Glenbard West’s Ellens follows in brothers’ footsteps

Glenbard West’s Mason Ellens returns the game opening kickoff for a touchdown during last season’s playoff game against Naperville North.
Jon Cunningham/Shaw Local News Network

Football runs through the veins of the Ellens family.

For Mason Ellens, the middle child of five, his father and two older brothers inspired his love for the game. Now, after his June commitment to Iowa State, Ellens prepares to continue following in their footsteps.

Ellens received all-state, all-conference and Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area honors during his junior season last year at Glenbard West. Ellens’ versatility shined through the tape. He played running back, wide receiver, safety, cornerback, kick returner, and punt returner.

A Swiss Army knife on the field, Ellens plans to play on both sides of the ball again this upcoming season at Glenbard West. However, he committed to Iowa State to play the position he loves most, safety.

“I like being able to cover dudes and come down to hit,” Ellens said.

Ellens’ dad pushed him and his brothers to be the best from an early age. Whether that meant lifting or hitting the field and playing catch, there was no time for laziness in the Ellens family.

Martin Ellens, Mason’s father, played football at Eastern Illinois. Martin’s two older sons, Noah and Julius, each shined in high school.

Noah ran for 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior season at Minooka, good for an all-conference honor and a collegiate career at Nebraska-Kearney.

Julius, a running back and receiver at Glenbard West, was an all-state performer and conference player of the year. He and Mason shared the backfield in Julius’ senior season, and he will play his freshman season in the fall at South Dakota.

“Whenever it would be nice out, we’d play in the field,” Mason said.

Glenbard West and 15 other top football programs competed at the Windy City Classic 7-on-7 Tournament Thursday afternoon at Naperville North. Ellens and the Hilltoppers advanced to the quarterfinals before falling 31-30 to Maine South.

Incoming sophomore Oliver Valdez threw two deep touchdown passes to Ellens on the day. Senior Cole Glascott came down with an acrobatic interception after Ellens knocked the ball into the air. Ellens added three picks of his own.

The Hilltoppers look to carry the momentum into Ellens’ senior season, a year in which he will take on an increased leadership role.

“He’s always been kind of a lead-by-example guy, and he’s starting to be more vocal,” said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. “(Ellens’ teammates) appreciate the player he is and the work he puts in.”

Facing another tough schedule in the fall, Ellens knows it’ll be a season-long process. The Hilltoppers face a gauntlet of Batavia, Loyola Academy and Downers Grove North to start their season. Those teams combined to go 26-5 in 2023.

“As a team we want to take it slow and take it one step at a time,” Ellens said.

Eastern Illinois offered Ellens his first FCS scholarship. After receiving offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Boston College and others, Ellens chose Iowa State and coach Matt Campbell.

Ellens noted the enthusiasm Campbell and safeties coach Deon Broomfield showed during his recruitment.

Iowa State runs a three-high safety defensive scheme. If he plays strong safety, Ellens’ speed could allow him to man-cover slot receivers, who often possess elite speed.

However, with one year left at Glenbard West, Ellens remains focused on the approaching season.

“He’s just so fast, he makes plays from nothing,” said Michael O’Connell, a senior offensive tackle committed to Northwestern. “When the blocks are there, he’s gone.”

Ellens credited his teammates for being the first to reach out after any achievement. For Ellens, it’s about more than just his impact on the field.

“The main thing for me is just the leadership that I want to (provide) my teammates,” he said.

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