PHILADELPHIA - Avery Ellis
and Stephaun Marshall
are both redshirt juniors and defensive players on the Temple roster but that is far from all they have in common. Both from Montclair, N.J., Ellis and Marhsall have a long lasting relationship that combines a love for football with similar interests off the field.Stephaun Marshall
, who redshirted his freshman season, is a 5'11" linebacker who moved from safety to the position during the spring of 2014. Marshall started 7 of 12 games at strong safety and saw action on special teams in 2013. Last year he was awarded number six as one of the toughest guys on the team, he started five games and saw plenty of action on special teams.
His defensive mate and longtime friend, Avery Ellis
, is a 6'2" defensive lineman who played nine games as a freshman but redshirted his sophomore season. Ellis saw action in 11 games in 2014 forcing one fumble and recording two sacks. Ellis and Marshall shared details about when they first met and how their friendship has lasted.
Marshall said, "We became really close during our junior year in high school. Football really connected us in a big way, and we had the common goal to win a state championship." Both being on the defensive side of the ball was also a big part of their friendship as Marshall talked about, "communication was easy and I can talk to him however I want to get the point across and he won't take it personally out on the field."
Ellis talked about first meeting Marshall "I moved to Montclair in my ninth grade year and first met him and he literally lived a block away and we have been friends since then." Ellis also talked about both guys being on defense saying, "We have been on the same side of the ball since freshman year when I was the middle linebacker and he was an outside linebacker and we have just been making tackles together since I started playing football." Ellis has since moved to defensive line but still has a great friendship on and off the field with Marshall.
Ellis and Marshall also gave some insight into some of their interests off the field including a love of music. Ellis stated "Stephaun is very talented, he can play guitar, piano, and even a ukulele. In high school he helped often when I started learning the piano just telling me where to put my hands and things like that." This was just the start of these two helping each other out with whatever they need and bringing them together off the football field.
Both were looking at multiple schools during their recruitment along with a third player who attended Montclair, quarterback Khalif Herbin
. The three ended up all coming to Temple together and Marshall discussed how it happened, "Avery got offered first and then Khalif and I got offered and we all just wanted to continue our dream of playing football together." They did indeed continue their dream as Marshall committed to Temple just a few weeks after Ellis. Unfortunately Herbin had to leave the team after three seasons because of an injury but Marshall and Ellis still represent Montclair well on this roster.
Ellis also talked about how their families also share a connection because of their friendship, "anytime my family has a cookout he is there and anytime we have one his family comes over to our place and our families have a good friendship." Their families travel together to games often and Marshall spoke about how their families are tight as well saying "Our moms are real close, especially now that they travel to games together." The relationship between these two families has evolved over the years into a very strong one.
Fast forward a few years at Temple where Ellis had just purchased a guitar and needed someone to teach him. Of course, Ellis went to his longtime friend and roommate to ask Marshall to teach him how to play. Ellis said "I bought an electric guitar and for like two months he kept making me practice and riding me all the time." That is they type of commitment and competition that has helped both of these guys on and off the field.
Although they have much in common, like many great relationships, they also have a few differences that make them the individuals they are. Marshall grew up as the youngest of four kids while Ellis was the eldest of four. Ellis majors in kinesiology or the study of human movement while Marshall majors in entrepreneurship, which covers the process of starting your own business. Having these differences creates more conversation and in the end brings the two closer together outside of football.
Many football players are very close but there are few who have a relationship like Marshall and Ellis, they use their similarities on and off the field to help each other in whatever the other needs. Ellis said "we have been roommates so long but we have never had any altercations or anything like that." Marshall ended by saying this "We are just brothers, he's my brother."