There was a towering and intimidating presence at Monrovia High School’s fall camp opener Monday at Cliffton Middle School.
The towering part isn’t a surprise. Ellis McCarthy was a 6-foot-4 standout as a sophomore and has grown an inch since then.
The intimidating factor? That’s where it gets interesting.
McCarthy is a boy trapped in a man’s body, now standing 6-5 and a weighing a staggering 290 pounds. It’s a drastic leap from when McCarthy weighed 245 pounds as a 15-year-old sophomore. It’s not like McCarthy’s been piling on the Doritos, a strong weakness of his. He shredded the baby fat and added muscle to his now-lean frame. McCarthy altered his eating habits, too. He cut off soda and opted for water and protein shakes. He also hit the weights hard this offseason and increased his bench-press max to 295 pounds.
“I also did a little cardio,” McCarthy said after practice. “I just wanted to be more healthier so I can be ready to go both ways and wherever my team needs me.”
McCarthy attended the Nike and USC camps and Pete Carroll’s “Win Forever” camp at Home Depot Center and earned rave reviews at all three as a top 2012 prospect. McCarthy mentioned Nebraska, UCLA and elsewhere in the Pac-10 as being among the places he’s considering.
McCarthy is destined to play on Saturdays, perhaps Sundays, too.
“He’s a Division I football player,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said. “He is absolutely the real deal.”
McCarthy finished with 11 sacks last season as a defensive end. He’ll see a lot of time at tackle this season, although he’s expected to spend some time at end, too. The biggest adjustment, however, will come on offense, where McCarthy goes from tight end to tackle in an effort to bolster the line. He caught nine passes for 152 yards, but McCarthy often bailed out the Wildcats in long-yardage situations for first downs. His size, surprisingly quick feet and soft hands made it hard for opposing coaches to leave single coverage on McCarthy.
His tremendous upside as a junior-to-be has Maddox and future college coaches beaming.
“He’s young for his grade,” Maddox said. “So you figure at 245 (pounds) he was only 15 years old and he was at a 6-4 frame. So he’s just starting to fill out and become a man. He’s not even probably close to what he’ll be eventually, and that’s the scary thing.
“He’s only 16 years old and he’s got growing to do. He’s a young man in an adult’s body. He’s massive.”
Monrovia’s fall camp is being held at Cliffton Middle School because of work at Monrovia High. The new football stadium — complete with a grandstand, press box, weight room, turf field and track — is in the late stages of construction. Monrovia’s first home game is scheduled for Sept. 17 against Arcadia.