When McDonogh offensive lineman Ellis McKennie was in eighth grade, he had a decision that would change his future. McKennie's family lived in the Baltimore area until he was about to complete middle school. But the family decided to move to Pennsylvania and while Ellis would be moving with them, he was not going to change schools.
"I have been at McDonogh since sixth grade," McKennie said. "When [my family] moved [to Pennsylvania], I made the decision that I wanted to stay at McDonogh."
Ellis McKennie stayed at the school in Owings Mills, Md., to earn his high school diploma, boarding during the school year and returning to his new home in Pennsylvania during the summer.
Faced with another tough decision about where McKennie would attend college, he again chose to stay in the state of Maryland. The offensive lineman received offers from Rutgers and Marshall, but on May 28 chose the University of Maryland to be his new home starting in 2015.
Having grown up near College Park and with Pennsylvania just a few hours from campus, McKennie says it was an easy decision.
"Being close to home was a big thing for me," the offensive lineman said. "Maryland is about two hours from my house so it's not too far of a drive. It's just far enough away and close enough that it's perfect."
McKennie received an offer to play for the Terrapins back in February but was in no rush to make a decision. His high school coach Dom Damico called him and told him to get in touch with Maryland assistant coach Keith Dudzinski.
"It was really out of the blue," McKennie said of his offer. "I called [coach Dudzinski] and he offered me. It was really exciting and a big moment for me."
The three-star recruit according to the 247sports composite received letters from the Maryland coaching staff regarding their interest in him and inviting him to visit the school multiple times before committing.
"My first couple of visits were to the basketball games," McKennie said. "We would go to the team house in the [football] team house and [the program] would do a little presentation. Then we would go to the game and sit with the coaches and talk with them."
The 6'3", 285-pound guard says he came back for the spring football game and had a chance to meet with coaches and see more of the campus. McKennie also said former McDonogh teammate and incoming Maryland freshman Josh Woods helped him throughout the recruiting process.
"He definitely made [the process] easier for me," McKennie said of Woods. "He told me how Maryland is a family and how the coaches really care about you and make you a better player. I think him buying in and talking to me about it made me buy in."
McKennie says he frequently makes trips to College Park and will continue to do so before enrolling at Maryland in the fall of 2015. He also said he plans to play mostly left tackle at McDonogh during his senior season.
"Left tackle is the spot where you put your best offensive lineman," McKennie said. "I feel I'm that guy for my high school team this year."