At his weekly press conference, Pat Fitzgerald announced that linebacker Collin Ellis has retired from football due to medical reasons.
"It's tough to say that, but he'll be great here this last month helping his teammates," Fitzgerald said.
Ellis, who played in just five games this season after suffering multiple concussions, told Fitzgerald this morning that he was retiring.
While he felt heartbroken for his senior, Fitzgerald said the future is still bright for Ellis.
When asked if Ellis would make a good football coach Fitzgerald said: "He's smarter than that. He's got an opportunity to be ... special in Fortune 500 America."
What's sad is that Ellis had completely recommitted himself to football after considering giving up the sport due to a lack of playing time, as Josh Rosenblat wrote in a wonderful profile of him this summer.
"I was considering not coming back," Ellis says, recounting the conversation.
"Well, I'm at the point in my career where I can either just continue to be a third-down linebacker and not really do anything crazy and then graduate and be done after four years," he told his friend. "Or, I can really buckle down, have two really good seasons and then can see if I could even play later."
"What are you doing?" the friend responded. "Like, how is that even an option in your mind?"
That, Ellis said, was the turning point for him, the moment when he broke out of "limbo land," re-committing himself to football.
"That kind of stuck with me," Ellis says about the exchange. "I was feeling sorry for myself. Every night I went to sleep mad at the world because I wanted to change how I was perceived and what I was doing here. I was tired of being mediocre and just an average linebacker. At the end of it all, I didn't want to look back and be an average linebacker. 'Oh yeah, that was the average linebacker from Northwestern who was from Louisiana.' No. I want to be like, 'That dude's really good.' That kind of just lit a fire in me."
From that point on, Ellis never looked back, using his renewed outlook to capture the starting job at outside linebacker and became one of Northwestern's most consistent players over the course of the season.
Read the whole profile to learn more about Ellis' personality — he was one of the most fun-loving guys on the team — and also relive the best game of his career, when he returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Cal.