Rhett Ellison
Ellison with the Minnesota Vikings
No. 85     
Tight end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1988-10-03) October 3, 1988 (age 31)
Place of birth: Portola Valley, California
Career information
College: USC
NFL Draft: 2012 / Round: 4 / Pick: 128
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Minnesota Vikings ( 2012 2016)
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
* PFF All-Rookie Team (2012)
  • First-team All-Pac-12 (2011)
Career NFL statistics as of Week 16, 2018
Receptions     100
Receiving yards     1,022
Receiving touchdowns     6
Rushing yards     1
Rushing touchdowns     1

Rhett Marshall Ellison (born October 3, 1988) is an American football fullback for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at USC and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

High school careerEdit

Ellison played high school football at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California.[1] As a junior in 2005, he made 27 tackles and 4 sacks, plus caught 26 passes for 301 yards (11.6 avg.) with 5 touchdowns. As a senior, he had 49 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 interception on defense and 31 receptions for 394 yards (12.7 avg.) with 2 touchdowns on offense. His 2006 season honors included 2006 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best of the Rest, San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro honorable mention and San Jose Mercury News All-Area first team playing linebacker and tight end.[2]

Both major recruiting rating agencies of the time, and, rated Ellison as a three star (out of five) recruit and in the top 20 among other tight ends in his class.[3][4] He was recruited by several BCS conference programs and, beside USC, received athletic scholarship offers from Arizona State, Cal, Oregon and Virginia Tech. He committed to USC on February 6, 2007, the day before National Signing Day, a part of a recruiting class that ranked in the top two in the country in 2007.[5][6][7]

College careerEdit

Ellison redshirted the 2007 season, his freshman year with the Trojans.

As a redshirt freshman in 2008, Ellison served as an often-used backup tight end. Overall for the season, while appearing in 9 games (all but Oregon, Arizona State, Washington State and Arizona), he had 4 receptions for 58 yards (14.5 avg.) and a tackle. He started the UCLA and Penn State games at fullback and split time between there and tight end in those games. He broke his right foot prior to the Oregon game and missed those next 4 contests while recuperating.

In 2009, Ellison appeared in all 13 games, serving as a regularly used backup tight end while also making plays on special teams as a sophomore. For the season, he had 6 catches for 41 yards (6.8 avg.) with 1 touchdown, plus made 4 tackles.

As a junior in 2010, Ellison started all season at tight end, hauling in 21 catches for 239 yards (11.4 avg.) with 3 touchdowns, and also made 3 tackles. He made 2010 All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

The steady Ellison, equally proficient as a blocker and pass catcher, started at tight end for his second season as a senior in 2011, but also saw time at fullback. Ellison was captain of the Trojans in 2011 and an award was created to honor his leadership and determination, called the Rhett Ellison "Machine" Trojan Way Leadership Award.

Professional careerEdit

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 5 in 251 lb 4.69 s 1.63 s 2.77 s 4.39 s 7.16 s 32.5 in 9 ft 3 in

Ellison was invited to the 2012 NFL Combine as a fullback.

Minnesota VikingsEdit

Ellison was taken in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, 128th pick overall, by the Minnesota Vikings.[9] He was not expecting to be drafted, and as such was on a river excursion and not watching the draft when the Vikings called him to let him know he was about to be selected; the surprise was such that he cried in joy.[10] Trojan teammate and 4th pick overall Matt Kalil was also selected by the Vikings in the first round. He is the second player of Maori heritage to play for the Vikings since David Dixon.

On November 24, 2013, Ellison scored his first career touchdown catch against the Green Bay Packers. He scored the third tight end rushing touchdown in franchise history in 2016.

New York GiantsEdit

On March 10, 2017, Ellison signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the New York Giants.[11][12]

He started the year as the backup tight end to Evan Engram. He also took snaps at fullback.

On September 10, 2017, in the Giants' season opening 19–3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on NBC Sunday Night Football, Ellison had one reception for nine yards in his Giants debut.[13] In a week 5 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he caught his first touchdown as a Giant.

Personal lifeEdit

Ellison is of Māori descent. He is the son of three-time Super bowl winner Riki Ellison, a former USC and NFL linebacker.[10] He is also of Ngāi Tahu descent and is the grandnephew of the first captain of the All Blacks, Thomas Ellison, who led New Zealand on their first tour to Australia in 1893. He is also related to current New Zealand rugby union players Jacob Ellison and Tamati Ellison.[14][15] Ellison completed a bachelor's degree in international relations from USC and a master's degree in communication management. Ellison is married to fashion model Raina Hein, runner-up of season 14 of America's Next Top Model, and they are the parents of a baby girl.[16][17]


  1. "Closer to dad, but further from his heart". SFGate. August 8, 2006.
  2. "Rhett Ellison - 2011 Football Roster - University of Southern California" (in en).
  3. "Rhett Ellison".;_ylt=AoMxbHw1n5mZcxP_u7.ntuxDPZB4%20R.
  4. "USC Football and Recruiting" (in en-US).
  5. Recruiting Profile: RHETT ELLISON,, accessed April 30, 2012.
  6. "Scouts Inc.: Rating the Top 25 classes" (in en). March 7, 2007.
  7. 2007 Team Ranking,, February 12, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.
  9. "2012 NFL Draft Listing" (in en).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Gary Klein, USC football: Rhett Ellison happy to join Vikings, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012, accessed April 30, 2012.
  11. Gantt, Darin (March 10, 2017). "Giants aren’t splurging, but they did sign Rhett Ellison".
  12. Eisen, Michael (March 10, 2017). "New York Giants sign TE Rhett Ellison".
  13. "New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys - September 10th, 2017". Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  14. Kiwi Ellison drafted by Minnesota Vikings New Zealand Herald, May 4, 2012
  15. St Andrew's old boy Ellison picked in NFL Draft, May 4, 2012
  16. "Chip Scoggins: Vikings rookie Rhett Ellison has his own beat".
  17. Gustafson, Amy Carlson (April 20, 2016). "Best ‘smizer’ still modeling – and getting ready to marry Vikings’ Rhett Ellison". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved December 31, 2017.

External linksEdit

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