the Bulldogs before transferring to Purdue, which both of his parents attended. Ellington enrolled at Purdue in fall 2012 and walked on to the football team this spring. With last year’s starting long snapper back this season, Ellington doesn’t expect to see much field time this year, but hopes to earn a starting job in his final three years of eligibility.

How did you get into long snapping?

I used to play center in grade school, and I just transferred over on punts as the snapper. Freshman year, I heard about Chris Rubio’s long snapping camps and went to a few camps and combines and got pretty good.

What do you like about it?

It’s really different. It’s kind of like a niche. Not a lot of people get a lot of praise for it. It’s something cool that I love doing.

How do you look back on your time at Drake?

I had a lot of really good friends and teammates there. I decided to transfer because I wanted to try to go to a bigger school.

What’s the difference between the two football programs?

The facilities are unbelievable at Purdue. They just have a lot more money because they’re a big time school compared to Division I-AA.

What are practices like at Purdue?

It’s really intense. Nothing really changes that much for me being a specialist. The intensity of it (is different) and a little more pressure. The atmosphere is just overall more intense. We practice indoor a lot, which is kind of different, but I like it.

How did the transfer process work?

I told my coach at Drake I wanted to transfer and he was OK with it. He wanted to help getting me to Purdue. He knew I wanted to play bigger, but he didn’t know any coaches. My high school coach, Joe Battaglia, is on the board for Purdue athletics. He sent an email to (previous) Coach (Danny) Hope and Coach Hope sent it to the special teams coach.

What’s the difference in campus life between Drake and Purdue?

Drake was 4,000 students and Purdue is 40,000 students, so it’s 10 times the size. That whole idea of a big school versus a small school. It’s like the perfect scenario. A big school has a lot of resources. Small schools, you get a lot more attention. I like both. It’s just different.

What are your goals going forward?

Keep developing in the program. I walked on in the spring, so I really got thrown in there with a new coaching staff too. Just hopefully keep getting bigger and faster and keep working on my snaps. The goal is to hopefully one day snap (in games).

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