Jeff Jacobs: No. 1 junior cornerback Ellis Robinson IV is from New Haven

He isn’t even in college and already he has the best conceivable nickname for a cornerback.

Ellis Island.

Ellis Robinson IV says he isn’t afraid to be left on his own in coverage. Never was. With long arms, length and strength, a smooth, quick transition from backpedal to turn and run, a bounce to break up passes and a nose for tackling, he has made recruiters drool.

He is the No. 1 ranked player at his position in the Class of 2024 and on Wednesday afternoon Ellis Robinson IV will tell us where he plans to play college football.

Ellis III, his wife Nicole, the Robinson family is traveling from Connecticut to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for the announcement. Somewhere between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on ESPN2 College Football Live, Ellis IV will make his commitment from among Georgia, Alabama, Colorado, Miami and LSU.

Top recruiting analysts are giving two-time national champion Georgia the nod over Bama. Yet whether the 5-star corner, 6-1, 185 pounds, goes to Athens, Tuscaloosa or Boulder with Deion Sanders, this much already is sure.

He has made his day his family’s day. And that is something special.

Following the early-signing period in December, Wednesday is National Signing Day for the Class of 2023. Ellis IV, who has another year left at IMG, isn’t signing. He is committing. He will sign next December. He’ll take his official visits.

Still, he says he is ready. He has been to Alabama several times since he was young. He was just at Georgia for the national championship parade. He understands his options.

“The reason I’m doing it on Feb. 1 is because I know this is precious to my dad,” he said. “The month means a lot to him.”

Ellis III lost his own dad Ellis Jr. in February 1998 and his mom Sharlenia in 2017. Ellis IV never got the chance to meet his grandfather.

“I played football myself and my father was always supportive,” Ellis III said. “I always talk to my son about how proud he’d be of him and what he has accomplished so far.”

Picking Feb. 1, that’s got to mean something special, dad.

“Absolutely, absolutely," Ellis III said. “February is a tough month. This gives me something to smile about.”

Originally from the Bronx, Ellis III played high school football at Bishop Ahr (now St. Thomas Aquinas) in Edison, N.J., and college at Southern Connecticut. He met Nicole, who is from Bridgeport, at SCSU. Turns out she is a cousin of LA Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams.

The really cool factoid, though, is Ellis III played football in Finland after Southern. Not sure college or the NFL will ever take Ellis IV to Helsinki.

Ellis IV started playing Pop Warner in New Haven when he was five. He played with the Steelers until he was nine. Tyler Booker, now at Alabama, played on some of those teams. Ellis IV played for the Hartford Hurricanes from 10 to 13 and Ellis III was a coach on the team that went to the nationals in 2016 in Florida.

Ellis IV played all sorts of positions on offense, defense, returning kicks. Yet from the start, he said, ‘I just liked being on the island.”

He played varsity defensive back as an eighth grader for Capital Prep Harbor in Bridgeport. Ellis’ brother Damian Henderson Jr. played quarterback on the Hillhouse team that won the CIAC Class M championship in 2016. Developing at a fast and impressive rate, a decision needed to be made on where was best for Ellis IV. The Robinsons decided on prep school. In state, they considered Cheshire Academy, St. Thomas More and Brunswick School.

“The coach from Iona Prep (Joe Spagnolo) was looking for a cornerback, he found Ellis on Twitter and reached out to me,” Ellis III said. “I told my wife I have a good feeling about it, and we should go down and check it out.”

“I loved it ever since I got down there,” Ellis IV said. “The seniors took me in, showed me how everything was done. I developed some really close relationships.”

Still, it was a sacrifice. He commuted to New Rochelle every day. Dad or mom would drive him 40 minutes to the Stamford train station and from there the bus service brought him the rest of the way to Iona Prep.

“I had to get up at 5 a.m. every day,” Ellis IV said. “At first it was rough, but I got used to it.”

During the football season, with the bus service ended for the day, one of his parents had to pick him up at school. Some days they didn’t get back home to New Haven until 9 p.m. That’s a lot of dedication by mom and dad, too.

“We decided we’d make the sacrifice and put him in as good of position as possible,” Ellis III said. “We believed in him from an early age he could be what he is right now.”

Iona Prep captured the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association championship in 2021. By the end of his sophomore year, Ellis IV was ranked the No. 4 player overall in the nation in his class by 247Sports.

Yes, the commute takes a toll, but it was the opportunity to go to perhaps the best overall program in the nation that was a magnet impossible to resist.

“IMG definitely has helped me grow as a football player,” Ellis IV said. “Going against four- and five-star receivers every day, the practice really is harder than the games.”

“Everybody that comes from IMG seems to be college ready and then pro ready,” Ellis III said. “The weight program is top-notch and his 40 time is down to 4.5 laser. There’s also the maturity aspect of being on his own, making decisions on his own.”

Ellis IV talks about how he can sit and have conversations now with his parents.

Ellis III talks about how when his son comes home, he catches him staring at him.

“I can’t believe how much he has grown,” Ellis III said.

In body and in maturity.

Think about this next time folks denigrate Connecticut football talent.

Will Levis , of Madison who played at Xavier, could be the No. 1 quarterback taken in the 2023 NFL Draft out of Kentucky.

Around the corner and a 10-minute walk from the Robinson’s house, Booker grew up in New Haven. The two played together a couple of years in Pop Warner, but Booker was so big he had to move up because of his weight. A five-star recruit, the 6-5, 330-pound offensive lineman was an All-SEC freshman selection this past season.

Ellis calls Booker his big brother.

“My relationship with Tyler started when we were like babies it seemed,” Ellis IV said. “My dad and his dad (William) are such good friends. Me and Tyler started playing when we were little kids and our relationship grew … Pop Warner Steelers to going down to Alabama camps.”

Booker commuted to play at Bergen (N.J.) Catholic before moving on to IMG.

Said Ellis III, “Me and my wife talk all the time how great it is through this process to have somebody level-headed and doing the things that Tyler is doing and to come before my son. His dad and me are like brothers. And the two sons are like brothers.”

“Everywhere I go I make sure I say I’m from New Haven and Connecticut,” Ellis IV said. “I want people to know we’ve got some robust talent.”

So dad will show son videos of great cornerbacks from Deion, who is recruiting him, to the LA Rams’ Jalen Ramsey, who Ellis IV, wants to emulate. They go over little things, nuances to improve, to pave the way to big things. Ellis IV may be No. 1 rated in 2024, but the words “great potential” are a two-edged sword.

“Honestly, I don’t think a lot about it,” Ellis IV. “I try to concentrate on playing and improving than worrying about ratings.”

“I want to keep him humble and I think he does a great job of staying the way me and my wife raised him,” Ellis III said. “Football is such a violent sport. You’re only a play away from not playing again. I remind him he really hasn’t accomplished anything yet. His overall goal is to play in the NFL. We’ve got some homework. We have work to do.”